The list author says: "A good book while backpacking can make the difference between a decent trip and a great one. A book for backpacking needs some key features: It has to be fairly lightweight, no giant hard-bound tome; it is best to have a series of shorter stories or chapters that can be read in 20-30 minutes during a long rest or in the tent at night; and it has to have a sense of wilderness, adventure, or challenge how we look at ourselves. This is a list of just such books."
"This book is good for any trip where a little self-reflection is in order. It seems that people either love John McCandless and want to be him or hate him and think he should have had an axe. This book will make you want to burn any money or credit cards you have hidden in your pack."
"Edward Abbey just speaks the language of wilderness. There are short stories and long, all will make you think about the world around you and the "motorized tourism" that got you to the trailhead. I read this one in a tent in the Pratt Valley while it poured rain and the sunny days in the Southwest warmed my soul."
"This is the mountain climbing book for the rest of us, you know the people who climb an occasional mountain but aren't free-soloing Half Dome. Bruce goes to Mount Rainier for the same reasons many of do: to find something we not even sure we know what to look for. This is the book to read on the Wonderland Trail."
"Got a hike in a forest? Read this one and you will never look at trees the same again. This is really about seeing the tree, not the forest, and the obsession these beautiful giants can create in people."
"John Muir was who you wanted to be 100 years before anyone even thought about Goretex. Laying in my $300 sleeping bag it's nice to think someone can get by in the same wilderness with just a cloak. Best to read when you occasionally have a view."
"The story of a father who spends an immense amount of time in the wilderness with his kids. Short chapters and a lightweight book make this fit the pack perfectly (OK, I know because I wrote it). This is the perfect book for anyone with kids and contemplating their place in the universe."
"If you are hiking in the Pacific Northwest, you really ought to read this one. Written in layman's terms, it tells the stories of the mountains, valleys, and plains around you. You won't need illustrations when you simply peer of the trail to see what you are reading about."
"Of course you already probably knew about this book and maybe even read it 12 years ago, but get a paperback copy and read it again. It's a good reminder of how frail we are, that the mountain will always win, but most of all, that the mountain really doesn't care."
"Wonder what you would do if you suddenly looked around and had no idea where you were? What if you fell off the trail and broke your leg. This book looks deep into your psyche and goes through the thought process of being lost or in trouble. Read it in the mountains and you will have a context to never forget these enduring lessons."
"The trifecta of wilderness thought is God, Quantum Physics, and UFOs. How can you hike with someone and not talk about those three? This will arm you with about 150 walking miles of material on two of them. You will have to look elsewhere for UFOs."
"John Wesley Powell just threw himself into the whole Grand Canyon thing much the same way you do with a hike. Fairly well prepared, totally engaged in the experience, but with more than enough adventure to fill a book. The first half is about the adventure but kind of like you, he had to return to "the real world"."
"Why read a book by an author who says you don't need to go to the wilderness? Because Lyanda Lynn Haupt writes beautifully and poetically about how to look at natural things and relate them to our own lives. This is a book to drive self reflection. Make sure you have a lightweight pair of binoculars or a monocular if you bring this book along."
"Catch you by surprise with this one? This is a set of simple chapters that explain what is going on in the atmosphere. Why no dew under the tree? Why is there fog in the valley? Why are there clouds around the mountain? Why is the sky red at night? All in here. Short chapters, good insight, basic stories you can yack about on the trail the next day."
"Although technically a boating book, this is really about a woman in the wilderness. It takes place in the 30's and 40's. M. Wylie Blanchet was truly an amazing woman. The only danger with this one is you might not put it down and get behind on your itinerary. I warned you."
"Just quotes from Edward Abbey and there are a lot of them. Great ones too. "When everything is hopeless, you have nothing to worry about". Great book for the fast and light hiker who needs a book weighed in ounces and does 20 plus miles per day. It also gives you lots to rant about when you see roads and clearcuts on the horizon."
"This book was written in 1869 by a US Army Captain about how to be a member of a wagon train. Sit comfortably in that glued-seam softshell and read how the old pioneers had it. It literally is the guide for going along the Oregon Trail. You will really appreciate how easy we have it and how far we have come."
"Hiking in Washington, Oregon, or California? Read this one to see what those sleeping giant volcanos are really all about. Whew! They could ruin your whole day. It's kind of like a little geological horror story."
"Not only does it tell you what all the layers are (lots of those) but will take you to some secret places. I've carried it to the bottom and back as well as on some side hikes. There is a mention of the Cave of Domes. Follow the instructions, look for the caern in the little wash and be amazed. Bring a light."