The core issues of backpacking are shelter, food and health. The long distance hikers have by far the most experience. Ray and Jenny Jardine's trips may seem extreme, but what Ray Jardine has to say is also valid for the weekend backpack of a few miles in and out.
Susan Alcorn has the only book I know of focused on the mid-aged woman backpacker. It's stories and tips are appropriate for men and women of any age..
The Thousand Mile
Summer by Colin Fletcher. He walked through California
from the Mexican border to the Oregon border in 1958 and
wrote The Thousand Mile Summer. He continued writing with the following:
The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon
The Winds of Mara All good reads, but mostly story telling.
Colin Fletcher then came out with The Complete Walker, with several versions up to the latest one: The Complete Walker IV (co authored by Chip Rawlins). This newest book is not as much fun to read, but a good reference, called by some "The Hiker's Bible."
>Ray and Jenny Jardine have walked over 15,000 miles including the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada three times, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. As they refined their techniques during these trips, Ray became convinced of the importance of lowering the total weight carried. Ray Jardine has written three books, based on their experiences. The first one (out of print) is The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook, focused on what is needed to complete the PCT, but also emphasizing universal approaches for successful backpacking, including ultralight gear.
The second one (also out of print) by Ray Jardine is
Beyond Backpacking - Ray
Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking,
expanding the ideas in the first book.
The current one by Ray Jardine is
further expanding his ideas.
If you are going to do the PCT or other long distance hiking, you must read Ray Jardine's Trail Life - above. I 'd recommend the first one as well, but it is out of print. Go to our PCT page and the PCTA web site for resupply info, etc.
Susan Alcorn has been backpacking many years in the Sierra Nevada, including completion of the John Muir Trail in segments. She also completed the Pacific Crest Trail, walked the Spanish segment of the Camino de Santiago - a 450 pilgrimage trail across northern Spain, and thousands of miles on other pilgrimage trails in Europe. We're in the Mountains, Not Over the Hill : Tales and Tips From Seasoned Women Backpackers is based on her own experiences and her interviews of three dozen women in their 40s to 70s who are still backpacking. This is a distillation of both stories and how to information – the why do it, the fears, the keys to success, based on the experiences of these "seasoned" women, and a good guide for anyone who has thought about backpacking.
Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67. She last hiked it at the age of 76.