We found 17 Reddit comments about The Complete Walker IV. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.
About 20 years ago I read The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher, and in its introduction he makes the case for solo travel, and how it can heighten the enjoyment. It really stuck with me, and is probably the reason why I've tended to date girls who aren't very outdoorsy. ;)
For a complete beginner I usually recommend you pick up a book. There's so much information that it's hard to get anything from Reddit replies. Backpacking becomes a very personal activity after a few years and everyone has different ideas about the best set ups for gear and what not. So start with one of these books and really get an understanding of all the different types of gear. Also if you're in the states and have an REI close by you should see what kind of courses they offer. Most REI's have some kind of free intro to backpacking course. If you're cautious and prepared, going solo is just as safe as going in a group.
The top 3
The Ultimate Hikers Guide
The Backpackers Field Manual
The Complete Walker IV
The first one is probably the most easily digestible. The 3rd is my favorite but that's just because I enjoy the writing style. It's also arguably the most comprehensive.
I'd suggest you grab one or more of those books and start getting an understanding of all the gear. You could start with some easy overnight trip.
Edit: I just want to add, if you've never been backpacking at all you should look into gear rental and plan a quick trip. I've known plenty of people that think they want to do it until they do and they hate it. REI's have gear rental, some colleges have Outdoor Rec departments that rent gear. You could also look for a meetup.com group near you and message them about wanting to learn. I used to go out with a Meetup group and we would always gladly put a bag together for someone wanting to try it out.
Focus on being a good camper first. That will teach you a lot about camping, and should keep you out of survival situations.
Since you're new, starting in the winter is a bad idea. At least start with car camping, and don't let pride stop you from bailing out to the warmth of your running and heated vehicle, or even the city.
Try The Complete Walker. There are many things to learn that could literally take a lifetime to master, but that book is a decent place to start.
The Complete Walker
Despite what some people may claim, there is a fair amount of subjectivity to selecting brands and particular models of camping and backpacking gear. What works for one person might not work for the next, if they have different ideals with regards to what constitutes "good" hiking gear.
The basic thing to think about is whether you want your gear to be light weight, durable, and/or cheap. The often quoted adage is that when you select gear, you get to pick 2 of these things. It's impossible for hiking gear to be all three. In other words, light and durable gear is never cheap, durable and cheap gear is never light, and light and cheap gear is never durable.
It's also important to note that the ability to select the best gear for yourself is a skill that you'll refine over time. You're probably going to make some mistakes and purchase things that end up not working well for you, but if you're serious about sticking with hiking and backpacking, your first pack, tent, stove, etc. won't be your last. Stuff wears out over time and has to be replaced. You also start investing in additional items for specific seasons (a warmer sleeping bag, bigger pack, and/or more reliable stove for cold weather camping, for example).
A good written resource on the subject of gear that you might also find helpful is Colin Fletcher's The Complete Walker IV, which goes into an incredible amount of detail about different general types of gear and the pros and cons of each. This may help you in at least selecting the right models of equipment (although it may not do much for helping to select a particular brand).
When soliciting advice on gear purchases through online message boards (like reddit), if you just ask "what's a good backpack?" or "what's a good tent?" you'll get all kinds of responses that may or may not be relevant to you. At the very least, include information about how and where you plan to use the gear. This information should include details like the location, the season of the year, the length and difficulty of the trip, etc. I'd even advise you take it a step further, and do some research on your own to narrow your options down to 2-4 choices, and make a post asking if anyone has experience directly with any of those options. The responses that you get will be more pointed and relevant.
Finally, even if you're looking to purchase gear for your own use, keep in mind that renting equipment can be a great way to "try before you buy." I know some gear retailers can outfit you from head to toe with everything you need to go backpacking apart from clothing. Renting equipment allows you to test certain brands and models out without committing to purchasing them.
I hope this helps. Good luck! :-)
I've been backpacking since I was about 13 and have built up a lot of general skills through that. My favorite book on backpacking in general is The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher. It's a little out of date but the overall advice he gives is timeless.
As far as specific AT stuff goes, I got a bunch of books but none of them have been nearly as helpful as reading the articles on whiteblaze.net. One of the best articles describes how to resupply along the trail without using many mail drops. Buying food as you go drastically cuts down on the logistical challenge of the hike. I also got a copy of the Through Hiker's Companion to take with me.
The best thing about the AT is that it has such a good infrastructure for long-distance hikers that you really don't need to know a whole lot before starting out. That's one of the main reasons I decided to do the AT instead of the PCT. With the AT, you can just go and plan as you go along. The PCT is a lot more remote and challenging from what I've heard.
Anyway, best of luck in your planning. I'm not an expert backpacker by any means but if you have any more questions, just let me know and I'd be happy to help.
Thanks again. The Complete Walker is now updated to the 4th edition, printed in 2002. It looks really good and I'm adding that to my library.
As for food, you can't go wrong with Mountain House.
Do bring duct tape. Great for blisters and many other things.
Do put Fresh batteries before your hike
Do pack a Mini bic lighter
Don't pack too heavy. Visit r/ultralight for ideas on how to reduce pack weight. Try to be under 45-50 lbs. you can hike more miles, and your trip will be more enjoyable.
Do not wear brand new shoe/boots. Break them in.
Don't wear cotton
Do Know how to read a topo map and triangulate your location.
Do carry an Essential 10
Do let people know where you are going.
A great book for beginners is The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher.
I don't know how old you are, your life experience, or if you are male/female, so I can't really advise you whether or not it's a good idea to go it alone. Maturity and common sense definitely be required. Welcome to Backpacking. It's a beautiful hobby that will provide meaningful memories to last a lifetime..
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..."
Henry David Thoreau
Probably three grand worth of starting gear. Shoes would normally be around $50 a pop in Central and South American, thankfully I have a friend mailing me shoes so I'm spared that expense.
Check out this book. A little dated, but very useful stuff inside.
Everything you ever wanted to know about walking (hiking).
I'd either buy or borrow a copy from your library of The Complete Walker IV and read it. That should help you get started.
Here are some things I carry that aren't on your list:
Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker, is a classic.
I bought a small digital scale for cooking - for weighing out recipe ingredients to the gram.
Then I started using it to weigh every piece of gear I own and take. The theory follows Colin Fletcher's maxim in his work The Complete Walker: 'take care of the ounces and the pounds will take care of themselves'.
I found, for example, that my 'lightweight' plastic fork is heavier than the titanium one that I was not using (for, being metal, it should be heavier, though this was not in fact true).
If I were you, I would weigh everything in this picture and see if I could find replacements that are lighter but are still functionally equivalent.
For example, your coffee filter - pretty big chunk of plastic (and it requires a finite supply of paper filters); how many grams is it? And is it lighter than this one? I bet, with careful research, you could reduce the weight of your filter by 50%.
Former REI guy, so I'm biased, but I think it's the best selection to check out and a really knowledgeable staff. We had 3 or 4 of us who had completed through-hikes of the AT working there, at the same time. Was hard to beat that level of experience. Also like Walkabout in Carytown.
I'd recommend trying out things and working on specs for what you'll carry rather than identifying a specific pack or other gear from a specific company. Once you narrow in on your specs, the right gear will become a little easier to identify. Going into the store would be a great opportunity to talk to people with experience and soak up what you can.
Good resources include the Awol's AT Guide (which I think is also available in a southbound edition), the Appalachian Trail Data Book, and The Complete Walker IV, which is kind of the granddaddy of hiking guides.
You may want to check out the "Dummies" or "Idiot's" books. Not to say you are either, just that they really are good books... it's unfortunate that there's a stigma attached to them. You might want to go to B&N or your local library and just read through them rather than ask someone to buy them.
Camping for Dummies
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Backpacking and Hiking
The Backpacker's Handbook has been recommended, but I haven't read it myself.
The Complete Walker; I read this 30 years ago(?) A great reference.
And of course Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills
M:FotH is a comprehensive tome, which may be a bit advanced for someone who is starting out with some car camping. As the name implies, it's aimed towards mountaineers, with sections on rock climbing, belaying, first aid, mountain safety... as a beginner you might pick up some invaluable information, but most of it may be far beyond what you need, it might be a bit overwhelming. Though you may be the type that just loves to soak up everything you, in which case it's a great reference.
If you want to check it out, the Kindle version of the 8th edition has a "Look Inside" which lists the sections and chapters, and has a bit of the first chapter. The latest 9th ed doesn't have the "Look Inside" yet.
The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher