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Posted August 2, 2002
Complete and Well Written
The Complete Walker IV is certainly complete and now with two authors you get two people who have no qualms about telling you everything that you ever wanted to know on the subject. Fletcher has now teamed up with Chip Rawlins and the union is rewarding for readers. The old and the new illustrations (by Vanna Prince and by Hanna Hinchman) are numerous and remarkable. It is certainly the best researched and most thorough book on backpacking I have seen, but more importantly, it is written in an original and entertaining style. The authors do not loose sight of the importance of understanding life outside the ¿civilized world¿ and that the equipment is only a means to that end. The first chapter is ¿Why Walk¿ and the last is ¿Learn of the Green World.¿ They review representative samples of the gazillion items available to backpackers these days. I liked it when they described their personal experiences and experiments with everything from air mattresses to zippers. Much more than a ¿Consumers Reports¿ on backpacking gear, they have covered ¿how-to¿ in detail. Some examples are: Options for menus and a complete description of typical meals as well as a healthy dissertation on nutrition. There is an equation for calculating the volume of a pack that you will need for a trip. Good information on foot care including getting feet ready, preventing problems, boot fit, and a ¿freaking marvelous¿ exercise for tired feet. They cover how much water to carry, when to drink, but also details on water purification (16 pages) that appear well researched and important. How to fit and adjust a pack,and on and on, including good comments and ideas from readers of prior editions of the book. Fletcher tells a good story about meeting a fellow in death valley who had (inadvertently?) stolen a water cache and it made him wonder about his caches that his life would depend on in the coming days. Rawlins reports include tables on insulated cups, tents, water filters, and stoves in his ¿cruel world¿ experiments, often with surprising results. Both authors include their personal habits and preferences on everything from afternoon tea to ziploc bags. They review issues to consider and parts to inspect before you spend your money on gear. They add some sanity to a world of marketing hype and outrageous claims about fabrics, insulation and gadgets. Their approach is direct, but not too direct. They cover backcountry ethics and add some philosophy, but only where appropriate. Some information and illustration is identical to the previous edition, but only where befitting. Their humor and writing style held my interest for 845 pages. If you can afford only one book on backpacking, I recommend this one. Freaking marvelous.
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Posted May 14, 2004
THE Hiker's Reference
I found Walker IV last year and it became invaluable over the course of the summer. Knowing what to take is everything if you're going out for two weeks and I think I saved myself alot of grief knowing what to choose for my 45 pound pack. I thought I was a pretty seasoned backpacker. The Complete shaved off at least 5 pounds of stuff I really didn't need. It's a handy resource in more ways than one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 19, 2003
One of the all time backpacking classics
An immense amount of information. No other single source has as much information about the nitty gritty of what you need when backpacking. I've read all of Colin Fletcher's published books, from Thousand Mile Summer forward. He is a great story teller. In this tandem book with Chip Rawlins, there is not much of the story telling. A cover to cover read is a little tedious, but necessary, just so you have an idea of all the information contained in the book. Later, when you really need to know, you know where to find it. This is the classic gear book. Find out about the thermal death point, how to walk on snowshoes, why not to dent the top of your hat, how to find water in the desert, how to fit your pack, ...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.