OWNER REVIEW - Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book - R. Lyon
- To get next year's queue started. HTML is posted in the Tests/OR folder
ackpackin%20Book%20R%20Lyon/> . Happy New Year to all! Richard
ALLEN & MIKE'S REALLY COOL BACKPACKIN' BOOK
A Flacon Guide by Allen O'Bannon And Mike Clelland!
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
December 26, 2006
Reviewer's Backpacking Background
I've been backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the
Rockies since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take
three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes
5000 to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a
long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced
marches too. Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm not
yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose a bit of extra weight over
foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.
Author: Allen O'Bannon
Illustrator: Mike Clelland! [He uses the exclamation point as part of
his name.] [Note: In this review I occasionally refer to "the authors,"
plural. While Mike! (yes, he uses the exclamation point after his first
name when it is used alone) is never quoted, Allen often sets out his
collaborator's point of view on a particular topic, and the
illustrations are usually discursive and always helpful in getting a
point across. I think he's earned co-author status.]
Publisher: The Globe Pequot Press (http://www.globepequot.com
Year purchased: 2006
First published: 2001 by Falcon Press. Now in its fifth printing.
Size: 6 x 9 inches (15 by 23 cm) (listed and measured)
Weight: 8¼ oz (235 g) (measured)
MSRP: $14.95 US
Paperback, 162 pages. Heavily and hilariously illustrated with cartoon
drawings by Mr. Clelland!.
I bought this book because I so much enjoyed and learned from
the authors' earlier Falcon Guide, Allen & Mike's Really Cool
Telemark Tips. With its homey style, explanations in everyday English,
and funny yet instructive illustrations this earlier book provided more
information and led to more improvement than a dozen lessons. It wasn't
merely useful, it was fun to read the book and try out the tips. So
when I saw their Backpackin' Book at an airport bookstore I thought it
might teach me some things about hiking and camping. At the least it
would be good airplane fare and good for a laugh.
Good for a laugh, many laughs, it definitely is. This book delivers
much more than humor, though. It's now at the top of my list of books
that I recommend to anyone who expresses an interest in backpacking, or
anyone who requests a book about backpacking basics. Why? For one
thing, the authors touch upon all of the basics that a novice should
consider in preparing for the backcountry. Unlike Telemark Tips, the
Backpackin' Book is not anecdotal; it contains organized and informative
discussions of both principles and specifics. For example, the first
chapter, "Dressing and Packing for the Outdoors," begins with a
discussion of why and how to employ layering in clothes and then
addresses the pluses and minuses of different fabrics, upper body
layers, lower body layers, head layers, feet and hand layers, wind
layers, bug protection, and rain layers appropriate for different
climates. None of these sections is more than a page or two (usually
including at least one cartoon drawing), but each suffices to get the
reader thinking about what he or she needs. That's not to say the book
is incomplete or superficial. From techniques for loading one's
backpack to a very thorough list of other resources for the beginning
backpacker, there's enough here to get anyone well started in
three-season camping. (Winter camping is the subject of another Falcon
Guide, Allen & Mike's Really Cool Book of Backcountry Skiing.)
Allen's writing is direct and lucid and Mike!'s drawings are funny and
informative. The authors intend to stimulate thought, not lay down
fixed and fast rules. The reader won't find checklists for anything
(though an appendix includes a useful set of categories that any
backpacker should consider). While the authors do sometimes note their
own choices and make suggestions about gear and techniques, with an
emphasis on minimalist packing and inexpensive gear, neither is rigid or
judgmental. To the contrary, both encourage the reader to develop a
personal style and kit that suits his or her preferences and the chosen
terrain and climate, and they poke gentle fun at ideologues of any
stripe. The cartoon preceding the Introduction in my copy, focusing
upon scientific measurement of the weight of a hat tassel, is at once
the funniest and most insightful indictment I've ever seen of
ounce-counting excess. All done in good part, though, as the text on
what gear to carry stresses the benefits of going light and includes
many practical tips on how to save weight.
They don't lecture about gear, but Allen and Mike! are strict when it
comes to respecting the backcountry and its permanent inhabitants, and
the book includes a succinct appendix on Leave No Trace camping.
Will an experienced backpacker learn anything from this book? I
certainly did, and I've been hiking for more than four decades. I
didn't adopt a new philosophy, try a new technique, or buy new gear, as
this book is pitched toward the beginner, but I did pick up a few new
tips or refinements that I will incorporate into my backcountry wardrobe
and gear closet.
Reading this book gave me much more than that, however. The authors'
enthusiasm and obvious love of the backcountry reminded me why I hike
and camp. What Allen and Mike! value the most and try to teach through
this book is something they call backcountry style, with that word used
in its broadest sense. To quote from Allen's Introduction, "Good style
helps define a set of ethics for us as outdoor users." Another quote
from the Introduction:
"Some of the practices I talk about are more about courtesy to others
than anything else. Some are just techniques designed to make you a
better camper. Other practices help to minimize the effect you have on
the land, whether you recognize it or not. Take the time to consider
and accept those techniques and practices that ring true to you. If you
are unsure of something, don't blow it off as the opinion of some
crazy zealot give it a try, ask opinions of others, and do some
research. Only through education and experience can you learn more
about the true nature of things. This is how you develop your skills
and knowledge and protect the places you love."
A great way to develop one's own style, I'd say. Every page of this
book is infected with this sense of style. The authors let their
readers know of nature's wonders and constantly point out that
backpacking, after all, should be fun. The attitude and enjoyment of
the greenest novice to the most experienced backpacker should benefit
from that approach.
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- Approval: OWNER REVIEW - Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book -
Another fine review. I may have to find this book!
One question, if the book is titled "Allen & Mike's" not "Allen &
Mike!'s" why do you have the ! with Mike's name?
I can find no edits. The very last line may smack of projection as it
is hard to say for sure what anyone "should" do.
You can place it here;
Reviews > Books > Field Guides > Allen & Mikes Backpackin Book
He uses the exclamation point everywhere else so I went by majority
vote. Their other books are just as good as this one, and just as
funny. I know that you do a lot of winter camping so you might like
the Backcountry Ski book especially. Richard
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rayestrella1"
> Approval: OWNER REVIEW - Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin'
> R. Lyonit
> Hi Richard,
> Another fine review. I may have to find this book!
> One question, if the book is titled "Allen & Mike's" not "Allen &
> Mike!'s" why do you have the ! with Mike's name?
> I can find no edits. The very last line may smack of projection as
> is hard to say for sure what anyone "should" do.
> You can place it here;
> Reviews > Books > Field Guides > Allen & Mikes Backpackin Book