This is a review of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail, by Andrew Skurka, published by National Geographic. I don’t do many book reviews. I have uploaded close to 700 posts and pages to this site and I think there are only 5 or 6 book reviews.
There was a time when book reviews were the domain of newspapers and magazines with full time writers who reviewed books for their readership. The purpose of the reviews was to recommend good books and to warn readers about the poor ones, while at the same time providing feedback to the author.
Today this has changed. Retail websites, especially Amazon, allow their customers to post reviews and then the website calculates an overall rating base on customer feedback (i.e. 4.2 out of 5). Unfortunately on these websites, it is the rare reviewer who has any stated qualifications to provide a book review of value or worthy of consideration.
The other thing that has changed is the blogs (like this one) that post book reviews. How this usually works, is the publisher or author offers a free book in exchange for a review. There is no requirement for a positive review, but in my opinion a free item in exchange for a review makes an objective review very difficult for most people; although there are some folks who are completely truthful in their reviews.
Last month I received an email that National Geographic was looking to provide advance copies of The Ultimate Hiker’s Guide to some bloggers in exchange for a review and would I be interested. Well, I don’t do quid pro quo. So I wasn’t interested in a free advance copy. The book won’t be available until March 7th. However, I was planning on purchasing the book, having read the first edition several years ago. Based of this offer for a review, I was able to purchase a copy in advance, and I paid the full retail price. So let’s get on with the review.
Just got back from an extended camping trip in the desert in Nevada and my website had a bunch of “ping-backs” from this post by Andrew Skurka.
A ping-back is when another website refers a reader via a link. Andrew was very complementary about this website and Dave Chenault’s Bedrock and Paradox as blogs with some quality content, although not a lot of content, and both sites are not monetized; that is they do not generate income.
I hope the title of this post is catchy and might generate a bit of traffic to read it. My blog is mostly written for my kids and a handful of friends, as I have stated numerous times. I am under no illusion that I have any influence in the world of backpackers or adventurers and recognize the readership of this website is small. My hope is that I can inspire a handful of people to think about wilderness and our proper place in it, who in turn can encourage others to approach wilderness in an ethical manner. Perhaps we can create a renewed focus on Wilderness Ethics.
I don’t spend much time “surfing” the Internet. I use the Internet mostly as a research tool. There was a time, before the Internet, where research required copious amounts of time in libraries searching through microfiche, magazines, newspapers, and books. The Internet allows me do research quicker, freeing time to pursue activities that are my passion; mostly camping, hiking, and backpacking.
As I have written many times, I do enjoy reading a few outdoor blogs. In order to save time, I don’t bookmark these blogs and go to each one. Instead, I use a website that collects new posts from my favorite blogs. A single click pulls up all the new posts in chronological order. This way I can skim through them, pick the ones that interest me, and read them. This saves me time. As you know, I view time as something to save up and use on important things, which is mostly my outdoor endeavors. Time is a commodity; something tangible that can be saved and used in the future. I can bank time, just as one can save money for the future.
Over the past month I haven’t had time to read any of my favorite blogs. This evening I checked the list and found one post that was somewhat disturbing. The post was authored by Andrew Skurka, a well-known adventure hiker. I don’t know Andrew, and have never met him. I know who he is, have read his book, and read his blog. I am not an Andrew “fanboy” – that is, I don’t view him as some sort of personal hero. He does provide some honest and extremely useful information when it comes to lightweight backpacking.