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The Complete Walker IV Paperback – 1 May 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; Revised edition (May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375703233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375703232
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.9 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 276,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Undoubtedly the best how-to book in the backpacking field."

From the Inside Flap

For the first time since 1984, we have a new edition of the classic book that "Field & Stream called "the Hiker's Bible." For this version, the celebrated writer and hiker Colin Fletcher has taken on a coauthor, Chip Rawlins, himself an avid outdoorsman and a poet from Wyoming. Together, they have made this fourth edition of "The Complete Walker the most informative, entertaining, and thorough version yet.
The eighteen years since the publication of "The Complete Walker III have seen revolutionary changes in hiking and camping equipment: developments in waterproofing technology, smaller and more durable stoves, lighter boots, more manageable tents, and a wider array of food options. The equipment recommendations are therefore not merely revised and tweaked, but completely revamped. During these two decades we have also seen a deepening of environmental consciousness. Not only has backpacking become more popular, but a whole ethic of responsible outdoorsmanship has emerged. In this book the authors confidently lead us through these technological, ethical, and spiritual changes.
Fletcher and Rawlins's thorough appraisal and recommendation of equipment begins with a "Ground Plan," a discussion of general hiking preparedness. How much to bring? What are the ideal clothes, food, boots, and tents for your trip? They evaluate each of these variables in detail--including open, honest critiques and endorsements of brand-name equipment. Their equipment searches are exhaustive; they talk in detail about everything from socks to freeze-dried trail curries.
They end as they began, with a philosophical and literary disquisition on the reasons to walk, capped off with a delightfulcollection of quotes about walking and the outdoor life. After a thoughtful and painstaking analysis of hiking gear from hats to boots, from longjohns to tent flaps, they remind us that ultimately hiking is about the experience of being outdoors and seeing the green world anew.
Like its predecessors, "The Complete Walker IV is an essential purchase for anyone captivated by the outdoor life.

"From the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Back in the 70's, I lived out of a pack for a number of years in the Cascades in Washington State and the Appalachians and White Mountains in New England. The Complete Walker was the go to backpacking "manual" back then and helped new and experienced backpackers understand how best to use the equipment and options popular in the day. I plan on moving to Northern Zambia where I will again be living out of a pack much of the time so for old times sake, Trying to get back up to speed, I was getting overwhelmed with all the choices of equipment and "genres" of backpacking today. Thank God for the Internet, YouTube and Amazon reviews but still it seemed overwhelming to get an overview of why one would make various choices and what the best combination would be for a given environment and purpose.
I decided to see what the latest version of the Complete Walker (IV) had to offer partly for nostalgia. . Even though it was printed in 2002, I found it extremely useful covering a lot of the changes that have taken place philosophically as well as technically since Colin Fletcher wrote the first version. Obviously a book published in 2002 will not critique the latest gear but it does provide thoughtful insights on where the current technology fits.
Chip Rawlins is a welcome addition and with his contributions helps the book cover today's wider scope. I especially like the comments attributed to each author to give a perspective on what's happening today and leverage each man's experience. And that's what this book is all about, experience! I'll still need Amazon Reviews, YouTube, and Internet for research and relearning my passion but I'll rely on Colin and Chris to help me see the journey more clearly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was for a friend and he is delighted with it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 78 reviews
117 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth twice its weight in gold 10 Sept. 2002
By C. Clemens - Published on
Format: Paperback
i dragged my feet before buying this book. i thought "i've already read plenty of books about backpacking." i wasn't exactly satisfied with any of them, but i learned a little from each different title. i finally bought this book 5 days ago from the Lodgepole Ranger Station bookstore in Sequoia NP, on a crazy impulse.
OH MY GOSH. 800+ pages of the most useful, precise information i've ever read anywhere (and i've read a lot). these two guys know their stuff, and are eloquent, realistic, CLEAR, and mildly humourous when they talk about it. this is so far above & beyond the quality of other books on the subject - i'm blown away. i've been reading it nonstop for 5 days. it covers everything: shoes (from full-scale boots to trail runners to hiking sandals & tons in-between), socks, packs, tents, clothing, weather, food, cooking, stoves, lights, hats, animals... the authors have EXTENSIVE experience and it really shines through. there is an extensive listing of additional reading material on every subject they discuss, plus gear lists from various trips of their own. this is a treasure trove.
as a HUGE plus, the book is fun to read. witty, wry humour and their very honest accounts of their own dumb mistakes help readers not to feel like we're begging at the table for crumbs of their vast banquet of knowledge.
if you feel like you could stand to learn a little more about ANY aspect of backpacking, this book will totally exceed your expectations. it's THE MOST useful book i've read in a long, long time.
88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I like Walker III better 16 July 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
It seems that Colin Fletcher has relinquished too much in this edition to his coauthor. Understandably he is no longer a gearhead and lets Chip Rawlins review equipment. Rawlins has at least as much text in these pages as Fletcher so be prepared for a different read.

I found it strange to read Rawlins writing about his ex-wife over and over again in these pages.

Regarding equipment reviews I don't see much point in reviewing specific gear choices as so many products in the outdoor industry are replaced every couple of years now. This is a static snapshot at best and it would be better to cover design generalities rather than specific tents and packs that will be out of production by the time you read this book.

I'd also prefer to see more discussion about technique than equipment.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like sitting around the fire listening to stories 1 Jun. 2002
By K. Luangkesorn - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for a gearhead book or a 'just the facts' piece, this is not it. It is two people (Fletcher is the old tried and true guy, Rowling is the relatively young and uses the new stuff guy. The style is having a conversation talking about the things you should know. Not just a list of 101 things you need and 1001 line comparative gear guide, but stories that illustrate what is important and why, both in terms of gear but also about how to use the gear, and sometimes in not obvious ways. Having two authors with different experiences also allows them to discuss various schools of thought on hiking and the pros and cons of such things as ultralight, gourmet cooking and how these choices balance with things like deciding just why is it you are out there. Their gear reviews are also different than other places. It is not just about the piece in question but it also give good ideas about what to look for and the pros and cons of some basic choices that have to be made. This emphasis on teaching than on individual pieces of equipment (although it does at least mention many product names) is probably what made version III of this useful for almost 20 years. I can see the same for this one.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still splendid after all these years! 30 May 2002
By Steve Brandon - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book - in all of its previous editions - was always a delightful companion for the outdoors enthusiast, full of wit, cheekiness, and wry observational humor. It's also the single best source of information about camping & hiking gear (philosophically and materially). The text's new, "conversational" dialogue between Fletcher and Rawlins takes some getting used to, but the different perspectives of the two authors have really increased the book's usefulness and value - Rawlins seems perfectly suited to serve as Fletcher's authorial mate and foil. Again, the practical info. is priceless, but the real star of the book continues to be the writing. I don't know how many times I have (once again) found myself laughing aloud while reading passages from this book. This is the camping & hiking book against which all others are measured (and I've certainly read more than my share of them).
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best! Not called "the hikers Bible" for nothing. 26 Feb. 2007
By T. Faranda - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the fourth edition of a book which first came out in 1968, which I read probably around 1970, and which as the name implies is all about walking. Or more accurately about hiking, backpacking and camping in all sorts of environments and situations.

The author is a colorful character named Colin Fletcher, although for this edition (which came out in 2002) he has a co-author named Chip Rawlins. He needs the co-author since he was just short of 80 in 2002, so wasn't getting out on the trails as frequently as he used to. And there's a lot of new gear out there.

Over the years Fletcher has written a number of books about his long hikes, including a six month walk through the Grand Canyon.

The Complete Walker IV contains a huge amount of information, much of it irrelevant to me, since I wont be snowshoeing through mountains or crossing the Colorado river on my air mattress. But it also contains great information if, like me, you are planning on doing some brief campouts in the spring and summer, including two and three night backpacking expeditions with young sons.

This is why I decided to re-read the book in it's new edition. After all, there's plenty of stuff that didn't even exist in 1970, like fleece clothes and self-inflating sleeping pads, as well as huge improvement in things like tents and backpacking stoves. So figured it was worth re-visiting the book.

And I wasn't disappointed. The Complete Walker IV is still a breeze to read (skimming or skipping the irrelevant sections), written with elegant humor and vigorous prose and loaded with advice on equipment and technique. It is very comprehensive, and also offers many suggestions for additional reading. For example, based on their recommendations I looked at a number of books on first aid and mountaineering medicine and have purchased two through Amazon.

So highly recommended if you have any interest at all in the subject - still "the hiker's Bible" as it was first labelled by Field and Stream in 1968.
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