Books for Hikers and Backpackers (2021)

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Up to date and expanded for the reason that final version in 2019, “Books for Hikers and Backpackers” now contains greater than 70 works separated into eight classes: 1. Instructional; 2. Guidebooks; 3. Humour; 4. Inspirational; 5. Literature; 6. Memoirs; 7. Philosophy, and; 8. Ultralight. The entire books have a spot on both my conventional or cyber bookshelves, and the featured authors embody a few of the most skilled and educated hikers on the planet.

Outdoorsy bookshelf at Casa Honan.

1.   Instructional

  • Auerbach, Paul. Medication for the Outside (sixth version, 2015): I first picked up a duplicate of this e-book within the late ’90s. Wonderful reference textual content. In response to Richard Carmona, seventeenth Surgeon Basic of the USA, Auerbach’s e-book is the “most complete and authoritative work within the subject.”
  • Burns, Bob. Wilderness Navigation (third Version, 2015): Clearly written, helpful for inexperienced persons in addition to veterans on the lookout for a refresher. Contains helpful sensible workout routines in the back of the e-book. Written by the co-author of the ‘Navigation’ chapter of the traditional, “Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills.” (see under).
  • Curtis, Rick. The Backpacker’s Discipline Handbook (2005 version): Arguably nonetheless essentially the most complete “tips on how to” backpacking information in the marketplace. A superb reference e-book that deserves a spot on each hiker’s bookshelf.
  • Gonzales, Laurence. Deep Survival (2003): After listening to about this e-book for the previous decade, I lastly acquired round to studying “Deep Survival” throughout the pandemic. I discovered it to be a extremely readable mixture of survival tales, sensible recommendation, and the psychology of how folks take care of excessive adversity. On the not-so-great aspect, it was just a little repetitive at occasions, and the creator has an off-putting penchant for navel-gazing.
  • Hansen, Derek. The Final Cling 2 (2017): Extremely regarded illustrated information to hammock tenting. Really useful by serial thru-hiker and long-time hammock devotee, Brian “Beardoh” Ristola, who wrote “Hammocks for Through-Mountaineering” for ‘The Mountaineering Life’ web site in February 2018.
  • Lichter, Justin. Path Examined (2020; 2nd Version). Light-weight backpacking strategies and equipment recommendation from a man who has walked the stroll for over 40,000 miles, together with winter thru-hikes of the Appalachian Path and Pacific Crest Trails, and pioneering routes within the Himalaya, New Zealand’s South Island, and Mexico’s Copper Canyon Area (with yours actually).
  • Magnanti, Paul. Find out how to Survive Your First Journey into the Wild: Backpacking for Inexperienced persons (2019). Filled with sensible, to-the-point recommendation, Find out how to Survive Your First Journey into the Wild, is right for these trying to make the transition from day hikes to in a single day backpacking excursions. Magnanti’s a long time of subject expertise mixed with an typically humorous writing type, make this e-book not solely an excellent useful resource for inexperienced persons but in addition brings residence the truth that so long as you’re effectively ready, heading out into the woods is an expertise to be loved, reasonably than merely endured.
  • Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (ninth version, 2017): This traditional mountaineering textual content (first revealed in 1960) additionally has numerous info related to hikers and backpackers (e.g. snow expertise, wilderness first assist, knots, and navigation).

  • Skurka, Andrew. The Final Hiker’s Gear Information (2017; 2nd Version). A radical overview of light-weight backpacking gear and strategies from one of many sport’s main authorities.
  • Thomas, Liz, Mastering the Artwork of the Through Hike (2017). Over the previous decade, Liz “Snorkel” Thomas has hiked many long-distance trails round North America, together with the Triple Crown (i.e. PCT, CDT, and AT). That effectively of ambulatory expertise mixed with spectacular consideration to element has resulted in a e-book stuffed with sensible, hard-won recommendation which took out the Nationwide Outside Guide Award in 2017 (Educational Class).
  • Townsend, Chris. The Backpackers Handbook (4th Version; 2011). A superb backpacking useful resource written in a private, down-to-earth type by a person who positively is aware of his stuff. Over the a long time Townsend has revealed greater than 20 hiking-related books, and since 1991 has been the Gear Editor for The Nice Outside journal.
  • Waterman, Man & Laura. Wilderness Ethics: Preserving the Spirit of Wildness (1993). This e-book was really helpful to me by Paul “Mags” Magnanti (see above). I discovered it to be a well-written, balanced, and interesting examination of the moral questions round how we use wilderness. Written some 28 years in the past, its themes are extra related than ever at present.

2.   Guidebooks

  • Cicerone Press Guidebooks: For 5 a long time, Cicerone Press has been producing extremely regarded guidebooks for mountaineering, trekking, climbing, and biking. Historically their focus has primarily been on the UK (the place they’re based mostly) and Europe, nonetheless, in current occasions they’ve been more and more that includes different areas all over the world such because the Himalaya, Andes, and Atlas mountains.

4 of my Cicerone Guides from the 90s and 2000s.

  • Falcon Press: The most important writer of outside guidebooks in america. Their in depth mountaineering catalogue contains Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Joshua Tree Nationwide Park.
  • Trailblazer Guidebooks: Together with Cicerone Press, the principal mountaineering guidebook firm for the UK and Europe over the previous couple of a long time. As with their counterpart, they’ve additionally expanded their geographic horizons lately, and now additionally characteristic books for South America, Asia, and different locations across the globe.

3.   Humour

  • Bryson, Invoice. A Stroll within the Woods. The famed journey author’s account of his time on America’s most iconic long-distance pathway. Some thru-hikers complain about what this e-book isn’t (i.e. the story of somebody who hiked the entire Appalachian Path), reasonably than specializing in what it’s – a witty and infrequently insightful account of an AT part hike by an excellent author.
  • Burns, John D. The Final Hillwalker (2017). A love letter to the hills. I picked up this completely gratifying account of 4 a long time price of adventures within the British mountains (and past) throughout my 2018 journey to the Scottish Highlands. On the identical journey, I additionally learn Burns’ glorious, Bothy Tales – an ode to the characterful mountain huts which dot the Scottish Highlands.
  • Grinter, Lawton. I Hike (2012) and I Hike Once more (2019). Collections of quick tales derived from greater than 15,000 miles of mountaineering on a few of America’s best trails. Humorous, poignant, thought-provoking, and entertaining, studying Grinter’s books makes you’re feeling like you’re sitting round a campfire, swapping yarns with a bunch of long-distance hikers over a beer or three.

  • McFarland, Boots. On the Path with Boots McFarland (2019): Lengthy-distance hikers are a quirky bunch. And infrequently have these eccentricities been higher captured than in Boots McFarland’s great cartoons. Whether or not or not it’s our questionable consuming habits, debatable hygiene practices, or just the loopy notion that individuals would need to stroll hundreds of miles only for the enjoyable of it, Boots’ illustrations are a chafe-and-all celebration of what makes hikers tick.

  • Newby, Eric. A Brief Stroll within the Hindu Kush (1958). The (mis)adventures of a style government and his mate who works for the British Overseas Service, who journey from London to Afghanistan with the objective of scaling a hitherto unclimbed peak (Mir Samir) within the Hindu Kush. Probably the most entertaining books about climbing and trekking I’ve ever learn.
  • Twain, Mark. Roughing It (1872). Private recollections and tall tales from the creator’s wanderings round America’s Wild West. My favorite of Twain journey narratives, simply nudging out The Innocents Overseas. Not precisely a wilderness e-book, however what the hey; I like Mark Twain, I like the American West, and his tales by no means fail to deliver a giant smile to my face.

4.   Inspirational 

  • Berger, Karen. America’s Nice Mountaineering Trails (2014): A lovely espresso desk e-book that options America’s 11 Nationwide Scenic Trails. It was considered one of Berger’s earlier works, “Mountaineering America’s Triple Crown” (2001), that first launched me to the thought of someday mountaineering the massive three of American long-distance mountaineering (i.e. the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails).
  • Honan, Cam. Wanderlust: Mountaineering on Legendary Trails (2017), The Hidden Tracks: Wanderlust off the Overwhelmed Path (2018), and Wanderlust USA (2019). Odes to the wonder and surprise of experiencing the pure world on foot. Every work options roughly 30 of the best trails and routes from across the globe, together with Tibet’s Mount Kailash Circuit, California’s Lowest to Highest Route, Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit, and the legendary Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt. The books comprise background historical past, path descriptions, overview maps, and most notably, scores of spectacular wilderness pictures (keep tuned for “Wanderlust Himalaya“; launch date Might 2022).

  • Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild (1996): The cautionary, enthralling, and tragic story of Chris McCandless, an idealistic younger man who walked alone into the Alaskan wilderness. I learn this e-book throughout my very own three-month journey in Alaska and the Yukon in 1998. From the time of its publication, the e-book polarized readers, with McCandless being painted as every thing from a tragic hero to a reckless narcissist. Finally his story stands as a grim reminder of what can happen within the wilderness when goals and idealism aren’t balanced by objectivity, and the data and expertise obligatory to soundly negotiate your chosen setting.
  • Macfarlane, Robert. The Previous Methods: A Journey on Foot (2012):  In “The Previous Methods”, Macfarlane traces the traditional pathways of Britain and past, and explores the connection between folks, time, and landscapes. As with the writing of Nan Shepherd (see under), you get the sensation that the creator walks into landscapes, reasonably than up and over them. I learn this extraordinary e-book throughout my Alps journey of 2019, and as quickly as I had completed, I ordered Macfarlane’s first two works – “Mountains of the Thoughts” and “The Wild Locations.”
  • Shepherd, Nan. The Residing Mountain (1977): Nan Shepherd was a Scottish poet and nationalist who’s commemorated on the nation’s five-pound observe. “The Residing Mountain” is Shepherd’s fantastically written testomony to the fun and wonders of strolling in nature, particularly in her beloved Cairngorm mountains:

“I imagine that I now perceive in some small measure why the Buddhist goes on pilgrimage to a mountain. The journey is itself a part of the approach by which the god is sought. It’s a journey into Being; for as I penetrate extra into the mountain’s life, I penetrate additionally into my very own. For an hour I’m past need. It’s not ecstasy, that leap out of the self that makes man like a god. I’m not out of myself, however in myself. I’m. To know Being, that is the ultimate grace accorded from the mountain.”

Yours actually mountaineering within the Cairngorms in September 2018.

5.   Literature

  • Snyder, Gary. Turtle Island (1974) & The Observe of the Wild (1990): Thought-provoking poems and essays. I didn’t get into Snyder till my early 30’s, after I randomly got here throughout a duplicate of ‘Turtle Island’ in a used bookstore in Queensland, Australia. I’ve been a giant fan of his writing ever since:

“Strolling is the good journey, the primary meditation, a follow of heartiness and soul major to humankind. Strolling is the precise stability between spirit and humility.” (The Observe of the Wild).

  • Tolkien, JRR, The Lord of the Rings (1954). The story of a various bunch of fellows who went out for a multi-month stroll, had numerous memorable adventures, met some cool path angels, took some zero-days, had some variations of opinion relating to route choice, misplaced considered one of their members as a result of chest pains, cut up into separate teams, stood by one another when occasions have been powerful, completed their journeys at completely different termini, and, lastly, all met up for celebratory beers on the Discipline of Cormallen at journey’s finish.

“I need to see mountains once more, Gandalf, mountains, after which discover someplace the place I can relaxation. In peace and quiet, with out a variety of family prying round, and a string of confounded guests hanging on the bell.” (Bilbo Baggins, “The Fellowship of the Ring”)

The boys from the Fellowship of the Ring.

  • Wallis, Velma. Two Previous Ladies (1993). An Inuit legend of braveness and survival. I first learn this e-book whereas spending a summer time up in Alaska in 1998. Not about mountaineering and backpacking per se, however as an alternative about how spending time within the wilderness can remind us that when given no different selection, many people are able to greater than we consciously understand.

6.   Memoirs

  • Abbey, Edward, Desert Solitaire (1968): A thought-provoking compilation of vignettes about life within the wilderness. He is probably not everybody’s cup of literary tea, however there isn’t a denying Abbey’s love and fervour for America’s southwest:

“Wilderness just isn’t a luxurious however a necessity of the human spirit, and as important to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little stays of the wild, the spare, the unique, is chopping itself off from its origins and betraying the precept of civilization itself.”

  • Fletcher, Colin. The Thousand-Mile Summer season (1964) and  The Man Who Walked via Time (1968): Over the previous couple of a long time, there was an ever-increasing quantity of books about long-distance backpacking. None that I’ve learn are as compelling, thought-provoking, and inspirational because the works of Colin Fletcher. His e-book, River, a couple of multi-month rafting journey down the Colorado River, is equally excellent. If I needed to choose simply considered one of Fletcher’s works, it might in all probability be “The Man Who Walked Via Time”, which chronicles his pioneering journey via the Grand Canyon. I learn this unbelievable e-book throughout my Pyrenean Haute Route thru-hike in 1999 (Ed’s Word: Again within the day after I nonetheless carried paperback books whereas mountaineering):

“There’s a highly effective human compulsion to go away issues tied up in neat little bundles. However each journey besides your final has an open finish. And any journey of worth is above all a chapter in a private odyssey. Its finish just isn’t a lot a objective attained as one other level in a seamless course of. And the necessary factor on the finish of a journey – or of a e-book – is to maintain transferring ahead, refreshed, with as little pause as doable.”

Mike “The Gambler” Towne on the Nankoweap Granaries throughout the Hayduke Path (March 2012). Fletcher slept in these cliff-hugging granaries throughout his 1963 journey via the Grand Canyon.

  • Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums (1958). Presumably my favorite Kerouac novel. I first learn it within the late Nineties, not coincidentally throughout the identical interval I found the writing of Gary Synder (see under), who was the inspiration for one of many e-book’s primary characters, Japhy Ryder.

“I felt like mendacity down by the aspect of the path and remembering all of it. The woods do this to you, they all the time look acquainted, lengthy misplaced, just like the face of a long-dead relative, like an outdated dream, like a chunk of forgotten tune drifting throughout the water, most of all like golden eternities of previous childhood or previous manhood and all of the dwelling and the dying and the heartbreak that went on 1,000,000 years in the past and the clouds as they move overhead appear to testify (by their very own lonesome familiarity) to this sense.”

  • Matthiessen, Peter. The Snow Leopard. (1978). I picked up a battered paperback model of this traditional e-book whereas trekking in Ladakh in 2008. Recounting the creator’s seek for the elusive Himalayan ‘ghost cat’ all through Nepal’s Dolpo area, “The Snow Leopard” is finally a ‘journey of the guts’, that vividly captures the abiding high quality of the Himalayan vary and its folks:

    “I develop into these mountains like a moss. I’m bewitched. The blinding snow peaks and the clarion air, the sound of earth and heaven within the silence, the requiem birds, the mythic beasts, the flags, nice horns, and outdated carved stones……….Additionally, I like the widespread miracles-the murmur of my associates at night, the clay fires of smudgy juniper, the coarse uninteresting meals, the hardship and ease, the contentment of doing one factor at a time.”
  • Muir, John. My First Summer season within the Sierra (1911) and The Yosemite (1912). The daddy of the conservation motion. I first learn Muir’s works as a teen rising up in Australia. Greater than thirty years later, he stays considered one of my favorite wilderness writers.

“After ten years of wandering and questioning within the coronary heart of it, rejoicing in its wonderful floods of sunshine, the white beams of the morning streaming via the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of numerous waterfalls, it nonetheless appears above all others the Vary of Mild.” (The Yosemite)

John Muir in his beloved Excessive Sierra.

7.   Philosophical

  • Graham, Stephen. The Light Artwork of Tramping (1927): A beautiful e-book for wandering spirits and outside fanatics. Written some 90 years in the past, it comprises some memorable nuggets of knowledge similar to:

The much less you carry the extra you will notice, the much less you spend the extra you’ll expertise.”

  • Fletcher, Colin. The CompleteWalker 3 (1984). I’ve re-read CW3 a few occasions through the years. While the gear sections are understandably dated, Fletcher’s dry sense of humour and his ardour for the pure world stays as recent and poignant as ever.

“If you happen to decide security to be the paramount consideration in life you need to by no means, underneath any circumstances, go on lengthy hikes alone. Don’t take quick hikes alone, both – or, for that matter, go wherever alone. And keep away from in any respect prices such foolhardy actions as driving, falling in love, or inhaling air that’s nearly actually riddled with lethal germs………And by no means, after all, discover the heart of an concept that appears as if it would threaten considered one of your extra cherished beliefs. In your knowledge, you’ll in all probability stay to be a ripe outdated age. However you could uncover, simply earlier than you die, that you’ve got been useless for an extended, very long time.” (The Full Walker 3).

For followers of Fletcher’s work, I like to recommend choosing up a duplicate of “Strolling Man“, a superb biography by Robert Wehrman.

  • Gros, Frederic, The Philosophy of Strolling (2014).  An insightful take a look at how the easy act of placing one foot in entrance of the opposite, can have an effect on our mind-set and high quality of life. Gros examines the important position that strolling performed within the work of philosophers and writers similar to Thoreau, Kant, Rimbaud, Rosseau, and Nietzsche:

“When there may be actually nothing left to do or imagine, besides to recollect, strolling helps retrieve absolutely the simplicity of presence, past all hope, earlier than any expectation.”

  • Kephart, Horace. Tenting & Woodcraft (1906): Though gear might have modified, the philosophy & expertise described on this wilderness traditional are nonetheless related:

“To equip a pedestrian with shelter, bedding, utensils, meals, and different requirements, in a pack so gentle and small that he can carry it with out overstrain, can be a high-quality artwork.”  

Horace Kephart – one of many OG’s of light-weight backpacking.

  • Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac (1949). I revisited Leopold’s traditional work in 2018, some 26 years after first studying it. For anybody within the nature of human’s relationship with the setting (and I hope that encompasses most people who observe this web site) I extremely advocate it. It’s a comparatively quick e-book, and though it was first revealed some 70 years in the past, the themes it examines stay extra related than ever at present.
  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden (1854) and Strolling (1861): Thoreau makes essentially the most eloquent of circumstances for the bodily, psychological and non secular advantages of spending time within the wilderness. I particularly get pleasure from studying Thoreau after I’m backpacking, reasonably than after I’m indoors. The simplicity and directness of his phrases appear to resonate that little bit extra.

8.   Ultralight Backpacking

  • Clelland, Mike. Ultralight Backpackin’ Suggestions (2011) 153 tips about going lighter, courtesy of the identical man who did the wonderful illustrations for Don Ladigan’s e-book (see under). Sensible info blended in with liberal doses of quirkiness and humour. Makes ultralight backpacking sound enjoyable and gratifying. Double thumbs up.

  • Jardine, Ray. Past Backpacking (2001) and Path Life (2009). Mainly the identical e-book with a distinct title. Jardine was the person who popularised the present motion in direction of going lighter within the early ’90s. While a few of his concepts is probably not for everybody, there isn’t a denying that his modern method is based upon in depth private expertise in a variety of environments.
  • Lichter, Justin & Forry, Shawn. Ultralight Winter Journey. In 2014/15, Lichter and Forry accomplished the first-ever winter traverse of the Pacific Crest Path. The abilities and strategies they used to perform this superb feat are encapsulated in Ultralight Winter Journey, an informative information that addresses worse-case situations, climate patterns, subject repairs, and, after all, tips on how to enterprise safely into sub-freezing circumstances with out carrying the proverbial kitchen sink in your again.

DisclosureThis put up comprises affiliate hyperlinks, which implies ‘The Mountaineering Life’ receives a small fee if you are going to buy an merchandise after clicking on one of many hyperlinks. This comes at no extra price to the reader and helps to help the web site in its persevering with objective to create high quality content material for backpackers and hikers. 



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