“Trail Life” (revised version of Beyond Backpacking) by Ray Jardine – From the guy that started it all, read about the A-Z of ultralight backpacking. Ray’s bio is worth a read. He is a very accomplished adventurer, including,  first to free climb the West Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley in 1979 with Bill Price and inventor of the spring-loaded camming devices called Friends that revolutionized rock climbing in the late 1970s.  “Trail Life” is the latest 2009 update of his original 1999 book “Beyond Backpacking” (which is where I started my education on ultralight backpacking).

“Yogi’s Pacific Crest Trail Handbook” by Jackie McDonnell – For $ 50 you get two books to help you plan and execute ultralight backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail.  If you are a novice long distance trail hiker you can get all kinds of pertinent advice to plan from gear to footwear to maps.  If you are experienced one of the biggest values will be resupply information with all the detail you need to call or mail to small and out of the way resupply locations.  The hiker comments are helpful, even if they are sometimes contradictory, about trail alternatives, places to stay, historical water sources for the dry southern California section etc.

“Medicine for Mountaineering” by James A Wilkerson M.D. – This is the backcountry and foreign travel bible for first aid, illness and outdoor medicine.  Buy this in the kindle version, load it on your kindle or reader and take it when you travel or hike.  Regardless of how many first aid courses you take, you will only remember a small portion years later.  The book covers everything – high altitude, typical third world illnesses, injuries, burns – and how to deal with them in the back country. The book has been repeatedly updated and chapters are authored by leading medical experts in those fields.  Here’s what others have to say:

  • The Mountaineers – “The gold-standard medical guide for climbers, hikers, boaters, skiers, and other outdoor activities.”
  • REI – “The updated 6th edition of Medicine for Mountaineering provides comprehensive information and procedures for major and minor backcountry emergencies.”
  • Mountain Equipment Co-operative – “Compiled by professionals in the emergency response and trauma field, the knowledge in this wilderness medical guide may save someone’s life in the backcountry – maybe even your own.”

I have found this useful on our PCT hike, in Bhutan, Africa and Alaska wilderness trips.  There are always strange medical issues popping up in the outback when you can’t easily Google or ask Siri.