The Complete Walker IV
By Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins
The Complete Walker is “undoubtedly the best how-to book in the backpacking field.”
It’s an insanely detailed, 800+ page book about the gear and logistical requirements of the serious hiker / backpacker. Like an O.G. Wirecutter, with tons of extra notes and commentary. You’d think this could get super dry, but if you knew how often I browsed The Wirecutter for sheer entertainment you might guess that it’s actually right up my alley!
The introductory section, “Why Walk?”, helps to establish the general premise of “hey, walking around in nature is awesome, and by the way, we’ve painstakingly vetted a bunch of stuff that can make your outdoor experiences even better”.
The bulk of the book is the “House on Your Back” section, covering all sorts of equipment and planning: Ground Plan, Foundations, Walls, Kitchen, Bedroom, Clothes Closet, Furniture and Appliances, Housekeeping and Other Matters. After a brief concluding sustainability-appreciation section, the book lays seven appendices on us: equipment checklists, resources and organizations, and more.
The book contains insane detail — think: 32 pages on hiking boots, 54 pages on backpacks, hyper-detailed calorie calculation charts, and so on. It doesn’t just cover gear, it also details all manner of trip logistics, preparatory advice, and practical tips. It may be overkill for most, but if you’re obsessed with doing everything just right, with the highest quality, most appropriate things in hand, its may be the perfect guide.