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 However, most of this is out of date at this point.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.