cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


806 Trail Life by Ray Jardine

Trail Life by Jardine on table

I am always looking for good books to read. In particular, I enjoy reading books in the outdoor recreation field. My wife and I have quite a collection of these books, and we keep adding more, though not for the purpose of collecting, but for the knowledge. With today's social media, there are perhaps easier and cheaper ways to find the same information, but we like to read books (paper and electronic) and to support the authors.

As I searched for a new hiking/backpacking book, I saw Trail Life by Ray Jardine. We had read Jardine's Beyond Backpacking and saw that Trail Life was the update of his previous book. Trail Life was published in 2009. Ok, so it was not hot off the press, but we enjoyed the first book and wanted to see if he was still as quirky in the new edition.

We bought the book through Amazon. It was not sold by Amazon, instead the book was available through the Amazon Marketplace program - which allows individuals and businesses to sell their items (for a fee) through the Amazon site. When the book arrived it was delivered from Ray Jardine's office.

A few Trail Life notes ...

Jardine was an aerospace engineer who retired early to pursue outdoor activities. He and his wife have done some inspiring adventures. Their profile in the back of the book is amazing. They are truly qualified to write a book on Lightweight Backpacking.

While on their many adventures, including 25,000 trail miles, they continued to look for ways to make hiking more enjoyable. In a sense they started the lightweight movement.

Not only did the Jardine's begin preaching the benefits of lightweight gear, they began making their own. When they could not find gear to suit their needs, they made their own. It was the Ray Way. The book is filled with the advantages of making your own gear and the last chapter is dedicated to sewing gear.

The book covers all facets of long distance hiking. Learn how to slash weight from your pack, beginning with your pack itself, how to sleep comfortably under a tarp, the advantages of hiking with an umbrella, learn how to take care of your feet, find out how to ford a stream, and avoid bear encounters.

Trail Life is the primer for long distance hiking.

One of the books highlights us how to enjoy hiking, a topic not normally covered in hiking books. Well, of course you have to have the appropriate lightweight gear to enjoy hiking, but you also need to change your mindset. You have to get out of the city and embrace nature to enjoy yourself despite the weather or external conditions.

Some odd advice from the book that worked for them - eating corn based pasta - they claimed it gave them more energy, not treating water, avoiding contact with humans in towns, avoiding contact with germs from any public facility, and sleeping with their food bag under the tarp - laying on the ground between their heads and the entrance.

Another quirky bit of advice is to remove the name or logo of any company or manufacturer from purchased gear. He thinks it is ridiculous that companies advertise on their products. There is even a picture of "sewing on a patch to remove a label." I decided to try it out ...

Trail Life book with the Author and title taped



The book was fun to read because the book had a voice. It was the prophet calling out from the wilderness - be a lightweight! We don't believe everything in the book would work for us, but there are many things that do. The book definitely has a home on our bookshelves.

Happy Trail Life trails


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: