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Lightweight Backpacking and Camping: A Field Guide to Wilderness Equipment, Technique, and Style (Backpacking Light) Paperback – October, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Backpacking Light
  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Beartooth Mountain Press; 1 edition (October 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974818828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974818825
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...after reading this book my pack weight plummeted and I've entered a new league of lightweight experts." -- Mike Clelland! National Outdoor Leadership School

"This is a rigorous, thorough, sober treatise...many will lighten up and enjoy the outdoors with more confidence and safety." -- Demitrious Coupounas, CEO & Founder, GoLite

About the Author

Ryan Jordan Ph.D., is the co-founder and Publisher of Backpacking Light Magazine. His doctoral level engineering background allows him to analyze gear and proclaim the gospel of ultralight backpacking in a rationale and safe manner. An Eagle Scout and former BSA High Adventure Program Director, Jordan lectures regularly to outdoor education leaders, search and rescue organizations, and land management agency staff about the gear and skills required to go light.

More important, Jordan walks the talk. He's not just a casual enthusiast interested in "writing a neat book". His idea of a good time: trekking several hundred miles through vast sections of remote wilderness with an ultralight pack – eliminating the need for resupply.

Jordan's approach to gear testing is unrivaled in the industry, blending hardcore field testing in the deep snows of Montana's wintertime wilderness with objective laboratory science and engineering evaluations that expose the most subtle flaws in poor product design.

About Backpacking Light

Backpacking Light Magazine is the outdoor industry’s most recognized, authoritative, and controversial voice about lightweight hiking and backcountry travel. Backpacking Light Magazine is published as a quarterly print magazine and a comprehensive subscription-based Website. Both feature editorials, advice on technique and training, travel journals, and in-depth scientific gear reviews. In addition, hosts reader forums and gear reviews, gear buying guides, and a co-op style gear shop that sells some of the most innovative – and lightest – gear on the planet.

Customer Reviews

He clearly offers a unique perspective on the art and science of lightweight backpacking.
It seems obvious to me that carrying 20lbs would be better than carrying 50, I no longer need to be convinced.
Amazon Customer
If you are a novice, intermediate, or advanced backpacker, this book is going to teach you something.
Andrew J. Skurka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 31, 2007
For those who are skeptical that backpacking relatively comfortably while carrying less weight is possible, this book does a pretty good job of making the case for dropping the extra pounds. However, if you're already convinced that lightweight or ultra lightweight backpacking is the way to go, this book feels a lot like preaching to choir.

I've been a lightweight convert for two years, and I bought this book hoping to learn some advice and techniques to shave my pack weight down even further. While the book has some useful specifics on some topics (I now swear by the bear bagging technique I learned from it, and the first aid section is very good), I found that it mostly lacked the level of detail I was looking for.

The essays all talk about how great going lightweight is and drool over expensive boutique gear. Indeed, there is a distinctly worshipful tone when discussing the latest carbon fiber and silnylon technologies. The book promotes a lot of very high end equipment while remaining seemingly oblivious to far less expensive alternatives that offer minimal performance compromises. But nothing really goes into specifics beyond what you could find on the internet for free. For example, the book extols the virtues of using a tarp tent, and has pictures of several brands, but provides only vague information on how to actually pitch one correctly, or how to pitch one when there aren't any trees while keeping it stable.

It seems obvious to me that carrying 20lbs would be better than carrying 50, I no longer need to be convinced. I was looking for more technical information and this book just didn't have it.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jim Morrison on November 27, 2005
Ryan Jordan's Book has no index, and that always bugs me. It is a collection of pieces by no less than eleven different authors. The central idea is that you should lighten up you pack, even though the preface admits that it isn't for everyone. He believes you can maintain, if not increase, comfort and safety with lighter gear. They don't necessarily recommend the most expensive or fashionable gear offered by current manufacturers, and I find that refreshing. The authors offer some very accurate data and information on lightweight gear, food and first aid. It reflects the trend toward lighter weight backpacking that has been going on for some time. Much of the information, but certainly not all of it, already exists in other backpacking bibles and on the Internet. The book is well organized and I especially liked the way some subjects were classified and explained, like "Protection" and "Risk Management". For me it seemed to be an above average book on the subject of backpacking (I have read several), but not superior. Perhaps it is just a matter of style. Nevertheless it is a valuable reference for the light and ultralight backpacker.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By P. Mumford on November 4, 2006
Verified Purchase
This book is well worth reading. It is not, as the authors assert, the new ultralight hikers bible. It is useful to compare this book to Ray Jardine's classic Beyond Backpacking. I see it as a good update and companion to Jardine's book. This field guide, edited by Ryan Jordan with contributions by himself and several others, certainly has the advantage of a variety of very sound authors. Jardine asserts only one way of doing things. However Jardine's way is much closer to my preferred style of hiking than Jordan, et al. Jordan focusses on finding excellent commercial ultralight gear; Jardine gives instructions for making and improvising gear. On a variety of topics, from water purification to nutrition to pack design, I tend to agree with Jardine over Jordan and his pals. But if the Ray Way doesn't work for you, perhaps this will be your hiking bible.

This book does contain comprehensive and useful information on first aid, a wide range of shelter and sleep systems and apparel, and general hiking styles that are not covered by Jardine. It also gives good information on commercially made, but hard to find, ultralight gear. For this info it is well worth the price.

Jordan can be highly technical. Here is a typical quote:
"..this excercise emphasises the downward force of gravity that exerts itself at the center of gravity of both pack and the body. The horizontal distance between these two distances is called the moment arm. In turn, the force exerted on the body's musculature to remain stable by that moment arm, which I refer to as pack torque (T), is defined as the rotational force exerted by the pack on the body."

You can simply gloss over the many passages like this if you don't want to follow Jordan's math. Jordan uses analysis like this to evaluate gear - very impressive. My only problem with it is that the conclusions he arrives at often don't agree with what works for me in the field.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tom Knighton on January 27, 2007
After purchasing several books on backpacking, I was starting to come to the conclusion that most books simply were written by an author with the idea of pushing their own ideas of backpacking. Everything had this slant, but I decided to give Lightweight Backpacking and Camping a shot. I'm so glad I did.

First, with all the various authors, you get different perspectives on ultralight backpacking. No one approach is necessarily the right way, and different views and tones in thier writings help to cement that idea.

Second, this isn't necessarily a "gear guide" type book with listings of what gear to buy. While there are suggestions, they comprise a small amount of the text, which instead focuses on the meat of ultralight backpacking.

While it is true that a previous reviewer, Andrew Skurka works for Ryan Jordan, what he says is no less accurate. It is, quite simply, the best book out there for ultralight backpacking. Further, it works well for the beginner backpacker or the advanced hiker like Andrew.

Now, despite the five star rating, it's not without some flaws. First, one company seems to get top billing in most all of the gear suggestions, though admittedly they tend to be the lightest gear out there. Second, as another review said, there is no index, which makes looking up information a bit more difficult. Still, to me these are insufficient to rate this text as less than a five. Style issues in the layout and a brand preference I don't necessarily share are minor things not worth considering in my opinion.
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