Wow! Justin Lichter, uber long-distance hiker, has published a book called Trail Tested which is a must-add gear guide for your backpacking book collection. It’s super readable and an excellent reference for beginners backpackers who are trying to figure out what gear to buy and why, hikers preparing for section hikes or thru-hikes on national scenic trails, as well as experienced hikers who are trying to match the appropriate gear for longer cross-country or expedition-style adventures.
Trauma Tip: Pre-soaking your food before you cook it can help you save stove fuel.
Trail Tested succinctly explains what to look for when buying backpacking gear, how to maintain it and repair it, with lots of Trauma Tips thrown in on how to survive in the backcountry. Beautifully laid out and illustrated, it’s easy to find the information you need to compare different gear options without a lot of reading and cuts through all of the confusing marketing propaganda you’ll encounter from product manufacturers and retailers.
Trauma Tip: Most people think mesh is lightweight since it has holes, but it’s heavier than many fabrics incluing ultralight silnylon and cuben fiber, especially when it gets wet and soaks up moisture.
Who is Justin Lichter? Justin, known by his trail name Trauma, is one of the top long distance hikers of our time. He’s distinguished himself by hiking the triple crown twice (Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Trail), including one year when he did all three. Justin’s also hiked across the Himalayas, around Iceland, Vermont’s Long Trail, the Hayduke, the Sierra High Route. Heck, he’s even swum around Lake Tahoe unsupported without a wet suit!
Trauma Tip: When it’s raining, snowing, or cold, stash your poles on your pack and put your hands inside your rain jacket. It will keep your hands a lot warmer.
One thing I like about Trail Tested is that it’s not myopically about ultralight backpacking, but about how to match the gear you bring with the conditions you’re likely to find on a backpacking trip or expedition. This is probably the most important skill for a backpacker to learn and Justin provides lot of examples from his worldwide hiking adventures.
Trail Tested also has a long chapter about how to hike long distance with a dog, tips for hiking abroad, and advice on campsite selection, weather forecasting, navigation, winter camping and leave no trace. It even has a number of Justin’s gear lists to help you understand how to match gear to specific locales and conditions.
Full of a gazillion awesome photographs from Justin’s hikes, Trail Tested can even be used as a coffee table book. Now that’s multi-use in action!
Disclosure: SectionHiker.com (Philip Werner) received a complimentary advanced copy of Trail Tested for this review.
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