Karen Berger, author of the best-selling Hiking and Backpacking: A Trailside Guide, has hiked over 15,000 miles, including the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.
Karen Berger writes about travel, the environment, hiking and backpacking, scuba diving, music, global health, and the business of being self-employed.
Her books here on Amazon.com are divided into three categories:
Twelve books on hiking and backpacking, including accounts of walking the entire 3,000 mile Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada ("Where the Waters Divide") and walking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada ("Along the Pacific Crest Trail"). Her hiking books also include instructional guides for those new to the sport -- and for those seeking to further develop their skills.
One book on Scuba Diving: "Scuba Diving: A Trailside Guide" was developed with the assistance of Tec Clark, the former director of the Y.M.C.A.'s instructional scuba program.
Three books on learning and teaching music for the "Complete Idiot's Guide" series.
This book is in the same format as Berger's Hiking and Backpacking book from the same series: glossy paper, lots of color photos, and a plastic cover. It also suffers from some of the same problems, but to a lesser extent. It's out of date, but not quite as out of date. It's superficial and contains a lot of useless fluff, but not quite as much. It's heavily oriented toward the Appalachian Trail, and is not likely to be very useful to people in the western U.S. I found a small amount of useful information in here, but I was still glad that I picked up a used copy extremely cheaply, because otherwise it would have felt like even more of a waste of money.
Some examples of the book's being out of date: There is no index entry for GPS, nor does there seem to be any mention of PLBs. The discussion of water purification doesn't cover chlorine dioxide and recommends a brand of filter that is no longer on the market. Berger discusses bear bags, but not bear canisters, which are now legally required in many areas in the western U.S.
The space taken up by the decorative photos could have been better used with more detailed discussions of topics such as water treatment, tarp techniques, campsite selection. For example, there's a photo of someone calling home from a public phone booth. This photo didn't tell me anything new about long-distance backpacking, although it did reinforce the age of the book -- wow, when's the last time you saw a phone booth? Welcome to the 21st century.
Like the Hiking and Backpacking book, this one also suffers from problems with factual accuracy. E.g., Berger states that "Studies sponsored by the manufacturers" show that in 10 miles of backpacking, trekking poles "can take up to 250 tons of pressure off of your knees and back.Read more ›
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The book should have been called, "Introduction to Backpacking." If you have never backpacked before, you might learn a few things from this book. There is nothing in the book that is advanced. Much of the book is just fluff and filler. Karen Berger, the author of the book starts every chapter with a few long introductory paragraphs that are not needed. One chapter starts out with, "Maybe you live in Colorado, where hiking means...or Arizona where hiking means....or..." Blah, blah, blah. All extra fluff. Then she states things that are obvious like, "How long you hike is up to you." No, really?? Up to me? "Choose the sleeping bag that is right for you?" Darn I wanted to choose the one that was wrong for me. Sometimes I think she just started copying information from a catalog: "There are 8 kinds of tents. They are....." Next she lists the 6 different types of boots. You can get better information just by thumbing through a catalog. I get the feeling that Berger writes this way because she is an armchair backpacker and has not used the equiment she is talking about. I think she is a writer who has never backpacked before. The book is 224 pages and without the filler and introductions it could have been under 100. Save yourself some money and get information from one of the many backpacking sites that are out there.
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