So my mother-in-law bought me some wonderful gifts for Christmas this year, but one of the most surprising and enjoyable has been a book on Backpacking!
Most of my family (and friends… and co-workers) humour my love of hiking and backpacking. They smile and nod and ask the occasional question about where I’ve been or where I’m planning on going, but most of them have vastly different outdoor interests (hunting, fishing, etc) and don’t really share my enjoyment of conquering a place just for the sake of BEING there.
So it was a really enjoyable surprise to get a book on Backpacking gear!
I’m usually skeptical of gear books. They tend to work best when tied to a particular place or time (How to pack for a day hike, or how to select gear for alpine summits). They don’t age well (technology moves quickly, as does innovation in construction). In particular though, they are often full of opinions (THIS is the best gear of the type!).
Gear selection is like boots. Buy the boot that fits, not the boot with the best reviews. Every hiker is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others.
My read-through of Skurka’s guide went from a quick flip-through to a full on read-in-one-day marathon, mostly because of the forward.
This is not the traditional gear-selecting catalogue I’ve read before. It’s more of a dissertation and instructional guide on gear categories, construction, materials and objective-based considerations.
Skurka’s stated goal in the guide is clearly explained from the beginning; Decide what your personal objectives are and select gear that supports you achieving those objectives. If the author makes a suggestion it is ONLY after the repeated caveat that this is only gear that meets HIS objectives in a GIVEN scenario (climate, conditions, season, etc).
What are the differences between different types of Nylon? Why choose between natural and synthetic fills? How does different sleeping pad constructions compare and what are the pros and cons? Skurka sets out to teach the reader how to make choices based on where they are and what they are trying to do.
The recommended gear lists at the end of the book do not use any brand names. They deal only in what type of items you COULD take. Selecting those items by cost and manufacturer is ultimately left to the reader.
I would highly recommend this book to ANY first time backpacker. While any and ALL of the information contained in this book can be learned from any of the experienced backpackers who frequent forums on the Internet or run backpacking Blogs, this book contains ALL of the right information to get you to make informed decisions on gear in ONE place.
Great resource and some entertaining anecdotes. This book definitely meets its objectives and anyone reading it should be able to make decisions in a much more informed way.