A fair number of books show up in this hiker’s mailbox over the course of a year, paperbacks and hardcovers on outdoor topics from A to Z, all in need of a thorough read and a proper review. As much as I promise myself and the kind folks who have sent me these literary goods that I will get right on it, well, I usually don’t. And so the stack on my bookshelf grows, as does my guilt factor. Almost without fail it takes until about this time every year to finish reviewing the pile. Alas, with a sigh of relief, here’s the first round and five good ones to consider.


The Boomer’s Guide to Hiking in Maine: From Woodsy Rambles to Dozens of Peaks

With 79 million baby boomers out there, authors Peter and Suellen Diaconoff figured a hiking guide tailored to this large and dynamic demographic might be just the thing. Never mind their passion for hiking developed over 20 years of living in Maine during their own silver years, as well as extensive trail walking out west and abroad. Seventy-five hikes scattered across Maine are categorized into five Boomer ratings, ranging from woodsy rambles to moderate saunters to demanding treks. All are described in a wonderfully easy, light-hearted style. (iUniverse, 265 pages, $17.95)

Backpacker: Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair

Hikers have been enjoying Kristin Hostetter and her field testing of hiking and camping products as Backpacker magazine’s gear editor for nearly 20 years. In this new how-to book, Hostetter has written a gold mine of tips and techniques for caring for and repairing, in the field and at home,everything from backpacks, tents and boots, to sleeping bags and pads, stoves and trekking poles. There’s also great advice on assembling a gear repair and storage station at home, and a do-it-all backcountry repair kit for the trail. The chapter on ingenious uses for duct tape is worth the price. (Falcon Guides, 198 pages, $19.95)

Katahdin: A Guide to Baxter State Park

The tireless Stephen Clark published the first edition of this venerable guide to the trails of the 210,000-acre park back in 1978, and over the next 31 years painstakingly produced five updated versions. In 2010, the Baxter State Park Authority purchased the text from Clark, and with the assistance of the park’s advisory committee and key staff, has thoroughly revised the seventh edition. Included in this hiker’s bible are descriptions of 215 miles of hiking trails, complete park visitor information, and a beautiful new GPS-rendered color topographic map. (Baxter State Park, 220 pages, $18.95)

White Mountain Guide

Editors Steven Smith and Mike Dickerman have produced a true mountain of a guide to the hiking trails of the White Mountain National Forest. This historic book, now in its 105th year and 29th edition, is a meaty 646 pages and includes six GPS-rendered color topographic pocket maps. Twelve updated sections cover everything from Mt. Washington and the Southern Ridges to northern New Hampshire, including the Maine trails in the Mahoosucs and Evans Notch regions. In all, there’s a phenomenal 1,400 miles of hiking over 500 trails, and Steve Smith has hiked them all. (Appalachian Mountain Club, 646 pages, $24.95)

Wilderness & Travel Medicine

This comprehensive pocket guide by Dr. Eric A. Weiss, M.D. has served as one of the best basic-to-advanced first aid field manuals for backcountry travelers for more than 20 years. From the ABC’s and shock, sprains and fractures to wounds and burns, heart attacks, diarrhea and allergies, this guide covers it all with well-organized, straightforward instructions and illustrations. The “When to Worry” and “Weiss Advice” call-out boxes provide helpful focus in tough situations. Excellent appendices detail the assembly of a top-notch wilderness first aid kit. (The Mountaineers Books, 220 pages, $15.95)

Carey Kish of Bowdoin is a freelance writer, avid hiker and serial procrastinator. Follow his outdoor adventures at: