Now hollow fires burn out to black, and lights are guttering low: square your shoulders, lift your pack, and leave your friends and go.

A.E. Housman

What’s Backpacking for Beginners About?

You’ve always wanted to get away from it all. Your future father-in-law asks you to join him on a four-day hike. Your trusty backpack just doesn’t fit the way it used to, you’re not sure where your tent poles are, and your toes stick through your boots. You want to impress the guy, but how do you get your act together – and fast? With more than 50 brands of packs and 30 brands of boots, each with multitudes of styles (not to mention tents, sleeping bags, stoves, water filters…), the task of figuring out what to purchase can be daunting. Then there are the intangibles – picking a campsite, reading a topographic map, planning meals. Where to begin?

Major advances in technology make old equipment obsolete and confuse the newcomer. The information gap can be filled through hours of reading a stack of information resources and multiple trips to retail stores, or with one book. Backpacking for Beginners provides the information needed to make informed decisions on everything from boots to bags, in mountains and deserts.

And that is just equipment. What about everything else? It too is here. Trip preparation, what do when the trip is over, and everything in between is included. I take the approach that new backpackers shouldn’t be left out in the cold (literally and figuratively) and have included what they need to know. Want a recommended short hike? Check out my Top Ten Hikes list. Need to know a few knots, a few websites, or how to use a map and compass? Backpacking for Beginners has included it.

What’s My Background?

  1. Practical experience – Over the past 12 years I have gone from a bumbling beginning backpacker to a veteran who has hiked in locales from Big Bend Texas to Yellowstone Wyoming, making me the perfect person to write this book. I have been a participant long enough to have made the mistakes (and learned from them) and to have developed my own tricks of the trade. Coupled with this knowledge is my personal interest in the sport that has driven me to keep up with new products and service ideas. Lastly, I have already applied my knowledge by helping others purchase equipment, plan trips, and even guiding them on trails.
  2. A publishing track record – Wanting to get published and having the ability and wherewithal to do it are two different things. I know I can do what it takes to get Backpacking for Beginners published because I have done it before and am prepared for the amount of effort required to put my book on the trail to success. While a student of Texas A&M University’s Graduate School of Business I co-authored a non-fiction business case in a graduate textbook detailing the merger between two major international corporations. "Cadbury Schweppes PLC and Dr Pepper/7UP Corporation" was published in 1997 in Strategic Management, Competitiveness and Globalization, 2nd Edition.

Table of Contents


Part I: Getting Started

Chapter 1: Thinking Through Your Trip

Chapter 2: During the Trip

Chapter 3: Home Again

Part II: Equipment

Chapter 4: Backpacks

Chapter 5: Stoves

Chapter 6: Tents and Other Shelters

Chapter 7: Sleeping Bags

Chapter 8: Boots - Travel by Diesel Power!

Chapter 9: Clothing

Chapter 10: Other Equipment

Part III: Everything Else

Chapter 11: Lo-Impact Camping – Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints

Chapter 12: Using A Map and Compass

Chapter 13: A Few Useful Knots

Part IV: The Top Ten Lists

Chapter 14: Ten Outdoor Web Sites I Use Most

Chapter 15: Ten Outdoor Related Books or Magazines to Read

Chapter 16: Ten Things to Do In Your Tent When It’s Raining

Chapter 17: Ten Great Hikes

Chapter 18: Ten Favorite Backpacking Helpful Hints

Chapter 19: Ten Environmental Good Causes

Chapter 20: Ten Items for Your Repair Kit