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Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook: Innovative Techniques and Trail Tested Instruction for the Long Distance Hiker

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Manual on planning and preparing for hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon, and Washington. Jardine's initial presentation of his lightweight-hiking theories
Paperback, 376 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Adventurelore Pr (first published 1992)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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Colin Robinson
Apr 05, 2011 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The man is a nut, but an informative nut.
Brett Anderson
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Jardine is a genuine adventurer. His 25,000 miles of trail experience just scratches the surface of his sweeping array of accomplishments.

This man has put in the hours on the trail & diligently refined his system of lightweight backpacking, which he refers to as "the Ray Way."

Jardine has engineered the system shared in this book from the ground up over several decades. The first edition of this book was a pioneering impetus for many lightweight backpacking techniques that now are widely
Laura Leaney
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rousing and practical; this is a book that makes me want to quit my job and head for the hills. I'm not going to be sewing my own backpack or crafting my own sun umbrella, but everything else seems fairly doable. I shall find out, no doubt, next month. Love, love, Jardine's myth-busting of "gear" salesmen.
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It's classic Jardine".
This 2009 publication is the updated version of Ray's classic 1990 "Beyond Backpacking". It details his present system of long distance thru-hiking, which i based on "25,000 Miles of Trail-Tested Know-How".
It is not on, and may not be. Ray is distributing the book himself. My copy came 2 days after I ordered it through his web site. There are no references to any specific products by outdoor manufacturers, as is the case in the usual gear/ backpacking
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book from an amazing hiker about how to improve both performance and hiking experiences by paring down and getting with nature- complete with advice on through hiking and patterns for making your lightweight packs and gear. We've adopted some of the easier recommendations here, and there seems to be a good argument for implementing the more extreme ones for through hikers- that you will make better mileage with less wear AND enjoy the trail more by lessening your load. I agree that in some ...more
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoors, backpacking
"Ray Jardine played a significant role in popularizing an ultralight approach to backpacking. Beyond backpacking is a follow-up to his book are how to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. This book has a few flaws. First, it don't recognize the extreme vital cottage gear markets which provides excellent equipment to people who don't plan to sew their own items. Second, Ray doesn't clearly delineate between thinks that are just his opinion and things which have factual basis. Finally, I think there are ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am glad I followed the advice of one of my Grand Canyon river friends when I told him I was was contemplating a return to backpacking, perhaps with the goal of hiking the Middle Fork of the Salmon that I have joyfully floated many times. Ironically, my last backpacking trip into the Bench Lakes in the Sawtooths preceded my first trip down the Middle Fork. Remembering the heavy packs and the tough hiking, I was the more taken in by how nice it was to load everything needful thing and then some ...more
Gretchen Stokes
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading, because it is a classic. The dated parts, like the long discussion about film processing, are kind of humorous. But obviously, he is a nut!! And an egocentric didactic nut at that. Not to say some of his ideas aren't powerful and have been adopted by the greater number of hikers, and some should be considered and possibly adopted. Good food for thought.
Charity Gillihan
It was interesting to read the 'lightweight' perspective on hiking, and he really does make some powerful points in its favor. The sections on making your own gear are way beyond my skill level, though.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ray Jardine is beyond amazing. He has hiked/paddled/climbed/skied practically everywhere, with many ultra-long-distance treks under his belt. And under the belt of his wife as well, who shares these pages and is clearly also tough as nails and fit as 100 fiddles. The Jardines are justly famed for having assessed the hiking gear industry and found it wanting in simplicity and feather lightness. They sew their own minimalist packs and sleep under tarps even in mosquito country. Ray hikes along ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: backpackers
Recommended to Naomi by: Danielle Lemay
I got 186 pages into the Handbook before I left for my first backpacking trip, and the tips in here were fantastic. Mostly, the author inspires confidence with his endless resourcefulness and common sense. And while I didn't plan to hike 25-33 miles per day at 2.75 mph (!!), I figured my first trip was going to *feel* like that. (It did.) He talks about training, nutrition, foot care, hygiene, pack weight, improvising, first aid, and many more things, all of which are extreme but helpful. He ...more
Timothy Nichols
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good reminder that you don't need to carry a 70-lb pack or spend a ton of money on gear to head for the backcountry and have a good time. I won't be sewing my own gear (this time), but I appreciate the plans.
As with any one-man effort, quirkiness abounds, and Jardine has strong opinions about all sorts of things that are...well...matters of opinion. But I reckon anybody who's hiked the PCT, AT and CD trails -- some of them more than once -- can be expected to harbor some strong opinions, and
Okay, I am not a lightweight backpacker, and I don't think I'll ever be. This book did have some good tips about food, packing an umbrella(!), and how to pack your pack. Ray knows his hiking, and I learned some things about being in the backcountry that I'll use on my next trip. For the record, Ray, not all mountain bikers are "adrenaline junkies." As a hiker and a mountain biker, I like the same things about being in nature whether I am on foot or on my bike. Not every rider is like what you ...more
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was initially hesitant to look into the whole ultra-light thing, since some of its adherents have a kind of cult-ish attitude towards it, but my dad convinced me to read this, and my attitudes have definitely changed. Yes, some of the stuff in the book is a bit...fanatical (sewing over logos? Refusing to eat products made with processed flour?), but if you exercise a healthy skepticism while reading it, there's a TON of great information to be had, not to mention some great ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one to return to. Acts as much as a philosophy of nature exploration as a travel guide, and serves both purposes wonderfully. Will definitely return as I plan my Isle Royale trip next spring.

On the spectrum of Jardine (1) to an REI catalog (10), my preferences are probably about a 3.

Bonus points for this copy since the great Bill Cronon read and underlined many of the most abstract passages.
This is the guide for light-weight backpacking. I have read it and continue to use it as a reference for any camping trip. Not only does Jardine have incredibly logical ideas about how to reduce pack-weight, he delves deeply into backpacking topics, such as what to eat, what to wear and how far to travel each day. Amazing!
Cara Pulley
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted a book that gave me a lot of practical advice about backpacking and I found it in this book. Ray Jardine and his wife are hiking masters and they have shared their bounty of knowledge in everything from equipment to nutrition to safety. It makes a lot of sense and is worthwhile reading for anyone interesting in hiking/camping.
Christopher Konsowitz
Great book on principles of lightweight backpacking. Jardine shares a plethora of information that he and his wife have gained over thousands of miles of hiking. Gives you the necessary info for forming your own decision on what works for your own needs.

I skimmed through the information that applied to my skills and hiking needs.
Scott Cox
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book radically changed my thinking about how to backpack. It is a must read for those who want to continue backpacking past the age of fifty! However this book has ramifications beyond backpacking; perhaps best described by the old Quaker song ''Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free." Hooray for the Ray-way!!
Tom Lawson
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent info from an experienced expert. There is that weight/comfort tradeoff in backpacking, but who realizes that the bottom of a sleeping bag is compressed by your weight and useless? Read and digest and make your own tradeoffs, learning from a guy who picks up a stick in his last mile before camp to use as his ten pole!
Jeremy Abshire
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of great advice, just expect Ray to come off as arrogant. He seems like kind of a dick, but I like alot of what he has to say about backpacking. I even went so far as to buy a tarp like his and bought his tarp book, both of which I would recommend if you like sleeping outside.
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ray has his opinions but a lot of good advice on light weight backpacking. The latest addition has removed a few of the goofier notions, like repelling mosquitoes by having the right frame of mind. Ray's a bright guy with some clever solutions.
Alan Alvaro
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read for anyone considering ultralight backpacking. Ray compiles many tips and tidbits from his extensive camping experience. While bordering on preaching, Ray has some interesting things to say.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fantastic read! great tips on making your backpacking experience better, whether its long distance or not. helped me in fine tuning certain aspects of backpacking ~ packing, clothing, gear, food etc.
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will change the way you think about backpacking! If the reader begins to adopt only a small fraction of the ideas that are put forth his or her enjoyment of backpacking will increase enormously. Although a bit dogmatic this book is a must read for backpackers new and old!
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very thought provoking. Ray gets preachy sometimes, but there is lots of practical tips as well as a new way of thinking about backpacking. After reading this, you look at the outdoor gear on the market with much more critical eye.
Alexander Weber
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars
The ideas in this book are 5/5, but the writing is more like 3/5. Ray tends to repeat himself, or is just plain boring to read sometimes. However, his ideas are incredible, and the book will serve as a reference guide for years to come. I skimmed a lot... but also found a lot of it useful.
Ben Williams
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book for people who think hiking boots suck, tennis shoes/sandals work just fine, for people who like camping underneath a tarp, for people who like to carry less shit and a sharper mind, and so on. His approach will not work for everyone, but for some it makes very good sense.
Janette Mcmahon
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Older book, but still plenty of good tips, some I may use and some definitely not. A worthy read as a travelogue even if you aren't planning on backpacking yourself!
Dennis Maloney
Aug 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Changed my approach to enjoying the outdoors.
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