The NOL’s Wilderness Guide (National Outdoor Leadership School) is a great book to read even if your are an experienced hiker and backpacker.
The book provides in-depth instruction on a wealth of topics including:
- expedition planning
- how to dress for the backcountry
- a camping equipment primer
- camping technique
- travel technique
- leadership and expedition behavior
- maps and compasses
- emergency procedures
- cooking in the backcountry
If you’re not familiar with NOLS, they’re a famous outdoor school that focuses on teaching outdoor leadership skills and how to reduce one’s impact on the environment. That’s probably a overly simplistic description of their mission, but those are my two biggest takeaways from reading this book.
Outdoor leadership skills aren’t something that I think about very much since I do a lot of solo three season hiking. But this is my second season of winter hiking and mountaineering, an activity that I don’t do alone, and I can see of lot of utility in improving them.
The same goes for low impact or Leave No Trace backpacking. The book goes into a lot of depth on this topic, particularly around campsite selection and setup. While most of the examples cited focus on the geography of the Western USA, the practices and their motivation are easily adaptable to backpacking in the East.
One of my favorite chapters is the introduction to the book, titled “Why We Go” which explains the need for wilderness and how it restores our spirits. It is a beautiful piece of writing and sets the stage for the rest of the book which is about “How We Go.”
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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