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The Best and Worst Magazines for Men

magazine-stand

One of the reasons I started the Art of Manliness website was because of the dearth of quality men’s magazines out there. None of them really took the idea of manliness and what it meant to be a man seriously, and they were filled with the same, tired articles on how to bed the ladies and attain six pack abs.

My hope is that AoM has filled a niche in talking about aspects of manliness and a man’s life that don’t get covered elsewhere. But of course, practically speaking, there’s still a need for magazines. Magazines help pass the time at the airport and provide a little extra relaxation when you’re sitting upon the porcelain throne. And it’s definitely nice to get something fun in the mailbox every month. Therefore, AoM set out to discover which men’s magazines were the best. We read through 2 months of issues from a variety of men’s publications. (Note: while magazines like Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, and Field and Stream have a predominantly male readership, we concentrated on magazines that were designed and targeted as general men’s interest publications).

We spent many hours reading and note taking so that you don’t have to. We examined who the magazines seemed to be marketing themselves towards, what kind of stories they published, and the quality of those stories. We then noted the pros and cons of each. While some magazines seem quite hefty, everyone knows that a lot of that bulk consists of advertisements. So we carefully tallied the page to ad ratio. Also, one of our pet peeves about men’s magazines is that they often mar the reading experience by placing a really tasteless ad in the back for some sex-related product. Whether or not a magazine is willing to print such scurrility is a good mark of its classiness, so we took note of which ones did and didn’t. Another one of our beefs with men’s magazines is that they sell a lifestyle few men can afford. Most men shop at places like Old Navy and don’t have the dough for $6,000 suits. So we took note of what kinds of products the magazines suggested to readers. Finally, we bestowed upon the magazine a certified Art of Manliness quality ranking. Now for our reviews:

Men’s Health Best Life [1]

best-life-2

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: Best Life is the older, more mature brother of Men’s Health. Aimed at men in their 30’s and 40’s who have successful careers and families or wish they did.

Pros:

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford $3,470 Tom Ford boots

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 45%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? Nope

Rating: sullivanrank sullivanranksullivanranksullivanrank4 out of 5 John Sullivans

Read back issues of Best Life Magazine [2] for free at Google Books

Details [3]

details

Sample Headlines

Target Readers: Younger men who fancy themselves as sophisticated and cool dudes

Pros:

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford a $395 Burberry scarf

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 45%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? Nope

Rating: sullivanrankhalfrank 1.5 out of 5 John Sullivans

Men’s Health [4]

mens-health

Sample Headlines

Target Readers: The all-American, well-rounded, fitness conscious man in his 20’s and 30’s

Pros:

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? Most of the clothes they feature are eye-poppingly expensive, but they do throw in stuff like Levis

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 40%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? Yup

Rating: sullivanranksullivanranksullivanranksullivanrankhalfrank 4.5 out of 5 John Sullivans

Read back issues of Men’s Health [5] for free at Google Books

Nylon for Guys [6]

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Sample Headlines

Target Readers: 20-something guys who are so hip it freakin hurts

Pros

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford $60 vintage-looking New Balance sneaks

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? Yup

Rating: sullivanrank1 out of 5 John Sullivans

Maxim [7]

nerble-hillary-duff-maxim-01

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: 20-something frat dudes; teenage boys who aren’t old enough to buy porn

Pros:

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford $60 Banana Republic shirt

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 28%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? Naturally

Rating: sullivanrank 1 out of 5 John Sullivans

Esquire [8]

esquire6

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: The classy, refined, yet rascally gentleman

Pros

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford a $25,000 watch. No, I’m not kidding.

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 30%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? No

Rating: sullivanranksullivanranksullivanranksullivanrank halfrank 4.5 out of 5 John Sullivans

Men’s Vogue [9]

will-smith-mens-vogue

(Note: Before we could even get this written up, it was announced that Men’s Vogue was being cut to a twice yearly publication. I guess not enough men wanted to vogue).

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: Classy, intelligent men of all ages

Pros:

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can a $4,025 Hermes umbrella

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 45%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? Nope

Rating: sullivanranksullivanranksullivanrankhalfrank 3.5 out of 5 John Sullivans

Men’s Journal [10]

400_hford_cov_080404_mensjournal

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: The rugged and adventurous yet sophisticated athlete and traveler, or guys who aspire for such status

Pros

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford the $3,200 a week needed to lodge on a private island

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 40%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? No

Rating: sullivanranksullivanranksullivanrankhalfrank 3.5 out of 5 John Sullivans

Men’s Fitness [11]

roddick-mens-fit-thumb

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: Younger, fitness oriented men

Pros

Cons:

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 47%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? And how

Rating: sullivanranksullivanrank 2 out of 5 John Sullivans

Outside’s Go Travel and Style for Men [12]

rjabig

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: Men who like to travel and who have a ton of money or dream that they someday will

Pros

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford $230 cashmere scarf

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 19%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? No

Rating: sullivanranksullivanrankhalfrank 2.5 out of 5 John Sullivans

GQ [13]

kanye-west-for-gq-magazine-man-of-year

Sample Headlines:

Target Readers: Guys who are cool, but also want to be taken seriously, man

Pros

Cons:

Attainable Lifestyle? If you can afford $640 diore homme jeans (although in fairness the most recent issue offers a guide to dressing for under $100).

Percentage of the Magazine that Consists of Ads: 26%

Raunchy Sex Ad in Back? No

Rating: : sullivanranksullivanranksullivanrank3 out of 5 John Sullivans

Agree or disagree with our reviews? Let us know in the comments section.