Books we like: the ultimate hiker’s gear guide

The author, Andrew Skurka, defines the goal of his book in the introduction: “I wrote this book for backpackers who want to enjoy hiking more”.

The book is written from the perspective of an ultimate hiker, someone who minimizes weight and maximizes functionality to be able to hike fast and under difficult conditions. That’s way above everything we planned to do when I purchased the book. All I wanted was inspiration before we went trekking in Nepal. However, looking at it from the extreme angle of an ultimate hiker helped us to pack less and indeed enjoy our trek more.

The book has three main sections. The first is about how and which information to collect before you even start packing. This may include the average day and night temperatures at your destination but also the average amount of rain to expect, the terrain you will be walking on and the availability of food, water and shelter. I would probably never be disciplined enough to carry out all the research he proposes but it’s good to know once what you should do if you did all your homework right.

The second part “tools & techniques” is the most illuminating. Here, he discusses for example the pros and cons of polyester, merino wool and nylon as base layers, a wide spectrum of shoes, the benefits of high quality socks, different types of tents and and and … It’s really all there. When we packed for our trek, we followed some of his advice but not all. We did pack about the amount of clothing he recommends but we opted for sturdier, heavier boots than he’d propose for the type of trek we did. We took a lot of inspiration from his section about backpacks and we were more than happy about the idea to pack Snickers as trail food…

The last section of the book are five sample gear lists, including a very careful description of how the things on the list were chosen to match the condition he expected to find on the trip.

If you want to know what we actually packed for our trek, have a look at our packing list for Annapurna Base Camp Trek.

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