Editor’s choice of best camping books

Now this is a bummer. Honestly can’t remember the last time when I’ve used that word.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bummer writing about best camping books. It’s a bummer thinking about times when I learned about camping from books and being reminded how old I actually am.
It seems like it was just last month I’ve raised my first tent and roasted my first s’mores with dad.
…Enough of this sentimentality, let me get to the point of this guide: informing you on what I think are the best books you could get your hands on right now if you are just starting this camping ride.

Boy, are you in for a treat…I envy you.

Over the years, I’ve read many camping books but most of them are antiques by now, and I don’t want to send you into public libraries digging for books Indiana-Jones style. I want to make a short, actionable guide on the books that you could easily get.
I’ll try to talk about books that will give you the most “bang” for your buck and time.

Let’s get down to it:

Editor’s choice no.1: Camping & Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book by Paul Tawrell


Camping & Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book by Paul TawrellIf I was starting my camping “journey” today, this would be my Bible. It is just enough and never too much. It delivers pure substance instead of fluff, as the other books I read while trying to compile this mini-guide.
Includes topics like:

  • outdoor safety
  • hiking in the summer and winter
  • making a camp and finding shelter
  • “reading” the weather
  • first aid and main dangers to look out for
  • food sources when in survival needs (God forbid)

Great resource all-round.

But, let’s see what other people are saying about it.

The PROs as per the readers:

  • Very detailed (630 pages long) a truly great addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s library…
  • Even though I’ve been camping for years, I got this book just last week and still learned a lot…
  • Best book to have at hand…
  • If you know everything within these covers you will be a great outdoorsman, a Navy seal and a scientist on all things camping, all in one…
  • Abundance of simple tricks that will make everything easier…
  • A true shortcut to becoming a camping pro…
  • I used this to amaze my friends on our yearly camping trip…boy, did I enjoy the looks in their eyes 🙂

The CONs as per the readers:

  • Too many details for me, I was looking for a basic guide…

With the only CON I could find being that it might be too comprehensive, this book is one of my first choices. If you really love the outdoors, but don’t want to spend years learning on your mistakes,  buying this book is a real no-brainer.

Editor’s choice no.2: The Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia by Vin Sparano


The Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia by Vin SparanoThis is one of THE books to have if you are serious about wilderness and camping. It’s also one of the books that thought me the most about the great outdoors.

It first came out in 1998, but make no mistake, the editions you can get now are updated to follow the trends and the new developments.

Just so that you can get a better “feel” on what this book is about, let me give you the full title – it is “Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid”.

So, if you just want to have fun with your kids on a hammock, pass on this one, there are better books for you further down the page.

This one features:

  • full color pages with over 1,300 photographs and over a 1,000 diagrams
  • sections on survival, vehicles, boating, GPS, sporting clays, backpacking, nutrition, latest technology and trends

The PROs as per the readers:

  • As an experienced outdoorsman, I can’t find enough strong enough words to recommend this book…
  • My library is full of similar books and this one stands alone as the best I’ve ever seen…
  • An amazing read from cover to cover, packed with useful tips that will pay for themselves many times over…
  • I can’t imagine a more knowledgeable person in the field than Vin Sparano…

The CONs:

  • I was looking for more specifics about kayaking and techniques, this wasn’t covered to the depths I expected…nevertheless, a great 101 book…
  • When you have this book in your hands, you feel humbled. Amazing, amazing book. Encyclopedia is just the word to describe it. A classic if you will.


Editor’s choice no.3: Camping For Dummies by Michael Hodgson


Camping For Dummies by Michael HodgsonThis one is in some ways the opposite from the previous choice. I thought I’d spice things up and offer something for everyone. While the first choices were boks for a true adventurist and a serious dedicated wilderness lover, average laid back camper will probably be better off with something like this.
A less serious approach to things and more focused on the simple pleasures of the outdoors and how to get the most out of them.

What the readers are saying:

The PROs:

  • To the point, precise and understandable, the style of writing is humorous and easy to read…
  • The advice I got here has already paid off numerous times…
  • A great beginner’s guide…
  • Solid information across most topics you will need to know about…
  • A true must-read for any recreational camper, it will add a lot to the experience…

The CONs:

  • Aged campers don’t really need it…
  • Ok, so the CON is “the aged campers don’t really need it”…

Duh. The title says it all, you know exactly what to expect from any of the books from the Dummies series. I know a lot of serious, dedicated wilderness junkies and this one is not for them. But, for the 95% of the campers, this book will do just fine.


Editor’s choice no.4: The Ultimate Camping Guide and Camping Tips – 3rd edition


The Ultimate Camping Guide and Camping Tips - 3rd editionOk, you will notice that we are getting more basic as we move down on the list. This book is best suited for anybody planning a family camping and wants to avoid all the pitfalls and frustrations that can break a trip.

It also includes a free download of “100+ Delicious Camping Recipes”


What the readers are saying about it – the PROs:

  • A great resource for first time campers…packing guidelines and a nice list of camping websites, just what a beginner needs..
  • Gives you a lot to think about and a new angle for planning your trips…
  • Really liked the part talking about taking good care of your dog on a trip, haven’t seen that anywhere else…
  • For most of us, good food equals a good trip, so I loved the part with the recipes…yummy…
  • Very practical and concise advice…
  • A solid guide about the basics of camping, nothing revolutionary but really useful…
  • Covers all the basics, which is exactly what I needed…

The CONs:

  • didn’t learn anything new, too much recipes and basics…
  • I was expecting something more comprehensive

It’s clear to you, the reader of this mini-guide, that this is more of a book for family-type, novice camping that’s all about indulging yourself. I can’t help but saying that the title is somewhat misleading. There’s nothing “Ultimate” about this little read.

“Basic tip and tricks…” would probably better describe it.

Having said that, if you are a novice and not that much into exploring the wilderness but more of a “guitar and s’mores” type of a camper, this is the book for you.

So, there you go, a little something for everybody – from the wilderness junkie to the “beer and grill” camper.

Now, stop reading about and actually do it. Or at least read about it while doing it.

Stay healthy, camper.

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James Menta

Camping Gear Reviewer at BestAirMattressGuide.com
Three things you need to know about James - he holds a degree in Materials Technology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he is a zealot for the great outdoors and he can never find his glasses.       In brief intermissions between looking for his glasses, he is the Editor-in-chief of BestAirMattressGuide.com.

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