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Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher

in Books and Media

Average Rating
4.15 / 5 (13 reviews)

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Ryan Jordan
( ryan - BPL STAFF - M )

Greater Yellowstone
Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher on 11/15/2006 21:49:08 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

If you love to WALK and you haven't read this book then you are (1) not only missing out on a rite of passage that qualifies you to even claim that you're a backpacker, (2) but also ignoring what may be the most entertaining of the "informative" books available.

Colin Fletcher defines the genre of outdoor instructive writing.

Get on it.

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R Alsborg
( FastWalker )

Truly the Original Backpackers Bible… on 11/15/2006 23:05:52 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Colin Fletcher masterfully wrote the 1st edition of The Complete Backpacker just as I was discovering backpacking some 30+ years ago.

Mr. Fletcher wrote with such passion from his experiences in the outdoors and objectively reviewed the latest backpacking equipment while promoting environmental consciousness.

All 4 editions have a permanent place on my bookshelf. I also highly recommend:

· The Man Who Walked Through Time

· The Thousand-Mile Summer

Edited by FastWalker on 02/22/2007 11:01:32 MST.

Don Wilson
( don - M )

Koyukuk River, Alaska
Unforgettable on 11/21/2006 21:56:42 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

His writing is unforgettable. In The Man Who Walked Through Time he describes a day spent lying naked on a beach along the Colorado, in a remote section of the Grand Canyon. I'll never forget his description of watching a blood sucking bug depart off his carcass and waddle back into the great unknown. It's probably been 15 or 20 years since I read that book, but it sticks in my mind like I read it yesterday. Ditto for The Complete Walker.

Edited by don on 11/21/2006 21:57:32 MST.

Randy K
( roosterk )

History/Great Writing on 02/10/2007 21:21:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I first read through this book thirty or so years ago, thought it was great at the time, but loaned it out, and never got it back. When TCW 4 came out a few years ago, I bought it, and remembered how much I had enjoyed the original. I then went to an online used bookseller (Alibris, which I also recommend) and bought the first three volumes. It's amazing to look at the evolution of gear, but see how the basic precepts still apply. I got an extra benefit in that one of the used books, III, I think it was, had a hand written gear list, probably from the eighties. But the main thing is the quality of Fletcher's writing. His descriptions, jokes, horrible puns, ("far from the Madden crowd"; is one I still remember)are memorable, but the overall quality of his writing stands out from any backpacking book I've seen, IMO.

Edited by roosterk on 02/10/2007 21:23:48 MST.

Greg Vaillancourt
( GSV45 )

Throw your tomatoes I don't care on 02/11/2007 15:53:43 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I've only read CW v4 which had an awful lot of Chip Rawlins writing. It is also skewed heavily towards being a gear guide.

I like 1000 Mile Summer and Walked Through Time a whole lot better.

Greg Vaillancourt
( GSV45 )

Throw your tomatoes I don't care on 02/11/2007 15:54:26 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5


Edited by GSV45 on 02/13/2007 16:03:44 MST.

Brett .
( Brett1234 )

Could be half as long. on 02/14/2007 21:55:53 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I tried to get through this book, but found the nuggets of knowledge too few and far between. I skimmed through the rest, but found it obvious and redundant.
Maybe at a later stage in my life when I have more time and tolerance I will develop the appreciation for this book that so many others have. I have no doubt it is the classic text; but not for me. IMO, it is a 3, as a useful primer for new hikers.

Edited by Brett1234 on 03/01/2007 01:18:28 MST.

Denis Hazlewood
( redleader )

Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Tedious and verbose. on 02/14/2007 23:05:47 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

Is he any worse than RJ? I mean Corn Pasta? Did you ever try Corn Pasta? You should have seen all the Corn Pasta in the drop boxes at PCT mail drops just after he published the Corn Pasta bit. Alot of folks tried it. Me too.

Try reading Fletcher's The Man From The Cave and River. Just for the good reading.

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Christopher James
( cmj1jp )
Tells you why, not just what on 02/21/2007 07:58:30 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

CW 4th ed. - Superb - if you want a concise "what to do" book, this ain't it. If you want to absorb the wisdom leavened with humour of two "complete walkers" (had to watch my spelling there,) you'll love this. Yes, a lot of gear is listed, but for the most part it's there to illustrate particular approaches to backpacking and there's a lot to be gleaned from considering different makers' solutions to different problems.
Keep this book next to your toilet and indulge in a few pages a day - you may end up breathing in a lot of crap, but you certainly won't be reading any.

Shawn Basil
( Bearpaw )

The BEST book for a new hiker...... on 02/21/2007 10:27:22 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I first read The Complete Walker III in 1997. I'd been backpacking recreationally for 15 years, but still learned a tremendous amount and appreciated the well-written prose and humor in the book. I especially liked the breakdown of life as a walker in terms of "rooms" in a typical house. This organizaiton makes the process of choosing and arranging gear easy to understand, even as a beginner.

When my girlfriend bought the Complete Walker IV, I couldn't help but think back memorably on the third edition. Chip Rawlins doesn't strike me as being nearly as humorous or romantic as Fletcher, but I found I really enjoyed his technical approach juxtaposed with Fletcher's flowing prose. It almost seemed an Ebert & Roeper rendition of backpacking.

The book is NOT a devoted treatise on UL backpacking, but for new backpackers I believe it to be one of the best books on the market. I often recommend this book to new folks, with a lightweight option as a counterbalance.

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Glenn Roberts
( garkjr )

Southwestern Ohio
The Complete Walker IV on 02/21/2007 15:40:32 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The only reason I give this a 5 is because there is no 10.

An earlier edition of this book is what taught me how to backpack, and actually set me on the road to constantly trying to lighten my pack. Fletcher nailed the advent of light/ultralight in (I think) CW3: he wasn't sure if it was a wave, or a natural progression of things, but he recommended paying attention to it and selectively adopting the practices that fit your needs.

It's humorous, entertaining, and you learn a lot in spite of your best efforts. The addition of Chip Rawlins is great, and made CW4 my favorite in the series. It was more like listening to a conversation than reading a book. (Again, I felt a sympathetic vibration to this book when I watched GVP's ultralight makeover video. Neither is preachy, but more like a rolling discussion with a friend.) Although I know I'll continue to enjoy the series when Chip is writing solo, I'll definitely miss the interplay between the two.

Chip seems to be better attuned to the light/ultralight way than Colin, but that may mostly be a function of Colin's age and lingering effects of being hit by a car and seriously injured; he isn't backpacking as much as he used to. If he were, I have no doubt that he'd be riding the wave of ultralight - with his own inimitable, possibly irreverent, take on it.

I've read a lot of backpacking books over the years, but The Complete Walker (in whatever is the most current edition) is the only one that finds a permanent place on my bookshelf.

John B Dodd
( jdodd )

Western Canada
Walking away from the Complete Walker on 02/22/2007 08:01:07 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

It's a book I loved to read: literate, funny, enthusiastic, insightful. I loved it too much. The more I read it, the more stuff I began to take with me backpacking. Colin convinced me I needed a candle lantern and on and on and on. Every time I picked up the book, my pack got heavier. It has taken many years, many heavyweight trips, other books, forum groups and sites like Backpacking Light to enable me to walk away from all this.

Edited by jdodd on 02/22/2007 09:27:44 MST.

Elliott Wolin
( ewolin )

Hampton Roads, Virginia
My bible for decades on 07/31/2007 10:58:02 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I read the first edition soon after it came out (early 1970's?) and from then on it was my bible. The recent edition is not as ultralight as I'd like, but Rawlins often discusses it.

With the explosion in equipment it is impossible to cover everything in adequate depth, as was done in the old days. But read it anyway. I always recommend it to beginners.

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