I don't generally do reviews anymore, as so many people have so many opinions what one person finds useful another disagrees. Hiking and backpacking are very personal pursuits, what works for one, will not for another. We all can walk, but we seem to all walk differently.
I can tell you that if you are interested in understanding more about how to hike and backpack successfully look no further than his book. If you have questions or just want to know what the currently "correct" thinking on a vast majority of backpacking topics you will find it here.
Liz Thomas’ Long Trails Mastering the Art of Thru Hiking is the proverbial, if you could only buy one book on how to hike, this would be it! It not only address’ the question of How To, but also the more interesting question of “How Come”
There are several backpacking how to guides on the market and some have been in print for many years and are rightfully considered classics. The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher, The Backpackers Handbook by Chris Townsend and the Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide by Andrew Skurka, this book is their equal and then some. Since most, if not all, guidebooks for hiking have been written by men, they start and finish with gear, an important topic to be sure, but Liz’s book doesn’t get to gear until Chapter 6 and the other guides lack the in depth emotional and psychological evaluation of hiking you get in these 328 pages.
Liz spends the first part of the book discussing the motivations, skills and trails you might consider. Then when she does get to gear, she not only gives her opinion but enlists the help of several long distance hikers to give their gear lists and comments and these aren’t all twenty somethings. They are both men and women and some might even be said to be middle aged. Then it is off to discussing what to expect on the trail, trail etiquette, LNT and the social aspects of hiking along with some do’s and don’ts. It also is the first I know of in print to deal with the specific needs for women on the trail.
This is a guide book written by someone who has been there and done that. She didn’t start out perfect and is not afraid to tell you what mistakes she made. I found myself reading and shaking my head to the same mistakes I have made, as I am sure some of you will too, but it only makes you want to read on to see if she describes situations that might be avoided in the future. This is all written not in the style of an expert preaching, but more to try and guide you through some of the mental and physical aspects of trying a long distance hike that you might not have thought about while your dreams of hiking adrenaline are pumping.
If you are a first time hiker, or one thinking about anything longer than a weekend, you need this book. If you are an old dog and don’t feel like you can learn any new tricks, you need this book because it is a collection of all your tricks in one place. The book is well written, well-illustrated and supports someone that is doing great service for the trail community.