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National Outdoor Book Awards

The Prize

The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is one of the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award programs. Click here for our index and the current award winners.

The purpose of the Awards is to recognize and encourage outstanding writing and publishing for books relating to the outdoors, nature, the environment. The National Outdoor Book Awards are administered by a non-profit, educational institution.


Instructional and How-To Book Category: Winners will include include book titles dealing with outdoor skills, techniques, equipment, clothing and safety of outdoor adventure activities.

 Year Title and Author(s)
Basic Kayaking: All the Skills and Gear You Need to Get Started by Wayne Dickert and Jon Rounds
Once again Stackpole Books scores a winner with their series on basic outdoor skills. The photographs, creative design, and clear and understandable text combine to make this book a marvelous introduction to the exciting sport of whitewater kayaking.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA
Glacier Mountaineering: An Illustrated Guide to Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue by Andy Tyson
Without a doubt, this is a reliable and straightforward instructional text covering the knowledge and skills necessary for safe glacial travel. Its real strong point is the accompanying illustrations by Mike Clelland: delightfully whimsical but remarkably clear and understandable.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA
2004 Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben
Looking for an up-to-date and reliable instructional book on climbing? Look no further. Long time guide and instructor, Craig Luebben takes you through the paces, covering top roping, sport climbing, traditional climbing and bouldering. A lucid text is amply supplemented with instructive photographs, understandable illustrations and a clean and crisp design.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA
2003 Basic Canoeing: All the Skills You Need to Get Started by Jon Rounds
This intelligently conceived book starts from the beginning and takes you step-by-step through the techniques of canoeing. Basic Canoeing stands out with its clear writing, effective design, and the liberal use of photographs and illustrations.
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2002 The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook by Shelley Johnson
It's all here in one well organized, well illustrated and well written book: equipment, clothing, technique, navigation, safety, camping and trip planning. The title says it all. It truly is the complete sea kayaker's handbook.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA
2001 The Orvis Fly-Tying Guide by Tom Rosenbauer with illustrations by Rod Walinchus and fly pattern photographs by Henry Ambrose
Never tied a fly before? This is the book to get. With its clear, step-by-step instructions, great color photographs, and uncluttered and thoughtful design, you'll find yourself tying up streamers, nymphs, as well as dry and saltwater flies in no time.
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2000 The National Outdoor Leadership School's Wilderness Guide: The Classic Handbook by Mark Harvey
The National Outdoor Leadership School is one of the outdoor world's most respected wilderness education programs. They were one of the first schools to extensively promote and instruct wilderness users in the techniques of treading lightly and minimizing impact on the outdoors. This is their manual: a compilation of many years of experience, a backpacker's handbook filled with practical and well-tempered advice about equipment, planning, clothing, traveling, navigation, and safety.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA
1999 Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast, and High by Mark Twight & James Martin
In both temperament and content, this book is a clear departure from past instructional texts in mountaineering--and outdoor texts in general. Directed to accomplished climbers, this a master class for those who risk it all by venturing into some of the most dangerous places in the world. Content of the class: character, attitude, training, fitness, nutrition, clothing, equipment and technique. Class instructional aids: well designed book with graphic and dramatic color photographs throughout.
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1998 Knots and Ropes for Climbers by Duane Raleigh
Knots and Ropes is not a fancy book. It's less than 100 pages in length and there's no color photography. But it is the book's plain and simple approach which makes it so appealing and useful. Duane Raleigh's text along with Mike Clelland's clever, but clear and understandable illustrations, remove the mystery surrounding climbing knots and makes tying them a snap.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA
1997 Ragged Mountain Press Guide to Outdoor Sports: Skills and Knowledge for the Whole Outdoors by Jonathan and Roseann Hanson
This 340-page book covers hiking, backpacking, sea kayaking, rafting, climbing, cross-country skiing and mountain biking. While no one book can cover all of these activities comprehensively, it does an excellent job of getting the beginner started in the right direction. Its tips and sidebars on equipment are instructive and well done--and it has one of the best chapters on outdoor clothing found anywhere.
Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA

Honorable Mentions
bulletThe Mountain Traveller's Handbook: Your Companion from City to Summit by Paul Deegan (2002)


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Other Works of Significance in the Outdoor Field:

Although the following books were not selected as winners, the judges wanted to recognize their value and importance in the outdoor field. All of them have gone through multiple editions and printings. And all are tried-and-true books which have done much to make outdoor skills, techniques and the outdoor experience more understandable.

bulletAMC White Mountain Guide, 27th: Hiking Trails in the White Mountain National Forest by Gene Daniell (Editor) and Steven D. Smith (Editor)
bulletWalking Softy in the Wilderness: The Sierra Club Guide to Backpacking by John Hart
Literate, environmentally sensitive, and chocked full of valuable advice, John Hart's book is one of the finest texts ever published on backpacking.
bulletKayak: An Animated Guide of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique by William Nealy
Quirky, creative, humorous, and uncommonly useful, this is a classic in the whitewater kayaking world.
bulletHow to Rock Climb! by John Long
Now in its third edition, John Long's plain-speaking book remains the standard text of rock climbing technique.
bulletExpedition Kayaking by Derek Hutchinson
Thirty-year sea kayaking veteran and inveterate expeditioner, Derek Hutchinson, tells how it's done in this, the fourth edition of his colorful and eminently instructive book.
bulletCowstails and Cobras II: A Guide to Games by Initiatives by Ropes Courses & Adventure Curriculum by Karl Rohnke
Penned by one the great innovators of the experiential education field and stuffed to the brim with adventure games and initiatives, this immensely resourceful book is an outdoor education classic.

The National Outdoor Book Award Categories
This is a non-profit, educational program. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges consisting of respected outdoor columnists, authors, educators, and book reviewers from throughout the country. In early November, the NOBA committee announces the winners of the nine categories that make up the awards program plus a set of books that achieved honorable mentions. The NOBA awards are given in nine different categories.
bulletChildren's Books
bulletDesign and Artistic Merit
bulletHistory and Biography
bulletInstructional and How-To
bulletNatural History Literature
bulletNature and Environment
bulletNature Guidebooks
bulletOutdoor Adventure Guidebooks
bulletOutdoor Classics
bulletOutdoor Literature

If you like this list of outdoor award winners, you may enjoy these additional lists of award winning books on mountaineering. Check out the winners (and finalists) of the following awards:

American Alpine Literary Award


Banff Mountain Book Awards


Boardman-Tasker Memorial Award for Mountain Literature


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