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Book Review and Interview: Backpacking 101 by Heather Balogh Rochfort

heather balogh rochfort

Summer is in full swing, and our thoughts are full of adventures we’re planning. We yearn to travel far and light, and sleep in the backcountry, with the stars and moon in view. If you’re new to backpacking, or are a dayhiker contemplating the next level of adventure, then you’ll appreciate a new book about the subject. Backpacking 101, by Heather Balogh Rochfort, has all the answers you’ll need to move forward.

Rochfort covers every topic in this helpful book. She writes about how to plan and prepare for a trip, how to select the proper footwear and clothing, and what kind of gear you’ll need to invest in. Her conversational and friendly style make an otherwise intimidating topic accessible and not so formidable. There are clear illustrations throughout the book, which are useful in many instances – such as how to tell a venomous snake from non-venomous, and how to arrange your gear in your backpack.

This book is full of valuable details. Sure, you could research each topic individually on the Internet, but she’s put all the background info you’ll need into one spot. After you read the chapter about buying a sleeping bag, you’ll be better armed to research a bag for yourself at the store or website. You’ll know which websites to go to plan your backcountry meals, and what kind of first aid kit you should put together. Other topics she covers include navigation, backcountry etiquette, hygiene, setting up camp and your kitchen, and dealing with emergencies. I highly recommend this resource for making the leap to multi-day outings.

backpacking 101, author photo
Heather Balogh Rochfort

Heather was kind enough to answer a few curious questions for me.

Hiker Mama: What was your journey like moving from dayhiking to backpacking? What difficulties did you encounter, or what surprised you?

Heather Balogh Rochfort: I didn’t really make a transition; I discovered both of them at the same time so I learned to love each activity simultaneously while appreciating how different they both are. In that sense, I feel lucky since I truly love both hiking and backpacking!
HM: Are there any pieces of gear you can’t live without?
HBR: I do have some faves! There are two pairs of hiking pants I can’t live without: the Mountain Hardwear Dynama pants (with the tapered ankle) are yoga-pant inspired and beyond comfy for both hiking and travel. The Fjallraven Abisko Lite trekking trousers are my go-to choice for burlier pants. I’m also a huge fan of the Osprey Aura 50 AG pack. That thing is a game changer.
HM: Do you have any big plans for the future?
HBR: Always! Professionally, I’d love to write a second book so hopefully I can get the ball rolling for that one. I really want to write something geared towards outdoor women that involves more story telling. Personally, my husband and I are now pregnant (28 weeks!) so we have a kiddo on the way this fall. I imagine that is going to keep us quite busy as we figure out how to incorporate a baby into our outdoor routines!
HM: And, from my daughter, What inspired you to write the book?
HBR: I really learned the hard way with a lot of this stuff (and have the scars to prove it!) My hope is that by walking beginners through all of the basics, more people will be less intimidated to get outside. By developing a love for the outdoors in these readers, my long-term goal is  to help create a generation of outdoor enthusiasts that will fight to protect our natural environment. 

Thank you so much, Heather, and best of luck with your pregnancy.

Book Review: Take A Walk: Seattle by Sue Muller Hacking

  The month of March brought some newly published hiking books across my desk. Take A Walk: Seattle, by Sue Muller Hacking (Fourth Edition, Sasquatch Books) is one that I’m impressed with. I’ve been flipping through this book quite a bit this spring, and am surprised that there are trails near me that I haven’t explored yet.…Continue Reading

Urban Trails: Kitsap by Craig Romano – Book Review

Many of you are familiar with Craig Romano, the prolific and energetic guidebook writer for Washington State. We use his books all the time to plan our hikes to wild and scenic locations. But it’s not always easy to get out to true wilderness. With iffy weather, packed schedules, family illnesses – sometimes we need…Continue Reading

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail : Washington, by Tami Asars, Book Review

  When I was younger, my biggest dream in life was to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I was never able to figure out how to tackle that audacious goal, and life moved on, and I set that dream aside. But now Tami Asars has come out with a unique new book about how to…Continue Reading

Book Review: Treecology by Monica Russo

The latest book I’ve reviewed for you is Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests by Monica Russo. [Amazon link here.] This thin paperback is accessible for both parents and teachers. It is packed full of the science to understand all parts of trees and the environments they grow…Continue Reading

Book Review: 100 Classic Hikes: Washington by Craig Romano

My bookshelf has two rows of various hiking guides, but recently a new guide came out that will have a prominent spot in the first row. Craig Romano has rewritten and updated Harvey Manning and Ira Spring’s original 100 Classic Hikes in Washington book from 1998, including some of the initial hikes, but adding some new…Continue Reading

Book Review: Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods

The Centennial of the National Park Service has inspired many people to take journeys through the parks and write about them. Mark Woods planned a year-long odyssey to twelve national parks to ask questions about their future. Each park was supposed to symbolize a different issue the parks are facing in the future. He ended…Continue Reading

Book Review: Leaflets Three, Let it Be! by Anita Sanchez

I recently received a book for the purposes of review that I’d like to share with you today. Leaflets Three, Let it Be! is a picture book for children about identifying poison ivy. But it also shows the many uses of the plant through the seasons. It is written by Anita Sanchez and illustrated by…Continue Reading

Book Review: Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest by Julie Zickefoose

  It’s truly spring here in the Pacific Northwest, and everything is budding and blooming. The birds are noisy in the mornings, the morning chorus announcing the breeding season. Pretty soon, baby birds will be hatching, begging for food, and learning to fly. For the past two years we’ve had bird nests built on our…Continue Reading

National Parks Week 2016, and Review of National Geographic Guides

April 16-24, 2016 has been designated National Parks Week. This national event is a time to focus on and celebrate all that the National Parks have to offer us. During this week, admission is free to all parks, and special events are planned at many sites. The Park Service has created a special website for this…Continue Reading