Review: The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide

A review of  The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear  Guide by Andrew Skurka.  A guide that is aimed towards the backpacker that wishes to hike more and camp a bit less.


Full Disclosure: I am assisting Andrew with a trip in Rocky Mountain National Park in August. Great trip and an opportunity to apply some of the concepts of the book !

Andrew Skurka’s new book’s main thrust is to get backpackers to enjoy the hiking part of backpacking more and struggling a bit less while hiking to get to camp.

The book’s main audience is perhaps an experienced backpacker who wishes to lighten their load a bit in order to hike more and camp less.

As an experienced long distance hiker, I am not the book’s main audience. In fact, much of my own style already mirrors that of Andrew: More of a minimalist than an ultralighter. Where the gear I bring is dependent on the trip, conditions and desired aim.  Our equipment choices may differ (and was I once described  as that  “I make hiker trash look more trashy” 😉 ), but the overall ideas and philosophy are very similar.

But the book is not really aimed towards someone like me.

It really is aimed towards someone who is a traditional backpacker. The type  who thinks that it just ain’t backpacking unless you haul 40 lbs+ of stuff on your back and that trudging uncomfortably to a camp site and call it good.

Not my style.

Luckily I am engaged to such a person who had such a syle. 😉

someone enjoys backpacking but has no desire to hike the 200 mile John Muir Trail much less 2000 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Where Ramen noodles for five months sounds awful. And where she will take her Crocs thank-you-very-much.  🙂

Insists on taking Crocs. Far more attractive than me, too  😀

Over the course of our relationship, I’ve managed to convince her to lighten her load a bit and that lightweight gear can be functionally the same as traditional gear but lighter

Still, I was curious to hear what she thought of Andrew’s book.

So, here’s a someone’s thoughts on The Ultimate Hiker’s Guide.

Initial Impressions

  • Colorful and attractive; love the color coding of the sections to make it easier to skim and pick out needed sections
  • Photos are fun and informative and presented clearly
  • “The book is something that would definitely catch my eye in a book store”


Thoughts while reading the book

  • Andrew’s ideas are applicable to her hikes. Ideas expressed are to the point with enough information to make a decision applicable to her hiking style. (someone also said “That’s what I have you for! 😉  )
  • One of the criticisms of Andrew’s book found on hiking forums is that Andrew’s ideas have been around in the long distance hiking community for a while.  That his ideas are  nothing new.  But, as someone said “I’d rather read a book; I don’t have time to Google and spend 45 minutes browsing websites [to answer a question]  !”
  • someone loved the idea of sample gear lists for different seasons and climates. She felt using the lists could help her build out her own kit for different types of trips


Final thoughts on the book

  • “Great for people who don’t have much experience backpacking or go rarely and wish to hike more when out”
  • She still plans on bringing her Crocs:….  “No one takes away my Crocs!”   🙂

Pink Crocs with an “A” on them….hmmm?  🙂

My own thoughts…..

Andrew Skurka’s  Ultimate Gear Guide is a book that definitely works well for  a person wishing to transtion to more of a hiking and less camping style of backpacking  or an experienced backpacker wishing to fine tune their techniques a bit.  Going more minimal is not just about miles but enjoying yourself while HIKING.   Andrew’s book helps a person attain that goal.

A favorite book of mine and one that I recommend is   Lighten Up!  by Don Ladigan. Ladigan’s book  provides uber-concise info; Andrew’s book provides more background information and expanded information.  Honestly, I think both books are perfect for the person wishing to transition into a style different from the traditional backpacking mode and complement each other well.

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