Becoming a skilled and confident hiker or backpacker is a lifelong endeavor that requires continuous learning and practice. While reading hiking books can’t give you the hands-on experience that only comes by getting your clothes dirty and boots wet, they are a useful guide to expand your horizons and help you understand what you don’t know.
Here’s my short list of hiking and backpacking skills books, the ones that I keep handy for reference and refreshers, and refer friends to.
Whether you’re a first-time backpacker or a weekend warrior, you’ll love this guide. Learn exactly what you need to carry – both gear and knowledge – for any length trip. Authored by National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Andrew Skurka, this is the most current and concise backpacking manual available. Available for Kindle and in paperback at Amazon.com.
Short, to the point, and humorously illustrated by famed outdoor illustrator Mike Clelland, this fun-to-read book presents everything hikers and backpackers need to be safe, comfortable, and well-fed while carrying a very small and lightweight pack. Available for Kindle and in paperback at Amazon.com.
With more than 200 illustrations to guide you, hammock guru Derek Hansen, helps you get off the ground to discover the comfort and convenience of hammock camping. This book covers basics such as how to get a perfect hang and how to stay dry, warm, and bug free. Plus, it illustrates techniques and tips to assemble your own customized hammock system. Available for Kindle and in paperback at Amazon.com.
This book is the clearest and best illustrated route-finding primer available, providing instruction and exercises for developing compass navigation, map reading, and terrain association skills. While compass navigation is central, the authors help convey a deep appreciation of the terrain clues available for determining position without instruments, if we learn to see and understand them.
With over 1/2 million copies sold, this is still the best reference available for hiking and backpacking in mountainous terrain. For anybody looking to start climbing summits above treeline, winter hiking and backpacking, or mountaineering, this richly illustrated book explains the gear and know-how you need for safe wilderness travel.
Updated and revised, this teaching manual for the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Wilderness First Responder course represents more than a century and a half of combined experience in wilderness medicine, rescue, and education. It includes expert step-by-step instructions, clear illustrations, and “Signs and Symptoms” sidebars designed to help you provide immediate care in the wilderness?whenever you are more than an hour away from an ambulance or a medical facility.
A must-read for anyone committed to becoming a professional guide, outdoor educator, or volunteer hiking leader, this book covers trip planning, effective decision-making, group dynamics and communication, backcountry ethics, and risk management. While the focus is on group leadership, learning how to apply these skills to your personal hiking and backpacking trips will increase your confidence and enjoyment of the wilderness.
Disclosure: The author has purchased all of these books with his own funds.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.