How to make camp life more comfy

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of March 27-April 3, 1996
Laid-back river trips in Utah
Backpacking routes in New Mexico
How to make camp life more comfy
Mountain biking on Maui
Beating the heat in Death Valley
Mellow canoe trips in the Northwest

How to make camp life more comfy
Q: I am looking for the best books on wilderness camping, particularly those loaded with tips on making camp life more pleasurable. The best gear, survival advice, how-to stuff. Thanks.

Tony Leighton
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
[email protected]

A: Funny you should ask. Outside magazine just finished putting together a nearly exhaustive list of our favorite how-to books on everything from camping to whitewater rafting to mountaineering. This roundup, modestly dubbed "The Outside Canon," will run in our May 1996 issue, but I'll give you a sneak preview of some of the user-friendly, fact-heavy bibles that made the cut.

A perennial favorite is How to Stay Alive in the Woods, by Bradford Angier, an $8 paperback from Collier Books that's been in print for more than 20 years. Just as the no-bones-about-it title suggests, this pocket-sized jewel of a book gives you the lowdown on how to find food, water, and warmth when lost or stranded (see the "What About Frogs" section) and shows you, through handy diagrams, how to make a fish trap, a snow house, and even a thatched lean-to. Our recommendation: Don't leave home without it--either commit this book to memory or make it a permanent fixture in your pack.

Another guide that takes an equally straightforward tack is How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art, by Kathleen Meyer (Ten Speed Press, $6.95). What was once just a matter of squatting in the bushes now requires a little more strategy, which this cult hit generously provides in chapters entitled, "The Anatomy of a Crap" to "Digging the Hole" to "What? No T.P.? Or Doing Without."

As for good, all-around guides to low-impact camping, check out The Modern Backpacker's Handbook: An Environmental Guide, by Glenn Randall (Lyons & Burford, $14.95); Backpacking One Step at a Time, by Harvey Manning (REI Press); and Chris Townsend's Backpacker's Handbook (Ragged Mountain Press, $14.95).

For a no-nonsense guide to gear, pick up a copy of Annie Getchell's The Essential Outdoor Gear Manual (Ragged Mountain Press, $18.95). Gear guru Getchell offers buying advice on a whole slew of outdoor products such as tents, hiking boots, backpacks, gaiters, and stoves--among other things--as well as tips on repairing faulty or well-worn equipment. And there's always Outside's own 1996 Buyer's Guide, a virtual cornucopia of must-have stuff--bikes, kayaks, packs, you name it--on newsstands now (and coming online April 1).

For a rundown of more proven how-to titles than you could ever read in one sitting--plus a healthy dose of nature writing, environmental books, and travelogues, consult "The Outside Canon" in our May 1996 issue (coming online in mid-April).

The Q&A archives | Ask the travel expert

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Got Wanderlust?

Escape your daily grind with Outside’s best getaways.

Thank you!