Best camping guides for beginners

best camping guides

Outdoor activity of any kind, be it camping, backpacking, hiking or even RV or Car Camping is a lot of fun. However, for beginners, getting the right type of support and understanding of preparation, gear and activity planning can often be a challenge. While there are lot of resources available : offline such as Outside Magazine and online such as SurvivalistBoards , Outdoorgearlab and many forums, blogs, YouTube channels and e-books by outdoor aficionados , people tend to look for a compiled source of information such as a book. In this post, we look at some of the best beginner guides for these outdoor activities. Most of these books are available both in paperback and Kindle as indicated in the list. We will also look at some of the factors to consider while picking out the most suitable and best camping guides for yourself.

PictureProductKindle edition availableFeatures 
Camping For DummiesYes - This camping book from the dummies series is authored by award winning Michael Hodgson.
- Written in true dummies style, this book covers multiple outdoor activities from hiking to canoeing
- 384 pages of fun filled read.
- 1st edition published in 2011.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Backpacking and HikingYes - Considered the hiking and backpacking ready reckoner, this book is authored by Jason Stevenson.
- The 368 page book is filled with checklists and advice for planning, training, shopping and packing for the trip.
- Though published in 2010, this book is still considered very useful by most experts.
The Ultimate Hiker's Gear GuideNo - Authored by award winning hiker Andrew Skurka
- Offers great gear tips to beginners and experienced folks both.
- Published by National Geographic.
- 224 pages with 1st edition published in 2012.
The Backpacker's Handbook, 4th EditionNo - Authored by an internationally recognized rough-terrain hiker.
- Offers practical advice on lot of things such as how to pick right gear, what to pack and how to manage your backpacking experience.
- 4th edition published in 2011
Ultralight Backpackin' Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips For Extremely Lightweight CampingYes - This illustrated tips and tricks guide is authored by Mike Clelland.
- Focuses on tips and tricks on how to keep the backpack ultralight without missing out on anything.
- Just 144 pages but to the point and humorously presented.
- 1st edition published in 2011
The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide To Hammock CampingYes - Authored by "hammock enthusiast" Derek Hansen, this guide is perfect fit for comfortable hammock camping.
- Just 130 pages, but filled with about 200 illustrations to cover every aspect.
- Revised edition published in 2012
Camping Tips & Ideas: The Ultimate 101 Camping Guide for BeginnersYes - This latest, economical camping guide is authored by Robert Fairbanks.
- With just 40 pages, this guide has lot of DIY tips and hacks to make camping easy and fun.
- It also contains advice on how to buy the right gear.
- The paperback edition was published in July 2015.
101 Camping Hacks: Making Camping and Backpacking EasyYes - This short and recently published camping book is authored by Louise Davidson
- It is filled with Innovative and useful camping hacks to make the most out of your next camping or backpacking trip
- Just 50 pages, published in April 2016.
Best RV Tips from RVTipOfTheDay.comYes - This RV focused book is authored by Steven Fletcher
- In 212 pages, it offers some great tips and tricks for boondocking and work camping.
- Current version published in 2013.
Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness SurvivalYes- Authored by survivalist expert Dave Canterbury, with extensive focus on surviving in the wilderness.
-256 pages of detailed information.
-1st edition published in 2014.
- There is an advanced version too.
Mountaineering: Freedom of the HillsNo - This book is All-time bestselling book for climbing and mountaineering enthusiasts since 1960.
- Contains experience and guidance from over 40 experts of mountaineering.
- Written in simple, illustrative style, this book is equally useful for beginners and experts.
- 8th edition published in 2010.
The Complete Walker IVNo - This book has been a traditional masterpiece for backpackers since 1968.
- Original version was written by renowned hiker Colin Fletcher, with the latest 4th Edition co-authored by Chip Rawlins.
- In 864 pages, this book also includes tips on wildlife, gears etc in addition to information on hiking.
- 4th Edition published in 2002.

How to pick the most suitable camping guides for you?

Picking the best camping guides is not a difficult task, as it is similar to picking up any other hobby book. But you can keep the following factors in mind while considering the best choice for you or anybody else you are buying it for,

  • Type of camping
  • Level and format of book
  • Publication year of the edition
  • Popularity and reviews

Type of camping

As listed in our article here, camping can be of many types. Depending upon your primary focus area, you can consider specific books. Books such as Camping For Dummies and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking tend to cover multiple types of camping such as hiking, backpacking, family camping and leisure day camping. Other books tend to focus on specific areas, such as The Ultimate Hang focuses only on hammocking, while Bushcraft 101 focuses primarily on survival skills in wilderness. So you can pick the most suitable option based on your needs.

Level and format of book

The level of book is also important. Since this article is about beginners, most of the books here are suitable for beginners. However, some books on hacks and tricks may be useful for experienced folks as well. In addition, some books focus on the complete process- right from planning to picking up the gear managing your outdoor experience, while some short books just focus on providing the best tips and tricks for the outdoor activity. Depending upon what you are looking for, you can decide to pick the right book or a combination of books.

Publication year of the edition

In case of camping guides, the publication year of the book is generally more important than the publisher. Books which are 8 or more years old are generally not very suitable considering the advancements in the gear technology that have happened over the years. In addition the references in such books may no longer exist. Books such as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking and Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills are an exception, as these books are pretty much standard in the field, even though they have been published as early as 2010.

Popularity and reviews

Popularity of the author and book is often a great indicator of how the book would turn out to be. Most of the books listed above have been written by authors with considerable experience in their fields. But as one size does not fit all, you should look at the reviews, especially by other experts and authors in the field. A simple search can often reveal a lot about the popularity of the book. You can also utilize the “Look Inside” feature of Amazon to get a preview of the book.

Which are the best camping guides and what our picks are?

In our list, we have listed twelve high quality camping guides. The pick for best camping guides for beginners depends a lot on the requirements of the reader. Hence we would not be picking up a specific guide which can be considered as Editor’s choice, this time around. If you are looking for some all time classics and best sellers, then Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills and The Complete Walker IV would be the best choices. If you are looking for a little of everything and have been a fan of Dummies or Idiot Guides series, then you will find Camping For Dummies and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking most suitable for you. However if you are looking for specific type of camping such as leisurely hammock camping or RVing then you will find The Ultimate Hang and Best RV Tips from RVTipOfTheDay.com most suitable. Alternatively, if you are looking for just tips and tricks then,  you will find short guides such as 101 Camping Hacks: Making Camping and Backpacking Easy best for you. So in summary depending upon your needs, a specific book may fit your need.

Online resources for beginners

As mentioned earlier, you can get tons of beginner information on camping in online forums, blogs, and websites. Some of our favorite resources are listed below:

  • Beyond The Tent: An excellent resource filled with lot of articles on destinations, gear selection and tips and tricks for beginners.
  • Chris Townsend Outdoors: An inspirational blog that supplements the hugely popular book on backpacking.
  • Andrew Skurka’s Blog: An ultimate resource for hiking, backpacking and everything camping with tons of beginner information and advice on all types of camping and outdoor gear.
  • The Ultimate Hang: The only resource you would need on hammock camping in addition to the book with the same name by Derek Hansen.

Final thoughts on best camping guides

In this post, we looked at some of the best beginner guides for different outdoor activities. We listed out ten options based on specific requirements and preferences. Most of these books are available both in paperback and Kindle as indicated in the list. These books also make an excellent gift. Do let us know how you found this article and if you would want us to consider anything else. Best wishes for your next outdoor trip!

Shop products related to camping guides

Image credits:Amazon.com

2 thoughts on “Best camping guides for beginners

  1. The Backpacker’s Handbook is my absolute favorite and I highly recommend it. I have the 3rd edition so I expect the 4th to be more up to date considering the technology available at outdoor stores and amazon nowadays. Thanks for putting together the list – I’m sharing it with my backpacking group!

    1. Hi Laura,

      I totally agree with you, we highly recommend the Backpacker’s Handbook ourselves.

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the shout out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *