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Curtis authors backpacking guide, will donate part of royalties to OA

The tips that participants of Outdoor Action have long found useful now are available to the public in "The Backpacker's Field Manual," written by Outdoor Action program director Rick Curtis.

The book, released last month, is a revision of the manual that OA leaders have brought with them on trips. It compiles information from various back-country guides and programs, such as Outward Bound.


"There are a lot of (backpacking) books, but this one is laid down in such a way that it is taken with you on the trip," Curtis said.

The 373-page manual contains information about first aid, meal recipes and what to do in a bear encounter. "Any kind of concern you would have is addressed," OA leader trainer Scott McCowan '99 said.

"It is simple and comprehensive, a good thing to have in your backpack," OA leader trainer Chris Shephard '98 said. "It's knowledge worth sharing with other folks."

Royalties for OA

Curtis will be donating two-thirds of the royalties to OA, adding $5,000 to $10,000 to the program, he said. "It is a really good revenue stream for OA," he added.

The first version of the manual came out more than 10 years ago as a packet of photocopied materials. It gradually expanded into a 200-page compilation of various sources that Curtis had received permission to use solely for OA purposes.

Other outdoor programs around the world, however, wanted copies of the manual, according to Curtis, because it was considered the best field manual.


In 1995, Curtis decided to rewrite the guide so copies could be sold without infringing copyright laws – and to make money for OA.

A Random House publishing company representative familiar with OA contacted Curtis. "Her sister and brother were OA leaders, her family was active in backpacking, and they always used (the manual)," Curtis said.

He began the rewriting process two years ago, aiming for an April 1997 release date. However, due to delays, he continued working on the book for an additional year. "What I thought was going to be a small project ended up being rewritten from start to finish," Curtis said.

Book signing tonight

Although Curtis was the sole author of the book, he said he received help from OA participants. "Over the years, students have helped me to write various pieces," Curtis said.

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Random House gave OA rights to continue to publish its own in-house copies that contain extra chapters specific to the University's OA program, such as leadership skills. "(The leadership chapter is) a key section to leader training and is vital to the whole program," OA leader trainer Chris Beeson '99 said.

The manual is available for $14.95 at the U-Store. It can also be purchased at a book signing tonight in McCosh 10, following the OA-sponsored Banff Festival of Mountain Films.