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The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide 2nd Edition – Book Review

A couple years after National Geographic released Andrew Skura’s first edition of the ultimate hiker’s gear guide, they’ve come out with a fully updated Second Edition. Having reviewed the first book, and having heard good things about the updated version I eagerly said, “yes” to the opportunity to review it.
What’s the book about?

This book is more than a gear guide. It’s goal is to increase your enjoyment of the “hiking” component of your outdoor adventures, and as such it provides easy to digest advice, tips and gear recommendations based on Andrew Skurka’s extensive experience. Here’s a list of the major themes covered:
• Why, When & Where – Solid tips on how to prepare for your adventure by looking at your goals, destination and expected climate
• Tools & Techniques – What to bring and how to use it: clothing, footwear, sleeping gear, shelters, navigation, trekking poles, food, cook systems, water, essentials and packs. Check out his “Core 13” pieces of clothing – a mix and match set of every piece of clothing you’d need for every environment you could face.
• Sample Gear Kits – How to pack and what to pack depending on the climate and time of year.


What did we think?

It’s Fantastic. Targeting the beginner and intermediate backpacker, this book goes into a LOT of detail on everything from how to choose a good campsite to the science and performance of various fabrics used in backpacking gear to how to choose the right gear without bringing too much or too little.

One thing I like about this book is that while Andrew speaks from experience, he doesn’t speak from personal preference; he takes a scientific approach. For example, Skurka used to be skeptical of the role of hammocks for backpackers, but after researching the subject and testing it out himself, he includes a section on their benefit in certain climates. I appreciate that kind of objectivity.


Another thing that I really like about this book is how he takes the argument away from ultralight versus… and makes it about the knowledge you need to carry in your head and why you should bring what you should bring. He makes use of clear and informative charts listing the features, pros and cons of various gear options. For example: Boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners? Polyester, merino wool, or nylon? Wool, fleece, synthetic or down? Double, single, or mountaineering tents… or tarps, Bivvys or hammocks?




It’s not a book trying to sell gear, either. Check out page 166 for a tutorial on how to make your own alcohol cookstove, one of the lightest and cheapest stoves on… or should I say off the market. One of the thing that becomes clear when you speak with the author is that he’s there to give you advice, not sell expensive gear. Despite having worked with specific brands, his recommendations cover everything from DIY to cottage manufacturers to mainstream pieces of gear that have proved themselves and have made it into his own kit.

It’s hard to know how much detail to go into, but let’s just say it’s 240 pages of well indexed, well organized and well written advice with no waste or unnecessary weight.





If you’re looking for tips on how to make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable you need this book. Nowhere have I seen the topic covered so comprehensively and in a down-to-earth and objective way. There are practical tips here that I constantly refer to and recommend to others.
The Second edition adds more knowledge and advice based on the experience he’s gained since the last book was published, including knowledge gained from marriage and backpacking with his wife.

One more time: If you haven’t read this book then buy or borrow a copy and read it. If you’re looking to gear-up for this summer then buy a copy of the book first and check out the tips. It’s bound to save you money and make your trips enjoyable, not just memorable.

The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook Review

Tim Macwelch is back with a sequel to his book “Prepare for Anything“. He’s teamed up with Outdoor Life to produce “The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook” and it’s a practical and pragmatic look at real world issues that we are likely to face in Winter. I found this book as engaging and useful as his previous book and would definitely recommend you take a look at this one.

This book tones down the “prepper” feel that the previous book sometimes left you with and hits 157 home, emergency and outdoor tips and tricks that you’re likely to need and use this winter… not just dream about needing in a post-apocalyptic world. Let’s take a look at the outline and then dig into some highlights:



The book is divided into three main sections:

  • Basics
  • Emergency
  • Wilderness


Basics looks at winterizing your home and preparing for and dealing with winter weather. The subjects are everything from maintenance, to weather proofing to dressing for the weather to storing food and even how to ride your motorcycle in winter.


Emergency deals with how to stay safe and prepare for and fend off the cold. There are great tips for adverse weather, dealing with hypothermia and of course how to survive a fall through the ice and deal with the post-drowning effects. Check out the tuna can stove plans on page 65!


Wilderness deals with practical tips like gear, shelter, fire lighting, avalanche safety, ice fishing and even snowmobile safety. You can even learn to punch a polar bear (page 143), even if you should probably avoid the need to.


What do we think?

This book has the same polish as the previous book. From the quality printing and binding to the excellent, practical, easy-to-follow tips, this book makes a great gift for anyone who loves the outdoors, even if they prefer to enjoy winter from the comforts of their armchair.  We loved reading this book by Tim Macwelch and would recommend it and it’s companion “Prepare for Anything”. At $15 on amazon, it’s hard to beat this easy and informative read.


Disclosure: This book was provided for us to review free of charge. All opinions are our own and is what we’d recommend to family and friends. This post contains affiliate links, a way for your to purchase products and support our site with no cost to you.

Prepare for Anything – Book Review

If you’re looking for an easy to read book to satisfy your survival and homesteading skills I recommend you take a look at Tim MacWelch’s book: “Prepare for Anthing: 338 Essential Skills” published by Outdoor Life.




This full colour book (available for kindle, in paperback and hardcover editions) offers 338 “essential skills” that are supposed to prepare your for anything. The topics range from choosing the right outdoor vehicle to escaping from armed robbers to understanding which garden vegetables to plant to preserving foods to trapping animals… and more. While some of the scenarios will likely never happen to you, it’s an interesting and informative read that offers literally hundreds of practical tips and Saturday projects that will keep you busy for years. What’s more, it’s designed to be easy to read and easy to do. They present the topics visually through diagrams, photos and comic book style stories. There is no shortage of artwork, leaving little room for confusion on “How to”.




I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t appreciate many of the easy-to-follow tips in this book, and I’m sure all of us would find ourselves engrossed in this engaging read. While I personally think that the whole post-apocalyptic “prepper” view is over-dramatized by some in today’s society (you won’t find me building a bunker in the woods), and despite the fact that some of these scenarios would never happen, I still thing this is an entertaining and informative read.




What’s the book about?

  • There are three main topics covered:
    • Gear
    • Skills
    • Survival
    • (see full list of content at the end of the article)
  • Format: Instructional, using full color diagrams, comics, DIYs, etc.
  • Price on Amazon:
  • $23.90 (originally $30) – Hardcover
  • $22.95 – Paperback
  • $5.50 – Kindle

Oh, and the high gloss pages mean it would probably burn fairly well, but wouldn’t serve as very good toilet paper.




This book is ideal for the DIYer and homesteader. It’s a great book to read on rainy days before you head out to try it yourself. I know there are many projects that I plan on working on this summer… NOT the emergency Tracheotomy.




While some of the material may be familiar to outdoorsy-types, there are lots of great ideas and uses of common products that I hadn’t thought of. It’s great to have it all in one place too. Did I mention the knots? Knots have always been my weak point and I love the “knots to know” section.




All in all, this book is a great read and an excellent resource and the ideal gift for that would be adventurer. The level of information is great for both beginners and experienced outdoors people.

Sure, you might be able to survive without the book and with only an axe and a pair of underwear, but with this book as a resource you’ll probably fair much better.



Complete Table of Contents:


Understand Situational Awareness
Sharpen Your Strategy
Know the Steps
Color Code It
Know What You’re Preparing For
Understand the Crisis
Get Familiar with the Scope
Learn Your Task
Create Your Family Emergency Plan
Conduct Drills
Back a BOB for Any Situation
Stock a Home Survival Kit
Pack Something Weird
Make a Fire Kit
Waterproof Your Matches
Be Fire Smart
Know Your Fire Types
Check Home Safety Basics
Stay on Comm
Know Your Region
Stock the Right Supplies
Disaster-Proof Your Home
Fool the Bad Guys
Reinforce Your Home
Don’t Forget the Garage
Bar the Door for Real
Shop Smart
Start with the Basics
Power Up with Protein
Go Carb Crazy
Stash Some Little Luxuries
Pack It in PETE
Plan for the Long Haul
Don’t Forget FIFO
Count Your Calories
Store Food Right
Go Cuckoo for Coconut
Sleep On It
Figure Out How Much Water
You’ll Need
Be Chemical Safe
Harvest the Rain
Let the Sun Shine In
It Could Happen: Wes’ Jungle Fever
Hold Your Water
Think Outside the Sink
Banish Bacteria
Pool Your Resources
Suit Up for Safety
Get Wild and Woolly
Walk Tall
Be Your Own Bootblack
Dress for the Occasion
Build Your Tool Kit
Get Creative with Your Toolbox
Rip It Up with a Hammer
Make Fire with a File
Don’t Get Caught Without: Vodka
Spotlight On: Evan & Scot Hill
Meet the Hill Brothers
Get the Gear of the Hill People
Stick to Your Guns
Grab a Gun (Or Two)
Be Gun Safety Savvy
It Could Happen: Paracord Escape
Own 8 Essential Knives
Tie 7 Simple Knots
Have a Financial Plan
Shelter Your Funds
Stash Your Cash
Know the Right Amount
Understand Your Fuel Types
Know Your Color Codes
Make It Last Longer
Store Fuel Right
Determine How Much Fuel You Need
Burn This, Not That
Live on Solar Power
Get the Most from a Propane Stove
Make Recycled Briquettes
Get Ready to Get Around
Buy the Best Vehicle
Upgrade Your Ride
Charge It Yourself
Provide All the Air
Get the Tools for Your Car
Don’t Get Caught Without: Paracord
Know Basic Life Skills
Revisit Home Ec
Build Your Survival Skills
Build Your First Aid Kit
Improvise Medical Supplies
Level Up
Check Vital Signs
Assess and Control Bleeding
Bandage a Wound
Disinfect a Wound
Know CPR
Treat for Shock
Set Broken Bones
Identify and Treat Burns
Perform the Heimlich Maneuver
Build a Fire in the Rain
Get the Best Materials You Can Find
Make Char Cloth
Learn the Tricks to Tinder
Don’t Get Caught Without: Sardines
Know Your Water
Disinfect with UV Light
Disinfect with Boiling Water
Keep Clear
Use Your Canner to Distill Water
Build a Solar Still
Double Up
Dig Your Own Well
Get the Water Up
Make a Gypsy Well
Boil in a Bottle
Maintain Your Perimeter
Be Your Own Chimney Sweep
Keep Your Fortress in Good Shape
Stock Your Home
Plumbing Toolbox
Clean with the Basics
Start Outside, Then Bring
It All Inside
Stock Your Safe Room
Grab the Popcorn
Don’t Forget Your Pets
Alert the Authorities
Board Up
Stock a P.B.O.B.
Prepare to Leave Them Behind
Train for Disaster
It Could Happen:
Rooftop Escape
Do Your Research
Pick the Right Spot
Get the Dirt
Place Your Plants
Go Urban
Take it Easy
Build a Food Wall
Grow the Right Veggies
Build a Raised Bed Garden
Feed a Family of Four
Scare Off Critters
Grow Your Own Medicine Chest
Make a Self-Watering
Container Garden
Know Fido’s Risks
Spotlight On:
Rod Morey, Medicine Man
Take Charge of Your Own Wellness
Bred Rod’s Favorite Remedies
Know Three Essential Herbs
Build a Backyard Chicken Farm
Raise Chicks
Get a Good Egg
Feed Free-Range Chickens
Kill a Chicken Humanely
Prepare Your Chicken
Consider Other Fowl
Include Quail in Your Homestead
Avoid Salmonella
Find the Right Feed
Raise Rabbits
Breed Rabbits the Right Way
Build a Rabbit Hutch
Raise a Cavy
Build a Barrel Abattoir
Kill Small Animals Humanely
Dress a Rabbit
Create a Conflict-Free Homestead
Don’t Forget the Poop
Make Goat’s-Milk Cheese
Avoid Cattle, No Bull!
Make a Canning Kit
Can in a Water Bath
Learn to Pressure-Can
Get a Lift
Yes You Can . . . Meat
Plant a Canning Garden
Follow These Golden Rules
for Pickling Produce
Jam or Jelly Your Favorite Fruits
Dry Out Your Fruits
Drop Some Acid
Spotlight On:
Rick “Hue” Hueston
Survive the End Times with Hue
Forage Hue’s Top 10 Wild Foods
Cook Hue’s Squirrel Stew
Make a Cardboard Box Smoker
Smoke Out Your Vegetarians
Get Fishy
Make Jerky
Brew Your Own Alcohol
Brew Mead
Craft an American Amber Ale
Make Blackberry Wine
Tie 7 Helpful Knots
Improvise a Solar Lightbulb
Make Your Own Fuel
Assemble an Oil Lamp
Make Candles
Build a Bicycle-Powered Generator
Power Up
Brew Coffee Without Power
Make Power with Water
Build a Water Turbine
Consider the Biodiesel Switch
Know Your Diesels
Make the Conversion to Bio
Get Running on French-Fry Oil
Turn the Right Oils into Fuel
Be Safe with Home Chemistry
Get the Supplies
Learn the Process
Be Biodiesel Smart
It Could Happen: Cougar Face-Off
Avoid Conflict
Throw a Power Punch
Hit the Spot
Block and Counter
Choose the Right Knife
Stand and Deliver
Get a Grip
Throw a Knife
Sharpen Your Blade
Don’t Get in a Knife Fight
Make a PVC Bow
Fletch Your Own Arrows
Shoot Your Bow Properly
Don’t Get Caught Without:
Duct Tape
Learn Safe Gun Handling
Stand and Shoot
Avoid Four Common
Trigger Mistakes
Drill Home Accuracy
Build Your Own Blowgun
Use What’s Close
Chart Your Survival Priorities
Assess and Respond to Emergency
Survive Anything
Obey the Rule of Threes
Develop an Attitude
Decide Whether to Stay
Ask for—and Give—Help
Share Your Skills
Plan Your Bug-Out Camp Supplies
Embrace the Plastic
Create Order with Areas
Make Camp Life Easier
Signal Your Rescue
Turn On the Radio
Use a Survival Mirror
Don’t Get Caught Without:
Space Blankets
Understand Major Blackouts
Create Flare Contingencies
Don’t Panic After a Pulse
Laugh in the Face of Darkness
Employ People Power
Understand EMP Danger
Protect Electronics with
a Faraday Cage
Charge a Cell Phone in a Blackout
Hack Your C-Cell
Be Ready for Storms
Prepare for Hurricanes and Cyclones
Fight Back Against Flooding
Find a Quake-Safe Spot
It Could Happen: Natural Disaster
Get Ready for a Fall
Stock Up for the Crash
Build a Team
Hail the New Chief
Understand the Real Threat
Choose the Right Leader
Don’t Screw It Up
Lead like the Great Ones
Spot a Sociopath
Pick a Compound
Remember the Basic Tenets
Build a Defensive Perimeter
Create Observation Posts
Build a Basement Bunker
Make a Bucket Bathroom
Create Layers of Security
Keep It Breathable
Have Some Comms Handy
Keep It Dry
Spotlight On: Kirk Lombard
Catch a Weird Fish
Poke Pole for Eels
Follow Kirk’s Foraging Tips
Select Your Trap
Cover Your Scent
Build a Deadfall
Bait Your Trap Correctly
Know Your Neighborhood (Animals)
Bag a Backyard Buck
Break the Law (If You Must)
Hunt Better with Bait
Catch Live Critters
Tan Your Hides
Use Your Brain
Smoke Tanned Hides
Enjoy Sun-Dried Foods
Dry It in the Dark
Whip Up Some Hardtack
Make Your Own Pemmican
Make a Good Trade
Get Your Balance
Spotlight On:
R.P. MacWelch, Tim’s Dad
Survive Like Dad
Learn an Art
Develop New Skills
Spark It Up
Make Fire from Rocks
Build a Fire Like a Pro
Use a Fire Plow
Make Charcoal from Firewood
Mix Your Own Gunpowder
Build Your Own Backyard Forge
Forge Your Own Knife
Heat with the Sun
Warm Up Safely
Use Bricks and Stones to
Heat Your Home
Consider These Heaters
Master Six Advanced Knots
Don’t Get Caught Without: Beer
Multitask Your Meds
Stockpile Essential Meds
Repurpose Street Drugs
Deliver a Baby
Use an EpiPen
Apply a Tourniquet
Don’t Try This at Home
Save a Toe (or Finger, or More)
Save an Eye
Don’t Spill Your Guts
Open an Airway
It Could Happen:
Tracheotomy To Go
Survive a Gunshot Wound
Take Care of an Impaled Victim
Decompress a Chest Wound
Suture a Wound
Survive with Nothing
Know Your Lines of Shelter
Scrounge for Nourishment
Diagnose and Treat Ailments

Patagonia eBook review and giveaway

Patagonia contacted me a few weeks ago to see if I wanted to review one of their books. Yes, that Patagonia, and yes, they sell books… eBooks. After looking through the Patagonia book list, I remembered something; one of my twitter buddies is a climber who lives in his Patagonia Nano Puff and works in the digital publishing field. I thought I’d hand the review over to Darren R to see what he thought.

Read to the end to find out how you can win your own eBook from Patagonia.

a review of Fred Beckey’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs
by Darren Rettburg

Did you know that Patagonia publishes books too? I was asked to do a review on one of their eBooks. The book I reviewed is Fred Beckley’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs, By Fred Beckey.

What’s it about?
In this book Fred gives you route tips, natural history and climbing lore from 100 of his favorite climbs and makes a few honorable mentions of some other climbs. Fred has more first ascents than any other north American climber and has written definitive guides to climbing in the Cascades.


After an introduction by Barry Blanchard, the climbs are broken up into eight different sections, (1)Pacific Northwest, (2)Alaska, (3)British Columbia Coast Mountains, (4)Canadian Rockies, Selkirks & Bugaboos, (5)High Rockies, (6)Sierra Nevada, (7)Southwest Desert, and (8)The Appalachian Mountains & Mexico. For each climb you get:

  • The mountain’s elevation
  • First ascent of the mountain
  • First ascent of the route
  • Grade
  • Recommended gear
  • time (the average it takes)
  • the best season to climb
  • Information and regulations
  • Magnetic Declination on Compass
  • Maps
  • and References
That’s followed up by a few paragraphs to a few pages filled with either history, a story, or some other information about the particular climb. Finally each climb wraps up with information on how to access the climb, the climb’s route, the descent, and finally the beta and caveats.
Purchase and Downloading
I got my eBook straight from Patagonia’s page on My Tablet Books. Purchasing and downloading is like any other site you buy products from. Once you download you eBook you are able to download it again if you need to by logging into your account you make when you purchase the book. You can use any of the major credit cards to pay and you even have the option to use PayPal.
Installing on Your eReader
The file you receive from Patagonia’s page on My Tablet Books is an EPUB file. My Tablet Books has step by step instructions on how to instal your EPUB file onto the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Device, Kindle, Sony Touch or My Pocket Touch, Nook, Sony, Kobo Devices, or even your Mac or PC. I immediately installed my eBook onto a Nook. I transferred the file into my documents folder on the Nook and it was ready to go. I then Installed my eBook onto my iPad and into iBooks, just by dragging and dropping it into the library in my iTunes. I also followed the instructions on how to install the eBook onto my Android phone. I had to download the free app that was recommended, then transfer the file to my phone. Finally out of curiosity, I converted my EPUB file to Kindle’s native mobi file and then sent if off to my kindle account to see how it would look on my devices through Kindle’s readers and a Kindle Fire. Because the mobi format doesn’t support as much functionality as an EPUB, if you do this with your file, don’t expect to get a fully function eBook. I’ll discuss the results I had later with doing this.
eBook Functionality

With the Nook and iBooks on the iPad, installing was a simple drag and drop. The book functioned and looks fantastic on them both. The native table of contents, something that you will quite often find doesn’t work on eBooks, works nicely. The headers and text all show up correctly and each climb starts on a new page. 
For the Android operating system it was tested with the Aldiko book reader app on an HTC One phone. For the most part it looked good except that the main headers for each climb showed up as regular text. Everything else looked great. This particular app was sluggish and slow to respond for me. I wouldn’t want to read a book like this on my phone anyway. Others may not have a problem with it. 
For the Kindle device and readers I tested the mobi file I converted from the EPUB file, The only real issue was that the native app table of contents wasn’t working. Everything else looked and functioned good. One surprise I found was that the native table of contents worked on the computer. That was unexpected! 
When it comes to the functionality the Nook and iBooks on the iPad worked, dare I say perfectly, and were easy to install. I would love to have this book for these two tested devices.
My Thoughts
I really like this eBook. It’s packed with amusing anecdotes, notes, history, pictures, topos and great stories. There is plenty of information in this book to keep the adventure researcher busy for hours. The introduction gave me a fantastic account of Fred Beckey and his back ground. The sections for each of the climbs gave me plenty of valuable information to decide if that is a climb I would like to do. This book would be a great place to start if you are looking for your next climbing adventure. 
With the history about the climb, the description of the route and the descent, I’m given enough if formation to figure out if it is a climb for me. Many of the climbs include climbing route topos. While the physical book looks to have these on a full page, the eBook does not. They are placed in-line with the text and not one of them takes up the whole screen. If you want to get a better view, you can select the topo like any of the other images in the eBook and zoom in on it. 
The image quality is too poor for anything larger than the size it is in the text. At the size they are in the text most of the info on them is unreadable. This, to me, makes them useless. If they took up a full screen like they take up a full page in the book I could see them being more useful in the eBook. Since I am on the topic of the images in the ebook, the issue with the topo maps is similar for the rest of the images. While they look fantastic and greatly add to the book, when you select them and zoom them to full screen to admire them, you find that their quality is poor at that size. This is a common issue across the board with all ebooks I have found. Until things change with the market and with the publishers I don’t see this getting any better. (I could explain more about it but this is about this particular eBook and not the industry so I won’t bore you with the details
That said, this eBook is on par with all other quality eBooks. I found the information valuable. There is plenty of readable text and stories for me to sit down and browse through, along with plenty of information to start research on a climbing route. I think this is a book that any armchair adventurer could enjoy. There is so much in this eBook that even if you are not a climber and love reading about adventures you could enjoy this eBook. I often find myself just sitting down and just browsing through the book, looking at the pictures, maps, and reading about some of the climbs. 
I feel this book works on both your research book shelf and your coffee table. For a list price of $14.95 for an ebook I would be hard pressed to buy this book in the eBook format. That is a premium price for an eBook. Granted it is a large book with a massive amount of content, the issue with the images would keep me from purchasing it in eBook format for the premium price. If I were to pay that price then find the images the way they are, I would be disappointed. The book is great and I would definitely purchase it in the printed format.
If you want to win a Patagonia eBook, just head over to their page here: http://www.patagonia.com/us/shop/provisions-books?k=1H-aw and then leave a comment below telling us which ebook from Patagonia you’d like most.
Winner will be chosen on or shortly after the 14th of January, 2013.

The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide

Seeing as this is a book review… it seems that a written report is in order

Over the last few years of backpacking, I have come to feel that I carry way to much ‘stuff’ in my pack. Granted, I have made a lot of improvements over the past few years, shedding a lot of unnecessary clothing and keeping my “extra” food to a reasonable level. Still, in spite of that, I struggle to come out with a packed weight less than 45 lbs… and I can now say from experience that after 10 miles and a few thousand feet of elevation gain, that I am still carrying too much weight.

For this reason I leapt at an opportunity to read the “Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide” by Andrew Skurka. I figured can only benefit from the experience of someone who has several thousand more miles on the trail than me, and this assumption proves generally correct in the case of this book of “tools and techniques to hit the trail”

The book is divided into three sections. The first 19 pages focuses on the definition of a hiker and outlines the necessary knowledge and mental preparation required to be able to get the most out of hiking.

The next 162 pages focus on gear. This section provides a very comprehensive look at every major piece of hiking gear, providing a comparison of the different options available and occasionally a critical look at popular gear that’s available (for example, double wall backpacking tents and waterproof-breathable fabrics).

The final part of 22 pages lists out example hiking scenarios and give an idea of what you would find in Andrew Skurka’s pack when planning a hike in the Appalacians, Arctic or even a desert.

In spite of the fact that the first section is a mere 19 pages, I found it to be an extremely valuable read. The importance and value of proper preparation cannot be underestimated, and it is useful to see some of the sources that I can rely on to get reasonable information. Beyond that though is what a hiker (or ultimate hiker) values in the outdoor experience. The constant forward progress that is made from first thing in the morning to the end of the day is very valuable, going at a pace that enables the hiker to appreciate the outdoor surroundings while knowing that at the end of the day a lot of ground will have been covered (more than a normal hiker would) and that there is opportunity to explore much more remote wilderness than might be otherwise available. To reach this an ultimate hiker is mentally prepared to rarely be 100% comfortable, but sufficiently geared and prepared to safely enjoy the best the outdoors has to offer.

The gear section is something of a mixed bag, but ultimately full of valuable gems of knowledge. Andrew provides a very detailed and comprehensive view of every major piece of gear, providing useful comparisons of the strengths and weaknesses of different pieces of gear (think “Down vs. Synthetic” sleeping bags, “Double-wall vs Single-wall vs Tarp” tents and “Wood vs. Canister vs. Alcohol” stoves). At the end of the day he makes a few judgement calls, but what you generally find is that there is little gear that Andrew will ‘never’ use, but rather that it depends on the conditions of usefulness.

A few sections that I found particularly interesting and worthwhile was the sections on Food, Shelter, and Footwear. After reading the food section I decided to follow a bit of Andrew’s reasoning and packed a lot of chips and chocolate to the Washington Enchantments in order to have a higher fat diet for more energy. Overall I found myself sufficiently filled though I found my chips crumbled a lot and would not easily pack down.

The last section of sample gear lists I found to be useful, though I only glanced through it. It is something to be aware of as there, but I realistically wouldn’t read it unless I was planning a hike that conformed to some of the conditions outlined. What I found of considerably more value was HOW this lists are organized. Lists are very valuable and its useful to see how someone else organizes theirs to see how I might improve mine.

Along with several anecdotal stories sprinkled throughout the book, I found the Ultimate Hiker’s guide to be a nice read. I would consider Part 1 a section worth deliberate straight through reading, as it contains valuable information even if it is review or even ‘common sense.’ Having the planning and hiking techniques written on paper makes me think about it more, and in many ways I wish this section was a bigger. The gear section is great for random reading, where you want to take a few minutes break and consider your gear. Being away of the breadth of material covered is helpful so that whenever you ask yourself “what sort of material might be best for the rain” you can find the section at the time it interests you most. While the specific gear recommendations will become dated with time, it does give an idea of relative cost to get particular pieces of gear. At its extreme, if you want to look like Andrew Skurka (if only in gear) that option is available to you, but overall, this book enables you to make very educated decisions about the gear you need to meet the conditions you may face along with a few bit of advice on where its beneficial to spend more money (think footwear) vs when going on the cheap is perfectly workable (think alcohol stoves).

The final word:

I found this book to be a great read with a little bit for everyone. The first section, while short, is by far the most valuable overall. The gear section can sometimes be a bit over-technical (part of the ‘bit for everyone’) but provides a ton of useful charts that I will refer back to for a long time to come. The final gear lists are useful, but much more useful as a guide to record and weigh your own gear.