Bike, Hike, and Paddle

From January of 1996 to October of 2008, this site was called "Chuck's Backpacking Bonanza" and was hosted on AOL until they ceased such hosting. Over the years, I expanded the site to include much more than only backpacking, so the name is now Bike, Hike, and Paddle. Enjoy my efforts!
--------------------THE INDEX IN THE SIDEBAR ON THE RIGHT WILL GET YOU STARTED--------------------

Saturday, January 13, 2018

22nd Anniversary of my websites

Twenty-two years ago (January of 1996) I began a website called Chuck's Backpacking Bonanza which documented with photos and information my 60+ backpacking adventures across the country. There were very few Internet gateways to such information back then and my site became one of the go-to tools for such information. For those who recall, uploading photos and webpages back then was slow and arduous and done by telephone modem. What takes seconds now took minutes back then and the resolution of the photos was poor.

As the years progressed and technology improved, I added my biking, rafting, kayaking, and canoeing adventures to the site and changed the name to Bike, Hike, and Paddle which now serves as the index for my Chuck's Adventures site. Together the two sites have had nearly 550,000 visits and contain over ten thousand photos. A decade ago I began making videos of my adventures, and my YouTube channel has 150 movies with 420,000 views. It's rewarding to share my outdoor adventures with so many people!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My Favorite USA Biking Trails

My Top Biking Trails in the USA
(with photos and info for each)

  1. Hiawatha Trail (Idaho on the Montana border thru Bitterroot Mountains)
  2. Des Plaines RiverTrail (50+ miles through Lake & Cook County forest preserves, IL)
  3. Chicago Lakefront Path (18 miles, IL)
  4. Glenwood Canyon Trail (CO)
  5. Root River State Trail (MN)
  6. Gateway Trail (Munger Trail - St. Paul, MN)
  7. Mickelsen Trail thru Black Hills (SD)
  8. Monon Trail, (Indianapolis, IN)
  9. Tunnel Hill Trail (Illinois)
  10. Alum Creek Trail (Columbus, Ohio)
  11. Virginia Creeper Trail (Mt. Rogers Natl. Rec Area, VA)
  12. Cape Cod Trail/Nantucket/Martha's Vineyard Trails (MA)
  13. Acadia National Park carriage road system (ME)
  14. Row River Trail (Oregon)

My Top Mountain Bike Trails
(with photos and info for each)

  1. Santos Trails (Ocala, FL)
  2. Wilderness Park Off-road Trail (Tampa, FL)
  3. Rim View Trail (Page, AZ)
  4. Killer 3 Trail in Manchester State Forest (SC)
  5. Deer Grove Forest Preserve (Cook County, IL)
  6. John Muir Trails in Kettle Moraine State Forest (WI)
  7. Croom Off Road Bike Loops in Withlacoochee State Forest (FL)
  8. Munson Hills Loops in Apalachicola Natl. Forest (FL) 
  9. Cross Florida Greenway (Land Bridge section)
  10. Ft. Clinch State Park  (FL)
  11. North Point Mtn. Bike Trails of Virginia Key (Miami, FL)
  12. Interurban Trail (Bellingham, WA)

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Old Links Page from 1995 to 2008

This is published as an historical example of what my original website (Chuck's Backpacking Bonanza) looked like from 1996 to 2008. It is probable that very few of the links below are active anymore. My site began on AOL and all text and photos were uploaded via telephone modem for the first bunch of years, a slow and cumbersome process. The Internet has come a long way since then!





Cultivate your mind,
so that when you're alone,
you'll be in good company.

--Ernest Palincsar (my 7th grade teacher)--

The links on this page are checked periodically. If you find links which are inoperable, e-mail me and I'll remedy the situation. If the page you travel to does not have a reciprocal link to return you here, remember that you can use your browser's "BACK" button to return you to this page to use other links, or you can "bookmark" this page to easily return. I have annotated each entry so you have some idea of its content and placed them in categories to aid your search.
Latest revision: October 22, 2008

Indexes of backcountry sites (tons of links)

  • Outdoor Resources Online (ORO) contains over 650 links on backpacking, climbing, fishing, mountain biking, river sports, skiing, and surfing. Also has added product reviews.
  • HikeNet is a website with great graphics, stories and photos of numerous hikers' trips (including the AT, Grand Canyon, and King's Canyon) and links to other websites featuring hiking, climbing, and backpacking adventures.
  • The's Camping section has weekly features, stories, links, as well as sections on mountain biking, skiing, sailing, scuba diving, and dozens of other sports.
  • Peak To Peak has info on thousands of hikes in the U. S. and also international hikes, as well as info on gear, tours, lodges, state and national parks and forests, hiking clubs, wilderness sites, and much more.
  • Outdoor Places is a huge site with feature articles, 1000+ links, a gear guide, destination info, photos, and much more.
  • The has articles, links, destinations, a trails database, gear, a beginner's corner, photos, and a question/answer section.
  • is an alphabetized, categorized, and annotated sportsman's directory with hundreds of links to hunting and fishing/marine sites as well as hundreds of links to sites for backpacking, climbing. hiking, destinations, survival, camping, environment, and many more.
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Commercial sites:

  • Backpacker Magazine has a website called BaseCamp which includes sections on Destinations, Gear Talk, Hiking Partner Connection, a fully searchable "Weekend Wilderness" site finder, and much more. .
  • GORP -- The Great Outdoors Recreation Pages has a fantastic website featuring outdoor activities of every imaginable sort -- a must for all interested in the outdoors -- including a listing of all Wilderness Areas in the country GORP also has extensive lists of nearly every national park, national forest, and wilderness area in America.
  • Need guidebooks and maps? Amazon calls itself the "Earth's largest bookstore" and allows you to search its database of over 1,000,000 titles by author, title, subject, and keyword. Every book returned by the search is then hyperlinked to info about the book. Adventurous Traveler Bookstore has a huge selection of guidebooks and maps for hikers. Pete and Ed Books offer books, maps, videos, and magazines covering hiking, biking, canoeing, climbing, fishing, and more -- and will match's prices but with lower shipping costs. Latta Outdoors offers a wide selection of books and maps covering all outdoor sports.
  • Backcountry Experience has stores in Durango, Colorado, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, featuring quality merchandise and highly knowledgeable sales staff, and also sells their products through their website or by phone order.
  • The clothing manufacturer L. L. Bean has a website which allows one to browse nearly 900 national and state forests. 
  • Curious how Gore-Tex works? Visit the Gore Company Home Page for info about their fabrics -- the science, care, maintenance, etc.
  • CamelBak's site offers info on their unique products and also articles on "The facts of Hydration" and "Why hydration gives you more energy." Plus more!
  • calls itself "the interactive outdoor guide" and has links on backpacking and biking, environment issues, astronomy, and outdoor photos/art, as well as news discussion groups, and forums. They also provide free online topo maps and elevation profiles for numerous areas.
  • Pack Lite Foods offers breakfast/lunch, beverages/snacks, and dinner meals -- all as one-pot meals ready in under 10 minutes, reasonably priced, and available in 1 or 2 serving packages.
  • Over 2000 product reviews of equipment of all types are available on
  • Portland, Oregon's U. S. Outdoor Store offers gear for nearly every outdoor pursuit and from most major manufacturers in its online site.
  • Pack Lite Pro offers a software program to help outdoor sports lovers plan successful trips and also has a collection of delicious recipes available as well as links to other outdoors sites.
  • Ultralight backpacking software offers software for lightweight camping enthusiasts who use ultralight backpacking techniques.
  • Ultralight Outfitters offers skillbuilding information, specialized gear, packing lists, food suggestions and tips on backpacking with kids, and their wiki pages allow folks to add their own stories and share experiences.
  • Coleman has been known as a supplier of quality outdoor sports and camping gear for years, but now has branched into backpacking gear, too, including tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, coolers, stoves, etc. Their gear can be found at Summit Camping Gear and Camping Gear Pro.
  • offers discounted maps from National Geographic, Trails Illustrated, the U. S. Forest Service, and more, and also sells the DeLorme Atlas series.
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Trails and specific wilderness areas:

  • Steve Fry's Hiking in Colorado contains summaries of Colorado 13'ers he has climbed, with photos. Steve also has a "Hike Difficulty Calculator" available which takes into account elevation gain and round trip distance.
  • Arkansas has great backpacking. Check out my pages for the Ozark Hiking Trail and the Buffalo National River Trail, as well as Tim Ernst's Ozark Highlands Trail Association website.
  • If you are interested in through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, visit Wingfoot's Trailplace.
  • Chet Fromm's Backpacker Guide has information on our National Scenic Trails (he's completed 4 of the 8 himself!) and also numerous links to schools, distributors, clubs, mail lists, e-magazines, and more.
  • One of those long distance trails which in part traverses the Midwest is the North Country Trail. Sections of this trail are included in my photos covering the Superior Hiking TrailPictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and the Chequamegon National Forest. Also, Joan Young of Michiganhas completed 940+ miles of the NCT and includes photos, info, and links on it on her site (as well as material on model railroading, gardening, her favorite books, and wetlands.)
  • The Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation website details info on this trail, which when completed, will trace the farthest advance of the last glacier for more than 1000 miles through the State of Wisconsin.
  • The Bruce Trail, which runs for over 400 miles between Queenston Heights (near Niagara Falls) north to Tobermory Harbour in southern Ontario, Canada, has a website.
  • Mike Molloy's site, called Mike's Hikes, has an alphabetical list of over 300 hikes available in Rocky Mountain National Park, complete with photos and trip reports, tips, and links.
  • Danny's Missouri Backpacking & Hiking Trails Review has info on over a dozen Missouri hiking trails, both for day and overnight trips, as well as links to other sites.
  • Colorado Rocky Mountain Trip Reports contains over 1000 links to trip reports on Colorado peaks, primarily 14ers, but also peaks from 11,000 to 13,000 feet in altitude.
  • The Mohican Outdoor Center is the southernmost Appalachian Mountain Club facility and their site has trail info, hikers' stories, local weather, ninks, and much more.
  • Interested in New Zealand? Garry's Backpack New Zealand site has info on backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, and includes travel info - hostels, tours, transportation, visitor centers, links, and more.
  • Select Hikes specializes in trails in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, and also offers to publish your articles (preferably with photos) about trails, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, mountaineering, etc.
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Safety/health concerns

  • The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has webpages on Giardiosis and the newest villain, Cryptosporidiosis, both of which are protozoa which can make you wish you had treated your backcountry water properly.
  • Altitude sickness is covered by the Princeton University Outdoor Action website, as well as equipment, 1st aid, safety, and environment.
  • has info on foot health, conditions, and treatments, news articles, foot health care products, live chats with foot care professionals, a question/answer section, and links.
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Mainly photos of nature:

  • Do you like wildflowers as much as I do? You can see a dozen-plus here at my site, but you should visit Gary Lipe's Wildflowers site which contains photos, catalogs, references, identifications by state, and links to other wildflower resources on the web. The Rocky Mountain Wildflower Page has photos of many wildflowers, closeups of many of the flowers, and links to other sites.
  • Do you like wildlife?  Here are several dozen photos I've taken on 70+ backpacking trips.
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Hikers' sites:

  • The Backpacker by Matt Johnson provides links to other websites, a photo gallery, product reviews, backpacking and camping tips from the author and visitors, a destinations section, a chat section, and a beginner's corner feature.
  • The Dirty Sole Society advocates "set your feet free and your mind will follow." The Barefoot Hikers espouse hiking without shoes.
  • The Middle-Aged Hiker is an on-line book of 32 humorous and well-written chapters recounting trips into the Grand Canyon by Dennis Bathory-Kitsz and David Gunn.
  • Recording artist Jim Stoltz, known as Walkin' Jim, has 11 albums to his credit, and is an inveterate backpacker, logging well over 20,000 wilderness miles so far. His site includes his activist preservation/conservation philosophy, quotes, tales of some of his trips, tips from the trail, suggested readings, original poetry, his "name the Wild Place" photo contest, and much more.
  • Rob McCarthy's Outlandish Outdoor Activities has pages on backpacking, hiking, scuba diving, karate, survival, 1st aid, trivia, and links to other sites.
  • Outside in Colorado and Beyond specializes in hiking and climbing in Colorado.
  • Phil Stegal"s has links for backpacking, climbing, Scouting, and ATVing.
  • Dances with Marmots chronicles New Zealand Firefighter George Spearing's five month, 4300km solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada and includes many photos and much humor.
  • Winter Campers is a site by guys from New York who are "brave enough or crazy enough" to camp/backpack in the snow. The site has photos, trip logs, reasons to winter camp (#1 reason: no bugs), essential gear, tips, and more.
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Mainly Gear:

  • Steve Green's Only The Lightest Camping Equipment ("Helping hikers lighten up...") features lightweight backpacks, sleeping gear, tents, bivies, clothing, accessories, and links to lightweight/ultralightweight sites.
  • Graham Thompson and Clive Tully from the U.K. sponsor the outdoor clothing & gear site Trail Walk featuring gear reviews with photos, pros and cons, and glossary of terms.
  • Equipped to Survive (a non-profit organization) provides "independent reviews and information on outdoor gear and survival equipment and techniques."
  • handles all types of equipment for camping and backpacking, links, buying guides, camping chhecklist, and discounted gear specials.
  • Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Mountain Works has information and all the back country equipment and clothing you will need for mountaineering, rock climbing, backpacking, camping, adventure travel, back country skiing, snowshoeing, trail running and nordic walking whether you are exploring the Rocky Mountains or wilderness around the world.
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Government sites:

  • "While God's glory 
    is written all over His work, 
    in wilderness 
    the letters are capitalized."

    --John Muir--

Sunday, January 10, 2016

20th Anniversary of this website!

Twenty years ago, on January 10, 1996, I began a website called Chuck's Backpacking Bonanza which documented with photos and words all of my backpacking adventures as well as links to other backpacking information and sources -- one of the first such sites on the World Wide Web.  It was hosted by AOL which at that time was one of the few gateways to the Internet for personal web pages. As the years progressed, my site became one of the main go-to places for such information and was included in most lists of outdoor recreational websites.

Later, as I added biking and paddling to my outdoor activities, I began adding those photos and information to my site and changed the name to Bike, Hike, and Paddle.

And this is what it contains now -- 500+ pages and thousands of photos:

Technology has really changed over these two decades. Uploads back then were via extremely slow telephone modems, and uploading photos was especially laborious and time consuming.  And the pages themselves would now look amateurish and antique. I wish I had taken some screen shots of the old pages, but that ability didn't even exist back then! It makes me wonder what improvements another two decades will bring?

Monday, September 7, 2015

My Top Choice Bike Trails Across the USA

My Top 12 Biking Trails in the USA

  1. Hiawatha Trail (Idaho on the Montana border thru Bitterroot Mountains)
  2. Des Plaines RiverTrail (50+ miles through Lake & Cook County forest preserves, IL)
  3. Chicago Lakefront Path (18 miles, IL)
  4. Glenwood Canyon Trail (CO)
  5. Root River State Trail (MN)
  6. Gateway Trail (Munger Trail - St. Paul, MN)
  7. Mickelsen Trail thru Black Hills (SD)
  8. Monon Trail, (Indianapolis, IN)
  9. Virginia Creeper Trail (Mt. Rogers Natl. Rec Area, VA)
  10. Cape Cod Trail/Nantucket/Martha's Vineyard Trails (MA)
  11. Acadia National Park carriage road system (ME)
  12. Row River Trail (Oregon)

My Top 12 Mountain Bike Trails

  1. Santos Trails (Ocala, FL)
  2. Wilderness Park Off-road Trail (Tampa, FL)
  3. Rim View Trail (Page, AZ)
  4. Killer 3 Trail in Manchester State Forest (SC)
  5. Deer Grove Forest Preserve (Cook County, IL)
  6. John Muir Trails in Kettle Moraine State Forest (WI)
  7. Croom Off Road Bike Loops in Withlacoochee State Forest (FL)
  8. Munson Hills Loops in Apalachicola Natl. Forest (FL) 
  9. Cross Florida Greenway (Land Bridge section)
  10. Ft. Clinch State Park  (FL)
  11. North Point Mtn. Bike Trails of Virginia Key (Miami, FL)
  12. Interurban Trail (Bellingham, WA)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Backpacking Info: Tips, Annotated Bibliographies, Backpacking Checklist, and More

  • Mountain men still exist, sort of. While backpacking in the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado in 1994, we met five mountain men, replete with 1800s gear, clothing, and single shot long rifles. Here are photos and information gleaned from them regarding their unusual variation of our sport. (Go to the Johnson Creek section of this post.)

  • Here are dozens of backpacking tips I've accumulated from that masterful instructor called "experience" -- as well as tips sent to me by other visitors of this site:

  •     Tips about Gear 
  • Tips about Food 
        Tips about Techniques

  • Annotated Bibliography: Here are lists of my favorite books related to backpacking, with comments about each book included to assist you in choosing which books might be of interest or value to you.
  • How-To" Books (techniques)
  • Philosophical Books ( the "why", not the "how")
  • True Experience Books (actual backpacking adventures.)

  • Need a checklist of items to take while backpacking? Here is my list. I don't take every item on every trip, but this is my starting point to guarantee no necessities are overlooked, so customize this list to your own preferences.

  • For centuries, poets, authors, philosophers and conservationists have struggled to capture in mere words the spiritual essence and resplendent grandeur of trees and wilderness. The English teacher within me wishes to share these literary endeavors with you, so here are presented over a hundred excerpts from works by the world's greatest authors and thinkers as food for thought.

  •  I've worked on numerous volunteer trail projects over the years, all of which can be viewed here. I strongly encourage everyone to consider volunteering for such a project, and perhaps you'll get to have a supper of deer, elk, and. moose with the crew of the long-running PBS series "This Old House" as we did in '97! See my photo of Steve and Norm (Go to the end of this link's post.)

  • Wilderness is inspirational to me, and its sights, sounds, scents, and scenes have enkindled within me a need to express my thoughts, feelings, and backcountry experiences in original poetry.
  • Backpacking Tips: Gear



    "The forest is to me
    the sweetest college.
    Wisdom doth here in
    all its branches grow."
    --Edward Thurlow--


    Backpacker magazine sells tight-fitting gloves which are great when the temperature drops, or for traveling through prickly vegetation. These light-weight gloves have nubs on the palms to aid in picking up small objects and to assure firm grip on warm objects like a candle lantern hook or pot handle.
    Headgear while sleeping
    Especially for those like me who are folically challenged on the top of the head, heat loss at night in colder climes is a problem. Since so much body heat is lost through the head, a wool watch cap or parka sweatshirt work well and are easily removed if you are too warm.
    Capturing panoramic vistas 
    The vistas we encounter after achieving the mountain top, or the magnificent expansive valleys we enjoy from ridges are not done justice by normal camera lenses. The new lightweight disposable Kodak Advantix Switchable camera (which replace their old model, the panoramic disposable camera) provides 25 shots, either 11 1/2" by 3" panoramics or oversize 4" by 7". You can even use the camera vertically to get shots which emphasize altitude differences, as with deep canyons or waterfalls. The purchase and developing expense is more than ordinary rolls of film but still works out to under $1.00 per shot. I carry mine in a zip-lock bag to keep it dry and dust-free.
    Zip 'em up!
    Zip Lock freezer bags now come in sizes from pint to 2 gallon. To guarantee that clothes stay dry when rain is likely, putting clothes in zip locks provides confidence that the clothing will be dry when you need it. They weigh little and can be recycled on the trip, being used to segregate wet or smelly clothes from the rest of the pack's contents. They also can be used to keep reading material and paper products dry. The larger sizes work perfectly well for carrying a trowel and toilet paper. Dozens of other uses will become obvious also if you carry a few extra bags in your pack.
    Camera batteries
    You no doubt carry spare batteries for your mini-mag flashlight, but do you carry a spare battery for your camera? Would you like to be 3 days into the most magnificent scenery in the world and be unable to capture your experiences on film? Would you feel badly that you were lugging that damn camera and couldn't use it?
    Bandanas can be purchased at K-Mart, etc., for under 2 bucks each, yet can be valuable accessories on the trail. They are lightweight and colorful. I always carry 8 or so with me, some in Zip-locks to keep them dry and clean for use later in the trip. I wear one around my forehead to catch perspiration (since I have no hair to do this.) Another is used as a handkerchief, another cleans my glasses, another is used for handling hot cookware, another for first aid use, another to strain water before treating with Iodine tablets. Many more uses become obvious as you hike.

    Lightweight tarp
    I carry a very lightweight heavy gauge nylon tarp. I wrap it around my Therma-Rest mattress which is attached to the outside of the pack. The tarp protects the mattress from being punctured by low branches, etc. At rest breaks or lunch break, if it is wet, the tarp and mattress provide a dry and comfortable resting place. If one of those daily Rocky Mountain storms hits, we sit under the tarp with the ends wrapped around us. It keeps us dry and warm and protects us from the occasional hail we encounter. It can also serve as a replacement tent, God forbid it be destroyed or damaged. If the tent floor suddenly springs a leak or gets wet, the tarp can again come to the rescue. It is a good, multi-purpose piece of equipment which is inexpensive and lightweight.

    Ron Drysdale bought a small Moss ParaWing. It is compact, lightweight, sets up fast, is stable due to its parabolic sides, and prevents you from feeling confined and claustrophobic like in a tent. It also is a nice shady spot for a lunch, picnic, day at the beach, etc.
    Hiking staffs
    Hiking staffs are becoming more popular every year, and perhaps some day I'll become a convert. For now, though, I find it easier to locate a branch when I need the use of a staff to cross a creek or whatever. One is usually readily available, discarded by previous hikers, and I likewise leave it available on the other side of the creek for the next traveler who needs it.
    Dr. Martin R. (retired) uses ribs from downed, dead Sajuaro cactus plants as hiking staffs. A bit of sanding, staining, and a hole for a leather strap finishes it nicely. I thank him for sending me one after we met on a Volunteer Vacation.
    You can carry your liquid gas, and refill and prime and pump and clean orifices all you like. I prefer the simplicity, convenience, and reliability of propane/butane canisters and my wonderful, trouble-free Gaz Bluet stove. Sure, I have to carry a spare canister and carry out empty canisters, but don't you also end up carrying a metal can with spare gas? And don't you have to carry that can out with you too, whether empty of partially full? Same difference! Except mine ALWAYS lights on the first try, never clogs or flares up, and has few moving parts to break off or malfunction. I love it! And I trust it! My stove is the old- model which uses the single-puncture cans. The newer models allow you to unscrew and remove the gas canister if you wish.
    Mole Foam 
    Most backpackers know about and use moleskin to forestall or solve blister problems. The same company also makes Mole Foam, a thicker version which provides much more padding and protection for tender areas. You can even cut out the center of one of the patches making a donut hole around a really sensitive location. It is especially useful to cushion the occasional heel blister.

    Tent pole splints 
    Did your tent come with a hollow tube? It's for splinting poles which are damaged during a trip. Resist the temptation to leave it home. It doesn't weigh much and is worth its weight in gold when needed. I carried it for years and finally actually needed it on Isle Royale National Park, halfway through a 50 mile backpack. (And yes, REI replaces broken poles free - even gave me a new tent stuff sack which had ripped after 6 years of use -- they really stand behind their products!)
    Blue jeans
    Resist the urge to wear or carry blue jeans. Though they provide comforting warmth when the temperatures dip, and though their hardiness resists thorns and rock edges and the like, they are absolutely worthless when wet and take forever to dry. They are also very heavy to tote when wet. ("The best dressed corpses wear cotton" according to a mountaineering book.)
    Prescription drugs
    A first aid kit is carried by everyone. But do you carry prescription pain killers and antibiotics? Perhaps your doctor will write you a prescription for a few pills for severe pain should you break a bone or really twist a knee, and write you another RX for some strong antibiotic in case you get a bad infection and high fever on the trail. Its always better to be prepared than be unprepared and sorry. 
    Internal pack disorganized?
    Do you sometimes have a love/hate relationship with your internal frame pack? You love its fit and how it hugs your body and distributes the weight to your hips and legs, but despise the disorganization inherent with one large compartment into which everything seemingly disappears forever? Use color-coded stuff sacks and develop the habit of always packing the backpack the same way. I use a red bag for cook set, blue bag for clothes, green bag for food, and gray bag for emergency and repair items. I also pack needed items together. For example, handiwipes go in with the moleskin and more handiwipes go in the food bag, the cord for hanging the food bag goes right in the food bag, matches go in the cook set bag, etc.

    Jeff Wilson sent this tip: A square of vinyl (about 18" square) covered with cloth backed table cloth material with a sandwich of newspaper. It is a good insulator and convenient to sit or kneel on, so hence its name. To reduce weight, Jeff uses 2 layers of metalized bubble pack (available in hardware stores) in place of the newspaper. It provides insulation, comfort, and reflects body heat back to you.
    Abe in Middletown, Ohio, finds this metalized bubble wrap (which reflects 95% of radiant heat) a fine insulator on cold nights when put under the length of his self-inflating ground pad, and it also improves the "loft" of the mattress. But don't use the bubble wrap by itself, he warns, because it doesn't breathe, and perspiration will make for an uncomfortable night.

    Darwin in Woodbury, MN used an inexpensive 1/2 inch closed-cell foam sleeping pad (from Target - about $3) cut into 4 pieces. Each piece lasts a number of trips and then is discarded. He also uses it on the trail to protect more fragile gear in the pack.
    Key chains
    Those cute key chains you get from businesses, etc., but you have no need for -- can be used as zipper pulls on backpacks, sleeping bags, and jackets when the originals break off, or just so you have a larger pull to hold on to. The key chains with small compasses attached can be useful when attached to the backpack pack strap at chest level and easily referred to while hiking the trail without having to get your "real" compass out of the pack.
    Fanny sack: alternative use
    When I do a solo backpack, I put on a large fanny sack rotated so it sits at chest level before I put on my backpack. Into this fanny sack are 2 water bottles, my 2 cameras (35 MM and panoramic camera), zip lock of jelly beans for trail snacks, map & guidebook & compass, Advil, lip balm, and anything else I might want to use while on the trail and for which I don't want the hassle of stopping and taking off my backpack to reach. An added benefit: this lowers the weight in the backpack and redistributes part of it to my front, acting as a counter-balance and eliminating that tendency to lean forward.
    Backpack liner and moleskin replacement
    Elizabeth Jane Stephens of New Orleans suggests that you line the inside of your backpack with a plastic trash bag. Compress it to remove the air, twist the top, and your clothes are waterproofed! She also suggests you wrap some duct tape around a water bottle and use the duct tape as a replacement for moleskin.
    John Caldwell suggests : Wear a pair of thin acrylic dress socks beneath your heavier wool socks. Your feet stay dry and the socks rub against each other rather than against your feet.

    Making a "hot seat"
    Daniel Simmons suggests you make a "hot seat" from heavy gauge, waterproof plastic filled with small Styrofoam mailing pellets. They last forever, won't compress, and keep you off the cold wet ground during deer season or for ice fishing.
    That old mouse pad
    R. Selman suggests you use an old neoprene rubber mouse pad for sitting on the ground, rocks, or logs. It is dry and comfortable and you are recycling!
    Stove stabilizer/reflector
    Mike Wilson suggests you take a 12 inch square of closed cell foam sleeping pad and cover it with duct tape and then use it as a stabilizing base for your cooking stove. An added benefit is its reflecting of the heat upwards. You can also use this as a sitting or kneeling pad and even a frisbee!
    Duct tape blister stopper
    Marcus Hayes suggests putting duct tape on hot spots when you feel a blister forming. It stops the friction and the duct tape can easily be carried around a film cannister or around a water bottle. Jason K. from Calgary cautions that a chemical in the duct tape adhesive can diffuse into the blood stream through your skin, so white athletic tape might be an alternative to this.
    Lightweight tarp
    Jon Snyder carries an emergency tube tent from CampMor ($6) for possible use as an emergency signal (orange colored) or as a ground cloth, tarp, or emergency shelter. Brad Chapman from Grand Rapids, MI prefers a tarp made from a 12'x8' piece of Tyvek with rubber grommets at the corners on on the sides. It folds to a compact 12" square only 1/2" thick. is light, wind-proof, water-proof, and nearly puncture-proof. A second sheet in a ziplock bag with a piece of foam makes a sit-upon and serves as a spare tarp, ground cloth, equipment cover, etc.
    Duct tape holder & misc. tips
    Will suggests carrying duct tape wrapped around a spare pair of boot laces so you don't gunk up the outside of a water bottle. He also carries metal key rings and 20 gauge wire for repair jobs on the trail, as well as a replacement hip belt buckle (cheap and light.) Kurt puts his duct tape around a pen or pencil. Kevin suugests you carry dental floss instead of picture hanging wire -- the floss is extremely light yet very strong and can also be used to sew seams on your pack or pants or whatever.
    Cooking pan for the trail
    Keith Corliss of West Fargo, ND, was looking for a non-stick fry pan for backpacking. Instead he got a pie tin in the cooking section of his supermarket. It was cheap, light weight, durable, fit well in the pack, and performed its job well. Steve Allison from Georgia uses a cheap $10 nonstick frying pan from one of the large discount chains. He removed the handle and instead uses his pot grabber
    Foam pad inside pack
    Kurt rolls his sleeping pad into a cylinder which lines the inside of his internal frame pack and he then stores gear inside the cylinder, making a rigid system to protect the gear. Of course, if you use your pad for comfort at rest stops or lunch stop, this won't work.
    Fuel can protection
    B. Graham from Arkansas protects his fuel bottle from dents and scathing by covering it with 2 "can cozies" made for pop cans. Or he says you could use an old mouse pad and duct tape.
    Boot storage
    Jessica of Manchester, NH, suggests storing your boots in old grocery bags while you sleep. I use a variety of this by storing my camp shoes in a white kitchen trash bag while they are in my backpack, and after arriving in camp, I put my boots in the bag for overnight, either storing it in the tent or the vestibule. This is especially useful when the boots are wet or muddy.
    Eliminate blisters with panty hose
    TJ Marsh of Indianapolis shares a trick he learned while on long marches in the army. Under wool socks, he would wear panty hose, which eliminated blister problems.
    Another anti-blister tip
    Carrie H. and John H. suggest you rub anti-perspirant (i.e. a travel size stick of Degree) on your feet, or just over hot spots if you prefer, to keep socks from sticking to the skin, thus suppressing both blisters and foot odor.
    Folding aluminum campstool
    Pat C. from Ohio carries an aluminum campstool (14 ounces) and loves the luxury of having a soft, form fitting seat when all he sees is rocks. And in the rare campsight where there are virtually no flat rocks to sit his water cube on, it makes a very nice little spigot up off the ground.
    Polar pure purification
    Pat C. from Ohio gave up the filter for Polar Pure which gives a couple of gallons within a couple of minutes and the additional advantage that you can use them over more than one season (unlike regular iodine tablets that expire). He carries the two little bottles and has enough water to take a shower. They only cost about $10 and treat 500 gallons of water. Only drawback is the glass jars, so wrap them in bubble wrap.

    Shelter from a tarp
    Fishnut suggests: If you need to erect a makeshift shelter using a tarp or cloth whcih has no corner grommets, wrap a small stone in a corner and tie a rope behind the stone, encasing the stone within the fabric. Do this in each corner and you now can securely rope the tarp to tree limbs or bushes without making holes in the tarp (which strong wind would rip our anyway).
    Acne prone?
    Teenager Jennifer reminds hikers of al ages that hiking creates perspiration which can clog the pores and lead to acne. Add all the trail dirt and dust and the problem can get worse. She suggests applying Clearasil Vanishing Creme or RX Acne Medication at night to help prevent break-outs.
    Simplify cleaning your pot
    Glenn from Charleston, SC, coats the pot's bottom and lower sides (exterior only!) with liquid dish soap BEFORE cooking, thereby making cleanup a breeze. Any soot from the stove or fire washes right off. Be careful not to contaminate the inside of the pot while preparing the food or you'll regret it!

    Boot moisture
    Bob from Jasper, Indiana, carries a few pieces of newspaper which he sticks into his boots overnight to wick the moisture out of them.

    Homemade Lantern

    Stephen from Lake Lure, NC, uses Pringles chip cans for lanterns. Don't open the top. Instead, cut a capital (I) in the side from about an inch above the bottom to an inch from the top and half the circumference. Fold the sides back for the doors (put your chips in a zip lock.) Opening the two wings exposes the reflective interior. Drip wax in the bottom to hold the candle and you have a great, almost totally windproof lantern. 
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    Backpacking Tips: Food


    "The wind walks wildly
    in the trees
    --Joseph Trumbull Stickney--


    Yucky looking water

    When refilling water bottles a few years ago, we saw little critters swimming in the water bottle. Several refillings did not solve the problem. Then we tried pouring the water through a bandana and it worked as a fine filter.
    Iodine-Flavored water
    If you despise iodine-flavored water but prefer the convenience of iodine treatment over boiling or carrying a filter/pump, pour in a sugar-free flavoring of your choice about 30 minutes after treating the water. Crystal Light works well. I switched to the sugar- free last year after realizing I was carrying an extra pounds every time I packed regular flavorings. Also, Potable Aqua now has a bottle of chemical magic (vitamin C tablets?) which, when later added to iodine-treated water , gets rid of the discoloration and funny taste.

    Heather Ross, director of Winged Boot Womens Backpacking, likes to add a slice of lime, lemon, or a vitamin C tablet to iodined water to kill the bad taste. She also suggests carrying a little baggie dried mint, saying "it really gives a lift and encourages constant hydration breaks."
    Chuck Horner suggests using powdered East India brand cinnamon tea to mask the iodine taste.
    Trail snacks
    Zip locks full of jelly beans provide energy without fat content, survive weather extremes well, and provide a variety of flavors. If there is a color you don't like, don't pack it! I also pack separate zip locks of cashew nuts, licorice bites, and raisins.
    A quick trail lunch
    Healthy, tasty, quick, and easy: take a couple of tortillas, a small can of chunk tuna fish in water, and a couple of small restaurant packs of mayonnaise. Spread some Mayo on a tortilla, top it with a half can of tuna per tortilla, roll it up, and dine fine. The empty can and empty Mayo packet go back into the zip lock and into your trash bag, taking up little room and weighting nearly nothing.
    PB&J and mac & cheese (no, not together!)
    Candace Aulick from Walton, KY, always takes peanut butter/jelly sandwiches which she makes prior to the trip. She says they provide a great boost in energy and protein and keep for 3 or 4 days on the trail. Another of her favorites is a box of macaroni and cheese (in a zip-lock bag) to which she adds a can of tuna fish after the macaroni is cooked. Thanks Candace!
    Carrie (like me) spreads the peanut butter on both slices of bread which doubles the pb taste and keeps the jam from leaking through.
    Thai noodles in place of Ramen
    Carrie likes Thai noodles. They are light in weight, easy to prepare with just hot water, and, she says, taste better than Ramen. She likes the Coconut Ginger noodles from Taste of Thai, and combines them with a small can of chicken.
    Trail mix and jerky
    R. Selman likes jerky, granola bars, and trail mix for lunches, making his own combo of trail mix with peanuts, sunflower kernels, raisins, M&Ms, and dried cherries. He also makes his own jerky so it isn't as dry and hard as store bought stuff. He also carries the backpacker oven so he can make fresh jalapeno cornbread to go with his beans and rice, and also makes muffins and biscuits to go with gravy on cold mornings.
    Black beans, rice, and meat
    Gary of San Ramon suggests you get mahatma black beans and rice with seasoning packet, make the rice according to the directions, and then add your favorite meat (i. e. tuna, chunky chicken, spam, smoked sausage, pepperoni). It is very tasty after a hard day of hiking.
    Cook-less backpacking
    "Coyote" suggests you leave your stove, fuel, and cookset at home when you go on a short trip, carrying instead foodstuffs that don't require cooking such as sausage, cheese, tortillas, tuna fish, breakfast bars, dried fruit, etc.
    Lee E. suggests you use MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for 2 or 3 day trips. He says they can be bought at military surplus stores and over the Internet. He cautions that they do weigh a pound each, but there is no need for a stove or fuel, no hassle of cooking them, and they provide a good, substantial meal.
    Tony L. adds: You can lighten the weight by cutting a slit below and perpendicular to the seal to remove the contents. Discard the cardboard from all pouches EXCEPT the main entree (needed to heat meal with included heater). Çheck all dinner "extras" and discard any you don't want. Put contents back into pouch and tape the slit with packing tape.

    Salad on the trail
    Mark G. of Helena, Montana, packs salad fixings to be shredded in the backcountry, and while cooking dinner, has the vegetables marinating in vinegar and oil with a dry Italian dressing mix. He also suggests soy sauce and rice vinegar as a quick salad dressing idea.
    Will Holman of Maryland is a Star Scout and he recommends grits for the trail. He says they are light, cheap, and only need boiling water. He suggests you add maple syrup or cheese and eggs for breakfast, or have them for supper with gravy. Finally, he comments that they are filling and packed with carbohydrates.
    Meals by Mark
    Marc Rimmer, age 14, is already a huge hiker and suggests these meals: breakfasts of packaged noodles and granola bars; lunches of bagels with jam or peanut butter, or wheat thins with cheese or jam or PB; suppers of dried soups or pita pizzas (fry pita in margarine with canned meat, salsa, and cheese), or powdered eggs.
    Teenager GORP recipe from Mark
    Nuts, dried apricots, peanuts, raisins, rolled oats, banana chips, and M&Ms or chocolate chips.
    Stovetop Stuffing
    Jeremy Boik pre-measures the dry mix at home and adds water and margarine on the trail. He says it makes a great hot snack and doesn't take much room in the pack.

    Cornish hens
    Marc Healy packs frozen cornish hens on backpacks. They are individually wrapped, and as they thaw slowly they serve as an ice pack, keeping drinks, cold cuts, etc. cool. They weigh a couple pounds each so eat them early on the trip. They do produce condensation while thawing.
    Scrambled eggs
    Shelley Schafer of Canada suggests you precook scrambled eggs and sausage at home and store them in a Ziplock bag which you then freeze. At camp, put the bag in boiling water for a few minutes, and breakfast (or supper) is served. You have to eat it the 1st day out but it makes for a nice change from the other foods you will be eating.
    "Killer" salad and fruit cocktail
    Jim Stewart from California also likes a "killer salad" the first night out. He buys a bag of romaine lettuce or spinach, pre-packaged with a packet of dressing and croutons, and at camp adds his own pre-cut carrots, onions, and green peppers. The next morning he enjoys his homemade fruit cocktail, made with dried fruit purchased at the health food store. He carries in Ziplocks of 1/2 cup each of dried pineapple, raisins, mango, papaya, prunes, and figs. He lets them soak overnight in a water bottle and cautions you NOT to use the "sulfurized" stuff.
    Suppers and snacks by Jess
    Jess suggests instant chili Mac using 1 packet of Mac and cheese (in a zip lock baggy, the box is to much bulk) and toss in a half-sized can of chili of choice. A can of beef stew can substitute for the chili.
    Freeze a medley of mixed vegetables and diced meat of choice and wrap in foil. The frozen packet keeps things cool in your pack. They will slowly defrost as you hike and be thawed by the end of the day. Toss the foil in/on fire or in boiling water and cook until done.
    For the second day you can take peas, rice, or beans and soak them overnight and as you hike the next day. When you are ready to stop for dinner the following evening, they are hydrated and cook fairly easily and quickly. You can toss in a tablespoon of home dried peppers of choice for flavor and even a bit of onion flakes and meat of choice to make an improvised chili, or pea soup.
    If one wants to get gourmet they could even bring some fresh green beans (they travel well), a handful of peanuts or cashews, and dried shrimp found in many Asian markets, or even a small can of meat, for a quick stir fry.
    I would also advocate bringing a baggy or two of carrot sticks and celery sticks. They travel well, make wonderful snacks, and cook up well. The idea of having fresh food instead of freeze dried or even canned, is a major psychological boost at the end of a long day.
    For breakfast or a snack , make a mix of oatmeal, nuts, M&Ms, brown sugar, salt, dried fruit, and even powdered milk or cocoa. Divide it into two parts. Mix 1 with caro syrup and the other part with peanut butter. Then add the two mixtures when the syrup and peanut butter are absorbed. It makes a good trail mix snack, and you can add hot water for a hot breakfast.
    PB&J for the trail
    For peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that will *really* last, spread a little butter on the bread before applying the peanut butter and jelly; this will prevent the jelly from soaking in, and you won't be eating soggy sandwiches by the third day. (From Chris in Lincoln, NE)
    Trail dessert
    Also from Chris: There's an East Indian dessert that can be made easily on the trail: One cup of cream of wheat with two cups of water; add in a teaspoon or two of ground cardamom and cook until the water is almost gone (about 10 minutes); add in raisins and almonds and let it sit. Eat it at normal room temperature. This is a simplified version; make it at home first and see what it needs to fit your taste.
    Trail burritos
    Kurt uses 1 pkg. of freeze dried black beans, a small can of green chili peppers, and a can of chicken. Hydrate and heat the beans, add the chicken and peppers, heat some more, roll into tortillas, and 2 can eat, all with 1 pan and no plates.
    Easy breakfast
    Scott from Austin suggests you mix sweetened cereal and powdered milk together in a freezer zip-lock at home. Then add water on the trail for a fast easy breakfast. Laura from Kansas City discovered that hot chocolate mix tastes much better than powdered milk when used on cereal.
    Lunch on the trail
    Scott also mentions that French bread is nearly indestructable, and with mayo packets, canned tuna, and your favorite spices (i.e. Cajun seasoning, comino, chili powder, garlic salt), makes a quick, tasty lunch.
    Adding flavor to suppers
    Toss some minced onions or green peppers or garlic into water being boiled for instant rice, couscous, mashed potatoes, etc. for some added flavor (from Scott again). They don't weigh much and really help spice up suppers.
    Improving instant potatoes
    Randy from St. Petersburg, FL, adds 1 or 2 tablespoons of instant coffee creamer to water when preparing instant potatoes, thus giving them a richer, creamier taste.

    Tom from Greenville, SC, reminds us that oatmeal is an easy meal (just add water) and can also be added to nearly everything for additionalflavor and nutrition.
    Vegetarian snacks
    Teenager Jennifer enjoys protein powder, tofu, and peanut butter while hiking, and also says that Nature Valley Granola Bars make great trail snacks. Both chewy and crunchy are available, all in a various flavors. Her favorite is banana nut.
    Pouches of tuna 
    Craig from Virginia Tech suggests using the new single-serving pouches of tuna (or chicken or salmon) in place of canned tuna. They weigh less, take up less space, and are easier to carry out as trash. He even saw one variety called garlic-herb tuna, so tasty possibilities are becoming available. 
    Trail sandwiches
    Craig also suggests sandwiches of pre-cooked bacon wrapped in a tortilla with salad greens as an alternative to jerky.

    Snacks for sweaters
    Liz and Wendy from Phoenix say they must have vinegar and salt Pringles after a long day of sweating, and then they use the empty can for trash.
    Pasta and pesto
    Liz and Wendy also have a favorite dinner - packaged, dried Italian filled pasta (usually tortellini) which is boiled and then has a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto added. (They admit it is heavy to carry, so they either eat it the first night or stash it in a sealed cookie tin at their water cache for the last night on their way back out.)
    Real eggs on the trail
    Mike from Sussex, WI suggests you mix 2 eggs, milk, and your favorite seasonings at home, put it in a zip lock bag, and pop it in your freezer. That way it will stay cool on the trail for a day or so. Place the bag in boiling water until the eggs are cooked for a breakfast (or supper) of real eggs, all without having dishes to wash. (Pack out the bag of course, using it to carry whatever other waste you have to pack out.)
    Simplify cleaning your pot 
    Glenn from Charleston, SC, coats the pot's bottom and lower sides (exterior only!) with liquid dish soap BEFORE cooking, thereby making cleanup a breeze. Any soot from the stove or fire washes right off. Be careful not to contaminate the inside of the pot while preparing the food or you'll regret it!
    Brine is fine!
    B. Nicholson from Tampa says that if your tummy feels crummy, swig a little brine! There's nothing like salt water to kill pesky little tummy germs! The fact of the matter is that most disease causing organisms can't stand salt (they're halophobic), so knocking back an occasional mouthful aids digestion and quells most stomachaches instantaneously. Humans must replenish salt lost via perspiration and healthy kidneys dispose of any excess sodium chloride (NaCl). This is only for healthy people, though, so if you are concerned, ask you family physician.

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    Backpacking Tips: Techniques



    "At the gates of the forest,
    the surprised man of the world
    is forced to leave his city estimates
    of great and small,
    wise and foolish.
    The knapsack of custom
    falls off his back."
    --Ralph Waldo Emerson--

    Biting spiders
    Ever run into biting spiders on the trail? We did in the Smokies. These clever critters run a single strand across the trail, which when broken allows them to swing around and grab onto the person or horse or whatever broke the strand. It then climbs to a skin area and takes a chunk out of you. We solved the problem by having the lead hiker carry a 4 foot long branch vertically at arms length in front, breaking the strand and preventing the critters from getting onto us. If a hiker comes from the other direction, you can discard the stick since the strands ahead have been broken by the other hiker.

    Repairing a hip-belt on the trail
    My hip belt on an external frame pack broke at its attachment to the frame while I was in a particularly rugged section of the AT in the White Mountains. My first try using duct tape failed miserably. Then I remembered that I always carry about 5 feet of picture-
    hanging wire (which I had never had to use, but kept in the pack repair kit) and with the pliers I carry, I made a quick fix which made the pack as strong as ever.
    Hollow tipped tent poles clogged?
    Ever find the hollow tip of the tent pole clogged with dirt, preventing insertion of the tent pin? You do carry a Swiss Army knife, right? That corkscrew you were certain you'd never have a need for works perfectly for cleaning out the opening.

    Boot laces loosening or untying?
    • At the first open clasp hook you reach, instead of going around the clasp from underneath, come from the top and go around and then up, encircling the clasp. This slight change of direction anchors the tension on the lower part of the lace.
    • Instead of one single overhand knot before tying the bow, put 2 or 3 over hand knots. This serves as yet another anchor to keep the lace from slipping and loosening.
    • Finally, double or triple knotting of the bow prevents the knot from undoing, but is still easy to untie due to the larger diameter of the lace. 
    • If you stop on the trail to retie a loose knot on one boot, you might as well retie the other also. The tightness of the newly-retied boot will give the illusion that the other is looser and you may find yourself stopping again to make the tension on both equal.
    • Joan J. of Florida suggests you make a normal bow, but before pulling it tight, take one of the loops and insert it underneath the two bows (you'll probably have to actually do this to understand, she cautions) and then pull the two loops tight. This has the effect of double-knotting the laces BUT you can still undo the laces by pulling on either lace tip. It may take a few tries to get the tension right.
    It's always a good idea to hang your food bag. Only twice has doing so kept my food from a bear's stomach, but every night it keeps my food from the raccoons and other night varmints. One young man I ran into at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore had decided not to use the provided bear pole. Instead, he hung his food bag from a nearby tree which was closer to his tent. Unfortunately, he did not allow the food bag to dangle from the limb, but rather the bag nuzzled up against the limb. Of course, the acrobatic raccoon had an easy time reaching and raiding the food bag, creating a mess and cutting the backpacker's food supply perilously low. This novice hiker had also failed to pack a flashlight, so he heard this raid just 10 feet above his head, but was unable to watch or forestall it in the 2 A.M. darkness.

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    Annotated Bibliography: "How-To" Backpack Books

    Leave it as it is.
    You cannot improve it.
    The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.
    What you can do is keep it for your children,
    your children's children,
    and for all who come after you."
    -- President Theodore Roosevelt--

  • Advanced Backpacking: A Trailside Guide by Karen Berger; W. W. Norton & Company; New York; 1998; 224 pages.An updated re-issue of the 1995 book listed below (Hiking and Backpacking: A Complete Guide: A Trailside Series Guide by Karen Berger: W. W. Norton Company, New York; 1995; 224 pages.)

  • The Backpacker's Field Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Backcountry Skills by Rick Curtis, Director of Princeton University Outdoor Action; Three Rivers Press, New York;1998; 374 pages.The title says it all! It IS comprehensive, besides being well written, well-organized, and packed with more information and tips than anyone could remember in one reading, meaning you must carry it in the car with you as you drive to your backpacking destination and review it often to absorb all the contents.Chapter titles include trip planning, equipment, cooking and nutrition, hygiene and water purification, Leave No Trace, wilderness travel, weather and nature, safety and emergency procedures, and first aid. Drawings/diagrams are numerous and helpful, checklists abound, and the bibliography is impressive.

  • The Backpacker's Handbook by Chris Townsend: Ragged Mountain Press; Camden, Maine; 1993; 372 pages.The author, a resident of Scotland, has completed 3 hikes of over 1000 miles, including the 3000 mile Continental Divide Trail. Sensible, encouraging advice permeates every page, and his own experience (even his admitted errors) tempers all he says in chapters which include equipment, footwear, clothing, cooking, and hiking skills and hazards. Throughout all, espousing of minimum impact techniques prevails. This is one of the newer publications and is pretty up-to-date.

  • The Backpacker's Handbook by Hugh McManners: Dorling Kindersley; London; 1995; 160 pages.The author was a major who ran the British Army's jungle warfare training school in Belize. His book contains nearly as much graphics as text and is chock full of tips on getting started, equipment, techniques, emergencies, camp skills, navigating, etc. Everything is accompanied by photos or diagrams making it impossible to not understand what is being taught. Great book for a beginner and good review for the most seasoned backpacker.

  • Backpacking: One Step at a Time by Harvey Manning: Vintage Books/Random House; New York; 1986; 478 pages.The author has been backpacking since the 1930s (introduced by his parents) and writing of it for many years. Though this edition (4th) is dated, I'm sure later editions are available, but this book was invaluable in getting me safely started in backpacking. Chapters include How to Walk, Sleeping, Eating, Danger, Boots, Clothing, Packs, Sleeping Bags, Food, Routefinding, and more. A detailed nine page index is particularly helpful.

  • Be Expert with Map and Compass: The Orienteering Handbook by Bjorn Kjellstrom: Charles Scribner's Sons; New York; 1976; 213 pages.This is the bible for orienteering, written in clear, concise terms, and designed for the beginner to successfully understand the concepts. Numerous illustrations and a sample map aid in comprehending the concepts. The author has over 50 years experience in the sport and in teaching these concepts for map and compass.

  • The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher: Alfred Knopf; New York; 1984; 670 pages.Written by the spiritual guru of backpacking (see my "Philosophical Books" page), this book has been called the "Hiker's Bible". This 3rd edition may be dated in terms of equipment, but the techniques and philosophy are forever, and his not-so-subtle message is to not get too caught up in technique, for the prime objective is to experience and learn of the green world.

  • The Essential Wilderness Navigator by David Seidman: Ragged Mountain Press; Camden, Maine; 1995; 160 pages.  This easy-to-understand guide turns a novice into an adept route finder. Well-written and liberally-illustrated, it has chapters on sense of direction, maps, compasses, using maps and compasses together, practical navigation and the use of nature for navigational clues, and navigating in extreme environments. The author is a world traveler, a sailor, and a professional author.

  • Hiking and Backpacking: A Complete Guide: A Trailside Series Guide by Karen Berger: W. W. Norton Company, New York; 1995; 224 pages.One of the more recent books, this has been written by a woman who has hiked the entire Continental Divide Trail (see my True Experience Books list) and it is generously laced with color photos and sidebars providing tips and quotes. Its Sources and Resources at the end provides lists of books, clubs, distributors, and Internet sites. Highly recommended!

  • Hiking and Backpacking: An Outdoors Pursuits Series by Eric Seaborg and Ellen Dudley: Human Kinetics Publishers Incorporated, Champaign, IL; 1994; 146 pages.

  • ">The authors are the experts chosen to scout out the route for the ocean-to-ocean, 4800 mile long American Discovery Trail. Chapters include equipment you'll need, how to backpack correctly and safely, the best places to backpack, and sections on long distance trails, peak bagging, mountaineering, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, off-trail travel, orienteering, endurance hiking, and trail running. The chapters also contain a multitude of tips on travel and safety and numerous color photos and illustrations. Though this is an exceptional resource for those new to backpacking, it is a good, easy-to-read refresher for experienced backpackers also.

  • How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Branford Angier:Collier Books/Macmillan Publishing Company; New York; 1956; 285 pages.These 26 chapters are divided into sections entitled Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation, and Safety. This is a life-saving tool full of secrets which can save time, energy, and lives. (For example, how to spark a fire by using a drop of water as a lens.) The author contends that it is possible to keep alive in the wilderness indefinitely knowing these basic skills.

  • Medicine for Mountaineering edited by James Wilkerson, M.D.: The Mountaineers, Seattle, WA; 1985; 438 pages.This book, compiled by climber-physicians, starts where first aid manuals end, telling you what to do since you know the paramedics or doctor won't be imminently arriving. Its four sections are entitled General Principles (Basic Medical Care, Evacuation, Psychological Responses, Preventative Measures), Traumatic Injuries (Soft Tissue, Fractures, Burns, Head/Neck, Chest, Abdominal), Environmental Injuries (Altitude, Cold, Heat, Bites/Stings), and Non-traumatic Diseases (Respiratory, Heart/Vessels, Gastrointestinal, Nervous System, Infections, Allergies). It concludes with a lengthy appendix dealing with Medications, Therapeutic Procedures, Medical Supplies, and Glossary.

  • The Modern Backpacker's Handbook: An Environmental Guide by Glenn Randall: Lyons and Burford; New York; 1994; 192 pages.More up-to-date than some of the previous books, this has all the important chapters for beginner or experienced backpackers, along with ecological awareness and sensible advice. Sidebars provide tips. An excellent resource.

  • The National Outdoor Leadership School's Wilderness Guide by Peter Simer and John Sullivan: Simon and Schuster; New York; 1985; 345 pages.
    NOLS also has a website.  This is the manual of three-season backcountry living techniques as taught by one of the premier outdoor skills organizations. Minimum impact techniques are the watchword, as is safety in all phases of backpacking. These are the people who teach the guides and teachers. A glossary, a bibliography, and color photos also are included.

  • The Supermarket Backpacker by Harriet Barker: Contemporary Books, Chicago; 1977; 194 pages.This innovative cookbook lists delicious, nutritious recipes hikers can whip up using ingredients available on supermarket shelves, including how to repackage and revitalize them at home and execute the meal in camp. The author, who also wrote One-Burner Gourmet, is an avid-outdoorswoman and a trained home ecomonist.

  • Trailside's Trail Food by John Viehman; Rodale Press; Emmaus, PA; 1993; 124 pages.A companion book to the wonderful public television series, "Trailside," and written by the show's host giving his favorite and most dependable recipes. Topics include explanations of why food is important to the backpacker, which foods to eat when you are cold, hot, or high up, freeze-dried foods, heating food, spicing up meals, and recipes for every meal and to make water taste better. A must book!

  • The Two Ounce Backpacker: A Problem Solving Manual for Use in the Wilds by Robert Wood; Ten Speed Press; Berkeley, CA; 1982; 128 pages.This book is itty-bitty in size but packs a wealth of practical information, tips which will help you get the most from the food and gear you carry on your back. It includes tips on how to make quick repairs to packs, boots, tents, and stoves, how to deal with the exigencies of weather, how to treat blisters, sunburn, hypothermia and elevation sickness, plus tips on firebuilding, cooking, water treatment, and much more. Very interesting and informative reading.

  • Walking Softly in the Wilderness: The Sierra Club Guide to Backpacking by John Hart: Sierra Club Books; San Francisco, CA; 1984; 500 pages.This is the second of the basic texts that got me started in backpacking in the 1980s, and remains an excellent resource for basic skills and knowledge acquisition. It is for both novice and veteran backpackers and emphasizes safety and gentleness in the backcountry. It includes an extensive index, a list of distributors, and a chapter on "Problems in Wilderness Management."

  • Wilderness First Aid: When You Can't Call 911 by Gilbert Preston, M.D.; Falcon Press, Helena, MT; 1997; 202 pages.This handy guide, pocket-size for easy packing on a trip, covers all the likely (and unlikely) emergencies you might encounter, from bites to bleeding, altitude sickness to allergic reactions, heat illness to choking, head injury to water purification, as well as blisters, burns, frostbite, spinal injury, hypothermia, lightning injury, and much more, all written in clear, concise language and well-organized.

  • Wilderness Medicine by William Forgey, M.D.; ICS Books, Merrillville, IN; 1987; 151 pages. Also designed to be used in the wilderness, this book is smaller (and lighter) than Medicine for Mountaineering listed above and is the book I actually carry on the trail. It lacks a table of contents but has a detailed index, making it easy to use in the field and covers everything that could go wrong (I think.)

  • Annotated Bibliography: Philosophical Books (The "Why" of Backpacking)

    ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY: Philosophical Books (Why We Backpack)

    "Cultivate your mind, so that when you are alone, you'll be in good company."

    --Ernest Palincsar (my 7th grade teacher)—


    • Beyond the Wall by Edward Abbey:Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1984, 203 pages.Abbey, called the Thoreau of the West, compiled all his essays which deal with the desert into this volume. The deserts range from Alaska's Arctic desert to Mexico, and include deserts in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The title refers to escaping beyond the walls which trap civilization, the walls of unreality, asphalt, cement, poison air, and mutilated rivers, and finding self, solitude, peace, and nature in the "old true world of the desert." With his usual droll humor, sarcasm, and disdain for most things human, Abbey revels in desert world life, often waxing poetic as he describes his experiences, philosophy, and inner feelings while in the areas he most loves. Numerous listings of the desert flora and fauna he encounters are included, and comparisons between the creatures of the desert and Man abound, with the former being praised and the latter being disparaged, both with good cause.

    • Desert Solitaire:A Season in the Wilderness: A Celebration of the Beauty of Living in a Harsh and Hostile Land by Edward Abbey: Ballantine Books, New York, 1968, 303 pages.
      Written in his trademark poetic prose, rich in imagery and vocabulary, this spellbinding book recounts episodes, great thoughts, and observations during his two 6 month tenures as a National Park Service backcountry ranger in Arches National Monument, Utah. One chapter details his raft trip through Glen Canyon just before the dam flooded the canyon, creating Lake Powell. Reverence is shown to the canyon and all it contains, and disdain is heaped upon the Government which would so blithely destroy it just to create electricity for cities which he felt should not even be where they were. He glorifies his desert and all it represents and all the multifarious life it supports, and in response to comments regarding the lack of water in his desert, he replies that it has no such shortage. Rather, it has just the right amount, else there would not be the "generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities."

    • Down the River by Edward Abbey: Penguin Books, New York, 1982, 242 pages.
      Yet another compilation of Abbey's wonderful essays which had appeared in various big-name periodicals. Their purpose, he claims, is "to serve as antidotes to despair, [for] despair leads to boredom, electronic games, computer hacking, poetry, and other bad habits." The self-proclaimed agrarian anarchist rereads and responds to Thoureau, philosophizes while atop Aztec Peak firetower in Arizona with his wife, condemns the MX missile program and protests at Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, but most of the essays revere river water trips, from the Canadian Yukon to the San Juan, and on to the granddaddy of them all, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

    • The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West by Edward Abbey: Penguin Books, New York, 1977, 242 pages.
      This series of essays begins with Abbey's first adventure at the age of 17 (by bus, hitchhiking, and "riding the rails" hobo fashion) in 1944, when he traveled for 3 months from his home in Pennsylvania to Seattle and San Francisco and then back home through Arizona and New Mexico, beginning his love affair with mountains and desert. The essays range geographically from Utah to Hoboken, New Jersey, and include a car trip through Big Bend National Park on a road not fit for cars, summer stints atop fire lookout towers in Glacier National Park and on the Grand Canyon's North Rim, death and life in Death Valley, and a reenactment of Major Powell's raft trip down the Green River. As always, humanity is the aggressor and nature the victim as he delineates the rape of the land and the ultimate lure of the mountains and desert.

    • The Lost Grizzlies: A Search for Survivors in the Wilderness of Colorado by Rick Bass: Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston,1995, 241 pages.
      Do grizzlies still live in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado? The author and friends made three separate backpacks/bushwacks into these mountains in search of confirming evidence, all the while trumpeting the mystery and extolling the spirit of the mountains and its predators. Images, allusions, metaphors, and similes predominate in his riveting poetry-prose as he transforms his observations and philosophy into spirtualism. Wilderness, mountains, flora, wildlife, and especially bears are treated reverentially. Mankind and his inventions are not.

    • The Forests: A Celebration of Nature, in Word and Image compiled by Michelle Lovric: Courage Books/Running Press, Philadelphia; 1996; 62 pages.This handsome book combines artwork and photography with excerpts from works by the world's most renowned authors, all dealing with trees, woods, wilderness, and things natural.

    • The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher: Vintage Books/Random House, New York; 1967; 248 pages.
      Colin Fletcher is the spiritual guru of backpacking, interspersing great thoughts with his remarkable experiences. In this book, he details his two-month long1967 walk through the entire length of the Grand Canyon, a walk never repeated because construction of the Glen Canyon dam precludes a repeat of the feat. The author had to battle heat, lack of water, and inaccessibility for resupply. He cached food and water and relied on three parachute drops of supplies. But the book is far more than a chronicle of a hiker. Rather, "It became a pilgrimage, a stunning spiritual odyssey during which one man began to understand mankind's singular place in the vastness of nature."

    • The Ragged Mountain Portable Wilderness Anthology edited by Jan Adkins: Ragged Mountain Press, Camden, Maine; 1993; 138 pages.
      This compendium of excerpts from poetry and essays is arranged in categories such as Setting Out, The Land, Fellow Creatures, Adversity, and The Nature of Things. A nice feature is a brief biography for each quoted author. The selections are designed to provoke thought and perhaps entice you to locate the original and read more by the 69 authors included in the book.

    • The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher by Colin Fletcher: Vintage Books/Random House, New York; 1989; 268 pages.
      This book celebrates the joy of solo backpacking as the author describes 8 different backpack and day trips and how they healed his soul and nourished his spirit. "A literary feat bordering on magic.... He shows us all how to break free in our minds by trail-blazing through the wilderness."

    • Sacred Paths and Muddy Places: Rediscovering Spirit in Nature by Stephen Altschuler: Stillpoint Publishing, Walpole, NH; 1993; 241 pages.
      A compilation of essays written as the author discovers nature -- both Mother Nature and his own inner nature -- and learns how both can heal emotional pain, reaffirm values, and touch one's inner being, first during a four year sojourn in a shack in the New Hampshire woods, and later in California's Bay area.

    • The Wilderness Companion: Reflections for the Back-Country Traveler by David Backes: NorthWord Press, Inc., Minocqua, WI; 1882; 112 pages. 
      This thought-provoking book is a compilation of excerpts from poetry and essays designed to stimulate thought, and through such reflection, to broaden one's self. The quotations are arranged into categories, such as Silence, Solitude, Beauty, Mystery, Harmony, Self-Knowledge, Truth, Life, Humility, Adversity, etc.

    To see a World in a grain of sand,
    And a Heaven in a wild flower,
    To hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
    And Eternity in an hour.
      -- William Blake --