Best Hiking Books: How to Make Sure You’re Prepared for Anything

Best hiking books
Written by Rita Warfield

Anyone who’s been hiking knows just how important it is to always know what you’re doing. You have to know where to go and what to do to keep yourself safe and protected. You have to make sure that you have all the tools you need and that you’ve made all the proper preparations.

That means learning a whole lot about hiking before you ever head out into the wilderness. By having the best hiking books to read before you head out you’re going to be one step ahead and you’re definitely going to be ready for anything that might come your way.

Choosing a Great Hiking Book

You want a book that’s going to teach you about the things you’re going to encounter while you’re out in the wilderness and you want something that’s going to talk about what you need in order to be prepared. That means you need to have some idea of the content you’re looking for and we’ll help you with that right here.

Understanding the type of content that will keep you safe is definitely going to be crucial for you when it comes time to head out in the wild.

Man sits on the cliff and reading a book

Understanding plants is going to be one of the first things that you want. You want to make sure that you know which things are going to be dangerous for you and could hurt you and which things could be helpful to you in the long run. This includes plants that you could eat versus plants that might be poisonous.

A good hiking book should walk you through several different levels of ‘danger’ from poison ivy to something that could be extremely toxic if ingested. That way you can know what to do if you find something you don’t recognize.

Another important aspect is the bugs that you might encounter. Some bugs won’t be too dangerous, like mosquitos, but some could be poisonous or toxic as well. You want to be able to recognize different bugs and insects without a lot of warning and you want to know how to keep them away from you.

A good hiking book should help you understand different natural products you can use to keep bugs away as well as sprays or things you should be doing for your tent to keep them from getting inside and wreaking havoc on you there.

Next are animals that you might encounter. This is going to vary based on where you are hiking or camping, but knowing about the different animals that are out there in the wild is definitely going to be a crucial aspect. You should know what to do when confronted by different types of animals and how to protect yourself and your food from them as well.

Knowing what you might come across or how to avoid coming across them at all is going to keep you a whole lot safer and it’s going to keep you from losing your food as well.

You need to know the type of tools that you’re going to need out on your camping trip. With a good book, you’ll be able to find out about the different types of tools a whole lot easier.

You’ll be able to see what the tools should be and how much of different things you should be carrying and you’re going to have a much easier time figuring out your pack and whether the things you’re thinking about bringing are actually important or if they’re going to just weigh you down when weight is an important thing.

Survival skills are another important consideration. Many hiking books are going to give you a little more information about survival skills and what you’ll need to know if you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere with no real idea what you’re doing.

A good book is going to let you know how to build a fire, clean wounds, build a shelter and a whole lot more with absolutely nothing or with only rope and a tarp or only things that you’ll find around you in the wilderness. All of these things are going to be extremely important and you definitely shouldn’t disregard them.

Best Books To Learn

100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition

100 Deadly Skills - Survival Edition

Author: Clint Emerson

Length: 272 Pages

Specific Features: 100 skills/preparation tips, written by a Navy SEAL, available in three formats

Best Use: Preparing for any situation out there

Available in several different formats, 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition could just be a lifesaver for you when it comes down to it.

If you like to read a physical book you can find this one in paperback but it’s also available in a Kindle edition that’s easy to take with you and even an Audible version so you can listen to it being read to you.

The author is a retired Navy SEAL, which means you can definitely take his advice to heart and trust that these skills are going to keep you alive.

It’s going to help you figure out everything you need to survive with very few tools to your name. You’ll be able to get an idea of how to react in some very specific situations, which could prove to be a lifesaver when you find yourself in the middle of a crisis. It actually walks you through how to get ready for your trip, how to make a shelter or fire and even how to get yourself back to civilization when something horrible is happening around you.

This book is designed to train you just like a soldier and it’s definitely designed to make sure you’re prepared for anything that might come your way for medical  needs, survival and anything in between.

You’ll be able to find out a whole lot about how to protect yourself and how to simply stay alive when you don’t know what’s out there or just what may happen if it happens to catch up with you.

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Mud, Sweat and Tears: The Autobiography

Mud, Sweat and Tears - The Autobiography

Author: Bear Grylls

Length: 445 pages

Specific Features: Written by a UK Special Forces Paratrooper, available in two formats

Best Use: Understanding the story of what’s out there

Bear Grylls’ book, Mud Sweat and Tears: The Autobiography, is designed to tell you all about the experiences that he had out in the wilderness.

As a retired UK Special Forces Paratrooper he definitely has a good understanding of the wilderness and the things that you could encounter while you’re out there.

He definitely knows how to take care of himself and he knows how to show others what they need to do as well. That’s definitely what you’re going to find out more about with this book because it’s all about his experiences.

You’ll be able to learn more about what he went through and how those things actually shaped him as a person, which can definitely help you in your own life. Even more, you’ll be able to find out a whole lot about how to survive for yourself by understanding his story and what it took to get where he is now.

It’s not all about wilderness survival but it’s definitely about having a strong will to survive and being determined not to give up no matter what obstacles are put in your path. That is definitely going to help you and it’s going to make for a great read too.

The author of this book has a TV show where he’s gone over a lot of information on surviving in the wild and this book is definitely going to show you how and why he’s so well regarded to have that kind of TV show of his own. He’s definitely got the qualifications that he would need for it.

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A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods - Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Author: Bill Bryson

Length: 397 pages

Specific Features: Actual hiker of the Appalachian Trail, available in two formats, soon to be a movie

Best Use: Learning more about the journey and the countryside

A Walk in the Woods is a type of memoir and biography of Bill Bryson, a man who actually walked much of the 2100 miles of the trail.

His book is all about the trip that he took but not just the things that he saw but what he experienced during the trip as well. That’s because Bryson came to terms with a whole lot more than just a walk while he was out there.

He also learned a lot about the country itself including history and ecology and even geology and biology by just walking and taking in the nature that was around him.

He made sure that he was prepared (or as much as he thought he needed to be) and he also made sure that he had a whole lot of equipment that was designed to help him with the trip and make sure that he was successful when he headed out. For company and a little more fun he took another person with him to make the trip a little more enjoyable.

This book details everything that they went through during the trip and doesn’t skirt around the details of the difficult aspects or the amazing things that they encountered either.

If you’re thinking about making this hike or any other long hike you’ll want to take a look at this book and see what it has to offer. There’s a lot to see and learn about out there in the wilderness and this book is about helping you understand what you’re going to see while you’re there.

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The Dangerous Book for Boys

The Dangerous Book for Boys

Author: Conn Iggulden & Hal Iggulden

Length: 288 pages

Specific Features: Fun activities for boys and men of all ages, skills for the wilderness and life

Best Use: Having some fun and preparing for some difficult situations

The Dangerous Book for Boys isn’t designed to be a save-all survival guide. Rather, it’s designed to make sure that boys are having a whole lot of fun and experiencing some of the great things that are out there for them to try.

With information about everything from building paper airplanes to tying knots and making a bow and arrow, this is definitely a book that’s going to prepare boys (and girls) for a whole lot of things in their life. It will help them to have some fun as children, but it could also be a short survival guide for when they’re older.

This book can even tell you how to make your own go-cart, how to write in ciphers and what different cloud formations really mean. It’s kind of like a miniature guide to the world and everything in it (including girls) so that boys can find out more about the world they live in. If you want to have some fun on a summer day you can find out how to make a slingshot.

If you’re learning about the important things in history you can look up the states, mountains and even the Declaration of Independence. This book really does have a little bit of everything.

You’ll want to take a look at this book because it’s not just how-to’s but also a whole lot of information about different things in the world. It’s designed for boys 9-12 but it’s something that older boys will definitely have some fun with while they’re at it too, because it’s all information anyone would want to know.

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How to Stay Alive in the Woods

How to Stay Alive in the Woods

Author: Bradford Angier

Length: 320 pages

Specific Features: Written by a survivalist, available in two formats, focused on four main sections

Best Use: Keeping yourself safe and alive in the wilderness

If you’re planning on heading out into the wilderness you’re going to want to know how to protect yourself.

How to Stay Alive in the Woods is going to be one way that you can do just that. It’s all about making sure you are going to know what to do if the worst should happen and you find yourself trapped in the middle of nowhere with no real idea of how to get home and no idea of when someone might find you.

It gives you all the information you should need divided into four different sections including sustenance, warmth, orientation and safety.

This book actually goes through a whole lot of information and even includes full-color pictures of things like which plants you can eat so you’ll be able to stay nourished if you run out of your own food. You’ll find out about catching game, protecting yourself, making signals, making clothing and even building a shelter.

Everything has detailed instructions and there are plenty of pictures so you can make sure you’re doing things the right way and that you’re definitely going to be found (or find your way home) before anything bad happens.

The key to staying alive is knowing what it takes to keep yourself safe, warm and fed. Those are three of the primary sections of this book for a reason and they’re enough that you’re not going to have a problem following these instructions and making sure you’re ready for anything that comes your way.

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The Bushcraft Field Guide to TrappingThe Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping

Author: Dave Canterbury

Length: 264 pages

Specific Features: Written by an outdoor expert, available in two formats

Best Use: Teaching you about finding and cooking your own food in the wild

One of the most important things you need to know when you’re out in the wilderness is how to feed yourself.

When you head out you’ll expect to have enough food for everything you’re going to do, of course, but that’s not always possible. In fact, it’s entirely possible that you could find yourself trapped in the wilderness with no idea how you’re going to feed yourself or what you can even eat.

That’s where The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering and Cooking comes into play because it’s going to help you understand all of these things and a whole lot more at the same time.

You’ll find out more about finding the food that you need including animals and how to catch them or trap them as well as how to turn an animal into food that you can eat (namely different ways to cook them after you’ve gone through the butchering process). You’ll find out about how to keep yourself sustained on other things as well, which is going to be crucial if you aren’t sure when you’re going to get out of the wilderness or even how to do it. Eating is the most important thing, after all.

Keeping yourself fully sustained and hydrated is what’s going to keep you alive if nothing else does. With this book you’ll know how to keep yourself that way until help arrives or until you’re able to find your way back to where you need to be. It’s going to take some effort, but you’ll definitely be able to accomplish the task.

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SAS Survival Guide 2E

SAS Survival Guide 2E

Author: John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

Length: 384 pages

Specific Features: Written by Special Air Services retiree, variety of different tips and skills

Best Use: Teaching you the basics of staying alive in the wilderness

There are a lot of books out there that will teach you one thing or the other when it comes to surviving out in the wilderness, but SAS Survival Guide 2E is designed to make sure that you’re ready for a little bit of everything.

This book is designed to make sure that you have a little of all the skills you’re going to need when you head out into the wilderness including some first aid and how to put together your own camp.

It’s also written to help you learn about other outdoor skills including technology and navigation so that you can always find your way back, however you are able.

With this book, you’ll be able to learn more about surviving no matter what’s going on around you or how hard you think it might be. There’s always that drive somewhere to keep yourself alive and this book is going to feed that drive with a whole lot of knowledge that can make sure you don’t have to starve or suffer (too much anyway) while you’re waiting to be found or find your own way home. It’s meant to keep you going and make sure you know what you’re doing every step of the way.

You’ll get specific case studies and survival situations here as well as some really practical information that will help you get yourself out of those dangerous situations. And that’s on top of having some color pictures and diagrams that help you understand everything you’re doing even better.

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Wrapping it Up

If you’re interested in heading out to go hiking you definitely need to know all of these things. Make sure that you’re checking out these books and that you’re looking at several others too.

You can never overestimate how important these things will be to you if you find yourself out in the wilderness with no idea of how to get back home.

Hiker reading book while sitting on cliff

So what about you? Do you have a favorite hiking book that you think is great? Is there a specific skill you think is most important to learn before heading out? We definitely want to know.


Rita Warfield

Fully passionate about the outdoors and totally committed to a life of exploration and learning, Rita is the perfect guide when it comes to choosing the right gear for your adventures. She gathered years of practical experience in testing her survival skills and knowledge in a wide range of difficult situations but she is also a passionate mountain climber. Even more, Rita loves hunting, she knows her way around a weapon, and she doesn’t back off in a difficult situation.