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The Dayhiker’s Handbook

I was expecting something different from this book. Despite what its title says this is not really a dayhiker’s guide. The two authors are an adventurer/hiker and an editor for Outside magazine. There is no evidence in this book that they worked together on this book at all. They each write entirely separate sections, do not refer to the other’s sections, and write about entirely different things. John Long is the adventurer and under the guise of writing about different hiking environments, he gets to regale us with tales of his adventures, few of which are dayhikes. He writes with the heavy-adjectival style that is typical for people for whom writing is not a first profession. His prose is readable and his stories are good but they give very little advice on dayhiking and most of them are cuationary tales of what NOT to do. While I appreciate a good warning, I found the preponderance of them tiring and his writing style not at all compelling.

Michael Hodgson is the other writer and writes mainly in the sidebars giving advice in gear, recipes for trail eating and good lists of things to do for preparedness and enjoyment of hiking. His advice is more down to earth and yet you still get lots of information about what sort of sleeping bag to buy for cold weather camping and what sort of backpack to buy for weeklong jungle hikes. It may be that Californians approach the idea of a dayhike much differently than New Englanders, but I found this book so completely out in left field compared to what I was expecting, that I continued to read ahead because I couldn’t believe that it advertised itself as a dayhiking book and was telling me about ice climbing expeditions. As a book of adventure stories and GORP recipes, it’s more than adequate, but I’m still looking for a good dayhiker’s guide.