The Backpacker’s Handbook
4th Edition of my favorite book! Highly recommended, this book covers all aspects of backpacking—gear, different terrain and climatic conditions, fitness, safety, and low-impact camping. Whether you want to stick to well-established routes or head off cross-country, this book tells you how to do it safely and be well prepared. Other topics include adventure travel and snow camping. There is also an excellent chapter on the camp kitchen, covering everything from stoves and dehydrated food to the caloric requirements for different types of exercise and people.
Do yourself a favor and pay close attention to the section where fitting the pack is discussed. This is one book that covers fitting a backpack properly and in precise detail—one of the most important things you can do for yourself. So often, people will buy the right gear but still have a horrible time while carrying a pack. This usually boils down to the backpack fitting improperly with all of the weight sitting right on your shoulders, instead of on your hips.
If you choose just one book, this should be it! You will also find an excellent list of names and addresses of equipment, food, and map suppliers in the appendices. Happy Trails!
Back in 1968, Colin Fletcher, the “Man Who Walked Through Time” wrote “The Complete Walker”, the go-to book on backpacking/hiking gear that has remained the classic go-to book for many to the present. However, times and gear has changed. Mr. Fletcher has passed and it is time for that baton to change hands.
The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide was written by such a person. Along with Christopher Townsend (see above), you cannot ask for more knowledgeable people to provide the best advice on gear. National Geographic calls Andrew Skurka “one of the best traveled and fastest hikers on the planet,” and named “Adventurer of the Year” by Outside and “Person of the Year” by Backpacker Magazine.
Geared towards beginner and intermediate hikers, the author describes gear, choosing campsites, clothing, footcare, and much more. Highly recommended.
Backpacker and Hiker’s Handbook
William Kemsley Jr.
Bill is the founder of Backpacker Magazine and cofounder of the American Hiking Society. His text is conversational and filled with life experience. He gives helpful tips on what to include in first aid kits, how to take better outdoor photography, how to handle cougar encounters, hiking with children, how to find a good hiking club, and many more useful tips from actual hikers.
Updated in 2011. Highly recommended. One of the worst problems encountered in the backcountry, human waste disposal, is dealt with in a fun, educational manner in this outdoor classic. There is also a chapter devoted to women in the outdoor environment.
Backpacking: A Woman’s Guide
Finally, a book written for us! Men and women are different in many ways; I think everyone will agree with that statement! Well, we backpack differently as well, approaching many of the same tasks as men from a totally different angle. Adrienne Hall took six months and hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. She shares her knowledge gained from experience on how to deal with many of the situations women face in the outdoors-and does so in an entertaining and motivational manner. There are also very useful tips on training without joining an expensive gym or buying costly equipment. If you or a woman friend of yours is thinking of getting into backpacking, this is a great place to start! Good read for women who have backpacked before and would like to improve their skills. There is also a section on hiking with children. The printed copy seems to be out of print but you can find the Kindle Edition.
There is a book I really enjoy and feel is a great resource for hiking or traveling in the desert, which of course the Grand Canyon’s Inner Gorge is! I’m very excited about it because it is a manual for desert adventurers—a topic dismally ignored by most books on the subject of outdoor adventure. There are plenty of books covering oceans, mountains, and prairies, but you’d almost think the desert didn’t exist judging by how few books cover it. And I guarantee that hiking in the mountains and the desert are completely different from one another. Also available in Amazon’s Kindle Format.