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THE BACKPACKER'S HANDBOOK Paperback – 1 Nov 2004

7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional; 3rd edition (1 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071423206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071423205
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 1.9 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Chris Townsend is passionate about mountains, wild places and long distance walking. He writes regularly for TGO magazine and has a blog at

His long distance walks include the first hike along the length of the Canadian Rockies, the first continuous round of all the 3000 foot summits in Scotland, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the length of Norway and Sweden, Land's End to John O'Groats, the Pacific Northwest Trail, south to north through the Yukon and the Arizona Trail. Chris has also led ski tours in Norway, Spitsbergen, Greenland, Lapland and other areas and treks in Nepal.

Chris is involved with several outdoor and conservation organisations and served as the President of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. Chris lives near Grantown-on-Spey in Strathspey in the Cairngorms National Park.

Product Description


Written in an easy-flowing style with plenty of illustrations and diagrams…this is an invaluable read for anyone aspiring to live amongst nature. (Walk 2005-05-02)

From the Back Cover

"The most up-to-date and comprehensive guide to equipment and technique available anywhere."—Backpack (UK)

This enormously practical guide includes everything from essential techniques such as map and compass work to the skills needed for more remote wilderness journeys—such as how to ford rivers safely and how to choose a route through untracked terrain. As a gear advisor, this book is unequaled. You'll find the last word on:

  • How to choose packs and footwear—and make sure they fit
  • What clothing to take on the trail
  • Tents, tarps, stoves, water purifiers, and other gear
  • GPS, cell phones, and other electronic devices
  • And much more

Now in its third edition, The Backpacker's Handbook also covers desert hiking, ultralight backpacking, and adventure trekking in distant corners of the globe. Indeed, there is little about backpacking Chris Townsend does not cover. This trusted reference will prepare you for the challenges and excitement of backpacking in the wilderness.

"A clear and comprehensive primer on backpacking gear. Townsend's knowledge is immense."—Sierra

"Belongs in every bookcase dealing with outdoor topics. . . . Chockablock full of useful, practical, commonsense info. . . . If you tramp the outdoors, get this book."—Maine Sportsman

"For those thinking of taking a backpack journey, The Backpacker's Handbook is required reading."—Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Chris Townsend, one of the world's best-known and most experienced rough-terrain hikers, has been backpacking for more than 30 years. His solo treks include a 1,600-mile hike over the length of the Canadian Rockies, a 1,000-mile walk across the Yukon, and a 3,000-mile expedition from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide Trail. He is the author of The Advanced Backpacker and Backpacker's Pocket Guide.

Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David Marshall on 28 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is excellent. It covers everything you need to know about backpacking. It is easy to find your way around the book. It's written in a story and reference format, so you don't need to read every chapter to find the particular information you might be looking for. Chris Townsend has obviously got so much experience you would be mad not to take his advice.

Chris Townsend has written a book that covers how most people will go backpacking. He is not like Ray Mears. This is not bushcraft, which is a totally different experience to backpacking.

The only negative aspect of the book is that it is written only using imperial units of measurement. So, for example, when the book refers to backpacks in cubic inch sizes you need to convert them to litres to compare them to backpack sizes in the UK shops.

If you are thinking of going backpacking buy this book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tony Hobbs on 7 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
I had to wait several months for this book. I would have got it sooner but that would have been the second edition and a little bird suggested waiting awhile as the third edition was due out! It was worth the wait. Whenever I get a "how to" or "equipment suggestions" book I seldom read it cover to cover. This was an exception! Like some other books by Chris I had to special order the Handbook. I hope that by now the publishers make it more readily available! I have to say it was easy to special order and arrived within a week!
The handbook is divided into into easy to read sections for Preparation, Choosing Footware, Packs, Clothing, Camping, Food, Comfort and safety, Skills, Hazards inc map reading, Travel Abroad and the usual apendixes which inc. metric conversion.
Each section is thoughly investigated and explained. I've never read so much on packs and their fitting than in the Handbook. I have to agree that it is not that straight forward having owned several ill fitting packs! The Handbook helped with that issue!
Some people may not agree with all that Chris says on the subject of trail shoes vs boots vs sandles! I have yet to find a comfy pair of sandles for my skinny feet, but I am a trail shoe convert and hate the clumpyness of boots! Mind you I still wear boots on Dartmoor in the winter! Those bogs!
Chris expresses his view of Superfeet and their fitting, they really do work, I've not had a blister since Chris' suggestion!
Why is Chris right, well he has walked more miles than many a mortal man! (Check out his web site at [...]) That must give him all the experiance that he needs to suggest equipment to keep us warm, comfy, and above all safe!
Each chapter is well issustrated with pictures and line drawings, the wording is well expressed and easy to follow.
I feel my walking life has been greatly improved by reading and following the guidelines in the Backpackers Handbook!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David W on 28 July 2009
Format: Paperback
I am afraid I as very disappointed with the book. Clearly Chris has unrivalled experience, but it is written almost entirely with the American market in mind. Almost all examples of equipment were American, as were the lists of suppliers. Many units of measurement used in the book were also not suitable for the British market eg don't we measure rucksack capacity in litres - Chris refers to cubic inches? Also, whilst Chris' long distance backpacks are a great achievement isn't the most common form of backpacking for those interested in a book such of this more likely to be three or four days in Snowdonia, the Lakes or Scotland rather than several months on the Appalachian Trail? So yes, Chris knows his stuff, but perhaps the nature of the book should be made clearer in the marketing blurb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By curlymop on 20 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
i have recommended this book to so many people since i used it to help me prepare for a trip round the world on my own a few years ago. i picked out the parts that were relevant to my own plans and found it invaluable. i still use some of the tips to this day, even when going on a 'normal' holiday, such as...... putting your clothes into stuff sacks so they don't get all jumbled up in the rucksack/suitcase; taking running shoes instead of hefty hiking boots because they're sturdy enough but extremely lightweight; safety tips etc etc.
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