Canoe & Kayak Magazine is turning 40 years old this March and just launched the 40th Anniversary Issue. It’s been a long, fun journey through history for the staff as they sought old stories, writers and boaters for this issue. Part of the search was for good covers, and everyone naturally found a couple to which they were drawn. In a few words, the staff all talk about the covers they chose as their favorite.

Jeff Moag—Editor in Chief—picks April 1985. When this photo ran on the cover of Canoe no one had ever seen anything like it. Only a few people had open-boated the Grand Canyon, and nobody had thought to put a camera into an ammo box strapped to a canoe. Also, I love the fact that Bob Foote is still paddling hard today, almost 30 years after this shot was taken. (Bob was also on the cover of our March 2009 “Heroes” issue, together with Steve Fisher, Freya Hoffmeister and John Grace).

Joe Carberry—Senior Editor—picks February 1979. I appreciate the blurb as much as the photo on this cover because of it’s significance at the time. Waterfalls were just starting to get run—in fiberglass boats, no less–and Great Falls was a catalyst for the incredible progression we’re seeing today with running big drops. Not just with the height but the style as well. Paddlers are showing so much athleticism with downriver freestyle. The Great Falls paddling community is one of the most underrated in the country, considering the amount of paddling talent the area has kicked out—from Olympic champions to expedition boaters. Plus I really want to see The Fall Line with Geoff Calhoun where he sheds light on that epic boating scene.

Dave Shively—Managing Editor—picks March 1981. A lot of C&K covers, notably in the ’90s, got bogged down by a rash of coverlines over cheery paddling imagery. Not so with this image of Chuck Benda staring into a fire and a single stirring headline. It’s bold. It’s weird. You know even that spoon has tales, and it forces your hand right to Benda’s feature account of his team’s five-month Pacific-to-Arctic epic, where Benda says his only achievement was “in the process of reaching for something beyond our grasp.”

Aaron Schmidt—Photo Editor—picks January/February 1975. Paddling for me has always meant an escape into wilderness, a method of getting away from the noise of society. My parents were crucial in instilling this appreciation for nature in me and this cover makes me think of what their beachside camps must of looked like. All that’s missing is a toddler eating sand and falling into the water.

Charli Kerns—Online Editor—picks August 1976. Honestly, it’s a cover I can relate to. After all, we’re all between swims. A little deeper than that, though, this issue was back when Canoe & Kayak Magazine was called Canoe Magazine of the American Canoe Association. As a new member of Canoe & Kayak Magazine, I am fascinated by the old covers as glimpses into such a rich history of boating sports.

Parker Meek—Associate Art Director—picks October 1993. I am a fan of clean covers. The 20th anniversary is exactly that. The black and white photo makes this cover. With the huge mountain in the background and calm waters in the foreground. To the point cover-lines that do not clutter or cover the beautiful scenic photo.

Robert Zaleski—Creative Director—picks October 1988. I’m a sucker for clean, graphic covers. This 15th Anniversary is just that and works well for several reasons. I like the use of the negative space in the “n” being taken up by the outline of the canoe. The oversized letterforms, stark contrast in color and clean execution of the type allow this cover to read well and stand out. Let it breathe and keep it simple!

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Canoe & Kayak, we are having a contest on Facebook where our friends have a chance to pick which of these covers is their favorite. Everyone who votes gets put into a drawing for a chance to win one of three Zeal Optics sunglasses. To get to the contest and vote for your favorite cover, CLICK HERE!