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Ultralight Backpackin' Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips For Extremely Lightweight Camping Paperback – May 3, 2011

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Ultralight Backpackin' Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips For Extremely Lightweight Camping + The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail + Trail Food: Drying and Cooking Food for Backpacking and Paddling
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Falcon Guides; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762763841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762763849
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Walking into the wilderness with a pack on your back is an empowering experience—all the more so when that pack on your back isn’t weighing you down. That’s where this book comes in. Outdoors expert and celebrated illustrator Mike Clelland offers advanced techniques on how to pack light without sacrificing the essentials or your safety yet staying well fed and comfortable.


Written in the tradition of the successful Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Telemark Tips, with 153 trail-tested tips full of solid advice, as well as more than 100 humorous and helpful illustrations, Ultralight Backpackin' Tips is the ultimate guide for backpackers serious about traveling ultralight. Just a few of the top ten tips expounded upon in the book:

* Use a scale.
* Comfortable and safe are vital!
* Make your own stuff, and making it out of trash is always the best!
* It’s okay to be nerdy.
* Try something new each and every time you go camping.
* Know the difference between wants and needs.

About the Author

Mike Clelland is an instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School and is an illustrator who studied Mad magazine rather than go to art school. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Allen & Mike’s Telemark Tips and Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book (both FalconGuides).

More About the Author

Mike Clelland! never went to art school, he studied Mad Magazine instead. Mike grew up in the flat plains of Michigan, then spent ten years (as a yuppie) in New York City. In 1987 he thought it might be fun to be a ski bum for one winter in Wyoming. Unfortunately, after living and skiing in the Rockies, he found it quite impossible to return to his previous life in The Big City. Mike is presently living in a shed in Idaho where he divides his time between illustrations at the desk and working as an instructor in the mountains.

Customer Reviews

This is a great book for ultralight backpacking methods.
Louis Hoiland
Mike Clelland did an excellent job writing this book, combining humor and great information all into one fun, easy to read book.
BUY THIS BOOK BEFORE YOU BUY ANY GEAR and you will save your money.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By William Fink on May 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I reformed and became a light packer ever since a grueling hike in West Virginia last year, and I'm always looking for ways to tweak my gear and shed more weight. This book has lots of info and gets you thinking about ways to trim the fat out of your kit. While most of the tips were things I've already done, I still gained quite a few ideas for making my gear more efficient. It's a quick read, and easy to refer back to. Like the other reviewers have stated, Clelland's writing style is light-hearted with silly humor throughout.

Pretty much my only point of disagreement is going into the wilderness without a knife. The author advises just carrying a single edged razor in your kit. Is this fine for most trips? Almost certainly. But if you are like me, and most of your travels take you deep in the wilderness far from any help, going without a good knife is irresponsible at best. Remember Murphy.
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By M. Martin on June 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another reviewer described the move to being an ultralight backpacker as a "leap of faith," and the religious metaphor is entirely apt. Ultralight devotees almost always talk about their baseweight and their featherlight gear in the language of zealots. At times, this can be rather annoying to the unconverted. The virtue of Clelland's writing is that almost never does he go too far into the preachy. I'm what he would call a lightweight backpacker (base weight of 12#) since I have yet to deprive myself of the luxurious pleasures of a tent, a sleeping bag, and a powerful stove. For me, his series of recommendations about how to drop weight was helpful and pleasurable to read. I learned a few things that I immediately put into practice and found good (and I'm even considering trying an alcohol stove). I think anyone who backpacks will feel similarly, and will find his book a source of innovative new approaches.

On the other hand, I have no intention of going without a knife and a roll of toilet paper. Call me unreformed.

Still this is a great little book, and fun to read. Give it a try.

An update on 3/2012: I still carry that roll of toilet paper, but I've since been converted and I'm now officially ultralight at 8#. I've also re-read Clelland's book and I've found it to be wonderful and helpful on a second pass. Highly recommended, as this is likely to be the best money you spend on a backpacking book.
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106 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Coastal Reader on October 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What I like about this book:
- Good mental framework for going UL: Question every piece of gear to see if you can find a suitable UL replacement or simply leave it at home. One of the biggest challenges of going UL is the shift in mindset required to do it successfully.
- Good understanding presented on "systems" versus "gear". It is helpful to approach UL from the perspective of systems: shelter system, food system, etc. The author leaves out one of the most important systems: the survival system (addressed below).
- Some good specific guidance on weight reduction gear piece-by-piece. Take what works for you and ignore the rest.

Even if UL is not for you, going lighter should be a constant quest for every long-distance trekker. I am not a UL trekker, but the base weight of my pack drops with every trip (currently at 25 pounds minus consumables).

One other option to going truly UL is to condition your body and mind to handle extra weight. I do many local day hikes with an overweight pack (up to 60 pounds) as training for true wilderness treks. Once you have humped around a 60 pound pack your 25-45 pound pack feels light as a feather. Being in shape for trekking is just as important as your gear.

What I do not like about this book:
- Going UL/minimalist should not mean sacrificing safety. The goal is to enjoy the wilderness and come home alive. The author ignores the absolute necessity of the survival components of your systems/gear. The advice to take a razor knife into the wilderness is irresponsible and dangerous in my opinion. I do take one - in my first aid kit. I also carry a full-tang, high quality knife. It is gear essential item #1. After all, with a knife I can more easily make shelter, fire, hunt, etc.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Magee on January 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
So I finally got in shape and decided I wanted to start some meaningful hiking trips again. So I made a trip to the hiking store to investigate new gear. And lo and behold ....I bumped into Mike's book by dumb luck while browsing at the book section of the outdoor store. At first I thought the book was totally weird and put it back. But something drew me to return to the bookshelf and I ended up buying the book - almost for more of a gag. I would read a section or two to my wife in the evening before drifting off to sleep and we would make fun snickering at all of the odd and screwey tips such as: use snow to wipe your backside, buy Dirty Girl gaiters, don't leave home with a backpack that weighs much over a pound (my Gregory pack weighed six pounds - empty!) weigh everything on a digital food scale and push for a "base weight" of ten to eleven pounds.

Well, three years on I find myself a full convert to ultralight hiking and I now really enjoy sharing these ultralight ways with others. What has changed? Gone are the four pound (each) Zamberlain leather hiking boots, 6 pound (empty) backpack and the 4 pound tent. My trail runners are now 12 oz, pack 22 ounces, tent 15 ounces, and at the ripe old age of 45 I now easily kick out 20+ mile days in tough terrain and approach 30 miles per day in the easier stuff. My base weight (pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, first aid kit, cooking pot, water purification, stove and all clothing) is about 12-13 pounds and with 8 pounds food and fule for four days of hiking i come in at a mere 20 pounds. Best yet, I am comfortable, dry and feel extremely safe with my simple gear. I am also well fed as ever as Mike's recipies (in his book) are healthy, hearty and fun to assemble and serve.
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