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Lighten Up!: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking

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Short, to-the-point, and humorously illustrated by famed outdoor illustrator Mike Clelland, this book presents everything hikers and backpackers need to be safe, comfortable, and well fed while carrying a very small and lightweight pack.

112 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 1, 2005

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Don Ladigin

3 books1 follower

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5 stars
150 (37%)
4 stars
167 (41%)
3 stars
67 (16%)
2 stars
13 (3%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews
Profile Image for Lianna.
853 reviews9 followers
October 7, 2010
Good intro to lightweight hiking. I learned some things like:

-instant hummus powder exists! makes a good hiking snack
-you can put food in freezer safe bags then pour boiling water directly in for an easy meal.
-good ways to test shoes in the store before you buy
-the PCT method for hanging food from a tree. Genius!

Hilarious illustrations as well.
Profile Image for Eric.
8 reviews1 follower
April 2, 2009
I've read a ton of backpacking books lately. This book is the shortest, and hits all of the major points. It's also more practical than the others. Trail Life or Beyond Backpacking are more wishy washy. This book is practical.
Profile Image for Sjors.
199 reviews8 followers
October 10, 2020
A light and cheerful introduction to the art of “light and ultra-light backpacking”. A breeze to read with some interesting advice here and there. Must buy? No. Buying regrets? None.
2 reviews
June 22, 2007
A great introduction to lightweight backpacking. It is nowhere near a complete guide to subject, but it was not intended to be complete. It is easy to read and with many great illustrations. If you know nothing about lightweight backpacking but are curious to learn you should check out this book. If you want to go more in-depth with lightweight backpacking you should read Lightweight Backpacking & Camping.
Profile Image for Thomas.
Author 1 book7 followers
June 22, 2009
Really fun read, and excellent info, including superb illustrations. You can always learn something by reading about cutting down on weight.
Profile Image for Hardi.
7 reviews
March 15, 2020
This book was invaluable for my trip to Norway, even though it was mostly a series of day hikes interspersed with car rides, instead of a full backpacking trip. As a complete novice, this book gave me tons of solid tips as to what to bring, how to pack it and how to make the most of what I had with me.
3 reviews
February 19, 2020
Short and simple intro to ultralight backpacking. I've been doing a lot of research and browsing r/ultralight on reddit but it can be overwhelming. While this book is over 10 years old, I still think it's worth a read and I was able to borrow a digital copy from library.
Profile Image for Aaron Andersen.
55 reviews
August 15, 2020
I am not an ultralight backpacker, nor am I likely to become one any time soon, but I really enjoyed this short little book. Plus some of the advice is surprisingly useful when it comes to packing airline luggage or the trunk of a car for family vacations.
Profile Image for Stephen.
647 reviews2 followers
February 11, 2017
Excellent overview of how to lighten your backpacking load. Funny yet useful illustration and short, to the point text makes this book a great read.
4 reviews1 follower
August 3, 2017
Many useful ideas

Focused book helpful in planning a more enjoyable hike. Will help any hiker lighten their load whether all of the suggestions are used or not.
Profile Image for Rowan.
205 reviews
July 29, 2018
Definitely out of date in a few areas, but still a really good primer.
Profile Image for Drew Ross.
Author 1 book2 followers
December 10, 2022
Nice primer for new backpackers

Covers all the bases without preaching or sounding extreme. Really an awesome starting point for beginners like me. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for VRDrive.
38 reviews
March 30, 2023
Nice tips and tricks, some outdated, some not. But please don't cook food in a plastic bag using boiling water, same goes with re-using PET-bottles on long hikes. That shit ain't good for you...
Profile Image for Shane.
23 reviews5 followers
December 10, 2008
This might have been fine as a first book about lightweight backpacking, but it's just far too simple and shallow. The illustrations are humorous and the book touches on important points regarding lightweight backpacking (take clothing layers that can all be worn at once for flexibility in different temperatures; maintaining safe temperatures while reducing weight; reduce unused gear, etc) but doesn't get into any details about the things that backpackers looking to get lightweight gear have to worry about: fabric technology, fill weights of down, companies that specialize in light weight gear, etc.

Between this and the backpackinglight.com book, I'd certainly suggest the latter. This 90 minute read just isn't detailed enough for anyone seriously interested in the subject and the information is just covered in more detail elsewhere.
Profile Image for Todd Benkert.
15 reviews7 followers
August 7, 2015
This book was an easy read and a good primer for the various gear options when going on an overnight backpacking trip. While other, more thorough guides are available, this small book gave a handy overview of the various options available. The focus of the book was on packing light compared to traditional hiking techniques. For each category, the pros and cons of each gear selection were considered. Included humorous helpful illustrations. Ultimately, each hiker will need to develop their own gear list and preferences. This book is good for those who want to quickly understand the basics of backpacking gear options before digging deeper. Recommended for beginning backpackers and traditional hikers who want to go lighter.
515 reviews6 followers
February 6, 2015
I admire the author's willingness to put out his message in such a little book, but it is an effective medium for its contents, and I think this book is about the best way possible to introduce a moderately experienced outdoorsman to lightweight backpacking. Nicely done!
29 reviews
December 30, 2016
I bought this thinking I might pickup a few ideas for lightening up my pack... which I did (thought I haven't gotten it out on the trail)... but it's got me interested in the idea of ultralight backpacking...

It's informational, and the illustrations are funny.
Profile Image for Walter Underwood.
306 reviews19 followers
May 5, 2011
The best introduction to making your pack lighter. Don't be fooled into thinking it is shallow because it is short. This is concentrated stuff. I learn something new every time I read it.
Profile Image for James Fearn.
99 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2013
Wow, I didn't realize how seriously some backpackers take their pack weight.

Great ideas in the book about packing it in and taking it out.
Profile Image for Lacy.
9 reviews
November 5, 2013
I really enjoy the drawings that accompany this book's useful and fun tips for lighter weight backpacking.
Profile Image for Nancie Lafferty.
1,046 reviews7 followers
October 1, 2015
Fast, fun read with humorous line drawings. Great primer for light backpacking. Made me want to get out and do some overnight hiking.
132 reviews1 follower
June 22, 2016
Get right to the point. I got several ideas to check out.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews

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