Which Tour du Mont Blanc guide book to buy was never really a question you needed to ask. Kev Reynold’s guide has been the reliable stalwart for the tour for countless years, but new competition has sprung up of late, both of which offer a more detailed look at the Tour du Mont Blanc route.
So which is the best Tour du Mont Blanc guide book if you want to trek it yourself completely independently without a guide? Obviously for weight reasons you only want to buy one Tour du Mont Blanc guide book so let’s discuss each one below to help you buy the right one for you.
With regards to the Tour du Mont Blanc refuges I noticed that the information in all the guidebooks were really thin on the ground when it came to the refuges – which quite frankly are one of the most important aspects of the trek! So I wrote a Tour du Mont Blanc refuges ebook – an 83 page ebook on everything you could possibly want to know about the refuges as well as a 2 page guide to 24 refuges and accommodation on the trail.
Note: it’s always helpful if you’re trekking in a group with other hikers to purchase each of the different TMB guide books – that way you can share and compare the information in both the planning stages and on the tour.
Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc – Kev Reynolds (Cicerone)
Kev Reynold’s Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc 2 way guide has always been a must buy for Tour du Mont Blanc hikers. Kev has trekked the tour countless times and the book includes a lot of detail. It also includes the entire tour day by day clockwise AND anti-clockwise which is really useful if you want to trek the opposite way.
However, the trek times can seem slightly off and you need to be careful to remember trek times are given just for time trekking and no stoppages at all. You need to add on at least 1.5 – 2 hours to calculate the real time it will take you to hike between stages.
I have used Kev’s book countless times. It feels like a well loved bible. I love the fact that it has a waterproof cover and does include everything you need to know about hiking the Tour du Mobnt Blanc.
However, it does look very dated now compared to the two newer Tour du Mont Blanc guidebooks (of which we’ll discuss below) and in my opinion does not go into as much detail as the following two Tour du Mont Blanc guidebooks either in maps or descriptions.
However, if you want to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc clockwise (the opposite way to most hikers) then you will definitely want to order this guide book – it’s the only one that gives you day by day details of hiking clockwise.
Tour du Mont Blanc by Jim Manthorpe (Trailblazer)
I really enjoyed Trail Blazer’s fresh approach to their TMB guidebook which I used the last time I trekked the tour. I particularly loved the super detailed maps, which are incredibly 1:20,000 (1cm = 200m). It means there really is no chance of getting lost at all.. Where Kev’s book includes a one page map for each stage, Trail Blazer’s have around three with all sorts of detail such as ‘old cottage which can be used for shelter’ or ‘farm selling milk & cheese’. It’s this detail that is reassuringly wonderful when trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc plus it’s a great way to find hidden treasures – like the farm selling milk and cheese!
Budding botanists should choose this Tour du Mont Blanc guidebook over all others purely for the detailed alpine flora section with colour photos. Aim to trek the trail early in the season if it’s wildflowers you’re after (end of June, first few weeks of July).
This Tour du Mont Blanc guidebook really has it all – a vocab section at the back with French and Italian. A complete chapter on Chamonix and information on everything to do in the town, another section on actually ascending Mont Blanc (the mountain summit, not the trek around it) plus detailed mountain safety and weather chapter describing how to read clouds and other very interesting & potentially life saving information.
Tour du Mont Blanc – Kingsley Jones V Publishing
Hot off the press, being published for the first time in 2020, Kingsley Jone’s Tour du Mont Blanc guidebook offers a completely new perspective on completing the TMB giving customised itinerary planning for walkers, trekkers, fast packers and trail runners – all who of course, travel at different speeds and “have varied ascent and decent rates relative to their flat speed”.
Using the Jones-Ross formula, each user group can calculate realistic timings between timing points enabling for the first time, someone planning the TMB to actually figure out their timings rather than just guess work. Jones has split the Tour du Mont Blanc route into waypoints (numbered from 1-165) which are obvious points on the route, some of which are timing points. This Tour du Mont Blanc guide book explains in detail how to use the Jones-Ross formula and gives working examples for each type of user. I haven’t yet had the chance to use the formula on the TMB trail but I’m interested to try it this summer and see how accurate the formula is.
The guide book has been cleverly designed, packing in tons of thoroughly relevant information into a smaller, compact space. The result of which is a huge advantage – it weighs much less than the other two!
The maps are full page 1:40,000 ordnance maps indicating the waypoints. Whilst the maps aren’t as detailed Jim Manthorpe’s guide book, there is detail accompanied in the route descriptions, and Jones throughout the book gives in-depth advice about tricky sections and how to cross them safely.
I also love being able to see full TMB elevation profile in full on a double page spread in Kingsley Jone’s TMB guidebook (Kev Reynolds’ guide book does give the elevation profile for each stage) but it’s great to see the whole profile laid out so easily.
Kingsley Jone’s TMB guide book also has a water proof companion map that goes with the book (available at an extra cost) which is an excellent map from the looks of it. I am yet to test it out in the field but I have split glass of water over it on my desk when looking at it and was very impressed with how waterproof it actually was!
I also was very impressed by the comprehensive safety section in Kingsley Jones’s TMB book. It is far more detailed than the other two and very easy to understand and read.
Verdict – which Tour du Mont Blanc guide book should you buy?
The answer is it depends! If you’re a fast packer and want to fly through the tour in 7 days, buy Kingsley Jones’s TMB guidebook. If you’re a keen naturalist and want to spot wild flowers along the route, definitely buy Jim Manthorpe’s Tour du Mont Blanc guide. If you’re considering trekking the tour in the opposite direction (most trekkers hike counter clockwise) you’ll enjoy a much quieter trail every morning. In this scenario, Kev Reynolds TMB guidebook is the way to go.
I’m really interested to try the Ross-Jones formula and to use Kingsley Jones’s book live in-situ this summer. That could be a turning point for me to fully favour this book. At the moment it’s a draw for me between Jim Manthorpe’s TMB guidebook and Kingsley Jones’s Tour du Mont Blanc guidebook.
Which is your favourite Tour du Mont Blanc guide book?