Justin Lichter Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker's Insights Into Hiking and Backpacking

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"Trail Tested" is a book aimed at providing a broad…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Book sample provided for review by author)


"Trail Tested" is a book aimed at providing a broad spectrum of advice on hiking and backpacking for the novice as well as seasoned hiker wanting to expand their horizons. The author wants to spread his love of the great outdoors to others, and introduce them to the great sport of hiking and backpacking and help ease them into it by providing some sound advice and cost-saving strategies.


  • Well organized and laid out
  • Awesome pictures
  • Short and to the point topics


  • Non-traditional writing style


Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker’s insights into Hiking and Backpacking

By Justin “Trauma” Lichter

Printed in Duluth, Minnesota, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-9848550-0-1

MSRP $19.99

Trail Tested is a book aimed at providing a broad spectrum of advice on hiking and backpacking for the novice as well as seasoned hiker wanting to expand their horizons. The author wants to spread his love of the great outdoors to others, and introduce them to the great sport of hiking and backpacking and help ease them into it by providing some sound advice and cost-saving strategies

Trail Tested is not your typical how-to book. Reading this book will not magically allow you to hike hundreds of more miles, nor will it make you an expert on the subject. What it will do is give you all of the tips and advice you need to get out there and experience what the great sport of hiking and backpacking has to offer.

Hopefully after reading this book you will be able to make more educated purchases and save yourself from making some costly gear purchasing mistakes that are far too common when first getting into the sport. When you go into a major outfitter, they sometimes have a tendency to lead you around by your wallet and you end up with a lot of things that you don’t really need, and some that are much heavier than needed. This book will definitely make it easier for a beginner to get out there, and be armed with the basic knowledge of the sport that will make that initial learning curve much smoother. Knowledge gained from this book will definitely make for a safer and more enjoyable experience in the great outdoors during your new adventures.

Title: Trail Tested

Subject: Hiking and Backpacking, How-to

Theme: Insights into the sport of Hiking and Backpacking

Thesis: A Thru-Hiker with thousands of miles under his boots has learned a few things during his travels and wishes to pass some of the Trail Tested wisdom along to others to make their experiences safer, more enjoyable, and a little lighter on the wallet.


Trail Tested is laid out in a very logical manner that is both easy to read and understand, and is very aesthetically pleasing to boot. If the writing and talk of hiking and backpacking doesn’t get you excited, I am sure that all of the fabulous pictures will!

The book is essentially broken up into thirds. The first section of the book is aimed towards someone just getting into the sport, and does a very good job of touching on all of the important topics of the sport, specifically gear selection. Outfitting yourself for your first backpacking adventure can seem a very daunting task. The author does an outstanding job of really breaking it all down into a step-by-step approach to each individual component that you need for a successful trip under most normal circumstances.


Knowledge and wisdom, the gear not purchased at an outfitter is the topic of the book’s second section. The author does a splendid job of discussing very important topics such as first aid, weather predictions, and Navigation. The advice offered in this section is worth its weight in gold when out on the trail, and most often in this sport this kind of knowledge is not obtained until many adventures and sometimes years of experience in the great outdoors.


The final section of the book is geared towards somewhat more experienced hikers and backpackers. This section delves into how to ford a river, off trail and cross country navigation, finding water sources, and more technical adventures. The author touches on MYOG or making your own gear, such as the ever popular alcohol stoves. While many of the topics are better suited to seasoned backpackers, the beginner can also benefit from this section.


Overall, Trail Tested, presents all of the topics in a very straightforward, logical, easy to read format that is both entertaining and fun to read, as well as very informative. If a novice to the sport was to read this book and not seek out any other information on the sport they would be in pretty good hands and off to a very good start.




Personal Observations:

Trail Tested certainly does not answer all of the questions one might have on the sport of hiking and backpacking. However, the author does a very good job at covering the basics, and the essentials. I can certainly tell that the author is a backpacker, and not an author by trade. The way the book is written is not conducive to traditional English writing skills at times, but nonetheless does a good job of delivering the message, if although in a somewhat more unconventional method.

The author did a very good job in answering Who, What ,When, and Where in most sections of the book. The one thing that I found lacking some of the time was answering the question Why. The author takes a great deal of time to lay out the options as far as what is available for a given topic, and also mentions what his preferred choice is. However, he does not state why he chose that particular piece of gear in some instances, or why he does something the way he does. In my opinion, from a learning stand point, it is very beneficial to understand why something is done the way it is, rather than just list the ways it could be done and leave it up to the reader to fill in the blanks.

When the author does answer the question why, he does a very good job of explaining the reasoning behind his choice. The subject matter tends to be repetitive at times, with very similar advice or statements given multiple times throughout the book, sometimes on the same page.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in hiking and backpacking, no matter if they are a beginner or a seasoned thru-hiker. It is a fun to read, educational book with bits of knowledge and wisdom for everyone. You will not be disappointed, and I can almost guarantee you will learn something.


Ken, very good review. I loke how you make the early reference to one being lead by their wallet. I find this to be very true at times. Good stuff.

2 years ago

Also thanks for the review. I have Skurka's and Jardine's books and was wondering if this would be a worthy addition to my library or a rehash or what's already there. Due to my schedule and other commitments I don't get out as often as I'd like so a lot of my backpacking is "virtual." Reading about it is sometimes the best I can manage right now.

2 years ago
Jake W

Raising a baby and has time to write up this great review? Colour me impressed! Nice work Ken.

2 years ago

Big ups Ken! This is a good review!

2 years ago

Nice review, Ken. I agree that the photos are very nice.

2 years ago

I "loke." Ugghhhhh....

2 years ago
trouthunter MODERATOR

Thanks Ken!

2 years ago
trouthunter MODERATOR

Your review gives a good look into the book!

2 years ago
Joseph Renow

TheRambler...nice review of Lichter's book...curious about what you meant when you say not conducive to traditional English writing skills...can you give an example? I don't necessarily disagree...just unsure what you mean:-)

7 months ago

Its a combination of a few things. Not answering why, and just the way the book is laid out and written in general. Its not like a flowing story, its like a rough bumpy road. I do not recall the exact details off the top of my head as its been quite some time since i read it. Dont get me wrong, its a good book, just you can tell he isnt a professional author.

7 months ago

Manufacturer's Description

Trail Tested has everything you need to know about hiking and backpacking! Justin Lichter, a.k.a. Trauma, has learned countless tips, skills, and know-how in over 35,000 miles of hiking.

Trail Tested is a comprehensive guide about hiking and backpacking with valuable information that you won't find anywhere else. Whether you're just starting to hike and camp in the backcountry, head out regularly, or are about to set out on an epic six-month hike, this book is packed with priceless information that's helpful to experienced ultralight gram-counters and novices alike.

Vibrant images from Trauma's treks will entice all readers to get out and enjoy the backcountry, while other pictures and graphics help them understand why getting the right gear and skills are integral to becoming better hikers.

The range of knowledge is expansive, from helping you select the best gear for your treks, including backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, and ultralight shelters.

The book explains low-impact camping and hiking, campsite selection, hiking with dogs, navigating the backcountry, winter camping, weather forecasting and thru-hiking. It covers advanced skills, like creating hiking routes, cross-country hiking, fording dangerous rivers and other obstacles, and making a hike into a multi-sport adventure by adding in climbing, white-water rafting or other adventures. Trauma also shares stories from his adventures in the United States and around the world.

This book is like no other out there. It's penned by one of the sport's most adventurous athletes. Trauma has hiked over 10,000 miles in one year, has hiked the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking twice, and has run from lions and elephants in the African bush. This book is a must read and an essential addition to any hiker's library!


  • Publisher: Justin Lichter Publishing; 1ST edition (2012)
  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0984855009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984855001

Visit Justin Lichter's Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker's Insights Into Hiking and Backpacking page.

Justin Lichter Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker's Insights Into Hiking and Backpacking


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