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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.

Gear Review – Armadillo LT Gaiters from Hillsound

At the beginning of winter, I received a set of Armadillo LT Gaiters from Hillsound Equipment to review. Thankfully, we’ve had a great winter so far, with plenty of opportunities for me to try them out. First of all, these gaiters are a step up from my old, inexpensive set I’ve been using for years.…Continue Reading

Gear Review: Lowepro Passport Sling III and Toploader Zoom AW II

Earlier this year, Lowepro sent me some more camera bags to review.  First is the Passport Sling III, a sling-style camera bag with room for much more. I use this bag all the time now.  It’s become my go-to travel purse and tourist bag.  There is a removable padded sleeve for my DSLR, and a…Continue Reading

Second Review of Lowepro Photo Sport Pro 30L AW Pack

Last summer I wrote a review for a photography backpack that Lowepro sent me to test.  I have been using the pack a lot, and thought I’d write a follow-up to my first impressions.  This pack is built as a technical backpack, but it has a special camera compartment built into the bottom of the…Continue Reading

Gear Review and Giveaway: Coleman Outdoor Essentials First Aid Kit

I don’t know about you, but we go through a lot of bandages at our house.  Seems like every day someone has a cut or scratch that they need fixed up.  Since we’re on the go, we often need bandages in the car or at the park, too.  While I usually have a good stock…Continue Reading

Thinking About Fall and Winter

Well, we had a hike planned today.  I even had the kids pick where to go, and they were looking forward to it.  But when we woke up this morning, my most sensitive and emotional child burst into tears at the thought of hiking.  I couldn’t get him to budge on the idea, even with…Continue Reading

Tips for Fall Hiking

We were fortunate this year that our warm, sunny weather extended well into October.  We were able to get out into nature without too much preparation.  But now the rains have started, bringing cooler weather and snow to the mountains. Our attentions will turn closer to home, as we explore trails at lower elevations.  We…Continue Reading

And A Child Shall Lead Them: A Nature Walk

Sometimes my kids know better than I do what they need.  Lately Annika has been asking every day to go out into nature, to have a peaceful walk in the forest.  We are fortunate to have a green belt behind our home (it was one of the reasons we picked this house) and it makes…Continue Reading

Gear Review: Vapur Quenchers Water Bottles

Earlier in the fall, we received two water bottles for the kids for review.  Vapur is a water bottle manufacturer, making softer plastic bottles that squeeze down flat when they are empty and are lightweight yet durable. They market themselves as the Anti-Bottle.   They have a new line out for kids, the Quenchers, a…Continue Reading