I just had to refrain myself from asking for recommendations for 5 books that should be on an outdoors person's bookshelf as references.

I'm thinking of books that cover the basics of living and traveling outdoors. Weather education, safety, first aid, environmental concerns, and most importantly shelter needs would apply to just about everyone that is outdoors for whatever reason.

This would serve two purposes. 1) Politely side step any questions asking for general library advice in a nicer way than just closing them. Now they can be closed with a link to the FAQ that maintains a suggested reading / reference library. 2) Let the moderators share their knowledge with the site readership and perhaps engage people in chat or meta that want to nominate new additions or changes to the existing list.

Also, the process of discussing a list here in this meta question will help narrow down some of the on-topic and off-topic areas of the site as people think of books they would want included/excluded to help shape this site.

To help shape the discussion - feel free to add books you might consider worth making this list as an experiment to see what the group might consider candidate topics to cover:

  • Please add The Mountaineers Freedom of the hills to your list, it has been a bible of outdoor knowledge for over 30 years. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 1:53
  • It's always fun when people down vote the question rather than up vote the no answers... I suppose I should have researched more and made it more clearly useful as a discussion point ;-)
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 21:06

3 Answers 3


I'd say this was personally too broad to be useful. This site encompasses everything from rock climbing to hunting to hiking; there's no set of books that can really be hugely useful to everyone on here which means as far as I see it the list would either be a) HUGE or b) so general it didn't really apply to anyone in particular.

If there's a question where someone feels a book would really help though, I'd say a specific recommendation is a very good thing!

EDIT: After mulling it over a bit perhaps some books centred around the more popular activities represented on this site, such as hiking or backpacking, could well be useful - the backpacker's field manual might well fit in here as would wilderness medicine. Those would be two books I'd personally find useful.

  • Could you humor me and pick some things that still might be useful - especially for outdoors activities you specifically enjoy? What if ten people picked one or two books and the list of popular references was something manageable between 5 to 8 titles?
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 14:56
  • +1 "I'd say this was personally too broad to be useful."
    – Graham
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 11:59
  • 1
    One way of solving the issues you raise (long/overly-general) would be to have lists in the tag summaries, thus meaning they are tailored for specific subjects. Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:13
  • @PeterBoughton Good idea - I like that.
    – berry120
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 21:34

For the same reason that book recommendations don't fit well with the Stack Exchange Q&A format (it's subjective), how could we come up with a list of books that truely encompasses all of the Great Outdoors for all users of the site. For example, a quick look at links you've provided suggests your recommendations are very USA-centric.


If we put books into the FAQ, I think they should be canonical references - something every [activity-doer] should read before [doing activity]. I also think we should find an authoritative book on how to tie knots.

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