Books for the trail: an e-reader to lighten the load

I gave my mom a call a few weeks ago to discuss her Kindle.  I know hikers have conflicting perspectives about whether or not to bring electronics on the trail, but in this case, I’m for it.  I like to read and don’t see anything wrong with bringing an e-reader along.  They have long-lasting batteries and store gobs of books while adding relatively little weight to a pack.

Well, my mom has been kind enough to offer her Kindle for my trip since she now prefers her iPad, so I called her to confirm the details.

Jor: What kind is it again?

Mom: It’s the one with the keyboard and the 3G.

Jor: The one with the monster screen or the standard size screen?

Mom: Standard.

Jor: Oh. Hm, it looks like that one is 8.7 ounces, and the most basic one is 5.98 ounces. It also adds an inch in height.  Significant difference.

Mom: I was reading in the news recently that they’re coming out with a couple of new Kindles.  You might want to check it out.

OK, now let’s stop here for a second and take stock.  I’ve mentioned before that I have a well-earned reputation for being a recycle-reduce-reuser, i.e. family and friends give me their outdated hand-me-down goods when they upgrade.  My collection is pretty impressive, I must say.  In addition to the standard clothes/shoes/purses, I have five old iPods, hair straightener, 32 inch television, DVD player, and the laptop on which I am typing, just to name a few of my fun used toys.  In fact, I even have a Kindle Fire that was a generous gift from some wonderful friends, which I use on a daily basis (but would not be right for the trail).  It’s not that I don’t appreciate these luxuries once I have them, but I don’t usually miss them enough to buy them for myself.

So, when my mom implied that I may want to purchase a newly improved and lighter style Kindle than the one she had to lend me, I responded,

“Um, did you hear what you just said?  Let’s think about that for a second.”

There was a palpable pause.

And then we laaaaughed. And laaaaughed. And laaaaughed.

Silly goose, I have no intention of buying a new Kindle for my trip.  I mean seriously, an additional 2.7 ounces.  No big deal, right?  (I reserve the right to rescind that statement later, be aware.)  Over 2,000 miles an ounce becomes a pound and all that higgledy piggledy.  But for the time being, I’m thinking a free Kindle – with an extra few ounces and all – sounds like a pretty good idea.

Oh hey! That reminds me.  I discovered something amazing the other day.  So I already knew that you can get e-books from Amazon for books that are out of copyright, such as Pride and Prejudice (blech!  Why is Pride and Prejudice always highlighted as a classic must read?  So tedious…unless you like it, of course, in which case, yeah, cool, I know what you mean) and such.  But now I know that I can go on my local library’s website and check out e-books through a nationally administered system called OverDrive.  Exciting on so many levels: the convenience of not having to go to the library, being able to read recently released books, and using the system is free with a library card.  Whoopie!

There is one itty bitty downside.  I checked, and my library doesn’t  have any e-copies of my favoritest book of all time, ever, “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore.  How am I going to re-read over and over?

“Joshua and I played at being rabbis….my mother caught us trying to circumcise my little brother Shem with a sharp rock….Overall, I think it was good for little Shem.  He was the only kid I ever knew who could pee around corners.  You can make a pretty good living as a beggar with that kind of talent.  And he never even thanked me.”

Oh well. I guess I’ll have to break from tradition and (gulp) buy an e-copy of my own.

Meandering on,



9 thoughts on “Books for the trail: an e-reader to lighten the load

  1. I’m liking this post even though you ‘blech’ed my go to comfort book (hard copy) Pride and Prejudice. I have a Kobo, it’s a useful tool. I am never parting from my hard copies.

  2. I am a big proponent of having a kindle on the trail. There are all kinds of great free books available from Amazon – I just got one the other day that was a guide to distilling your own whiskey, written in 1918. Kindle’s also read PDF files, and I have tons of PDF manuals and diagrams from my time in the Army that have proved invaluable on long hikes. Things like survival guides, knot diagrams, regional plants that are edible, etc. The battery also last weeks on a single charge, and if you’re going out longer, you can always pick up a roll up solar charger, though they can be pricey.

    • I was wondering about the PDF thing. I think it would be helpful to have PDFs of practical trail-related info, as you describe. I’ll have to start piddling around with my Kindle and see if I can figure it out. Otherwise, I might be knocking on your door.

  3. people were using the kindle on the trail. At one point I wish I had mine. I bought a book in D.C. while visiting with my wife. But by the time I got to New York I had only read half way through it and left it in a shelter. Everyone hikes differently, but I found that by the time I got to the end of the day and set up my gear, got water, ate supper, cleaned myself, talked with other hikers, and planned for the next day, it was dark and I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. But, people were using the kindle on the trail. P.S. I hope I am not infringing on your blog, or that my many posts are creepy. I am having fun reading your blog, and I remember all the questions I had in planning, wishing that I had some trail knowledge to guide me along

    • Oh my gosh, no, you aren’t intruding on my blog! This feedback is just the kind I’m looking for. Now if there were ten of you with diverging opinions, I might get overwhelmed and start censoring. 🙂

      Oh also, I forgot to say congratulations on finishing!

      • Thanks for the kudos. Oh, you will find so many different opinions, just go to Whiteblaze and follow the advice given there, it is all contradictions. You will make so many decisions on gear, travel, food, before you go. In the end, as you hike, you will find what works for you within the first three weeks. For instance, I did not do food drops and glad I didn’t because your food needs change, most people send too much food ahead, and you are tied to the post office schedule. But many people did this and were glad they did. I didn’t plan on staying in hostel’s and ended up enjoying them, and hit as many as possible. Same with shelters, I am a tent guy, but got sick of the hassle of packing up a tent in cold mornings when it was frozen on the inside or wet on the inside from the moisture from breathing. The most important thing I learned was to listen to my body and take care of pain and sores early on. Sometimes when you feel like pushing and someone is egging you on to split a room in a place like Gatlingburg, you just might want to go with it. This is when you have some of the best experiences, impromptu. The most important advice I can give you, is make sure you have a pair of shoes or boots that work for you, and maybe have a second or third pair ready to be shipped to you or picked up along the way (your feet will swell to a size bigger). Picking a shoe is as personal as picking a mate, get what works for you. I hiked with a woman who hiked the whole trail in Teva sandals and hiked with a guy for a week who hiked in his crocks. Your feet will make or break you. Oh, start taking glucosomine/condroitin now, and take it everyday on the trip and you will minimize or (in most cases) eliminate joint pain (especially in the knees).

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