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The Backpacker's Field Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Backcountry Skills Paperback – February 24, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1st edition (February 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517887835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517887837
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This is not a slim compendium of bold-faced hiking tips; in other words, if you come face-to-face with Mr. Bear on the trail, you won't be whipping out The Backpacker's Field Manual for quick advice. On the other hand, if you take the time to plan your excursions into the wilderness, this thorough guide will prove invaluable. From packing to navigation to first aid, all the basics of backcountry travel are covered in detail. And for the more serious outdoors enthusiasts, there is plenty of advanced info, such as how to read weather patterns or where to look for underground water sources. But no matter what their skill level, anyone planning on spending time in the wilderness should prepare ahead with a guide like The Backpacker's Field Manual.

From the Inside Flap

The Backpacker's Field Manual has been the bible of the Princeton University Outdoor Action Program for more than a decade, field-tested by one of the most respected outdoor programs in the country. It is the most comprehensive backpacking guide available--broad in scope while still focused on the essential skills and information that backpackers need to travel safely and comfortably in the wilderness. Backpackers of all levels will find this book indispensable:
before you start your trip, for deciding on an itinerary, selecting equipment, and figuring out what food, clothing, and other supplies to pack;        
once you're out in the wilderness, for choosing a campsite, setting up camp, navigating with map and compass, identifying trees and plants, and preparing meals (recipes included!);
if something unexpected happens, for finding a lost person, seeking shelter in a lightning storm, and performing first aid for common injuries.
        
More than 100 line drawings illustrate such useful skills as how to set up a tarp, repair your stove, wrap an injured ankle, predict the weather, and much more. And scattered throughout are Tricks of the Trail, additional tips for successful backcountry hiking.  
        
Any traveler knows that space in a backpack is limited, so on your next trip, pack the only guide you'll need--this one.

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Customer Reviews

The weather info, map and compass, no trace camping...etc is timeless!
Jack Conrad
Another thing that makes this book especially good for all levels of backpackers is Curtis' coverage of Leave No Trace techniques.
Keith F. Smith
This book covers all the topics, has valuable tips, and superb illistrations.
Phil Varketta (pgv@ncweb.com)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Keith F. Smith on December 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've been backcountry camping and backpacking for 37 years, and Rick Curtis' Backpacking Field Manual is the best text I have ever found for teaching backpacking skills to group leaders and those new to the sport.
It is very evident that Curtis approached this manual with the mindset of a teacher, deciding which skills the student needs to learn, and building the necessary knowledge incrementally so the student understands completely. I found that because Curtis assumes that the reader has no knowledge of such simple things as how a camp stove works, that I learned things that I never knew about my own campstove, that were not even covered in the manual.
Another thing that makes this book especially good for all levels of backpackers is Curtis' coverage of Leave No Trace techniques. Curtis does a very good job of explaining the LNT guidelines and giving practical examples and suggestions for making the minimum impact on the ecosystems while we are backpacking and camping. The manual offers some food for thought by pointing out how many backpackers do simple things that have very significant impact on plant and animal life (e.g. Going swimming in streams and ponds without first washing off toxic chemicals like insect repellant and sun screen).
I think this book would be especially useful for leaders who are looking for an organized way to teach backpacking skills to students.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. Farrell on October 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you are new to backpacking and the backcountry, then this is probably the book for you as it has a little information on just about every backpacking subject imaginable. If you have moderate to extensive experience backpacking then you will probably find the information in this book very basic. I have moderate experience and I plowed through about half the book before I permanently set it down out of boredom.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "malexreed" on June 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
After I read this book, I felt the wilderness could never be fun again. I was completely wrong, but that's the tone this book has. The entire book tells you what not to do and what could go wrong. That's very important to know, but what is almost as important (and a lot more interesting) are things to do: suggestions about how to make things easier, how to have fun, how to bring the love of the outdoors to other members of your group.
The good: There were a couple good ideas in among the mind-numbing numbers of admonitions (damp socks in sleeping bag: genius). Also, the packing lists at the end of the book can be good reminders.
As far as I can tell, it's good for a very small class of people: complete beginners who will find all the rules to be new, but are so excited about backpacking that they won't be turned off by the boring, pessimistic book. Personally, I learned just as much from the much shorter section of tips in the beginning of Backpacking California, even though I had not backpacked a whole bunch before reading either.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tanja in CA on September 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book covers everything that a general backpacker needs to know about hiking and camping. The few things the author doesn't cover (great detail about hiking specific specialized terrain, for example), he lists additional resources for. This book is well-written and clearly organized, and includes wilderness first aid, cooking and menu-planning, navigation, how to pack a backpack comfortably, how to select gear, and where to go for more information. There is much more included in the book, including stories from the author's own experience, and some information about ultralight backpacking. Especially valuable is the detailed information about leading a group into the wilderness, how to send out a search party, how to signal for help in all environments, and how to ensure that everyone in a group is comfortable.
I've seen many other similar books, and none provide the excellent level of detail that this book provides. I recommend it most highly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I really liked the thorough coverage of this book, but some of the environmental talk is a bit overdone. Talking of the environmental impact of swimming in a stream is silly. The real environmental problems that I've seen in the forests are the result of people who have no respect for nature's beauty.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is absolutely the most thought out, realistic, pertinent, and easiest to read book reagrding wilderness adventure I have seen yet. The book not only covers things like what food to bring, but increases in nutritional needs for the rigors of backpacking, and how to maintain optimal health. The order which material is presented is cohesive and sound, with tips and strategies to help your every need. I could not reccomend this book enough. It offers a wealth of pictures and diagrams, from the basic types of packs, diagrams of stoves and their parts, to weather systems, and examples for tying food up in trees or making survival shelters. If you need a lot of visual guidance and don't want to read a boring manual about something you are trying to maintain excitment about then this book is it! It will inspire you to be out there and will enable you to "leave no trace" of having ever been!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By B. Kim on August 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Curtis has written a true gem. This book will get any novice on his or her feet within the time it takes to read the book. The book is comprehensive in breadth and is quite detailed without getting too cut-and-dried (or maybe I just find the subject matter too interesting =-P). Clearly, the author knows what to cover and to what extent -- there's something to be said for a man who, as the head of the Princeton Outdoor Action, must get a lot of contact with people new to backpacking. Even somewhat experienced backpackers will be able to gain much useful information from this book, particularly from such unusual topics as reading and predicting the weather. Additionally, Curtis' almost die-hard approach to true leave-no-trace backpacking is quite appealing to me -- it only takes a few careless or reckless people before a previously pristine location is ruined for weeks or even months. All in all, this is *the* must-get guide to backpacking. It's comprehensive, adequately detailed (1/4 to 1/3 of the book is dedicated to first aid!) and, best of all, reasonably cheap! =-)
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