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REVISED OR - Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book - R Lyon

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  • richardglyon
    Fixed a couple of glitches and found the file. Edit away. HTML in Tests/OR folder here: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/OWNER%20REVIEWS/OR%
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2006
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      Fixed a couple of glitches and found the file. Edit away. HTML in
      Tests/OR folder here:

      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, aAnd 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
      Product Details
      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
      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 Backcountry Skiing Book.)
      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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