Book Read: Allen and Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book

We got this book for Erin for Christmas this year, as she is getting more interested in the outdoors (and she has already been on a backpacking trip in the Ozarks).

The book was written by Allen O’Bannon and illustrated by Mike Clelland. It’s about 150 pages long, so it’s a fast read. The illustrations are occasionally hilarious!

I have hundreds of backpacking miles under my various boots, and even more hiking. This book covers preparation for the entire backpacking experience in a comprehensive manner, especially weather situations.

I picked up a couple tips for packing (like most tips along this line, when you read it, you want to smack your forehead and say “Duh…”). In particular, I like the idea of using my closed cell pad to line the inside of my pack. This provides a couple benefits: first, it helps the pack stay “up” during packing. It also provides a water barrier for the inside of the pack, and a bit of soft armor for the contents of the pack.

Another one I liked, and related to using the pad in the pack, is to not wad my sleeping bag up, compress it, and then stuff it in. Rather, the book suggests (and it makes a lot of sense) to line a trash bag into the bottom of the pack, and cram the sleeping bag directly into it. This makes sure that the space in the pack is used fully.

One thing that bothered me a little bit on my summer Yosemite trip was getting my first blisters on a hike. The book has an explanation that getting dirt into your boots increases your blister potential to near 100% (this makes sense to me; dirt in general, and the granite dust that characterizes the trails of Yosemite in particular, is an abrasive). The use of gaiters (which I have never used) to keep both water and dust out of hiking boots makes a lot of sense, so I’m going to investigate getting a pair (of GAITERS!).

I’m always on the lookout for different food that can be cooked on the trail, especially without requiring a lot of prep time. There was some discussion of that in this book; there probably could have been a bit more.

So this book is an excellent introduction to backpacking. I recommend it for Scouts, kids just getting started in the outdoors, or adults.

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