12 Days of Trail Gifts For Under $50

Gift 9: Guidebooks

12 gifts of christmas

Jonathan Ley’s maps at work on the CDT

A good guidebook will get your hiker amped for their dream trail. Most big trails have apps, maps, forums, and data books, but a guidebook can be a great place to start planning and imagining yourself on the journey. Nothing can compare to pouring over pages of trail descriptions, resupply stops, and photos some of the trails gems. If you give a guidebook, take it as a major compliment when they start ripping it to pieces. If the guidebook you give them gets “chunked” that means it’s going with them on the journey, to be mailed out section at a time. 

Pacific Crest Trail:

Yogi’s PCT guide is particularly great because it is a compilation of tips & trail specific tricks from a bunch of different hikers. The guidebook package has a town guide & a trail preparation guide. Between the two books your hiker will be able to learn everything from what kind of sleeping bag to use & which towns are the best for resupplies. 

Wilderness Press PCT book with maps! (Half mile maps & apps are great too, & most are free)

CA, OR, & WA DeLorme Gazetteers or Benchmark Atlases: These aren’t really a guidebook, but they are wonderful planning tools, and provide detailed overview maps for evacuations from the trail. I usually highlight the whole trail I’m hiking and make color copies of the pages. I carry a copy & put one up at home so my family can have a reminder of where I am while I’m gone.

Continental Divide Trail

My top picks are Yogi’s CDT guidebookJonathan Ley’s Map Set, and the beautiful Bear Creek Map Books by Jerry Brown

Appalachian Trail:

AWOL’s A. T. Guide is a perfect trail companion. I really like the elevation profile format, the town descriptions, & the helpful trail data. The Guide is printed in both northbound & southbound versions. 

The AT Conservancy has an amazing map set for the entire trail, but most hikers don’t need or want this much detail. You could go for the lower cost necessity of the Data Book