Oops, wrong list before. Time to catch up on a few Owner Reviews. Here's one on a new book. HTML version is in the Tests/OR folder at http://tinyurl.com/3z4pl3c
ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKIN' TIPS by Mike Clelland!
OWNER REVIEW by Richard Lyon
May 24, 2011
PERSONAL DETAILS AND BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 64 years old
6' 4" (1.91 m), 205 lb (93 kg)
Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas USA
I've been backpacking for almost half a century, and regularly in the Rockies
since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.
I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 -
4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from
camp, but I do my share of forced marches too. Though always looking for ways
to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose a bit of
extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.
Pertinent to this Review: My non-UL style isn't always by choice. Each summer I
lead a service trip or two as a United States Forest Service volunteer. These
are usually one week long, and involve manual labor undertaking various trail
maintenance activities. I consider separate work clothes and camp clothes a
necessity. Forest Service regulations mandate several things taboo to the
ultralighter, among them over-the-ankle leather boots, hard hats, and
heavyweight work trousers. On personal backpacks I really am trying to Lighten
Up (the title of another book in the series of which the book under review is a
part), and my aging knees and ankles appreciate any weight saving suggestions.
Cover PageTitle: ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKIN' TIPS
Subtitle (or maybe supertitle it's posted above the title: a practical &
philosophical guide (with cartoons)
Author and Illustrator: Mike Clelland! Iconic lightweight backpackers Ryan
Jordan and Glen Van Peski each contribute a tip as "guest text."
Publisher: FalconGuides, a division of Globe Pequot Press (image of cover page
from this website)
Paperback only, 144 pages, MSRP $14.95 US
The title says it well this book adopts the anecdotal, tip style of the series
of "Really Cool" books its author illustrated for Allen O'Bannon. One of these,
Allen & Mike!'s Really Cool Backpackin' Book, I have separately reviewed on this
site, and another , Allen & Mike!'s Really Cool Telemark Tips, helped my skiing
more than a dozen lessons. Mr. O'Bannon and others are given acknowledgments
in this book, for which Mike! (he always uses the exclamation point after his
name) is solely responsible.
Some of the tips are particular to specific situations or gear, especially for
make-your-own-gear enthusiasts. For example, Tips 62 and 63 instruct on paring
pack weight from a stock backpack and packing the result. Others are more
general and illustrate some of lightweight backpacking's basic principles. Tip
17 is entitled "Never EVER guess the weight of something"; and there are a
number of Tips that emphasize multitasking. All Tips are easy to read,
non-technical, and easy to understand. I find that approach far preferable to
the ratios, formulae, and chart comparisons of similar gear that predominate a
number of lighten-up guides. I also applaud the author's stated principle of
not recommending particular gear or clothing, and his reasons for not doing so:
(from Tip 14) "If I actually did document specific gear, this book might be
meaningless within a few years or even a few months!" This is a book about a
style of backpacking.
It's also a book for True Believers: those who are or wish to become lightweight
[less than 20 lb/9 kg base weight], ultralight (UL) [10 lb/4.5 kg], or
sub-ultralight (SUL) [5 lb/2.2 kg] backpackers. While in no way preachy or
advocatory, "traditional" backpacking (none of the above) is simply dismissed
immediately after it is defined, in Tip 11. There's no doubt where Mike!'s
heart, mind, and body lie. I found this approach to be another plus, far
preferable to constant reminders of the sins of heathen traditionalists like me.
This book is also clearly pitched to those who are or strive to become very
serious backpackers. As explained in Tip 12, the author uses as his baseline
trip a ten-day solo backpack involving plenty of off-trail travel certainly
hardcore by my standards.
I urge any reader to keep all this in mind while reading this book. Thanks to
my annual service trips much of my backpacking fits into the traditional
category, and even on an easy overnighter I rarely reach even ultralight.
That's not to say I find this book useless; far from it. Many of Mike!'s Tips
have already proven helpful in planning some traditional expeditions coming up
this summer. That is especially true of some of his do-it-yourself suggestions
for less expensive, easy-to-acquire alternatives to store-bought gear.
As always, Mike's illustrations are humorous and instructive.
Fun and easy to read, helpful in many ways, and (as is true of the other books
in the Really Cool series) clearly reflective of the author's love of the
outdoors - it's a good and useful book. Anything not to like? I didn't find
much, but there are a few Tips with which I disagree for the same reason I
disagree with unbending adherence to the ultralight principles they illustrate.
Sometimes the ultralighters will do anything, anything at all, to save weight,
even a little bit, to the point, in my opinion, of compromising comfort and
sometimes even safety, only to achieve marginal weight savings at markedly
increased risk. And there's the occasional (rare, actually, and usually in the
illustrations) jab at Non-Believers and inclusion of Tips that take weight
saving to the point of silliness.
I'll leave my readers to make their own judgments on this book's contents, which
I encourage you to do Tip by Tip. I highly recommend the book for any outdoor
person who wants to lighten the load on his or her back. I picked up much
knowledge from its contents.