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Beyond Backpacking by Ray Jardine

in Books and Media

Average Rating
3.95 / 5 (22 reviews)

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Zachary Zrull
( zackcentury )

Great Lakes
Reading Beyond Backpacking on 04/10/2011 23:50:26 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I give this book a 3+ because it is an above-average backpacking book with plenty of useful information, but some advice is better than other.

The chapters on hygiene, first aid, pace, and conditioning are especially helpful. It's interesting, though, that these don't have much to do with lightweight hiking. But as someone who has hiked many thousands of miles and dealt with injury and sickness on his treks, Jardine can make some great suggestions for people who carry minimal first aid gear.

The photography and gear chapters are out of date, but if you're on this site you're likely up to date on these. The gear chapters in particular, though, are very helpful. The first half of this book is devoted to principles of weight reduction, options for lightweight gear, and peoples' reading it would probably reduce BPL forum topics by 50%!

I like some of Jardine's food suggestions, I only wish he would have gone fully new age and recommended raw vegan. He mentions "excitotoxins" in preserved food, but fails to mention opioids and carbolines in wheat, milk, and cooked foods (three of his recommendations). Whether the research is controversial or not, he is not consistently new agey. Nor does he seem to remember that sugar and fat are the body's preferred sources of energy. This may also be a controversial topic in hiking food, but the fact is that sugar can help meet your caloric needs for relatively little weight.

I recommend this book. I would even say one could easily learn to go ultralight by reading only this book, and never logging on to the internet. Beyond Backpacking offers guiding principles from a very experienced UL hiker, and if you learn to think like Ray (or just think), you might not need to read anything else. Sure, research gear before you buy something new, but going UL comes from experience and evaluation of your own technique.

Peter Boysen
( peterboysen )
Interesting to read a classic on 10/06/2015 14:52:31 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

It has been just over 10 years since the first review was put up for this book on BPL. I read the book after already working for Enlightened Equipment, which like many companies making ultralight gear owes a good deal of inspiration to the book. It's also interesting to me that the Ultralight ideal has moved away from minimalism somewhat (not completely of course), but it struck me especially how much the materials and science used in our gear has caught up enough to add back in some of the structural ideas about gear (frames in packs, huge advances in fabrics allowing for more comfort with lighter weights, etc.) Overall the philosophy of minimalism seems to have been more critical back then, but still shows up especially in SUL gear lists. Most of his claims about nutrition are obviously unsubstantiated, and much of his focus is obviously better suited to some types of hikes than others, but overall it was entertaining to read, and fun to see the UL movement in hindsight.

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