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1994: Book Review of PCT Hiker's Handbook

The Great OutdoorsMay 1994

"It's the most interesting and thought-provoking work on backpacking I've come across in years. Although it does contain specific information for prospective Pacific Crest Trail walkers, most of the material is worth studying by any long-distance backpacker. And I mean studying. There is a great deal in this book that needs thinking about. Since I bought it last autumn I've read it three times and I'll probably read it a few times more."

"Don't let the title put you off reading this book. It's the most interesting and thought-provoking work on backpacking I've come across in years. Although it does contain specific information for prospective Pacific Crest Trail walkers, most of the material is worth studying by any long-distance backpacker. And I mean studying. There is a great deal in this book that needs thinking about. Since I bought it last autumn I've read it three times and I'll probably read it a few times more.

"Ray Jardine has walked the PCT twice. During those walks he has carefully considered all aspects of backpacking and has comet to some startling and contentious conclusions on everything from footwear ("each additional 1-3/4 ounces removed from a boot (3.5 ounces for the pair) will add about a mile to the day's hiking progress") to how to wear a waterproof ("if piercing winds suggest you wear the parka while hiking, one solution is to wear it backward").

"The author starts from the premise that the long distance backpacker needs as light a load as possible, something only a masochist would disagree with. We all try to carry light loads, but the low pack weights Jardine achieves are very impressive. At the end of his second PCT hike his pack weighted just 20 lbs, for example. The book goes into great detail as to how he achieves this and should be of great help to anyone planning a long distance walk, whether the PCT or the Pennine Way. I am already using the book in the planning for my next long walk in the hope that I can cut my load a little.

"This book challenges many standard views and is a refreshing and important addition to the literature of backpacking. I recommend it highly."


Publisher's note: "The PCT Hiker's Handbook" has been replaced by "trail Life, Ray Jardine's Lightweight Backpacking".

Historical notes (Nov, 2012): This review was written by one of the world's leading experts in outdoor hiking and camping. I'm including his review here to illustrate how the backpacking and hiking world was thinking back then. To them, the Handbook was a revelation. Before the advent of the PCT Hiker's Handbook, there was no lightweight or ultra-lightweight movement. When this book first appeared, it's concepts went viral and before long everyone had climbed on the bandwagon, as new "experts" came crawling out of the woodwork. The writer of this particular review went on to author his own book on lightweight Backpacking, and so did many other people, in most cases without giving me credit for the ideas. But my only intent, here, is to suggest and substantiate the idea that this book was the genesis in the shift towards lighter weight hiking and backpacking. Along the same lines, here's a quote from Backpacker magazine during the same general era: "Once every two or three decades a book comes along that fundamentally reshapes how we think. Jardine's PCT Hiker's Handbook is such a work."

The story has 26 pages. This is page 12.
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