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The Backpacker's Handbook

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  430 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Most up to date guide available concerning every element involved in backpacking. Info on the latest gear, cooking techniques, skills, etc. Low impact camping emphasized.
Paperback, 468 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by McGraw-Hill Professional (first published 1992)
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Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan Newsome
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has everything anyone would want to know regarding backpacking. The author's immense experience in the field is evident given his vast knowledge pool, and the tone made it an enjoyable read.

My only "warning" (if you can call it that) for people interested is that the author works purely from a biased stance, so if you're looking for objectivity then maybe pass this one up. But, if you have no problem with a bit of personal opinion, then look no further!
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good informative book. A must read for people who like backpacking and people who are new to backpacking. Contains a extensive section on how to pack light, as well as a section on minimalistic hiking, powerhiking, slackpacking, and things to do and not to do for a new hiker.
Eric Anderson
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-goal
Extremely thorough and expansive in the knowledge of backpacking gear and techniques. Preparing for a few backpacking adventures of my own and this has been an invaluable resource.
Maxime Ferland
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really good no nonsense information geared toward lightweight backpacking, everythings covered tough a bit outdated, it was my bible when 20 years old. The clearest way in the universe is trough a forest wilderness.
Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 23, 2013 added it
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
Jun 18, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Tyler Lego
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hiking-camping
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.
Janne Asmala
Jun 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Lydia Danae
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Leighanne Medina
This book is an excellent resource as I consider a multi-day backpacking trip! It is incredibly readable and gives a ton of information while taking away a bit of the naiveté.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Sorely in need of metric measurements. I found myself glazing over at all the incomprehensible numbers after I became bored of trying to convert them.
Erik Merke
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommendations
Great book. Very helpful for a guy like me, who was a beginner. Would be great for veteran backpackers too.
Michelle McPherson
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
The Backpackers Handbook

This is a book cocked full of great information, resources, and my favorite, the checklist. I am adding this book to my essentials to have in print.
Jay P
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-outdoors
Author provides a great overview, as well detailed information for backpacking, camping and outdoors enjoyment.
Jan 16, 2008 added it
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.
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
FANTASTIC. Positively bewildering amounts of very practical information. LOVED it!

The Shelf: Accepted. (Be sure to get the latest edition, though.)
Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
ok, i admit i only skimmed this one...
R.K. Goff
Mar 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah backpacking!

And don't just walk out the door with a bag-- pick this up, it will save so much hastle.
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