Kinde: not just for light reading! What do you load onto your eReader before a trip?

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Home Forums Gear Forums Multiple Use Gear Kinde: not just for light reading! What do you load onto your eReader before a trip?

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    Mitchell Ebbott


    Locale: SoCal

    Ok, so we're all agreed that field guides and the like are usually a waste of space and weight. However, some of us might want to bring a Kindle (or other eReader) along with us for the sake of light reading—it weighs the same as a small paperback and can hold as much reading material as you can handle!

    Now that we're bringing the Kindle, it seems like to waste to only load it up with novels and philosophical treatises! What do you keep on your Kindle that could be useful for more than leisurely reading? First aid guides, field guides, edible plant books, bird books, something else? Anything specific to the region you're visiting? Specific titles and links are preferred!

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I bring Sansa Clip MP3/FM. 1 ounce. Maybe 200 hours of music/audio books. has a bunch of classic books as MP3.

    right now I'm listening to "Financial Markets" by Robert Shiller, Econ 252 at Yale

    Andy Stow
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest USA

    Before a trip involving airfare, I make a PDF full of any numbers & information that might be handy if I lose other documentation: emergency contacts, hotel info, embassy address, passport numbers, frequent flyer info, credit card contact numbers US & international…

    I name the PDF something innocuous in the hopes that if it's stolen the thief won't open it… e.g. Canon 60D User's Manual (Portugese).

    I also put on manuals (the real ones) for camera, etc.

    I have at least one first aid manual on there.

    Pete Garcia
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    I recently put all of Tolkien's books on my Kindle and have decided to re-read all of them only while on the trail. I have Mike Clelland's books on there, History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clark, One Man's Wilderness. I only have the Kindle for backpacking so I like to have adventure stories to read while under my tarp

    Rog Tallbloke
    BPL Member


    Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!

    I never find much time for reading on the trail, but I do try to keep my blog running. The Kindle has a basic web browser built in and free 3g access. Slow but useable – just.

    Thomas Worm


    Where do you hike that has 3g access on trail?

    steven franchuk


    In addition to books,I have single / multi person games loaded, A note taking app, calculator, contact information, phone numbers, and information specific to the trip I am on.

    Marko Botsaris
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA

    This is actually a fantastic ebook on repairs, and probably would not be bad to have along:

    On the far opposite end of the spectrum I have Spinoza's Ethics:

    Nothing like pondering the immanence of the godhead in nature while in nature.

    Glenn S


    Locale: Snowhere, MN

    I've never had a Kindle, but I do use the Kindle app. I have a (discontinued) Samsung Galaxy Player with WiFi that runs android Gingerbread, so I bring books and all the guides you mentioned, but It also has full GPS, so I have The MapsWithMe app downloaded, as well as the Navionics lake app. The map app has many trails on it as well. Not that I'd trust it with my life, but it's plenty accurate enough to at least know the right direction when using a compass. I actually strap it to my handlebars when riding on the roads going bike-camping and plug it into my GoalZero solar panel on the back rack and wander back roads to my destination! (full time GPS is a bit of a battery hog)

    Then it has an FM receiver built in, so I can get radio for weather or news. I'm not a great photographer, so the camera on it is good enough for me. A couple of simple games, a few movies (32g sd card) and lots of mp3's of course (need audiobooks). Then I have photo's loaded of all my important documents, licenses, savers/membership cards, etc. People think I'm a bit off (maybe I am lol) when they see a photo of my DL as my lock screen image. Hey, I solo all I do, never know… My "phone" (looks like a smartphone) might be all an EMT or SAR finds left of me!

    But the most important thing I have on it is the ThinkFree app that runs the excel spreadsheet of all my gear weights! Nothing like crunching UL numbers while in the field :-) There's also the note app, for jotting ideas, or the voice recorder if I'm feeling especially inspired that day.

    Device, headphones and an extra battery all come in at 5.4 ounces.

    Oh, this is my first post here at BPL, so sorry if I'm a bit longwinded. Hopefully you'll get used to it lol

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I have a point and shoot camera. Sometimes I'll take pictures of maps before trip so I don't need to carry paper.

    I've been using Sansa MP3 player with FM. Download free books and listen to them, same idea as kindle. FM isn't the best, but it's pretty good. Like the less than 1 ounce weight.

    Nick Smolinske
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rogue Panda Designs

    I've found that I don't like to read anything that takes me away from where I am while in the backcountry, so I try to load up on books about the area I'm in. While in the grand canyon I've read Powell's journals (free on project gutenberg), and a few other books about his trip. Also The Man Who Walked Through Time (Colin Fletcher), about a long hike in the canyon, or anything by Craig Childs. As long as I'm reading about where I am, I feel that the kindle enriches, rather than taking away from the hike.

    I also have several field guides that I've scanned and put on my kindle in PDF format, including tracking guides, which translate pretty well, and Sibley's, which doesn't (no color).

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Mark: Spinoza's Ethics!! a man after my own taste! sort of…I prefer Aristotle's ethics…

    Be that as it may, I load up on a good novel before leaving, plus lots of non fiction that includes philosophy. For some strange reason I like reading Dostoevsky on the trail. I think that it's the opposite of wanting total immersion in the outdoors. Instead, I crawl into my tent and 'escape' for an hour or two in the evening reading something absolutely unrelated to backpacking. Also, I'm physically recovering from the efforts of the day. What could be better? A comfy Exped pad and a good book, maybe even a brief nap before dinner…

    I usually hike solo so I get plenty of total immersion during all of the other hours of the day and night.

    Glenn S


    Locale: Snowhere, MN

    – 7th Edition Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail – First time in digital

    – Wilderness First Aid – per recommendation by the great folks at BPL :)

    L Lanian
    BPL Member


    Locale: California, U.S.A.

    "…it seems like to waste to only load it up with novels and philosophical treatises!"

    I take offense to that. =P

    Edit: @Jeffrey- You may find similarities there with The Karamazov Brothers.

    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I like the first aid book idea. I have several free ebooks versions of John Muir and Thoreau's books loaded on my phone. Podcasts are great too. Unlike my radio, they end and don't wake me up later. There are a bunch of NPR programs that I catch via podcasts.

    The Gutenberg Library has virtually all the public domain books available– the wisdom of the ages for nothing :)

    Kenda Willey


    Wilderness First Aid on a kindle! What a great idea!
    I've put maps on my kindle (and promptly left it locked in the car), but I must admit I prefer the light reading…My last ebook on the trail was Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," about her hike of the PCT. Light reading, well written, lots of fun to read–and it was about hiking, after all!

    Lydia Fothergill


    Locale: Southern California

    Nicholas I can't wait to read that book you suggested, someone else recommended it to me (as I am visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time next month) and I have been trying to remember the title for the last couple days. :) I am going to try to track down an audio file of the book. I love reading and in recent years have pretty much switched over completely to audiobooks. I love sitting down with a book too but I have less and less time to do that these days. I find listening just as enriching and enjoyable. When hiking I like to listen to books about journeys/quests/adventures, or books about nature, or the quest for peace and solitude and humility–basically things that are tied to my love for hiking and the outdoors.

    Last week while hiking in the Angeles I listened to the soundtrack to the Lord of the Rings movies–I cannot recommend this music choice enough!! It was already an incredible hike but the music just made me feel like I was further "away from it all" than I really was. I listen to a lot of classical music while hiking, so if anyone else is into such things I am always looking for recommendations. I'm also super into podcasts and I have a couple of apps that allow me to download them for offline listening. And I use Rdio which allows me to do the same thing with music–I have 64G of memory in my phone so I just bring an extra battery or two and I'm set.

    (sorry none of that had anything to do with eReaders, though I've been contemplating getting one! I would love having a slightly larger size for reading and browsing.)

    Tim Zen


    Locale: MI

    Forgot my old nook could handle PDF. Thanks for the good ideas. Found an old 1 GB SD and loaded it with the manual and some knot pdfs from that was mentioned in another post. The nook is not too bad at 7.5 oz and I don't really care if it gets trashed.

    Jerry — thanks for the link to the opensource podcasts.

    Brian Lindahl
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    I'm also a big fan of audio books and music on some trips. I bring an 8gb iPod nano at an amazingly light 0.75oz. Holds more than I want to listen to in a week, but I generally only use it at camp.

    Delmar O’Donnell


    Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio

    I load my iPad almost exclusively with PDFs of academic journal articles in my field that I "should" read. That virtually guarantees I'll pay attention to the wilderness and the trip, and not spend much time on the iPad.

    Actually I stopped taking the iPad when I caught the "lightweight" disease and went with nothing for awhile. Long nights meant for some dull hours. Then BPLers enlightened me to just taking a small iPod with audiobooks. So that's the new plan.

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