As we sadly cannot hike all the time, here are 12 amazing outdoor books that hikers will love! These walking and hiking books will have your feet itching in no time! From classic hiking books such as Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Into the Void by Joe Simpson to lesser known outdoor books such as Polar Dream about the first Croatian on the South Pole – there is a perfect hiking book for all hiking lovers!
- The Salt Path
- Desert Solitaire
- Touching the Void
- Notes from a Small Island
- Wild Women
- A Walk in the Woods
- 500 mile walkies
- Into the Wild
- Polar Dream
- Walking the Amazon
- The 8 Mountains
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
12 Amazing Outdoor Books Hikers will love!
1. The Salt Path (2018)
By Raynor Winn
Recommended by My Travel Scrapbook
The Salt Path is a wonderful story about hope, resilience, love and nature. Reading this book will make you want to check out the South West coastal path in the UK. The South West coastal path is a 630-mile-long route through Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Certain sections of this walk are excellent car-free hikes in the UK! Not only will you be inspired to head to this part of the UK while reading the Salt Path, butyou will be forced to ask yourself what really matters in life and question your own prejudice regarding homelessness in the UK.
A wonderful hiking book which might even make you cry and shows that it is never too late to go on a hike with the one you love. I loved this book and can’t wait to read its sequel the Wild Way.
2. Wild (2012)
By Cheryl Strayed
Recommended by Winging the World
The hiking world tends to be male-centric and therefore, finding authoritative females voices on the subject can be difficult. Introducing Cheryl Strayed, the amateur hiker who decided to take on the Pacific Crest Trail across the USA. Spanning a whopping 1,100 miles, Strayed tells us in her memoir how she is woefully unprepared for her hike and has done no training. The result is a raw, honest and deeply moving account of her epic journey along the world-famous trail.
Strayed’s book ‘Wild’ has earned its spot among the best travel books for women and has sparked something called ‘the Wild-Effect’, inspiring people to walk the PCT. There is no doubt that this a story that will make your feet itch!
3. Desert Solitaire (1968)
By Edward Abbey
recommended by My Travel Scrapbook
While preparing for our trip to Death Valley and Zion, I was keen to read a hiking book about the American South West deserts. I stumbled across Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, a biographical work, which was set in Arches national park.
Desert Solitaire is not a pure hiking book although many sections include walks and scrambles in the American Southwest. It is however an excellent book to read regarding environmental and political issues surrounding national parks in the USA. There are sections which make you want to grab a sign and stand outside the White House demanding more protection for these wonderful places to hike in the USA.
As it was written in the 60ies, some of Abbey’s views are of the time regarding women and native Americans which is something to bare in mind. The author is also occasionally a hypocrite regarding things such as cars in national parks, stating that no one should drive around a national park in the USA yet he himself does so around Arches.
Desert Solitaire is a fascinating read which will make you check your hiking boots for a black widow spider and head into a slot canyon.
You may also enjoy our guide to Wire Pass Slot canyon for more American South West desert inspiration!
4. Touching the Void (1988)
By Joe Simpson
Recommended by the Veggie Vagabonds
If you’re looking for a tense, high-octane hiking and mountaineering book, Touching the Void is an absolute classic. It’s actually had the outdoor community in a huge debate about the ethics and morals the book touches on. I’ve got to be careful not to give too much away so you can read it for yourselves!
Touching the Void is the real-life account of Simon Yates and Joe Simpson, two British climbers who set out to claim the first ascent of the West Face of Siula Grande, Peru, in 1985. The book was actually written by Simpson, winning heaps of awards and selling millions of copies. It’s such an incredible and hair-raising story that it was also made into a film, which is really good but not quite as good as the book.
Hikers will love the read as it’s a really powerful insight into hiking and mountaineering, with awesome depictions of the inspiring landscapes around the mountain. As you can imagine, not everything goes to plan. It’s fascinating getting into the mindset of Joe as things take a turn for the worst and watching how the two react to the challenges they face.
Adding to the atmosphere is the date their expedition took place. Their hike and climb were done using crude maps, bits of local advice and equipment mountaineers wouldn’t dream of using now. No GPS, no satellite phone for emergencies and no meteo app to check the forecast. Man, adventure back then really was an adventure!
I wouldn’t say it’s the best book to encourage you to start hiking, as the ordeal is pretty harrowing, but it’s a must-read for mountain lovers none-the-less!
5. Notes from a Small Island (1995)
By Bill Bryson
Recommended by Voyaging Herbivore
Bill Bryon’s Notes from a Small Island will easily hike its way to the top of your reading list! This book features Bill himself, an American, as he walks his way around Britain during the 90s. He discovers Britain’s best places to visit by train and foot with sore feet and a positive attitude as he makes his way from the southern shores of England to Hadrian’s wall. The book is laugh out loud funny and is sure to be enjoyed by lifelong hikers or those looking to get inspired! You’ll surely find a way to relate to Bill as he rolls down hills, finds himself on private land, and looks for a quality curry after a long day of walking.
Notes from a Small Island is based off of Bill Bryson’s own life as a traveler and hiker and is the perfect read to cozy up with and inspire your hiking-lust!
You may also enjoy our list of car-free hikes in the Yorkshire dales! These hikes are all accessible via train!
6. Wild Women
Recommended by My Travel Scrapbook
A quick look at the outdoor book selection in Waterstones will show a wonderful range of books, yet ones that are mainly written by or written about men. Where are the outdoor books about the adventures of women? Where are the female hiking books? Well for a collection of fascinating wild adventures about women check out Wild Women.
Wild Women is a collection of chapters from various books, letters and novels written by and about fearless females. From the magic of hiking in the Cairngorms to climbing Everest there are hikes and adventures on each continent. This is excellent bedtime reading as each chapter is organised by continent so you can decide where in the world you would like to go this evening.
If you are interesting in hiking in the Cairngorms, you may enjoy our blog post about Loch Garten in the Cairngorms.
7. A Walk in the Woods (1997)
By Bill Bryson
Recommended by Somewhere down South
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson is the perfect book for hikers, nature enthusiasts, humor lovers, or any combination of the three. I like all of Bryson’s book and this is one of my favorites. The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and is one of the most famous, beautiful, and popular long hikes in the world. I would not call Bryson’s book a guide to the Appalachian Trail or the AT as it is lovingly called by the hikers. I would say that it is more of a travelogue. Bryson does introduce his readers to the history of the Appalachian Trail, its flora and fauna, and geological phenomenons, but the book is really about his experiences. He writes about his feelings and fears and the quirky people that he meets along the way…and it is laugh out loud funny at times. Even if you don’t dream of walking for days on end and camping in the rain A Walk in the Woods is a must read!
8. 500 Mile Walkies (1988)
By Mark Wallington
Recommended by My Travel Scrapbook
I was given 500 Mile Walkies by Mark Wallington from my dad. It was actually a version that contained two books, the other being Boogie up the River. My dad and I had been on a wonderful weekend in Cornwall together to see family and he knew how much I loved the landscape we saw. I soon devoured 500-mile walkies. I thought it was hilarious and wonderfully British.
500-mile walkies refers to the South West coastal path in the UK. Our character has been living in London and takes an urban dog whom he does not particularly like, to Somerset. What follows are adventures in the rain, plenty of sarcasm, furry mishaps and general hiking shenanigans.
A light-hearted read that is wonderful for inspiring UK hiking expeditions!
9. Into the Wild (1996)
By Jon Krakauer
Recommended by Ski Resorts Network | Ski news and information
In April 1992 24-year-old Chris McCandless hiked from the highway into the Alaskan back country near Denali to live off the land. His emaciated body was discovered by hunters in an abandoned bus four months later.
Outside magazine published an article by mountaineer and author Jon Krakauer about the death of McCandless, which at that time received the most controversy and reaction one of their stories had ever generated. Krakauer expanded the article into the bestselling ‘Into The Wild’, where he explores McCandless’s earlier life hiking and travelling remote areas of the USA and his motives for the eventual trip to Alaska.
The book, which was later made into an award-winning film directed by Sean Penn, also draws parallels with other Americans who also took off into the wilderness. People like Everett Ruess, who explored the Southwest on foot with two burros and disappeared when hiking in the Utah desert.
Anyone who has been on a long-distance solo hike in remote country will understand the enduring lure of heading off ‘into the wild’ on your own two feet. Somewhere life can be more fully experienced or sometimes, as poignantly described by Krakauer, where a simple mistake can have extreme consequences.
10. Polar Dream (2018)
By Davor Rostuhar
Recommended by Under Flowery Sky
The book of Croatian adventurist Davor Rostuhar Polar dream describes his journey of 49 days to the South Pole. This is actually a book about following the dreams as we can only do so when we realise them. Almost two months of walking in the middle of nowhere, people would say he’s crazy. Without the support of the readers, family & friends and especially his wife, this unusual story wouldn’t be possible. It’s actually on this journey that Davor proposed to his girlfriend. It’s a pity I didn’t take a photo with Davor when he gave a lecture in my hometown. In his book Davor is focusing on dreams and obstacles.
11. Walking the Amazon (2010)
By Ed Stafford
Recommended by Books Like This One
One of the best books to read for hikers that love the outdoors is Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time by Ed Stafford. It follows the true story of Stafford’s attempt to be the first man to walk the length of the Amazon River on foot.
Stafford relies on his extensive experience as a British Army Officer to navigate the physical challenges of walking through the unforgiving terrain and encountering local villagers as well as the mental challenges of doing such as long walk and staying motivated throughout it.
Hikers will, hopefully, love this book for the same reasons that I did as Stafford gives a raw account of his journey which highlights the emotional issues he goes through as well as in-depth details of the adventures that he encounters.
12. The 8 Mountains (2019)
by Paolo Cognetti
Recommended by The Orange Backpack
The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti is one of my favorite travel books. It’s not just the touching story, but especially the way Cognetti describes the mountains and the beautiful hikes the main characters make.
It covers the story of an Italian boy living in Milan who travels to the mountains in northern Italy each vacation. He befriends the local boy Bruno. His dad takes him and Bruno on long mountain hikes to snowy peaks and green valleys. He finds out the mountain hikes are not a great fit for him, while his dad and Bruno seem to belong there.
The way the author tells you about the mountains makes you think the book is more about them than about the characters. The story is said to be autobiographic and that could explain why Cognetti can make the mountains come alive on each page.
Which of these Hiking books would you like to read first?
Which one of these hiking books would you like to read first? Have you been inspired to read one of these outdoor books for hikers? Let us know in the comments below!