Best Hiking Books
Is there anything more captivating than a well-written book or novel? This is subjective. But, if you have come here today, it can only be assumed that you have an interest in reading. And, due to the title, you probably have a keen interest in hiking.
But why would you want a full-fledged hiking book? Could you not just research what you need on the juggernaut known as the internet? Sure, but that may not work for everyone. In fact, some hiking books can provide you with the tools you will need to survive in the wild.
Then again, others will be illustrated happenings through an author’s perspective. What you desire all depends on what you are looking for, quite frankly. This will vary from person to person, but, let’s provide some in-depth insight on how you should look for the best hiking books.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6.5 hrs of research
A great guide for anyone going to this park
It is not too complicated to read
There are some tremendous illustrations
Our Top Picks for the Best Hiking Books
1. Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park
A great guide for anyone going to this park
It is not too complicated to read
There are some tremendous illustrations
Only useful for a certain demographic
For the record, the top choice here is only going to be relevant if you are going to or want to learn more about Rocky Mountain National Park. This is essentially a guide detailing the beauty and allure of this park.Read more
The practicality of this hiking book all comes down to your interest in visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. That is literally what this piece of literature is all about. So, in that sense, it is very practical.
Essentially, this is a guide of Rocky Mountain National Park and it has been written by an avid outdoorsman who has spent years hiking it.
In addition to the fact that the actual content of this hiking book has been expertly written, the included photography is arguably even better. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and it definitely shows here.
Yes, the photos are a joy to look at but this “guide” is incredibly informative and it makes it a good read. It is also ideal to read for families and hiking experts alike.
If you do not want to go with the paperback option then this is also available for Kindle devices.
Again, this is one of the best hiking books that have ever been written but it may or may not pertain to you. It all comes down to your interest in Rocky Mountain National Park, period.
2. She Explores
It shares several different stories
The layout and content are tremendous
The included photography is gorgeous
Not really ideal for men
As the name of this book indicates, this really is tailored toward women. For all women out there, though, the layout of it is literally phenomenal and there is also wonderful photography to uncover.Read more
While this is not going to inform you of countless survival hacks, it should inspire you to get out and explore. Then again, it is only practical for women readers.
This is pretty much just a collection of stories from several different diverse women. It offers a fantastic blend of storytelling and adventure, though, to keep it entertaining throughout.
Even though this book could have been a jumbled mess, it is not. Each of the stories is diverse enough to stand out but, at the same time, flow together nicely.
In addition to the physical content, the implemented photography is also world class. This combination of imagery and well-written detail creates a real masterpiece.
There is both a hardcover option available and also a digital version available for Kindle devices.
While this is not much of a show stealer for men, it is the opposite for women. Most of you will find yourself never wanting to put this book down, which is always a good sign.
3. Dancing with the Sun
It is very good at drawing emotions
There are many different versions available
It is a stratifying story
Some of the fictional aspects are inaccurate
Not all of you will want hiking books for strictly practical reasons and that is fair. With Dancing with the Sun, you get a great tale about a mother and her daughter who are forced to survive in the wilderness.Read more
Yep, this is not tailored toward practicality. While there are lessons to learn here, this book is not loaded with hiking tips or anything like that.
In short, this is an emotional story of a mother and her daughter, who must rely on each other to survive the treacherous nature of the wilderness. All in the meanwhile, they learn to let go of the grief that they have experienced between one another.
Overall, this is well-written and a master craft of storytelling. However, nitpicking a little bit, some of the “scenes” are too drawn out. This makes the book drag on in some spots.
If you enjoy emotional storytelling, then you will love this. There are some fictional aspects, as pointed out by some reviewers, though, that are incredibly inaccurate.
All sorts of different styles are available for this hiking book. This includes MP3 CD, audiobook, paperback, and Kindle.
If you are looking for a guide about hiking, more or less, then this is not for you. But, who said you could not just enjoy a good old-fashioned, well-written book on your hike?
4. The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs
It is offered in many different versions
This is an excellent resource to go back to
More than 850 tips are shared
It is pretty darn “wordy”
Not the most practical for United States readers
If you are looking to really learn and become a more knowledgeable outdoor adventurer then this may be the hiking book for you. Then again, some of you may think this is a boring read and that is fair.Read more
Told from someone who has had decades of experience, this book provides you over 850 tips for tracking, forecasting, and more. But, it is not very practical for those of you in the United States (as it focuses on British forests).
As opposed to other hiking books, this does not tell a story. Instead, it is more of a guide or resource manual that can be used to help you learn specific outdoorsman skills.
Based on user feedback, it seems that the author knows his stuff. But, it also appears that he is not the best at portraying this knowledge into words. As such, this sometimes comes off as wordy, lengthy, and boring.
In spite of what was just said, the investigating mentality of this hiking book is probably its greatest asset. It is the main reason why it remains enjoyable to read in spite of the wording issues.
For physical copies, you can choose both hardback and paperback options. Additionally, this can be bought for Kindle devices.
In a way, the title of this hiking book provides too much hype. It is on this list so, clearly, it is still a recommended read as it does provide a ton of useful information for hikers.
5. America’s Great Hiking Trails
It is quite informal for hikers
It comes in a hardcover style
The included photos are a nice touch
Could have been more of a trail guide
There are some inaccuracies
This right here is not a fictional piece and instead focuses its time on the National Scenic Trails. And, even though some of the analytics are wrong, this is a very good read from start to finish.Read more
For all you hikers out there, this is a very informative piece of literature. The photographer has personally trekked all miles of the 11 National Scenic Trails and the author offers great insight and worthwhile information.
While this is not so much a guide of the 11 National Scenic Trails, it does cover all 11 of them. Overall, this piece includes maps, a plethora of photos, and plenty of useful information.
As noted by some reviewers, there are actually some inaccuracies in the text. This is well-written, overall, but these factual discrepancies should have been addressed.
A hiking book like this could have been extremely boring to read. Instead, through the addition of brilliant photography, this remains readable from start to finish.
This comes in a hardcover style and it is actually a little costly, so be aware of that.
If you can forgive some of the inaccuracies then you can enjoy one of the best hiking books out there. It is particularly useful if you plan to hike one of the National Scenic Trails.
6. Lost on the Appalachian Trail
Provides many small, meaningful details
There is a Kindle version available
It tells a great story
There are grammatical errors present
To say that this is a captivating piece of storytelling is an understatement. From a first-person perspective, this is just a joy to read (if you can tolerate the grammatical errors throughout).Read more
Honestly, you could get something out of this hiking book especially if you want to trek the Appalachian Trail. It is not a guide, though, so do be aware of that.
Written in the first-person perspective, you will join Kyle and his dog on their long and grueling adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Its goal is to inspire you, entertain you, and also humor you.
Several reviewers have heavily criticized the author of this hiking book for his consistent grammatical errors throughout. Outside of misspellings, there is also a lot of redundancy in his writing.
Looking past the errors, the storytelling is just fantastic. This alone will keep you coming back for more, granted you are not anal about grammar.
There are both digital and physical options available in this hiking book, and this is a nice touch.
Even if you never want to hike any part of the Appalachian Trail, you can still have a great time reading this novel. Who knows, you may even be ready to go on a similar adventure.
7. The Backpacker’s Field Manual
It is great for beginners
It is small enough to easily carry around
Physical and digital options are available
It can be a bit basic
Not the most entertaining book out there
For the record, this is the revised and updated version of The Backpacker’s Field Manual. It is a wonderful learning piece for beginning hikers out there but may be too basic for advanced journeymen.Read more
As the title suggests, this is a hiking book that details the ins and outs of backpacking. But, as noted by several users, it nails the basics and glosses over specific details.
As noted, this is an updated version of the original manual. It offers brand new insights, strategies and resources needed for all types of backpackers out there.
All in all, this is basically a manual and is written as such. It certainly is not poorly written but you need to understand that it is laid out and executed as a manual.
This is better to be called a useful read than an entertaining one. Let’s just say that this is not one of those hiking books that is going to enthrall you. Instead, it is merely going to teach you.
There are both Kindle and paperback options of this manual available on Amazon.
To learn some of the hiking essentials and basics of the activity, this is a great buy. It can be a dry read at times but, hey, it does get the point and points across very well.
8. Bushcraft 101
There are many different styles available
Many topics are covered
The content is mostly good
It fails to go into great detail
As many other people have alluded to, this hiking book that details the ins and outs of bushcraft has its ups and downs. It is not going to be for everyone as it does take a broader approach to the concept at hand.Read more
This is certainly a hiking book that details the guide to wilderness survival that much is for sure. However, though there is a ton of useful information, this book still does not provide enough detail to inform novices on how to perform certain tasks.
As noted, this is basically a field guide to bushcraft. It covers everything from collecting food to creating tools and supplies to protecting yourself from the elements.
In regard to how well this is written, it is fine but comes off as broad. Also, there is a lot of filler that has been implemented.
If you have no interest in bushcraft then you would probably rather watch grass grow than read this. But, for those who do have at least somewhat of an interest, it is enjoyable to read through.
A really good variety of styles are available such as paperback, audiobook, audio CD and Kindle.
For a field guide, this is good but not great. It provides plenty of useful information about hiking but fails to go into enough detail to be really, really good.
9. Take the Path of Most Resistance
The author did not water this down
It really is well-written
Great for hikers and non-hikers alike
It needs some editing
The personal politics are unnecessary
In short, this memoir is one that covers the trials and tribulations of one man through the Appalachian Trail. It really is an excellent read but you will have to sit through some long and unnecessary explanations.Read more
Yes, this can provide practical value but it is also not the most practical option on this list. It is mainly due to the author’s tone as he takes a more literal approach to how the Appalachian Trail saved him.
This is a prime example of a hiking book that gives away its premise with its title. What do you think this is about (the title is Take the Path of Most Resistance: How the Appalachian Trail Saved Me from the Sixties)?
While some of you will admire the fact that this is not watered down to suit a less educated demographic, some of the explanations are simply too extensive for their own good.
No matter if you are a hiker or not, this is an entertaining read. However, one reviewer noted that the injection of the author’s personal politics was a bit unnecessary.
As with so many other hiking books on this list, this is available via Kindle. Additionally, a paperback version is also available.
This is a really good book about one of the most iconic hiking trails known to man. It has its flaws, sure, but it also can offer practicality and a lot of enjoyment.
10. Wild: From Lost to Found
Digital and physical copies are available
The author is fluent in their writing
It is a memoir about self-discovery
It can get somewhat repetitive
It can quite off-putting at times
If you enjoy “journey of self-discovery” books and movies then you will probably like this option. Then again, there are other hiking books that have better storytelling.Read more
For the most part, there is not a ton you are going to take out of this from a practical sense.
In short, this is a memoir that describes the author’s 1100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.
You can tell from the writing that this author is skilled in the craft. However, you also need to be prepared as there is a bit of raw language that comes out.
There are some things to point out here. Firstly, there are a lot of repetitive subplots that are told. Secondly, there is a particular section where the author illustrates a rather unsettling story about animal cruelty.
All sorts of design styles are available for this hiking book which is really nice.
This is a mightily popular hiking book and it is no surprise to see why. Still, while mostly good, there are some issues that may off-put you enough to warrant a pass.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Some of you may be looking to find a book that you can get practical value out of.
If it is important to you that you buy a hiking book that is practical in its use, then you need to prioritize those that are. But, what you need to know is hiking books can be broken down into multiple sections of practicality. First and foremost, some will not be intended for practical use at all and will instead be created to share a story.
However, not all of them will be like this. Some options will act as motivators for you. These types of books may not document all the ins and outs of hiking and backpacking, but they may inspire you. They may deliver the motivation you need to get off of the couch and explore the wilderness.
Then again, you may also see some hiking books act as illustrated guides of specific iconic trails and parks. You will see a lot of these books, and many of them are very good. But, if you have little to no interest in the specific area, then you may not get practical use out of the book itself.
Lastly, there are books about hiking that act as manuals or in-depth guides about the activity itself. These can often be the most practical styles that you can pick up and read.
The "bottom line" is really all about the general synopsis of the book you are looking for.
If you are familiar with the literature, then you already know what the synopsis is of a hiking book or a novel. If you are not sure what it is, then you need to pay close attention to this section as it is crucial.
Here is the deal; the synopsis of a book (or anything) is a summary of what you can expect from the book itself. It will not give away any important details, but it will also inform you of what you can expect going in. And, this is important for both novels and illustrated guides.
For novels about hiking, you will probably want to know what the main story or plot is about. Not all hiking books need to educate you about the activity as some will be written to entertain you purely. But, if you have little interest in the themes and story of a particular hiking book, you may not want to read it.
The same goes for hiking guides, quite frankly. But, with these, the synopses should detail what kinds of tips, pointers, and lessons will be found within. Again, this will give you a better understanding of what you can expect.
How well a book is written and executed will play a large role here.
This section is all about execution, and boy is it necessary. This all starts with two vast areas of assessment. The first being how well the book flows and the second is the style of writing. And, once again, both of these factors play a role in both hiking novels and hiking guides.
For novels, the manners in which the story and character development flow are essential. Reading non-cohesive stories that jump around randomly can be tough (and the same goes for characters that have weak growth). No matter if you are reading a romance novel or a hiking book, keep this stuff in mind.
And, as for guides or so-called manuals, this is just as vital. After all, reading a hiking book that only has random pointers and tips everywhere can feel like a jumbled mess. Instead, look for hiking books that educate you in a manner that make sense and in a progressive way.
Regarding the style of writing, this is all about what you prefer (darker tones, more significant words, etc.). Also, do not forget that you can look at the execution of a hiking boot in a literal sense. Some hiking books may be filled with inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Some of you will be able to put up with this while others will not.
Quite honestly, the value of a hiking book comes down to how much you enjoy reading it.
Let’s just come out and say it; please buy a hiking book that you will read. What is the point otherwise? Do not buy a book merely because everyone else recommends it or says it is phenomenal. You need to buy what you want to read, period.
Now, with that said, certain books you may have an interest in can still come across as bland and boring. This is why implemented photography can be so nice. Especially in regard to hiking, some authors will include professional-quality photos that depict the true joy of the wilderness.
Then again, this also comes back down to the writing style. If you prefer humor over darker themes, then shoot for that style of a hiking book. Of course, if you just want to be educated about backpacking and hiking, then look for literature that does an admirable job of doing so.
This is all about the physical style that you prefer to get. For example, if you prefer digital or physical versions.
For the record, this section has nothing to do with the contents of the book you buy. Instead, this is all about the physical style of the book itself. Hiking books these days are often offered in both digital and physical forms for ultimate convenience and versatility.
Two of the most popular digital forms will be audiobooks and eBooks. Audiobooks are physical recordings of the books, and they are read out loud to you. Meanwhile, eBooks are merely electronic copies of physical books. Both are incredibly convenient, especially if you have compatible devices (such as Kindle devices).
Now, if you are a fan of old-school literature, most hiking books will also be offered in paperback, hardcover, or either version. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages, quite frankly.
Hardcover books are known to last longer because they offer superior protection and durability. However, if you plan to hike with them, they can be bulkier and more cumbersome. As for paperbacks, they can be a little too easy to bend and deform. At the same time, they can be easier to pack.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Some of you will want to get something out of the book that you buy. For this reason, if this sounds like you, you will want to prioritize hiking books that offer practical use. Most specifically, you may want to look for in-depth guides and manuals about hiking and backpacking. Then again, even some hiking novels can inspire you to get out on the trails.
For the record, this section is all about the synopsis. This is important as this will inform you of what you can expect from the book you buy. This alone can give you a clear indication of if you will have any interest in the specific piece of literature. Think of this as the trailer to a movie or the chorus to a song.
How practical any book is, often comes down to how well it is executed. In other words, it comes down to how well it is written. And, for books about hiking, you better believe that this also applies. But, there is not just merely one or two things that the author needs to get right. Instead, it is a plethora of factors.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Should you pack books with you on your hike?
If you are buying books about hiking tips and hiking essentials then they can do you a lot of good when you are actually out in the wilderness. Then again, perhaps you simply want to just read some novels that focus on backpacking and hiking. Without question, you can account for these books on your trip.
Also remember, though, this is where digital copies can come into play. That is if you plan on packing your compatible electronic gadgets and such.
q: What general gear will you need for hiking?
Not a lot of books will focus their time on educating you about what type of gear you should be bringing on your hike or backpacking adventure. So, to cover some of the basics for you, let’s take a look at this question a little closer.
A lot of what you need to bring depends on the duration of your trip. For simple day hikes, you can pack lighter with proper hydration, food, sun protection, etc. Meanwhile, for weekend adventures and week-long treks, you will need to account for shelter, clothes, and even more food.
q: Do you need to register to hike the Appalachian Trail?
One of the most popular trails in the world is the Appalachian Trail, and many books will focus their time on it. So, if you happen to be interested in actually hiking it yourself, then you may be curious to see if you have to register.
The Appalachian Trail is monstrous and spans over several national and state parks. While there is a voluntary registration, you should use it to pick your starting dates and such. Of course, you also have to be careful as you may access parks that require specific permits.
q: What size backpack will you need to account for your books?
As you would expect, even when accounting for your hiking books, the size of the backpack you need will depend on the duration of your trips. Backpack capacities are measured in liters, and this is the reference point you need to use.
For just a few days or even a day, you can get away with packs from 35 to 50 liters. But, if you want to indulge in week-long hikes and want to bring some extra books, look for upward of 70 to 80-liter packs.
q: Do you need to worry about bears and snakes on the Appalachian Trail?
Given the environment, it can’t be guaranteed that you will not encounter some dangerous wildlife on your hike of the Appalachian Trail. However, you will typically only see black bears and they are typically shy. Then again, if they have cubs then stay far, far away from them.
As for snakes, you may also encounter them but most will be non-poisonous. To err on the side of caution, however, just assume that every snake you come across is venomous.
q: Can you listen to audiobooks on Kindle devices?
It all depends on the compatibility of the particular book that you are after. But, generally speaking, audiobooks can be downloaded on Kindle devices. What you need to remember about them, though, is they will be reading to you.
Many of you will prefer to read the hiking books yourself. So, with your same Kindle device, see if the particular book you are interested in can be downloaded onto it. This can be particularly useful if you want to download several hiking books.