Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Reader Reviews

Add your own review

The Ultralight Backpacker by Ryel Kestenbaum

in Books and Media

Average Rating
2.60 / 5 (5 reviews)

Display Avatars Sort By:
Sam Haraldson
( sharalds )

Gallatin Range
The Ultralight Backpacker by Ryel Kestenbaum Ragged Mountain Press on 08/12/2006 17:18:15 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

After hiking the 213 mile Superior Hiking Trail with a rig that was my first attempt at lightweight backpacking I decided to get serious and really research the topic.

The purchase of this book was one of my first glimpses into this topic. It is a dated publication for quite a bit of it focuses on specific gear of the time period, however enough of the advice given is kept to theory that the read was worthwhile.

Having come out in 2001 the book is well written for it's time, but contains much information that is now freely available online.

Of particular quality is the book's end which contains a training and preparation routine for long distance hikers. The book suggests a nice build-up and training routine for the individual planning a thru-hike.

I give Kestenbaum's book a 4 of 5. The one point deduction for the book's limited ability to remain timeless.

Craig Shelley
( craig_shelley )

Rocky Mountains
Pretty poor on 11/20/2006 12:26:33 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

This book has some useful information and guidance so I decided to give it two stars. It isn't the worst book I've seen on backpacking but it isn't very good.

The author recommends that you cut tags, cut straps, cut off toothbrush handles, etc. According to the author, this gets you into the state of mind for ultralight. It isn't what lightweight backpacking is about. It is about knowing the weight of everything you put in your pack. In the clothing section, the author only mentions fleece for the insulation layer. This is very out of date. There are far better insulation layer alternatives that are much lighter. In the shelter section, he doesn't cover tarps sufficiently, the only option for someone going ultralight. In the section that covers water, he recommends iodine tablets, a very poor choice with Aquamira and other chlorine dioxide products on the market.

After reading lots of books on backpacking, reading the internet, and practicing it for two years, I came back and read this book again. Some books I get something of value when I read them the second time. This book was a complete zero for me the second time around. If you're interested in lightening your backpack and want to read a short book like Kastenbaum's Ultralight backpacker, I strongly recommend Don Ladigan's Lighten Up! book. It is far better.

Shop Aquamira products at GearBuyer
Thomas Knighton
( Tomcat1066 )

Southwest GA
I've learned more from this site than this book on 01/06/2007 16:25:23 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

When I stumbled across this book at my local bookstore, I was excited beyond belief. A book on ultralight backpacking was exactly what I was looking for, and Lighten Up! was apparently sold out. "No worries," I thought on my way up to the cash register. It was pretty much downhill from there.

To start with, the vast majority of this book is about gear, which is fine since gear, or the lack there of, is usually how the uninitiated can tell the difference between the ultralight hiker and the rest of the folks on the trail. However, most of this is out of date at this point. Futher, his personal preferences are obviously pushed, while other options that appeal to the rest of the ultralight world are discounted.

The author's understanding of ultralight hiking requires every extra scrap to be trimed, every gram minimized, all in an attempt to reach the "ultralight mindset". He goes on to say that no extra weight hitches a ride on his pack, yet on the gear list at the end of the book you see why. His pack weighs in at 12 lbs, 14 ounces!

Other things that irked me about this book is the trivial that is prominent, while essentials barely get a glance. One example, the section on meditation is as long as the sections on hygiene and water treatment PUT TOGETHER!

The author's hypocrisy is rampant thoughout the text. One moment he talks about how nothing extra hitches a ride, then talks about luxuries he takes into the backcountry himself. He also makes choices on heavier gear, rather than lighter alternatives but maintains that no "extra" weight is permitted.

While I'm still fairly new to backpacking, it strikes me as though he is trying to teach new UL hikers to be like him, and seems to only give a cursory mention of lighter alternatives. In fairness, he seems to be telling why he selected a particular system, rather than intentionally excluding others, but the result is the same.

While this book isn't a complete waste, I have to recommend to others to save the money and use it toward BPL membership instead!

EDIT: I've gone back through the book, and found it even more useless than I had originally. Maybe I'm just being a jerk here, but if I could rate it in negative numbers, I would.

Edited by Tomcat1066 on 09/29/2007 10:19:55 MDT.

george carr
( hammer-one )

Walking With The Son
Pushing the limits of obsolescents... on 02/19/2007 19:28:33 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

At the time of this books publishing UL backpacking was still relatively new to the general backpacking public, so as the saying goes "you can fool some of the people some of the time...". The content of the book shows either: a)the gear mentioned in the book was barely cutting edge by the time of publishing or b)the authors knowledge of his subject wasn't up to snuff at the time of publishing. His pack of choice is discontinued and weighs in at 2 1/2 pounds according to the author. Only one paragraph is dedicated to top bags, and his summations of single wall tents, tarps and bivies leave me feling as if he were guessing rather than giving information from actual filed experience. To paraphrase one of the other reviewers, the second trip thru wasn't worth the trip.

mazen walter
( mazenwa )
nice to get you interested on 04/26/2010 16:00:59 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

This is a good book to get you started on the Ultralight habit. I'm not there yet as I always take fishing gear and extra shoes...but the book is a bit dated and that is a great time for Ryel to publish book II. An update with more current product info and more substance and recipes would be great. As example I just read "The complete Walker 3", after volumes 1 & 2 that I read years ago.

Shop Walker products at GearBuyer

Add your own review