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Lightweight Backpacking and Camping by Ryan Jordan et al.

in Books and Media

Average Rating
4.00 / 5 (11 reviews)

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Tim Cheek
( hikerfan4sure )
Lightweight Backpacking and Camping on 11/12/2005 22:02:40 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I'm surprised I'm the first to review the book. The rest of you must have time to hike!

This book will be familiar to members who have read this web site extensively. Some chapters are lifted straight out of the online articles. If you are cheap, then you may want to stick with your online subscription.

But, I learned more. As the ad page for the book says, "Knowledge = 0.00 oz (0 g)"

I found it to be the most practical and up to date guide to lightweight backpacking I've read. Jardine's book challenged my conventions, but lost me in the chapter on food, and the you-can-hike-the-CDT-in-sandals-no-problem bravado. This book is consistently practical in its advice without being dogmatic.

If Lighten Up! is a good introduction to those wanting to explore lightweight backpacking, this book provides the empirical specifics to go out and do it.

Edited by hikerfan4sure on 11/12/2005 22:04:12 MST.

Glenn Roberts
( garkjr )

Southwestern Ohio
Really good, but... on 01/01/2006 14:22:33 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I agree with the previous reviewer: this is a seminal work on ultralighting. It is well-written, informative, and free of the more personal, less objective part of Beyond Backpacking.

But I do have two minor quibbles.

First, in a few spots, it devolves into a less-than-subtle plug for BMW gear. The mention of a brand is fine, but I would have preferred some mentions of the excellent gear from Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs, Mountain Laurel Designs, ULA, and some of the other makers. I realize that delving too deeply into current offerings can date a book quickly, as models change and manufacturers come and go. However, one or two chapters on "The Current State of the Mart" would have been a big plus, and would make an easy way to update the book over time (rewriting only one chapter.)

Second, letting Glen Van Peski escape by only writing the introduction was almost unforgivable. A chapter by him on gear design ("minimalist function over form") would have been a very informative addition, since he's pretty much in the forefront of innovative design across a wide spectrum of gear types.

Other than those two very, very minor quibbles, this really is an excellent book.

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Phil Stetz
( pstetz )
wouldn't recommend on 11/14/2006 22:08:49 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I bought the book at the same time i purchased a subscription to By the time I received the book in the mail I had already read half of it. Several chapters (especially in part 5 "Proven Lightweight Solutions" & "Appendices") are lifted directly from the website. I was obviously disappointed as it promises to "offer new insight into gear selection and techniques". For example, the book talks a lot about the theory of tarps but lacks specific step by step instructions on pitching a tarp. The details that are listed can easily be found here on the website. If you're a member, I would not recommend purchasing this book as you've already read the majority of the content. Not that I'm cheap, I just believe a book should live up to it's promise and not simply regurgitate information.

Edited by pstetz on 11/14/2006 22:19:17 MST.

Craig Shelley
( craig_shelley )

Rocky Mountains
Fulfilling for the analytical backpacker on 11/21/2006 09:15:40 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've read a lot of backpacking books and go on backpacking trips each month. A lightweight pack is a better way. I have a scientific background (Ph.D. organic chemist) so the viewpoint and writing style of this book, one that may bore some readers, I find enjoyable and not available elsewhere in printed form. You can read this website and, in time, learn much of what is covered in this book. Some of it is republished from the website, as a BPL website user noted, but that isn't a reason to downplay the usefulness of the book. In my opinion, it is the most important backpacking book for a current backpacker to read. It may not be the best book for someone just starting out that may not read a second book. For that backpacker, I'd recommend Don Ladigin's Lighten Up!

Mark Verber
( verber )

San Francisco Bay Area
Provides a good framework on 11/22/2006 23:54:30 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I appreciate the attempt to apply rigorous analytical and experimental techniques to explore effective backpacking techniques and gear selection. I think this book provides a good start. Why a rating of 4 and not a 5? There should be footnotes which cite the underlining studies / data. Much of the core content was from the web site (not a bad thing, but I was disappointed that there was more new stuff). Too light of many technique (navigation, diagrams showing how to pitch tarps, etc) to be consider comprehensive.

b d
( bdavis )

Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
BPL's LIGHTWEIGHT Backpacking & Camping - The Book is a solid 5 on 12/31/2006 21:06:24 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This book is the one item that I wish was lighter, so I could take it with me trekking every time. The rest of my gear has reached a UL/ SUL / or in some cases L weight because of BPL and its affiliates, but this book stays at home when out 'there'.

BackpackingLight the book

Having read previous reviews, I must say I have no problem with pushing BMW gear in the book or out of the book. It is irrelevant to me because this one book has enough information, scientific and purely experience based to take me another 10 years to digest. And, all the BMW gear I have purchased is great -- like the GG, TT & HS, or other gear which allows me to go lightly into the great 'there' and nites out 'there'.

For example, the section on feet and foot care. From that I learned in about 1/2 hour of reading what was wrong with my partner's foot gear system -- thus we will not be mutually suffering blisters (I suffer when she suffers), poorly fitting shoes, and the entirely wrong shoe concept for a specific venture. That one piece of educational action from BPL rates the book a 5.

That there are other articles available on the BPL site containing some of the same information is also irrelevant to me. The compilation in one text, I am tempted to call it my 'camping bible', is an astounding feat for my feet.

Whatever Dr.J. and his staff are eating or drinking or smoking ... they are definitely smoking and rule.

Thus far every person who has come by my house and seen the gear piled around, and then made fun of it, after picking up 'The Book' has ended up asking for the web site address for BPL. (And, some of these are died in the wool 75 lb. pack people, who would feel even more miserable if they weren't suffering while hiking.)

So, whatever may be any minor deficiencies in the perceptions of the previous reviwers already on the lighter path, this book is a real 5 IMO.

The proof of the sincerity and abilities of the BPL community is in the succinct statement of the Mission in the introductory pages (as appears in the magazines) and the fact that anyone is reading this review and I had a place to write it.

Just for New Years resolve purposes I will hereinafter type them out, for my own benefit more than anyones:

"evangelism: To establish a worldwide community network, of interconnected core users where backcountry wilderness adventure is not just a passive interest, it's a passionate tenet of their lifestyle.

discipleship: To provide advanced backcountry skills to a core-user group that drives trends through accute industry awareness, expectations of exceptional gear performance and zero tolerance for mediocrity. BackPackingLight will accomplish this mission with publications that are - challenging, insightful, authoritative."

BPL has all of its oars in the water. What a great community, this book is a tribute to and a foundation for the community and its growth. See the book and its description at:

Edited by bdavis on 12/31/2006 21:45:19 MST.

Thomas Knighton
( Tomcat1066 )

Southwest GA
Outstanding Resource, just a bit dry in spots on 02/10/2007 07:25:47 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

First, there is no better book on ultralight backpacking that I've read. This book is good for the beginner who decides to start ultralight, or the experienced traditional backpacker who wants to shed 50 lbs off their pack weight. No other book seems to work toward both these groups well.

The information covered in this book runs the gamut of things one needs to know before trekking into the backcountry. It does NOT have silly chapters on meditation or other new age ideas like I've seen in other books either, instead it focuses on information you need! If you want meditation information, or information on communing with nature, there are other sources out there which can devote ample time to the subject. This is a book on ultralight backpacking, and that's what it focuses on!

The one minor issue I have with the book is that a couple of the chapters are writtena bit dry. These tend to be the more technical chapters, and I had to push myself through these chapters. However, this is not to difficult for me (who has ADHD) since the information is relative to ultralight backpacking. Still, if I were to change anything about the book, I'd try to find a way to make those chapters more entertaining to help the readers get through them. A tall order, I know.

All in all though, a fantastic book and resource!

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George Matthews
( gmatthews - M )
An excellent value on 02/21/2007 10:15:29 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Excellent informational content for the cost of the book ($19.99 for members). The duplications from the online BPL did not lessen the value of the book for me. Pulling so much information together into a book gives us a convenient and efficient way to study the subject off-line. I'm grateful that a fantastic team has published a fantastic book. It's a 5!

Edited by gmatthews on 02/21/2007 10:18:17 MST.

Jeremy Greene
( tippymcstagger )

North Texas
Good use of time. on 09/12/2008 14:41:15 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

If you have just stumbled onto this website, I highly recommend getting offline and reading this book. It covers many (perhaps most) of the topics repeatedly discussed here. It is well organized. It makes time spent on learning about these topics much more efficient. This may be the first book to read on the topic.

Trivia: this book has dimensions nearly identical to Beyond Backpacking.

Dave -
( FamilyGuy )

Up there
Not really for the Beginner either on 08/27/2009 13:10:56 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5


Edited by FamilyGuy on 10/18/2012 19:32:03 MDT.

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Bruce Tolley
( btolley )

San Francisco Bay Area
A good , comprehensive book on 09/07/2009 15:00:15 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I found Lightweight Backpacking and Camping for $24.95 in REI before I discovered the web site, so cannot fault it for repeating material on the web site. I had already read Ray Jardine's books so many of the fundamental principles were not new, but the discussions of backpacks, shelter, and first aid were very instructive.

On the minus side, there was a lot of promoting BPL products. I would have liked an index. At times (chapter 16) the book verges into Taylorite* scientific analysis of walking and seems to me to lose track of why we go out in the backcountry anyway, to find ourselves and enjoy nature. I know we all like to read gear reviews and shop online, but the goal of going lighter should be to go further in the outdoors with less work in order to have more fun.

That being said, this book is highly recommended.

*Frederick Taylor went into pre WWI American factories, counted, measured, and analyzed factory work in order to provide a scientific basis for management. He was the founder of productivity and "time and motion" studies.

Edited by btolley on 05/15/2010 11:33:20 MDT.

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