My wife was in the kitchen when I opened the mail. She saw the package. “What’s that?” she said. “It’s another backpacking book”, I replied. She politely didn’t roll her eyes this time, but my expression apparently caused her to require a bit more dialogue. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “It’s beautiful. I mean look at it. For a backpacking book. Wow. Someone spent a lot of time making this one.”
And that was my introduction to Trail Tested, a new book by Justin Lichter ($20).
First and foremost, and I’ve definitely never said this about a book, but man…this thing is gorgeous! Lichter (Trauma) obviously invested a lot of time and energy on the aesthetics of his first book. Great layout and design, tons of pictures, full color, very nice fonts and graphics, ….just wow.
So why care about another backpacking book. Well for starters, Lichter has hiked over 35,000 in just the last 10 years. He even hiked the Triple Crown (AT, PCT, CDT)…around 10,000…in one single year. Impressive. He also never seemed to be someone who pushed the obsessive boundaries of lightweight backpacking. Simply, he wanted to go as lightweight as possible, but with functional and comfortable gear. With his mainstream pack being one from Granite Gear, that’s really of no surprise.
Lichter’s book is a how-to manual for new backpackers and I’d argue for someone looking to work at REI. He covers a lot of very valid, but fairly well known points. Course, I personally gathered this knowledge from a multitude of sources over a long period of time and I suspect that having it all in one place will have a solid following. There are very few stories as he focuses mainly on how to use gear or types of gear and the benefit of using one type of gear over another, versus specific manufacturers of gear or his preference towards particular models. He answers a lot of questions about the AT, PCT, CDT, Hayduke and even backpacking in Africa.
If you’re new to backpacking, looking to work in the backpacking industry perhaps at a retailer like REI, if you enjoy looking at great photos of outdoor scenes, or if you’re inspired to financially support a fellow backpacker successfully avoiding a desk job, consider buying this book!