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Ultralight Backpackin' Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips for Extremely Lightweight Camping

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  800 ratings  ·  69 reviews
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.
Kindle Edition, 144 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Falcon Guides (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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Ellie Sorota
Mar 28, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-nonfiction
I'm giving very low stars to this book because I'm a woman. Some will balk at that, but I found this book lacking a great deal in regards to advising the average female hiker. I read this in preparation for a section hike of the AT. I did hike in a group, so some of the suggestions were ruled out because I couldn't implement them in a group setting. For reference - I hiked a week and my pack weighed 30 pounds without water.

Thinny Thin Socks: had lots of chaffing, even with laces loose. Switched
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, to-buy
"If you have snow available, you will have a stupendously clean bunghole! No foolin'-snow has all the properties that make it the creme de la creme of natural butt wiping." Oh gosh, five stars for the section on Pooping in the Wilderness. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! ...more
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book totally revolutionized backpacking for me. Instead of carrying huge packs 10 miles in boots and being exhausted, I'm happy to stroll 20 miles with a much lighter pack in trail running shoes. Checked it out from the library and like it so much I bought it. Now I share it with friends whenever possible. Love it! ...more
Jamie Dacyczyn
Some interesting tips, but as a whole a bit too extreme for me.
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite backpacking books- always reminds me to put a new mindset on things. You will also laugh all the way through. My brother- (and Mike Clelland) are UL fanatics, so this book is a must-read if I want to debate with my brother on a knowledgeable level.
Reason for the docked star- Mike isn't a woman. (duh!) He really should have gotten some advice form one when writing certain sections. There's some things a girl physically can't go without. But for a guy- this is the most awesome U
Mike Green
Wipe your ass with a rock eh? Can't wait to try that one out. All kidding aside. This was an easy read with a lot of really good tips. Hopefully I can put some to use soon. ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m sure this book would be 4-5 stars for someone REALLY into extreme UL backpacking but for me, it’s just not what I’m looking for. I did find a few helpful tips but I prefer toilet paper and other things that Mike Clelland cringes at.
I’ve managed to shave a few pounds off my pack’s base weight since my first ever backpacking trip and I’m very happy with that for now. I have a lot of respect for UL backpackers and if you are one, then definitely check this book out.
Aja Marsh
great book with a super sense of humor and fun drawings!
Wendy Wagner
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hiking, food-drink, humor
This book might not get you excited about ultralight backpacking, but it IS really, really funny. Plus, the recipes for energy gel and granola bars look terrific!
Jennifer DeJonghe
I've been doing ultralight and lightweight backpacking for about a decade. Back in 2002 I thruhiked the Appalachian Trail and pretty quickly bought into the "going light" mentality. At the time I relied heavily on internet forums and Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight HikingRay Jardine, as well as the advice of other hikers. Many years and many hikes later I bought this book by Mike Cleland as a way to see if there are any new tips and tricks I could benefit from compiled in ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
Clelland's writing is concise and he has a sharp wit. His cartoon art is fantastic and he does drawings for all or nearly all of his 153 tips. The illustrations help a lot in understanding his modified gear and set up. Ultralight is defined as sub-8lbs (including the pack, sleeping gear, shelter, cooking kit, first aid, and extra clothes) before adding food and water. Clelland has tips about every item needed for backpacking, how to pack it, and how to use it. He provides information about how m ...more
Sara Petsch
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off I am biased since I know Mike and think he is awesome and everything he writes and illustrates is awesome!! But besides that, this book is funny, fun to read, and for me very helpful since I am getting into lightweight backbacking now that I have bad (arthritic) knees and need to do everything I can to save them, without giving up backpacking! Great book!
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, along with backpackinglight (used to be free, now they charge for the forums, bleck) helped me shave about 20-30 pounds off of my backpacking gear, and forever change my outlook on the activity. I highly recommend a read. It was easy to follow, simple, and engaging.
Jenn "JR"
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hikers, campers, outdoorsy people
This book is short and sweet - and rip roaring hilarious! It's worth owning and keeping just for the section on personal hygiene in the woods (pinecones! snow!). So many good tips -- I keep it on the coffee table and it is a great conversation starter with my outdoorsy visitors. ...more
Apr 12, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, sports
Lightweight should not be the goal of outdoor. Being safe and joyful should be. This book sucessfully change my mind. Outdoors should be green, clean, and healthy. What's the point of this sport when we sacrificing all the hygiene, safety, and coziness in order to save a few kg of weight? I will bring as much as I need without worrying a few more kg. I don't want to do my bathroom hygiene with a snowball. I want to smell better than my fragrant every morning. I want to change socks as frequent a ...more
Teo 2050


Clelland M (2011) Ultralight Backpackin' Tips - 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips for Extremely Lightweight Camping


The Manifesto

001. Get a scale
002. Comfortable and safe are vital!
003. Scrutinize everything!
004. Make your own stuff, and making it out of trash is always best!
005. It's okay to be nerdy
006. Try something new every time you go camping
007. Simply take less stuff!
008. Know the difference between wants and needs
009. Cut stuff off your gear
010. D
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, 1-non-fiction
Extremely readable. Especially because of the fun comical illustrations. I do feel at times the author pushes things a bit with some of the tips about dropping the weight and then seems to make suggestions for things that are unnecessary added weight. Might just be because things have evolved quite a bit since the publishing of this book and in the end he does preach about being mindful of the inclusion of everything. My main complaint is that even though he consistently talks about following le ...more
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last time I read this book was 2016. I was a wilderness guide with a 5 lb pack from REI, a heavy duty sleeping bag rated to minus 30, and so much extra gear I could cry. The year before that I did trail work with UCC. We'd compare pack weights and mine usually topped out at 60 for an 8 day work week -- the lightest in my crew!

I've come a long ways since then. Not quite ultralight, but there's a skip in my step with a 30 lb bag on my shoulders. I'm grateful for this fun book and the tips in it.

Lots of "how-to" in this book with cartoon illustrations. It's oriented to the he-man who, when lightening his pack, will be able to double his mileage on the trail. Still, I think it has some good ideas for me, an aging, short statured hiker, who needs adaptive technology to bring a pack's weight to something I can carry in order to back pack at all. The author is frugal in his recommendations, even sharing recipes for make-it-yourself lightweight food. ...more
Curtis Jensen
Lots of good backpacking ideas and philosophy. I can't say that I agree with everything, but who does. And, yes, the illustrations are great. Humorous, fun, and insightful, though probably a beginners guide.

General Comments:
- Not sure what this guy does on backpacking trips other than hike all day.
- I'm never touching anything this guy has touched on a camping trip; especially with his left hand.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I were reading this when it was published or hadn't already read a lot on the topic, this would have had much more useful information. Regardless, I adored Cleveland's writing style and humorous tone, and appreciated his attitude of there being multiple correct ways to go UL. Also he's a vegetarian which is great. This was a fun and easy read. ...more
Rolf Asphaug
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great tips and philosophical support for UL backpacking

Great tips on all phases of UL hiking. An added bonus was the philosophical discussion about ultralight living as a life goal: simplicity. Mike Clelland’s illustrations are, as always, witty and packed with useful information. I’m looking forward to trying the recipes, too.
Andrew Mauroner
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great format for picking up tips if you're familiar with camping/hiking! I'm not a ULer, but I do want to improve aspects of my "less is more" ideology. Some of the tips are a bit "much" for me, but obviously everyone hikes their own hike. Will definitely refer to this book for future trips though, and glad I picked it up! ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although somewhat dated from a publishing perspective, this is a really good book full of timeless tips for lightweight hiking and camping. Highly recommend adding this to your library! I thought it terrific.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good info but hardly any tips for women.
Adam Gardner
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good read

This guy goes out ultralight. Informative. Easy to read and has a lot of useful information that is very helpful.
David Robillard
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book filled with useful suggestions and amazing illustrations. Clearly worth reading if you want to go on a hike.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of interesting tips on how to do ultralight backpacking.
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One word = insightful
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Illuminating, not comprehensive
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Mike Clelland is an avid outdoorsman, illustrator and UFO researcher. He has written extensively on the subject of alien abductions, synchronicities and owls. It was his first-hand experiences ​with these elusive events that have been the foundation for this research.

His website, Hidden Experience, explores these events and their connections to the alien contact phenomenon. This site also features

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