15 Epic & Inspiring Books for Hikers: Adventures, Stories, Tips, and More - Urban Outdoors
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Looking for a gift for the avid hikers and backpackers in your life? We’ve put together a gift guide with 15 of the best books for hikers with a variety of options for all experience levels! These books for backpackers range from offering top hiking guides, to inspiring stories of adventure and perseverance, and must-see trails for your bucket list. After you curl up reading these hiking books, you’ll be ready to pack your bag, lace up your boots, and start your next hiking adventure.

Bucket List Books for Hikers

100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Scenic Trails by Kate Siber 

This book is at the top of the best books for hikers because it is the ultimate bucket list of must-see trails for hikers and backpackers. The scenic photography adds to extensive travel information from well-known trails in North America to off-the-beaten-path trails in Micronesia, Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Australia, and more. From short day hikes to multi-week adventures across all climates and continents, this book will keep you planning to check all of these adventures off your bucket list. We’ve explored a few of these locations and can’t wait to see more!

100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do by Joe Yogerst 

Add these 100 parks to your bucket list of where to explore next! 100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas shares trails and tips of the best national, state, and city parks, in the U.S. and Canada. The gorgeous National Geographic photographs complement the detailed travel advice and insider tips for hiking, camping, and adventuring through North America. This detailed book provides both inspiration and information to plan your next U.S. based trip – a must-read book for hikers looking to explore more of North America. We’re already planning our next U.S. trek using the tips from this book!

Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die: Outdoor Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations by Chris Santella

One of our favorite books for backpackers, Fifty Places To Hike Before You Die,  shares the fifty best hiking locations in the world and serves as a guide to add new destinations to your bucket list. Top expedition leaders share some of the world’s greatest walking adventures in unique destinations from Rwanda to Tibet to Japan to Italy. This book engages you in memorable hikes and immersion in the local culture of each destination. Each chapter provides insider tips and commentary from expert expedition leaders taking you off the beaten path of these unique locations. 

Walking Distance by Robert E. Manning

Walking Distance is a simple book that offers tips on thirty of the greatest long-distance hikes around the world. The book covers trails on six different continents and shares personal anecdotes and useful advice about each region’s history and culture. Walking Distance encourages us all to take a break from our complex and frantic lives to explore nature and reconnect with one of the most sustainable forms of recreation: hiking. 

Classic Hikes of North America: 25 Breathtaking Treks in the United States and Canada by Peter Potterfield

Classic Hikes of North America is a must have book for hikers with over 200 beautiful photographs and detailed information about the greatest backcountry hikes in the U.S. and Canada. This inspiring book keeps both beginners and avid hikers in mind with information about each trails’ level of difficulty, recommended seasons, and trail conditions. Make sure to add these trails to your bucket list of hikes in North America: from the North Cascades of Washington State to the Canadian Rockies.

Hiking Books For Women

Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot by Sarah Marquis

Wild by Nature shares the story of a woman who solo hiked 10,000 miles, through 6 countries, with 8 pairs of hiking boots, over three years. National Geographic Explorer Sarah Marquis traveled across the remote Gobi desert from Siberia to Thailand, and then travelled by boat to complete her hike in Australia. The amount of challenges Sarah overcomes in unimaginable. From subzero to scorching hot temperatures, disease and illness like dengue fever and tropical ringworm, and a number of interesting characters along the way, Sarah overcame it all. Marquis’ adventure is an inspiring story of resilience and persistence. We can’t wait to plan our next trek abroad in one of the gorgeous places Sarah explored!

Women Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring Adventurers by Heather Balogh Rochfort

Women Who Hike is an inspiring book for female hikers of all ages which is why it made our list of best-hiking books. The book highlights over twenty of the most inspiring female adventures in the U.S. and tells each of their stories in their own words. Highlighting favorite trails and personal challenges, this book covers both tips for the trails and in day to day life. This book is perfect for the female adventurers in your life! We hope to run into some of these amazing ladies on future adventures!

Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

Wild is a story of adventure that will keep you engaged, laughing, and sitting on the edge of your seat. Wild is the honest memoir of Cheryl Strayed and her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail on a solo hike after struggling with her mother’s death and her own marriage falling apart. She hit the trail alone with little experience as a long-distance hiker. Cheryl shares her story facing the beauty, loneliness, and challenges that life threw her way on and off the trail. Cheryl’s story truly inspired us to keep exploring as life truly is all about the journey. 

She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild by Gale Straub

She Explores is an inspiring book that shares the personal narratives of 40 diverse women and their journeys in nature. From hikers to women constantly on the move with road trips, backpackers, van-lifers, their narratives share inspiration and empowering stories as women who want to travel the world. This book offers inspiration through stories and adventure. It includes tips from preparing for your first solo hike, to how to pack your road-trip kitchen, and how to tell your own story. We’re excited to try some of these tips on our next solo hikes! We recommend this book for backpackers and outdoorsy women looking to reconnect with nature, find community, and take a leap forward into a new journey. 

Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson 

Tracks features the journey of Robyn Davidson’s 1,700-mile trek across the Australian desert. Tracks is a powerful memoir documenting her dangerous solo journey. As a compelling and honest story of transformation, adventure, and discovery, Davidson shares the highs and lows of her adventure. One of the best books for female hikers, Davidson inspires readers that solo hikes, even in excruciating circumstances, are rewarding adventures.  

Inspiring and Adventurous Hiking Stories

Small Feet Big Land by Erin McKittrick

A must read book for hikers with adventure seeking families! Small Feet Big Land follows the journey of a family of four through the beautiful yet harsh remote wilderness of Alaska. Erin and her husband, Hig, walk along Alaska’s rapidly changing coastline with their toddler and newborn baby. Not only do they share their story of adventure exploring across one of Alaska’s largest glaciers and through remote Arctic villages, but Erin and Hig share the drastic effects of climate change on the Alaskan landscape. The experiences of this adventurous family will 100% keep you entertained through every page: whether it’s their grizzly bear encounters, eating whale blubber, or exploring a remote arctic village. This family inspired us to keep seeking adventure!

 Lost On The Appalachian Trail by Kyle S Rohrig

This adventurous and inspiring story shares the emotions related to the wonder and hardships that Kyle faced along every step of his 2,185 mile journey hiking the Appalachian Trail. The book is told in a humorous and moving way that not only details Kyle’s growth and learning process but brings you along with him as if you were joining him along the way. All over the world readers love this story of a hiker that will teach, motivate, and simply inspire you to get outside. 

Trespassing Across America by Ken Ilgunas

An inspiring book for hikers passionate about global warming, Trespassing Across America  is a story of adventure, a story of pushing limits physically and mentally, and a story reflecting on the impacts of climate change. Ken Ilgunas leads us through his memoir along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2012. After hitchhiking from Denver to Alberta, he began his 1,700 mile hike through mostly private property along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline path to its end in the Gulf Coast of Texas. 

Through Ken’s journey he shares the stories of strange encounters with colorful characters and animals, changing weather, and challenging trails. He questions our personal responsibility as stewards of the land and as members of a rapidly warming planet through his travel memoir and reflection on climate change.

A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson, an absolutely entertaining guide, takes his readers through some of the most breathtaking views along the Appalachian Trail. From Georgia to Maine and through mountains, forests, and lakes, Bill shares not only the history and ecology of the trail but also the hardships every hiker faces. This adventurous book is on our list of best books for backpackers dreaming of exploring the Appalachian Trail. 

Books for Hikers to Reconnect with Themselves

Wilderness, The Gateway To The Soul: Spiritual Enlightenment Through Wilderness by Scott Stillman

This book provides inspiration to pause, get outside, and reconnect to nature. An inspiring adventure and also self-help book encouraging its readers to pause from the pressures of society with work, obligations, technology, and stress to escape the chaos to find untamed freedom and happiness in nature. Learn more about yourself by immersing in nature and having that pause to connect with Earth and find happiness. This book is one of the best books for hikers looking to learn how to reconnect with themselves through nature. We’ll definitely be taking this book on our next adventure and escape. 

We’ll definitely be cozying up with some of these books this year, and we’d recommend them for anyone looking for practical tips or inspiration. We hope they inspire you too to add new trails to your bucket list and to start your next big hiking adventure. Let us know which one(s) you end up reading, or if we’re missing any hiking books that you love! 

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