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720 The Backpacker's

The Baclpaclers Handbook - old and new

Twenty or so years ago, a friend, who worked at a local outdoor store, suggested that I read The Backpacker's Handbook by Chris Townsend. My friend was correct, I did enjoy the book. In fact so much so that it has remained one of my all time favorite backpacking /hiking books. With the passing years, the gear in the old book has become dated but most of the principles are as sound today as they were in the nineties. When I saw that the book was available on Kindle (to read on the iPad), I decided to update my copy to the new digital edition.

I enjoyed reading the digital book (the fourth edition), just as I did the hard copy twenty years ago. It is still a good instructional book. So a few tips from the Backpacker's Handbook ...

The author has put in the miles and knows his subject. He also tests gear for many outdoor companies.

The digital edition was harder for me to read. The copy was well formatted, I am just not used to reading off of the iPad yet.

One thing I really miss about not turning hard pages, is the ability to find a particular passage. With paper pages, I could remember where the passages were located on the pages in the book, but in the electronic version, there are no real pages. You can bookmark the digital copies, but I never do. I have however had pretty good luck with searches.

Backpacker's Handbook has indeed been updated in both gear suggestions and techniques. The new book completely embraces the lightweight hiking and backpacking skills. The original book had the author lugging huge 50 (plus) pound packs. In the new book, he was carrying less than 20 pounds and smiling.

If you really want to know about gear, the Backpacker's Handbook is for you. Gear design and functionality are both discussed at length.

The boot fitting section was very thorough. I felt as if I would be able to pass a boot fitting certification course after I finished the chapter!

With the side stories, the author added a lot of personal adventures. The author has made many long distance hikes and shares many of the relative experiences.

Included in the book were the author's gear picks from each category.

One downside of the book was that many of the named brands of gear chosen, were made in Britain and are not common in the USA. I had never even heard of a few of the brands (which is not necessarily bad, but it could make buying the suggested product difficult or very expensive.)

One of my connections to the book was that I agreed with most of the things the author said.

The author was not afraid to suggest other books and authors for certain skills not fully covered in his book.

The book will definitely help you make good gear buying decisions.

If you can't find the book anywhere else, it is naturally available at Amazon.

Happy Backpacker's Handbook trails


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