Best books for camping, hiking and backpacking in 2019

best books for hiking

Irrespective of your age, experience level and interests, one of the best way to improve your skills around wilderness activities is to get a good book.

Over the past year,  we have been sharing our favorite instructional guides for outdoor activities – camping, hiking, backpacking, international travel and survival, for all audience groups – by age(young kids to adults), skill level (beginners to advanced) and specific types of exploration (international travel to wilderness cooking to backpacking with dogs).

In this article, we present a compiled view of the best books for camping, hiking and backpacking. We summarize the key considerations for each category and share our selection for the podium picks in each category.

To check out more details, buying advice and the complete list of selection, you can then choose to navigate to the specific article for each category.

We also list out our favorite online resources which you can bookmark to hone your skills and get the latest information on places and gear.

The Early Years: Best books for young kids (4-8 year old)

The tender age of 5 to 8 years is probably the right time to get the children excited about outdoor activities such as camping. This is also the age when they develop comprehension and advanced social skills. To get the best of both worlds and develop a love for outdoor adventures, you can consider getting some fun-filled, activity oriented, illustrative guides for the young ones.

Check out our article on the best camping books for young kids for some great suggestions. And, if you want, top up the books with some entertaining camping toys!

Key considerations

The major factors to consider while picking the best books remain the same as for any other non-fictional guides for children of this age group – the type of content, the format of the book and popularity, ratings and reviews.

The only additional thing to remember is that the books with long, descriptive text without any interesting illustrations may not find a lot of favor with young kids. Similarly, children will find books with colored, labeled illustrations more amusing.

So, check out the contents by using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon or excerpts on Google books to determine if the presentation style of the book is suitable for your young one.

Top Picks

S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet : Best beginner guide

S Is for S’mores is an excellent children book by the famous author Helen Foster James. In 40 pages, the book takes a 26 one-page, alphabetical journey on camping knowledge in both a poetic and prose form. And the best part is that the book is available in paperback as well as Kindle format.

The Kids Campfire Book: Best campfire guide

This collection of outdoor activities, stories, songs and games is considered one of the most popular book for young kids – both girls and boys. Authored by Jane Drake and Ann Love, in its 128 pages, the book covers useful information such as finding a campsite, identifying night sounds, observing and identifying creatures by the shape and glow of their eyes. The book also has some interesting activities to do while camping such as cooking and telling stories or singing songs around the fire.

The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: Best camping guide for parents

Ok, this is not exactly a book for kids, but for parents who have young kids! Authored by Helen Olsson and published in 2012, the book is filled with useful and important information, tips and tools on how to make camping with young kids enjoyable for both the children and parents. A must buy for outdoorsy parents who want to get their kids interested in the wilderness from an early age.

Getting Serious: Best books for pre-teen kids (9-13 year old)

The pre-teen age of 9 to 13 years is probably the perfect age to start learning about the intricacies of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and survival. Though some kids start earlier, this is also probably the best time to engage in some non-fiction readings on such outdoor activities. This is also the age where kids start getting serious about outdoor youth organizations – Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts programs.

Check out our article on the best camping books for pre-teen kids for some great suggestions.

Key considerations

The major factors to consider while picking the best books largely remain the same as for other categories – the type of content, the format of the book and popularity, ratings and reviews.

The only additional factor that you may have to consider is to get books as per the taste and interest of children – kids tend to find the books that fall in early or later age groups unsuitable because either they are too rudimentary or they contain information that may not be suitable for that age group.

Moreover, as gender focus establishes in this age, you need to identify books that would work with the specific gender – male or female.

So, check out the contents by using the Table of Contents, “Look Inside” feature on Amazon or excerpts on Google books to determine if the presentation style of the book is suitable for your child. And if you are in doubt, pick one of our top picks and the chances are your kid would love it.

Top Picks

Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids’ Guide: Best beginner guide

The Camp Out! book is an excellent illustrative guide, authored by Emmy award-winning author Lynn Brunelle. Filled with a lot of illustrations and images, the book covers basic as well as some advanced information on all types of outdoor activities – ranging from backyard overnights to camping trips. And to spice things up, the book even has some camping recipes for pre-teen kids to try out on their own.

Boy Scout Handbook 2016: Best beginner guide

The Boy Scout Handbook is a must buy for parents who want their wards to be part of the Scouting platform. This original handbook details of how to take your son from Scout to Eagle and beyond. It also includes checklists for each rank, nights of camping, service hours and more. The 2016 edition is available in Spiral-bound, Paperback and even Kindle format.

Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival: Best Survival Guide for kids

This popular Kids survival guide is authored by former Search & Rescue professional and renowned author Denise Long. The book covers all the aspects on how to survive in the wilderness, ranging from how to create a shelter, how to start a fire and how to identify animal tracks. The book also has a set of ten projects to try out to master the skills. It is available in Paperback as well as Kindle edition.

Learning the basics: Best books for teenagers and beginners

If you are a teenager getting into camping or a beginner, getting the right type of support and understanding of preparation, gear and activity planning can often be a challenge. While there are a lot of resources available – offline such as Backpacker and Outside Magazine and online such as Reddit forums, blogs, YouTube channels and e-books by outdoor experts, you would probably need a compiled source to start with.

Check out our article on the best camping guides for beginners for some additional suggested readings and additional resources for teenagers and beginners.

Key considerations

The major factors to consider while picking the best books largely remain the same as for other categories, with a few additional considerations to keep in mind.

Wilderness camping can be of many types. Some guides tend to cover multiple types of outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, family camping, fishing, canoeing etc. while other books tend to focus on specific areas. Depending on your primary inclination, you can consider the specific type.

Moreover, 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. Based on what you are looking for, you can decide to pick the right book or a combination of books.

In addition, the publication year of the book is also important. You may find the content of any book that is more than a decade old a little outdated, unless it is one of the timeless classics.

So, check out the contents by using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon or excerpts on Google books to determine if the content and presentation style of the book is suitable for your needs. And if you are in doubt, pick one of our top recommendations and you would find them great picks.

Top Picks

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking: Best Beginner guide

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking is an excellent beginner guide written by Jason Stevenson and published in 2010. In 360 odd pages, this ready reckoner provides useful advice for planning, training, shopping and packing for the trip. A number of checklists are also included to keep you on track. The book is available in paperback as well as Kindle editions.

Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival: Best Beginner guide for survival

This New York Times Best-seller book in Sports and Travel category is authored by survivalist expert Dave Canterbury. In its 250 pages, the book provides excellent beginner information on surviving in the wilderness. Available in both paperback and Kindle edition, the book also has an Advanced Bushcraft version.

The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, 2nd Edition: Best Beginner gear guide

In this popular hiking gear guide, renowned long-distance hiker Andrew Skurka shares up-to-date information on the essential backpacking and hiking gear. The current edition was published in 2017 and is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. This book is a must buy for anyone who is looking to setup a thru-hiking backpack.

Mastering the skills: Best advanced books

Long distance hiking, wilderness survival camping, and ultralight backpacking are some advanced outdoor activities tailor-made for the free-bird in most of us.  If you are someone who has been day hiking or backpacking for quite some time and looking to get into some serious thru-hiking, long -distance solo backpacking or some off-the-grid wilderness camping, then you need an excursion guide that can help you master these skills.

Check out our article on the best books for advanced hiking, backpacking and survival camping for our top ten recommendations. In the article, we also list six of our favorite classics that every thru-hiker, backpacker or survivalist must read.

Key considerations

There are a couple of additional considerations that you must keep in mind while picking the best advanced excursion guide for your needs.

The portability of the book is a factor if you plan to carry one with you on your trip. While most of the books we listed above worth every ounce (in fact, every milli-ounce!), you may want to get the paperback version if you intend to carry the book around with you. Library editions, hardcovers and spiral bounds are a big no.

In addition, the publication year of the book stays important with the advanced books, unless picking one of the timeless classics. You may find the content of any book that is more than a decade old a little outdated.

So, check out the contents by using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon or excerpts on Google books to determine if the content and presentation style of the book is suitable for your needs. And if you are in doubt, pick one of our top recommendations and you would find them great picks.

Top Picks

The Total Outdoorsman Manual : Best Advanced Hiking guide

The Total Outdoorsman Manual, authored by T. Edward Nickens, has long been a popular guide for advanced outdoors skills – camping, hiking and survival. This book is still in its 10th edition, which was published in 2013. Written in an illustrative tips-and-tricks style, this book covers tips and tricks to master the outdoors and hunt, fish, and camp like an expert in over 300 pages. An excellent compendium of information for anyone looking to get a single resource for information.

Backpacker Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike : Best Advanced Backpacking guide

This freshly published thru-hiking guide is authored by prominent woman hiker Liz “Snorkel” Thomas and is an excellent resource for weekend backpackers who want to graduate into long-distance thru-hiking. It covers all aspects of long-term thru-hiking, right from planning and budgeting to executing a successful long-distance hike. And to make things more interesting, the book as an excellent collection of some breathtaking photographs of different trails across North America.

The Advanced Backpacker: A Handbook of Year Round, Long-Distance Hiking: Best Advanced Classic Guide

Chris Townsend has long been one of the most prominent outdoorsman in the world and the Advanced Backpacker guide is one of his most popular books for hiking and backpacking. While some of the gear selection presented in the book may be outdated (current edition was published in 2000), the book still has a lot of relevant information on solo-traveling and thru-hiking. This book is an advanced version of The Backpacker’s Handbook book by the same author.

Going Extreme: Best books for survival and bushcraft

Whether you are an avid outdoorsman, who likes to carry as little gear as possible or a beginner looking for some fun in the wilderness, having basic survival and bushcraft skills is a great asset. Unless you are formally trained in survival, the best way to learn these skills is to consult a good resource and practice what you have learned on your next excursion.

To find our top ten picks, check out our article on the best books for wilderness survival and bushcraft. And if you are pressed for time, just look at our recommended readings below.

Key considerations

Before picking the best options for your needs, check the theme and the type of content of the pick. Select an option that gives a lot of practical information along with smart illustrations that help you master them. And since most survival and bushcraft techniques have not changed over the years, you do not need to worry a lot about the year of publication.

Since most people love to carry a survival book with them as a ready reckoner, picking a paperback edition that is easy to carry around is also something to check out.

Top Picks

SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere: Best guide for survival

The SAS Survival Handbook is undoubtedly the most popular survival book covers survival techniques for not only the wilderness but also for urban survival and disaster situations. Authored by renowned survivalist John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman, the current third Edition has been considerably enhanced with a lot of additional information and tips. The book is available in paperback, hardcover as well as Kindle edition. An international edition of the book is also available

Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival Best guide for bushcraft

This reference guide on bushcrafting is authored by Mors Kochanski, the grandmaster of wilderness survival and primitive skills. In 300 odd pages, the book covers all aspects of primitive survival skills – fire craft, ax craft, shelter craft and knife craft among other things such as foraging. The first edition of the book was published way back in 1998, while the current edition was published in Feb, 2016.

Globetrotting: Best books for international travel

The world is filled with great outdoor locations for you to explore. If you are looking to increase your know-how on international travel – destinations to consider, places to visit, tips and tricks on budgeting, solo travel and so on, then look no further than our article on best travel guides for International Travelers.

Key considerations

The major factors to consider while picking the best books largely remain the same as for other categories – the type of content, level and format, popularity and publication year. You would find the availability of a Kindle edition for the book especially useful as you can have the book without adding additional weight.

Top Picks

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter : Best Guide for Budget Management

This international bestseller guide is authored by Matt Kepnes, who is popularly known as Nomadic Matt. In 330 odd pages, this popular covers all aspects of how to travel around the world on a budget. While there are some other guides which provide advice on how you can enjoy international travel on even less, this book is the most practical and allows you to keep access to “some luxuries”. The book is available in paperback as well as Kindle edition.

The Solo Traveler’s Handbook 2nd Edition : Best Guide for Solo International Travel

The Solo Traveler’s Handbook is a must buy for outdoor enthusiasts who are looking to take a solo cross country trip. Authored by Janice Leith Waugh and published in 2012, this book covers how and why of solo travel including budgeting, safety and health. The book is short 130 pages and is available in paperback as well as Kindle edition.

Lonely Planet Travel Guides: Best destination based series

If you are looking for a destination guide, then look no further than the Lonely Planet’s Travel Guides. Updated annually/bi-annually, these travel guides present accurate information on places to visit, things to keep in mind and references to local resources for almost all travel destinations on the six continents around the world. Most editions are available on Kindle as well.

Canine Companion: Best books for backpacking, hiking or camping with dogs

Dogs, like humans, love excursions in the outdoors. If you are someone who would love to take your furry friend on hiking or camping trips with you, then you need to prepare yourself and your pet for such trips.

In our article on best books on hiking, backpacking or camping with dogs, we share the list of the best learning guides and destination-specific book series that would help you prepare for outdoor excursions with your canine companion- starting from pre-trip readiness to picking the right gear and things to take care while on the trail.

Key considerations

The key considerations for such books are essentially the same – the type of content, level and format and popularity, reviews and ratings. In the case of destination based series, you would find the year of publication also important.  And if you are unsure about which book to pick, choose one of our top picks listed below and you would find it pretty useful.

Top Picks

The Trailhounds Handbook : Best guide for camping with dogs

The Trailhounds Handbook is an illustration-rich dog training guide that covers almost every aspect of exploring the wilderness with your canine – from planning to practice. Authored by Ellen Eastwood and published by Wilderness Press, the book is available in Kindle as well as paperback edition.

Camping and RVing with Dogs, 3rd Edition : Best guide for camping with dogs

If you are into RVing, multi-day camping or glamping with your dog, then this classic bestseller is highly recommended. Authored by Jack and Julee Meltzer, in 200+ pages, the book covers basics as well as advanced information on how to make outdoor trips with dogs a lot of fun.

Dog Lover’s Companion Guides: Best destination-based series

These elaborate dog lover companion guides are published by Rick Steves publishing and focus on best dog runs, parks, beaches, hiking trails, camping areas and more around specific states in the US. Each guide is about 500 pages long and updated bi-annually. The only drawback is that most editions are paperback only.

Chef of the wild: Best books for camping, backpacking and RV cooking

If you are tired of eating the pre-packed tasteless stuff and interested in trying out something lip-smacking on your next outdoor trip, then you need to get a guide book for campfire cooking.

Check out our article on best books for camping, backpacking and RV cooking for some great suggested readings filled with novel recipes for outdoor cooking over a campfire, camping stove or camping grills and tripods.

While most of the books we list are specifically meant for camping, RVing, and backpacking, you can also try out the recipes in these books during your next backyard cookout or tailgate party.

Key considerations

Picking the best guide for hiking, backpacking, RVing or camping cooking is not much different from picking up any other cooking or recipe book. The small difference lies in the fact that since you would be cooking in the wilderness, you would need a book that would also cover the preparations that you would need to make beforehand.

Top Picks

Easy Campfire Cooking: 200+ Family Fun Recipes: Best book for camping cookouts

If you are looking for a simple, abridged book on campfire cooking then you should check out the Easy Campfire Cooking recipe book by Peg Couch. In 120 odd pages, the book covers more than 200 family recipes ranging from breakfast treats to hot dogs, s’mores and more. In addition, the book also has some tips and tricks on managing camping fires and following safe cooking practices. Overall, this book is a great choice for family camping trips, scout trips and RVing.

Recipes for Adventure: Healthy, Hearty and Homemade Backpacking Recipes: Best book for backpacking cooking

This best-selling backpacker cooking guide, authored by the famous Chef Glenn McAllister, offers a collection of 75 trail-tested recipes in short 90 pages. The book also includes tips on how to dehydrate the prepared meals and store them properly. Overall, a decent, light-weight book to check out and carry on your next thru-hiking trip.

The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild: Best book for survivalist cooking

If you are into survival camping, bushcraft or off-the-grid living, then you should definitely check out this bushcraft and survivalist cooking best-seller. Authored by renowned outdoors expert Dave Canterbury, the book covers all aspects of how to hunt in the wild, how to forage for edible plants and what recipes to follow for a quick meal. The book also has full-color photo guide of plants to forage and those to avoid. The book is 250 pages and available in paperback as well as Kindle edition.

Additional Resources

In addition to the guide books listed in our articles, here are some of our favorite online resources. You can check them out for some useful information, advice, tips and tricks on different outdoor activities:

  • Andrew Skurka’s Blog: The best outdoor blog out there. Covers everything from instructional advice to gear reviews and new advancements. Useful to beginners and experts alike.
  • Chris Townsend Outdoors: An inspirational blog filled with a lot of interesting information and advice. Supplements the hugely popular books on beginner and advanced backpacking.
  • Wikiloc Website: A website dedicated to the best trails around the world, with useful information, tips, tricks and photos of each trail. Suitable for hiking, backpacking, cycling and almost all other outdoor activities.
  • Beyond The Tent: An excellent resource filled with a lot of articles on destinations, gear selection and tips and tricks for beginners. Pretty useful for family camping as well.
  • Mapping Megan Travel Blog: An excellent, award-winning travel blog for beginner globetrotters. Filled with a lot of high-quality information and advice for traveling around the best destinations in the world.

Final thoughts on best books for camping, hiking, and backpacking

In this article, we looked at some of the best books for camping and backpacking and related skills across eight categories. We looked at some of the best recommended readings for these activities by age – young children, pre-teen, teen and skill levels – beginner and expert. We also looked at the best guides for foreign travel, wilderness cooking and camping with dogs.

We also briefly summarized the key considerations to keep in mind while picking the best instructional books in each category. Hopefully, this article will help you in picking the best book for camping, hiking and backpacking and other outdoor activities. The options we listed also make excellent gift items.

Do let us know your feedback by providing your comment in the section below. Till then, happy outdoor exploration!!

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