I know Mike Clelland, he’s a friend, a mentor, and a pal. We’ve hiked together and collaborated quiet a bit on various lightweight projects over the last six or seven years. So here’s the deal. Mike sent me a copy of this book. Now, you might think that I would give him a swell review just because he hooked me up, but the truth is Mike’s got it right. You see, Mike see’s things differently than most folks.
This should be apparent from the awesome illustrations he draws that accurately depict technical details with humor and levity. It goes beyond that though. It goes beyond drawing a happy hiker with some neat trick of ultralight backpacking and some little boing marks. Mike gets it. He draws stuff he knows, whether climbing, skiing, mountaineering or ultralight backpacking. And he’s always trying to understand it all better. I have met few in the ultralight game who have put as much thought and trial into their system as Mike. When it comes to influencing the hiking world to go lighter, it is easily argued that Mike C! has had as large an impact as anyone. Mike has taken the admittedly geeky world of lightweight and made it accessible to the common (wo)man.
His lightweight illustrations, first in Lighten Up! and now in his own book Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips have been a gateway to lightweight backpacking for the masses, he also scouted, proposed and championed the lightweight backpacking program at NOLS and has taught lightweight courses for NOLS and Backpacking Light.
He has inspired me to go lighter, and along the way I have been able to help him in small ways, like our common interest in the coffee system (tip #129 – we spent a fun afternoon weighing various coffee devices and brew methods). My lightest trip ever has been with Mike, our packs both weighed in at 7.98 lbs for an overnight trip with stove, shelter, and two cooked meals. It is Mikes desire to share what he has learned that makes his book so effective. He uses his amazing talent for illustration to remind us that this backpacking stuff is supposed to be fun.
That’s the biggest selling point of this book. It’s downright fun to read. This makes the wackier of ideas (like #54 Make your own toothpaste dots, which work really well and are a great way to bring just enough paste.) easier to buy into and try out. You can laugh at the cute drawing, and ponder the wisdom behind the tip. With the tip format, Mike has allowed the reader to try different techniques on different trips with no need to do everything at once, fully engaging in my favorite tip, #6 Try something new every time you go camping. A great model for learning by doing.
Whether your a pro lightweight explorer or just getting into the game, this book is bound to give you some new ideas to get out and try on your next trip. It is a beautiful call to action to get out, travel lighter and learn by doing.