Books for Hikers and Backpackers (2021)

Up to date and expanded for the reason that final version in 2019, “Books for Hikers and Backpackers” now consists of 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. All the books have a spot on both my conventional or cyber bookshelves, and the featured authors embrace a number of the most skilled and educated hikers on the planet.

Outdoorsy bookshelf at Casa Honan.

1.   Instructional

  • Auerbach, Paul. Drugs for the Outdoor (sixth version, 2015): I first picked up a duplicate of this guide within the late ’90s. Wonderful reference textual content. Based on Richard Carmona, seventeenth Surgeon Normal of the USA, Auerbach’s guide is the “most complete and authoritative work within the area.”
  • Burns, Bob. Wilderness Navigation (third Version, 2015): Clearly written, helpful for newbies in addition to veterans on the lookout for a refresher. Consists of useful sensible workouts in the back of the guide. Written by the co-author of the ‘Navigation’ chapter of the traditional, “Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills.” (see beneath).
  • Curtis, Rick. The Backpacker’s Subject Handbook (2005 version): Arguably nonetheless probably the most complete “the way to” backpacking information in the marketplace. A wonderful reference guide that deserves a spot on each hiker’s bookshelf.
  • Gonzales, Laurence. Deep Survival (2003): After listening to about this guide for the previous decade, I lastly acquired round to studying “Deep Survival” through the pandemic. I discovered it to be a extremely readable mixture of survival tales, sensible recommendation, and the psychology of how individuals take care of excessive adversity. On the not-so-great facet, it was a little bit repetitive at occasions, and the creator has an off-putting penchant for navel-gazing.
  • Hansen, Derek. The Final Grasp 2 (2017): Extremely regarded illustrated information to hammock tenting. Advisable by serial thru-hiker and long-time hammock devotee, Brian “Beardoh” Ristola, who wrote “Hammocks for Via-Mountaineering” for ‘The Mountaineering Life’ web site in February 2018.
  • Lichter, Justin. Path Examined (2020; 2nd Version). Light-weight backpacking methods and kit 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 really).
  • Magnanti, Paul. Easy methods to Survive Your First Journey into the Wild: Backpacking for Rookies (2019). Stuffed with sensible, to-the-point recommendation, Easy methods 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 area expertise mixed with an usually humorous writing type, make this guide not solely an excellent useful resource for newbies but in addition brings dwelling the truth that so long as you might be effectively ready, heading out into the woods is an expertise to be loved, moderately than merely endured.
  • Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (ninth version, 2017): This traditional mountaineering textual content (first revealed in 1960) additionally has plenty of data related to hikers and backpackers (e.g. snow abilities, 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 methods from one of many sport’s main authorities.
  • Thomas, Liz, Mastering the Artwork of the Via 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 guide stuffed with sensible, hard-won recommendation which took out the Nationwide Outside E-book Award in 2017 (Tutorial Class).
  • Townsend, Chris. The Backpackers Handbook (4th Version; 2011). A wonderful 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 Outdoor journal.
  • Waterman, Man & Laura. Wilderness Ethics: Preserving the Spirit of Wildness (1993). This guide was really useful 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 immediately.

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 out of doors guidebooks in the USA. Their in depth mountaineering catalogue consists of 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 in recent times, 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 guide isn’t (i.e. the story of somebody who hiked the entire Appalachian Path), moderately than specializing in what it’s – a witty and sometimes 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 totally satisfying account of 4 a long time value 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 brief 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 might be 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 folks 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 vogue 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. One of the vital 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 guide, however what the hey; I really like Mark Twain, I really 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 guide that options America’s 11 Nationwide Scenic Trails. It was one among Berger’s earlier works, “Mountaineering America’s Triple Crown” (2001), that first launched me to the concept of at some point mountaineering the large 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 Crushed Path (2018), and Wanderlust USA (2019). Odes to the sweetness and marvel 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 guide throughout my very own three-month journey in Alaska and the Yukon in 1998. From the time of its publication, the guide polarized readers, with McCandless being painted as all the pieces 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 information and abilities obligatory to securely negotiate your chosen surroundings.
  • Macfarlane, Robert. The Outdated Methods: A Journey on Foot (2012):  In “The Outdated Methods”, Macfarlane traces the traditional pathways of Britain and past, and explores the connection between individuals, time, and landscapes. As with the writing of Nan Shepherd (see beneath), you get the sensation that the creator walks into landscapes, moderately than up and over them. I learn this extraordinary guide 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 Dwelling Mountain (1977): Nan Shepherd was a Scottish poet and nationalist who’s commemorated on the nation’s five-pound be aware. “The Dwelling Mountain” is Shepherd’s fantastically written testomony to the thrill and wonders of strolling in nature, particularly in her beloved Cairngorm mountains:

“I consider 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 method 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 really mountaineering within the Cairngorms in September 2018.

5.   Literature

  • Snyder, Gary. Turtle Island (1974) & The Follow of the Wild (1990): Thought-provoking poems and essays. I didn’t get into Snyder till my early 30’s, once 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 observe of heartiness and soul major to humankind. Strolling is the precise steadiness between spirit and humility.” (The Follow of the Wild).

  • Tolkien, JRR, The Lord of the Rings (1954). The story of a various bunch of men who went out for a multi-month stroll, had plenty of memorable adventures, met some cool path angels, took some zero-days, had some variations of opinion relating to route choice, misplaced one among their members because of chest pains, cut up into separate teams, stood by one another when occasions had been powerful, completed their journeys at totally different termini, and, lastly, all met up for celebratory beers on the Subject 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 loads of kinfolk 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 Outdated Ladies (1993). An Inuit legend of braveness and survival. I first learn this guide whereas spending a summer time up in Alaska in 1998. Not about mountaineering and backpacking per se, however as a substitute about how spending time within the wilderness can remind us that when given no different alternative, many people are able to greater than we consciously notice.

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 keenness 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 slicing 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 guide, River, a few multi-month rafting journey down the Colorado River, is equally excellent. If I needed to choose simply one among Fletcher’s works, it will most likely be “The Man Who Walked By way of Time”, which chronicles his pioneering journey via the Grand Canyon. I learn this unbelievable guide throughout my Pyrenean Haute Route thru-hike in 1999 (Ed’s Observe: Again within the day once I nonetheless carried paperback books whereas mountaineering):

“There’s a highly effective human compulsion to depart 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 essential factor on the finish of a journey – or of a guide – is to maintain transferring ahead, refreshed, with as little pause as potential.”

Mike “The Gambler” Towne on the Nankoweap Granaries through 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 beneath), who was the inspiration for one of many guide’s principal characters, Japhy Ryder.

“I felt like mendacity down by the facet of the path and remembering all of it. The woods try this to you, they all the time look acquainted, lengthy misplaced, just like the face of a long-dead relative, like an previous dream, like a bit of forgotten tune drifting throughout the water, most of all like golden eternities of previous childhood or previous manhood and all of the residing and the dying and the heartbreak that went on one million 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 guide 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 in the end a ‘journey of the guts’, that vividly captures the abiding high quality of the Himalayan vary and its individuals:

    “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 previous carved stones……….Additionally, I really like the frequent miracles-the murmur of my pals at night, the clay fires of smudgy juniper, the coarse boring 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 young person rising up in Australia. Greater than thirty years later, he stays one among my favorite wilderness writers.

“After ten years of wandering and questioning within the coronary heart of it, rejoicing in its superb 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 Gentle.” (The Yosemite)

John Muir in his beloved Excessive Sierra.

7.   Philosophical

  • Graham, Stephen. The Light Artwork of Tramping (1927): An exquisite guide for wandering spirits and outside lovers. Written some 90 years in the past, it incorporates some memorable nuggets of knowledge akin 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 contemporary and poignant as ever.

“If you happen to choose security to be the paramount consideration in life you need to by no means, beneath any circumstances, go on lengthy hikes alone. Don’t take brief 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 virtually actually riddled with lethal germs………And by no means, after all, discover the heart of an concept that appears as if it’d threaten one among your extra cherished beliefs. In your knowledge, you’ll most likely reside to be a ripe previous age. However it’s possible you’ll uncover, simply earlier than you die, that you’ve been lifeless for an extended, very long time.” (The Full Walker 3).

For followers of Fletcher’s work, I like to recommend selecting up a duplicate of “Strolling Man“, a wonderful 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 function that strolling performed within the work of philosophers and writers akin to Thoreau, Kant, Rimbaud, Rosseau, and Nietzsche:

“When there may be actually nothing left to do or consider, 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 & abilities 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 wonderful 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 surroundings (and I hope that encompasses most people who comply with this web site) I extremely advocate it. It’s a comparatively brief guide, and though it was first revealed some 70 years in the past, the themes it examines stay extra related than ever immediately.
  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden (1854) and Strolling (1861): Thoreau makes probably the most eloquent of circumstances for the bodily, psychological and non secular advantages of spending time within the wilderness. I particularly take pleasure in studying Thoreau once I’m backpacking, moderately than once 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 guide (see beneath). Sensible data combined in with liberal doses of quirkiness and humour. Makes ultralight backpacking sound enjoyable and satisfying. Double thumbs up.

  • Jardine, Ray. Past Backpacking (2001) and Path Life (2009). Mainly the identical guide with a special 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 revolutionary strategy 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 talents and methods they used to perform this superb feat are encapsulated in Ultralight Winter Journey, an informative information that addresses worse-case eventualities, climate patterns, area repairs, and, after all, the way to enterprise safely into sub-freezing situations with out carrying the proverbial kitchen sink in your again.

DisclosureThis put up incorporates 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 value 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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