An authoritative and comprehensive guide to backpacking gear, supplies, and skills that will save you time and money by helping you determine what you need, both on your back and between your ears.
Download a 20-page preview to better understand the book’s philosophy, writing style, content, and layout.
Skurka’s updated guide is a masterclass in how to enjoy the outdoors comfortably. This isn’t just a list of stuff you should buy: it’s the information you need to become an informed consumer and expert user of gear. — Outside magazine
Andrew Skurka’s Gear Guide…is the most in-depth, well organized, and well researched book about backpacking gear available. — The Trek
I am no longer selling copies directly. Please purchase it from Amazon, or a local bookstore or outdoor retailer.
About The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide
Renowned hiker Andrew Skurka shares his hard-earned knowledge in this completely updated guide to backpacking gear, supplies, and skills. First-time backpackers, weekend warriors, and seasoned backcountry travelers will learn exactly what to carry — on their backs and between their ears — for all locations and seasons.
A show-and-tell of clothing, footwear, backpacks, sleeping bags, shelters, and cooking systems, plus recipes, sample gear lists, trip planning checklists, expert tips, and much more, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide covers the essential tools and techniques needed to hit the trail.
To read The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide on your Kindle, buy it directly from Amazon.
Amazon normally undercuts me on the price of the paperback version, too. However, I don’t care to operate on the same razor-thin margins; your business is more meaningful to me than to it; and all copies are personally signed.
Where to buy outside the US
If you live outside the US and wish to place an order for multiple copies (and ask nicely), I can probably help you out. Otherwise, I ask that you obtain the book locally or from a retailer that can better manage international orders.
For the convenience of international readers, I have a list of retailers outside the US that I try to keep updated.
Differences between the First and Second Editions
If you already own the original book, should you purchase the Second Edition? For a lengthy answer to this question, read this: “Points of difference: The First vs Second Editions of the Gear Guide.”
The short answer will not surprise you: Unequivocally, yes. The First Edition is outdated, in terms of both its information and my point of view. Since I wrote the original manuscript, backpacking changed and so did I — new products and brands, and new personal experiences and insights.
The Second Edition is updated through September 2016, and it reflects all of my current thinking about backpacking gear, supplies, and skills.
If you would like to get a better feel for the content, writing style, and layout of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, preview 20 pages by downloading this PDF.
Testimonials & reviews
What are readers and the media saying about The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide?
“Just wow! So worth the price in gear savings alone. Don’t buy any gear until you read this. Hands down, your best investment starts here.” — verified Amazon customer
“This 2nd edition continues to provide the clearest thinking about backpacking for hikers of all ability levels.” — Tommy Hayes, on Goodreads
Wes Siler, Outside
“Skurka’s updated guide is a masterclass in how to enjoy the outdoors comfortably. The book teaches you how to pack light, obviously, but it also dives much further into how to select the appropriate clothing, shelters, sleep systems, and more for a variety of terrain, seasons, and objectives. Skurka explains the challenges you’ll face, how the gear works, and the differences between seemingly minor variables, empowering you with the knowledge necessary to make purchasing decisions across a range of budgets. This isn’t just a list of stuff you should buy: it’s the information you need to become an informed consumer and expert user of gear. While the book is clearly targeted at ultralight backpacking, it’s actually an excellent guide to all-round outdoor competence.”
Nick Gatel, PopUpBackpacker
“The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide is really not about the gear per se, but how to choose gear and how to use it so you can accomplish The Goal and enjoy the walking part too. The book is well laid out, presents a ton of solid and useful information, is easy to read and understand.”
David Chenault, Bedrock & Paradox
“The ideal audience for lengthy how-to tracts is the among the groups least likely to read them, they’re too busy out learning by doing. With this in mind one must weigh detail and a fair balance of the inherently subjective with paragraphs and pages that don’t strain the readers attention span too far. Skurka’s book is rife with bullet points, sidebars (unfortunately titled “How 2…”), and short paragraphs largely bereft of compound sentences. It also features terse but detailed discussions of vapor barrier liners, the limitations of WPB laminates, minimizing drafts in quilts, fighting condensation in single wall shelters, layering in cool wet weather, and many other topics that are difficult to discuss both clearly and well. The way in which Skurka deals with complex subjects quickly, but without being reductive, is the books second greatest strength.”
Dave Marcus, Engearment
“If you already have the first edition, should you get the second? Depends, but most likely yes. As Skurka discusses on his blog, there are some pretty big differences between the two. Two major things: he wrote the first edition in 2011 and gear has come a loooooong way since then; and he, himself, learned more about the needs of the average backpacker and how to translate his experience and advice into something both digestible and useful for that person. If you’ve become your own expert in the intervening years, maybe you can skip it. But, even for the expert, Skurka offers value. As far as I’m concerned, it’s always good to get advice from experts, even if you consider yourself an expert in the same field.”
Philip Werner, SectionHiker
The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide is not really a book about gear per se, as much as it is about the skills and knowledge that very experienced backpackers develop for planning trips and deciding what gear is appropriate and safe enough to bring.
That might sound like a subtle distinction, but I think Andrew’s emphasis on skills and not the latest gear fad is a breath of fresh air in an industry that has become a bit too focused on gear and less on the self sufficiency and ingenuity that define an “Ultimate Hiker.”
The Trek, by Caet Cash
Andrew Skurka’s Gear Guide…is the most in-depth, well organized, and well researched book about backpacking gear available. It not only advises gear choices, but also helps beginning outdoorspeople develop good systems of organization and safe habits while in the back country.