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Good Backpacking Beginner Book
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Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
Good Backpacking Beginner Book on 05/11/2009 17:45:52 MDT Print View

I am new to backpacking. Got my first trip next week. I have read a lot of information on the web, talked to some people I know who backpack, had discussions with some people at the local REI, but obviously still very much a noob. I am looking for a good beginner book to read before I go, and possibly to take with me for reference. Does anyknow know of a book that they wish (or did) read before they took their first trip? I realize all the info is out there on the web, but I figured it wouldnt hurt to have a consolidated information guide. It does not have to be just 1 book so multiple books welcome. If you do list multiple books could you please tell me what they cover (or cover more thouroughly) than the other?

Looking forward to responses.


Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Good Backpacking Beginner Book on 05/11/2009 18:06:13 MDT Print View

A book that I started out with 15 years ago is Karen Burger's, "Hiking & Backpacking".

It gave me a good run down of the basics and a primer on what sort of gear you will need and the options and differences between them.

It is one comprehensive book and I believe that the updated version has more photos than the one that I had.

That said, I would highly recommend that after you read that book and before rushing out to buy your gear, check out the book from this site on Backpacking Light.

I spent thousands of dollars to outfit myself and my family with traditional most of it now sits unused.

I just wish that I had discovered BackpackingLight before I spent all of that money...I could have spent a fraction of what I did.

If you want a funny story about my own personal transition from traditional to light weight backpacking, here is a link for you:

Hope that this helps you and good luck you as you dive into the adventure!


Edited by Valshar on 05/12/2009 09:22:11 MDT.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: Good Backpacking Beginner Book on 05/11/2009 18:33:42 MDT Print View

Have you looked at the book reviews here on backpackinglight?

If you start with Lighten Up! and Ray Jardine's book you can avoid costly gear purchase mistakes. (If you ask your librarian about interlibrary loan you can avoid costly book purchase mistakes. Just request every book reviewed here.)

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Backpacking Book on 05/12/2009 08:37:41 MDT Print View

Anyone interested in becoming a backpacker should start with Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book, a Falcon Guide by Allen O'Bannon and Mike Clelland. (Mike is a frequent contributor to BPL.) Easy to read, comprehensive without getting lost in the details, not doctrinaire, and Mike's cartoon drawings are as funny as they are insightful. If this book doesn't get you interested in backpacking, nothing will.

drew doty
(drewdoty1444) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
book ideas on 05/12/2009 08:42:15 MDT Print View

One that i really like and it has a lot of amusing and informative illustrations as well as great advice is "Allen and Mike's really cool backpackin book" Mike is also a member here on this site and you could support him! They did another one called "Lighten up" and that is a great read as well.



drew doty
(drewdoty1444) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
right on! on 05/12/2009 08:43:50 MDT Print View

Looks like Richard and I are giving them a thumbs up! We must have been writing at the same time! Ha

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: right on! on 05/12/2009 09:16:06 MDT Print View

I vote Alan and Mikes as well, they also have one called Lighten Up!. Oh yea and listen GO LIGHT NOW!!! please don't waste your $$$ and bust your knees. Learn from our past heavy mistakes and "see the light." Shire's Tarp tents and gossamer gear packs are easy to use and great learning gear.If you're afraid to start out under a tarp with a 5oz pack.

Jared Cook
(rooinater) - F

Locale: Northwet
Re: Good Backpacking Beginner Book on 05/12/2009 10:55:06 MDT Print View

I read the BPL lightweight backpacking book which can be found on this site, first. It's fairly informative and will get you on the track of thinking in a lightweight way towards your gear and methods.

The lighten up book was one of the next books I read. It's a great book, but if you are looking for a book that covers basic backpacking techniques for a beginner it lacks a little, but is an excellent supplement to add even more knowledge and a few more ideas towards what can be done to lighten up.

Then the 3rd book I read which filled in even more gaps of things I've pondered is, Trail Life by Ray Jardine. Some will criticize some of his methods or methodology, but if you take the "full of himself" rhetoric aside and analyze the techniques used you can gain a lot of information. There's a little of everything covering how ray approaches the majority of stuff you'll come across in the wilderness.
These are the 3 books that really started me along the path to gaining my lightweight techniques and started me backpacking on my own.

Careful who you ask stuff to at REI, and take it with a grain of salt especially if you want to go lightweight or ultralight. Some stores have some good personal that are knowledgeable towards the light side, but others I've talked to have tried to talk me or my girlfriend towards a heavier pack or other gear. Since I was empowered with knowledge, it was easier to resist the 5 pound packs.

First and foremost though the reading will only get you so far. You'll have to get out and find out what works the best for you, or which of the techniques you can tweak to fit your clime and style. Trial and error has been the best confidence builder with my backpacking over the last several years.

Edited by rooinater on 05/12/2009 11:02:19 MDT.

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Good books on 05/12/2009 12:26:55 MDT Print View

"The complete walker" by Colin Fletcher is a classic and should be in your local library. Its been around for maybe 30 years?, but the most recent edition pretty is up-to-date.

The Backpacker's Field Manual, Revised and Updated: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Backcountry Skills by Rick Curtis. This has been used by the Colorado Mountain Club, I have taught backpacking classes with this book.

This year I'm teaching with Hiking and Backpacking: Outdoor Adventures by Marni, Ph.D. Goldenberg, Bruce Martin, and Wilderness Education Association.