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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: 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: 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

Day Hiking: Mount St. Helens, Book Review and Interview

Mount St. Helens has held a special place in the soul of the Pacific Northwest since its eruptions in the 1980s. Many of us parents are old enough to remember following the saga on the news, and remember where we were on the day of the big eruption. We find it fascinating to visit this…Continue Reading

Interview with Author Joan Burton

Whenever people are new to hiking and wonder how to get started or which trails to go on with young children, I recommend the book Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington and the Cascades by Joan Burton, with photos by Ira Spring. I recently had the fortune to sit down with Joan Burton and hear…Continue Reading

Trish, Alex and Sage and Their New Adventure

You may remember last spring when I posted a book review of Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure with an interview of author Trish Herr.  Trish and her daughters are ready to embark on a new adventure in a few weeks: the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James.  The Camino is a collection…Continue Reading

Book Review and Interview: A Kid’s Guide to Birding

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you’ll know that we love birds in this family, and we love field guides of all kinds.  We have an ever-growing collection of birding guides on our guide book shelves.  (Yes, we have multiple shelves for field guides.)  So when I first saw this book, A Kid’s Guide…Continue Reading

Book Review: The Young Birder’s Guide, Plus Interview with Bill Thompson III

As I posted awhile back, I recently received a package of books from a publisher to review.  One of these books was The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America by Bill Thompson III.  We have several birding guides on our bookshelves, but we could see right away that this book is different.  It…Continue Reading

Guest Post with Julie Zickefoose: “Asking More of Kids”

Some parents I’ve talked to since I’ve been blogging and hiking have confided in me some of the difficulties they face in working toward the goal of getting their kids out in nature more often.  Some moms want to hike with their kids, but haven’t done it before, and need reassurance and guidance.  I admit…Continue Reading

Book Review: The Bluebird Effect, and Interview with Julie Zickefoose

I was recently approached by the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to review a new book by Julie Zickefoose – The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds.  When we opened the package, we all gasped at the beauty of the illustrations.  The first thing that struck me was the heft of the book – the…Continue Reading