The Backpacker's Handbook
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The Backpacker's Handbook

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  163 ratings  ·  18 reviews

"The most up-to-date and comprehensive guide to equipment and technique available anywhere."—Backpack (UK)

This enormously practical guide includes everything from essential techniques such as map and compass work to the skills needed for more remote wilderness journeys—such as how to ford rivers safely and how to choose a route through untracked terrain. As a gear advisor

Paperback, 2nd Edition, 340 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (first published 1992)
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Chris Townsend is a wild mountain man. For decades he has spent much of the year in the wilderness, shunning crowds and seeking communion with awesome Nature. He has also written for magazines, reviewing the latest innovations in backpacking gear. Townsend has compiled his abundant knowledge into The Backpacker’s Handbook for four editions now. I should note that I read the 3rd edition of 2005, but I have had a look at the 4th edition of 2011 to see what has changed (not much) before writing thi...more
Dec 01, 2008 Shane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: backpackers
Shelves: non-fiction
Chris Townsend is a life-long backpacker who has made a living out of traveling, testing gear, and writing articles and books. This is the kind of person I want giving me advice on the subject - a guy with a lifetime of experience and tons of types of gear tested - not someone new to the hobby/lifestyle.

Townsend covers a wide range of topics in the book, from philosophical viewpoints about hiking and backpacking to the technical nitty-gritty aspects to the gear that makes it easier. I thought th...more
This book is primarily a compendium of gear. Although it is pretty out of date in terms of specifics, it gives decent discussions of the general types of gear that are available. The advice given is much more in-depth and helpful than any reviews I have found online.

I found the explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of stoves, including their performance in inclement weather and which are safe for use inside tent vestibules, most useful. The discussion of GPS, on the...more
Tyler Lego
Super thorough guide from a highly competent and active adventurer. Several theories with regard to camping and hiking style are presented, with plenty of specific examples of gear and strategy. Really love this as a reference and as an entertaining read.
Aug 23, 2013 Amy added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Not only does it have everything you wanted to know, but it introduces options like ultralight tent+hiking pole setups and other less commercial but equally feasible options to tent backpacking, like hammocks and bivvy sacks. Townsend's comments and anecdotes are thoughtful, well-considered, and really help the reader to develop a deeper under standing of not just specific gear categories but of what kinds of un foreseeable situations one might encounter.Belongs next to your Collin Fletcher as i...more
I love outdoors and am trying to learn more about backpacking, so this book was of great interest to me. There is a lot of information on various types of equipment (by brand name). These parts of the book were of less interst, but should I start replacing my older, heavier gear, this will be a great resource. I will definitely use the book as a reference guide in the future.
I read segments of this as I found it useful (read about packs before buying a pack, tents before buying a tent, etc.). The author has broad experience, and I felt like he gave me the foundation needed to start making gear decisions myself. I don't think I've read the whole thing, but all parts I've read have been very helpful.
Very helpful info for one who has never backpacked. Includes all sorts of information about stuff I wouldn't have thought about. Some info I skipped as it didn't pertain to me (like the snow stuff), but mostly I found myself spouting off tid-bits from the author to my hiking buddies. Thumbs up in my book.
Lydia Danae
Some of the info is a bit out-of-date of course, but it is very informative. While he makes personal recommendations and shares his own hiking philosophies, Townsend kindly provides others as well so you can make up your own mind.
Janne Asmala
Jun 07, 2009 Janne Asmala rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone planning on buying a backpacking set
Shelves: backpacking
Excellent coverage on gear choices, including the latest developments in ultralight backpacking. The chapters on wilderness survival and adventure travel seem more like an afterthought. Great choice for a gear guide, however.
bibliotekker Holman
A good reference if you are planning a backpacking, camping trip...or even just wanting to travel lighter. Chapters are updated in this new edition and it will be one I refer back to from time to time.
London Nance
FANTASTIC. Positively bewildering amounts of very practical information. LOVED it!

The Shelf: Accepted. (Be sure to get the latest edition, though.)
I'm still reading it, but seems very informational. terrains and hiking styles. Of course, backpacking. I'll let ya know more when I do.
Jay P
Author provides a great overview, as well detailed information for backpacking, camping and outdoors enjoyment.
Erik Merke
Great book. Very helpful for a guy like me, who was a beginner. Would be great for veteran backpackers too.
Yeah backpacking!

And don't just walk out the door with a bag-- pick this up, it will save so much hastle.
Primarily an equipment handbook.
ok, i admit i only skimmed this one...
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