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eBooks for the Trail
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
eBooks for the Trail on 06/23/2013 14:02:52 MDT Print View

OK, I'm going to eat crow here.
I once said I'd never use one. I'm a romantic. I like paper.

But a student just gave me a Nook Simple Touch as a thank you present.

While I still prefer nice hardcover paper editions of my favorite reads, I'm looking into the backpacking/camping potential for this device. The ability to carry a ton of field guides and reference materials (not to mention good books) in a 7oz. package is very appealing, even if the display is only B/W. While I only read one novel at a time, as an avid poetry reader, I like the idea of having a few books with me at any time.

Already loaded RJ Secor's The High Sierra: Peaks-Passes-Trails. Unfortunately the ebook version has no images (I already complained to Goole about this- they're contacting the publisher)... but all the text is there and I can cross-reference with maps pretty easily. I'm also already familiar with the paper copy I own.

Might buy Mountaineering- Freedom of the Hills, as well as the first aid for mountaineering also published by Mountaineers. I have the paper editions, but it might be cool to carry these as reference.

Also thinking about The Cloudspotter's Guide.

Anyone else doing the same?

Any recommendations?

I'm stuck on trying to find decent field guides for flora and fauna of the western US...likely because those books are so image-laden, they don't convert to ebooks/small readers well.

Edited by xnomanx on 06/23/2013 14:12:07 MDT.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: eBooks for the Trail on 06/23/2013 14:35:38 MDT Print View

7 oz !

I've been know to spend over $100 just to reduce by 4 oz...

As I'm sure you know you can make copies of the Secor pages that would be relevant for any particular trip... with photos...

as for book entertainment, have you considered one of the really small iPods? about the size of a quarter and weight about 1 oz... or so I am told...

me... I'm retro... the fewer electronics with me in the backcountry the more I like it... there's something about having my face glued to a screen that takes away from the wild places... and the screens are what I'm working so hard to get away from on a backpack...

just my 2cents... there's no 'right' way...


Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: eBooks for the Trail on 06/23/2013 14:45:46 MDT Print View

Just for poops and giggles I weighed a random paperback book I saw laying on my desk. 10.3 oz. I have 30 books and counting on my Nook. As the OP mentioned, 7.1 oz on my scale. The screen on the nook is pretty easy on the eyes and imo very comparable to reading a real book as far as e readers go. The simple glow light on it is a godsend with my failing eyes as I'm not fighting to find the perfect angle/light for my book.

To the OP, I have a few guides on mine (traveling not nature) and based on my limited experience can't recommend the Nook for books like that. Hopefully you'll have better luck.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 06/23/2013 16:03:03 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: eBooks for the Trail on 06/23/2013 15:02:19 MDT Print View

Check these:


What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World
by Robert Hass

Listening for Coyote: A Walk Across Oregon's Wilderness
by William L. Sullivan

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: eBooks for the Trail on 06/23/2013 15:03:37 MDT Print View

I bring my Ipod Touch sometimes . 4.7oz can do Ebooks, music, games etc to keep entertained on solo trips at night.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Et tu, Brute? on 06/23/2013 18:15:35 MDT Print View

Not going to see me with one on the trail...

however I have a Kindle and an iPad and have tons for books on them. I take them with me on business trips and it is nice to have a complete library on a single device.

Black and white (my Kindle) is good for reading. Pictures and other stuff much, much better on a color device. What I like about the iPad is that it syncs on my iPhone and computer. I can read the same books on my iPhone and the Kindle app remembers what page I was on if I was reading it on my computer or iPhone.

Although not easy until you figure out how to do it and buy an app, it is easy for me to upload PDF files to my iPad and the page formatting and such is way better than a Kindle book. Also nice to load owner's manuals on it too. I use my iPad every day, except when hiking.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: eBooks for the Trail on 06/23/2013 21:15:36 MDT Print View

Just me, but I am more in Doug's camp - I prefer more literary choices than manual and technical style books. Yes I am a bonafide gear head and gram weenie, but absolutely my entire concern is for all of that to totally fall away once I'm out there. This never completely happens, but the ultimate goal is for the gear to just disappear in my mind just as much as on my back.

Also, though like Nick I have all the stuff at home, I am *very* far from needing (or wanting) additional "entertainment", especially of the electronic variety, on a backpacking trip. Its kind of the point of the backpacking trip to take a laxative to get that stuff out of my system and see what is left.

That said, I have been known to print out little DIY pamphlets to read. Stuff like Emerson and Thoreau are good - there is a nice thin paperback of 'Walking" and "Nature" I take sometimes. Also Dogen's (Japanese Zen Master from 11th century) Mountains and Rivers Sutra is a good one because it makes little rational sense, and will bear reading over an over again like a poem. Now that is multi-use literature! Also it is only about 10 pages or so. Anyway, it seem to work for me on a longish trip.

Edited by millonas on 06/23/2013 21:24:27 MDT.

terry tiedeman
(Terry62) - F
books on 06/23/2013 21:56:07 MDT Print View

I've never had an e-reader so I have nothing to say about that except maybe you should just try it out. I actually read a lot when I backpack after dinner usually till dark. I go to goodwill or other thrift stores and specifically look for slim paperbacks which don't weigh much. 5 oz. max for a 200 or more page book is pretty good. They are usually only 50 cents which is great. I mostly hike solo and for me a book is very comforting. I never used to bring one along and I enjoyed just staring at the scenery. But recently I always have a book on my trips. Soon I am heading out on a 6 week trip and I will be packing a small book into each resupply and I will see how it goes.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: books on 06/23/2013 22:58:34 MDT Print View

I don't think it would be a bad idea to have a thread where people post their "best of" selections for reading while backpacking. Make sure they are all public domain - suggesters need to find or create the text files. Probably should limit these to some page limit like 20 pages or less. Then we can put them all together and print them out in paperback/pamphlet form (lots of places to do this online) or otherwise provide the pfd file for people to use how they like, kind of like "BPL Best of Suggested Trail Reading, 2013". Not sure I would read it on the trail, but I would definitely read it.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: books on 06/23/2013 23:31:15 MDT Print View

I'm really just looking for the potential to carry multiple field guides in one package.

I have the literature covered (Thanks for the list Doug, I've actually read many on it but will look into some others).


On a side note, I've never quite understood the "best books for backpacking" idea. A good book is a good book; I don't think that just because I'm in the wilderness I have to read Thoreau or Abbey or Stegner or Muir...nor something in the outdoor adventure category nor in the new age/religious/spiritual/self-realization category. These genres certainly seem to dominate reading while camping.

Last summer I read Walter M. Miller Jr. (A Canticle for Leibowitz), one by Phillip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), two by Cormac McCarthy (the last two of the border trilogy), one Hemingway (For Whom the Bell Tolls...again), and even a Stephen King 1000 page epic (The Stand) while camping and backpacking.

Next reads on my list are Frank Herbert's Dune, and Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars. They'll be going into the mountains with me this summer.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
An audio book? on 06/24/2013 02:26:16 MDT Print View


Is there anyone who use MP3 audio books instead of reading ebooks?
Sure, no guides in audio books, but for entertainment this might be not bad considering it's 1-2oz weight of MP3 player...

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
eBooks for the Trail on 06/24/2013 03:05:53 MDT Print View

Yep. I use an Ipod shuffle with audio books. You can get some free stuff, which is generally not read by a professional, but good enough. I also get stuff from Itunes. Only problem is that I tend to fall asleep after a chapter or so and wake up again several chapters on:).

Currently I have some P G Wodehouse. If you find yourself in a situation where Wodehouse doesn't lift your spirits, at least a little, then you are in big trouble. Next I am going to try some McCarthy. I have read The Road three times now, and continue to be absolutely blown away by the brilliance of it, so I really need to move onto some of his other novels.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Field Guides on 06/24/2013 07:35:44 MDT Print View

A couple weeks ago I was hiking in Massachusetts and saw many strange and exotic trees and plants. Took pictures of them and did identification when I got home.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Audio books on 06/24/2013 07:55:12 MDT Print View

"Is there anyone who use MP3 audio books instead of reading ebooks?"

Yes I have on multi week and multi month bicycle tours. I used an older model iPod Shuffle and later my phone. I have not done this on backpacking trips yet.

I have been using my phone (Galaxy Note 2) for many functions lately. It can be ebook reader, audio book reader, gps, phone, camera, journal, internet appliance, as well as a host of other things. The battery life is WAY better on my kindle though so there is that trade off.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Field Guides on 06/24/2013 09:11:23 MDT Print View

"A couple weeks ago I was hiking in Massachusetts and saw many strange and exotic trees and plants. Took pictures of them and did identification when I got home."

Funny when someone's "strange and exotic" is someone else's normal backyard. I read your blog post.. good stuff. what part of MA were you in? NH has more of a mix between western views and eastern greenness.

Edited by JakeDatc on 06/24/2013 09:16:21 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: eBooks for the Trail on 06/24/2013 11:08:18 MDT Print View

Most of John Muir's books are available for free, along with Thoreau.

I like the Longstreet series of trail guides that have a mix of etching/drawn style illustrations with text that should read well on an eBook.

I think it makes sense that field guides will always be image laden. No free lunch there I'm afraid.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Field Guides on 06/24/2013 16:22:08 MDT Print View


Down near the MA/RI border. Franklin State Forest and parts of the Warner Trail. The map showed parts of it as swamps, however having hiked in FL and LA I am sure the denizen's of those locals would beg to differ on the definition of swamp :)

Edited by ngatel on 06/24/2013 16:23:31 MDT.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: Field Guides on 06/24/2013 16:53:06 MDT Print View

well if you're back in the area and want to do some more exposed stuff in NH let me know. I'd be up there tonight but Tstorm forecast for the week is not good.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Field Guides on 06/24/2013 16:58:58 MDT Print View

Jake - you're on. Think I may be in NH sometime after summer.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Field Guides on 06/24/2013 17:15:45 MDT Print View

Cool. I love the Whites so i'm always up for it.