This is the best introduction to ultralight backpacking there is. Ultralight means you carry less than 25 pounds of gear, food and water for a 10 day trip, and maybe less than 5 pounds for a weekend trip! That’s liberating. If you obsessively reduce the mass of things (or leave them behind) by onefold then you can raise your enjoyment of hiking tenfold.
But most of the stuff in a backpack is carried to overcome a lack of knowledge. So whenever you take away weight you have to replace it with knowledge — knowledge that this book supplies.
This book assumes you are persuaded of this zen-like way. If you need to be persuaded that carry-weight is worth obsessing over, or you want the full course of every option available, and the evidence and reasons for each method, and how to make all the stuff yourself, then you’ll need Ray Jardines’ bible on the subject, the previously reviewed and now updated Beyond Backpacking/Trail Life.
But instead of a bible, this fantastic book by Mike Clelland will give you cartoons. Lot’s of them.
It’s jammed packed with dense, informative, easy to digest, and remarkably helpful advice, hints and instructions on how to accomplish and enjoy walking with very little stuff — and this knowledge is mostly compressed into witty cartoons. I am a big fan of Clelland’s other previously reviewed cartoon guides to snow travel and ordinary backpacking and I really like how amazingly effective his drawings are. Each one is worth thousands of words. It’s fun but not silly. Clelland grapples with the real-world details of, say, not taking a water filter or toilet paper (!!!) and his solutions are born of many seasons of experience. The whole book is authentic and reliable. It will very quickly have you out on the trail carrying a lot less than you once did. Even if you don’t get as extreme as he does, you can move in the right direction by substituting knowledge for stuff. I’ve been going super light for a long time and I learned tons of new tricks on almost every page.