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Lighten Up! by Don Ladigin

in Books and Media

Average Rating
4.71 / 5 (24 reviews)

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Will Rietveld
( WilliWabbit )

Southwest Colorado
Lighten Up! by Don Ladigin on 08/03/2005 19:36:47 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just got this book and its superb! As I paged through the book, I kept saying yes, right on, perfect, exactly! Don presents the UL gospel clearly and concisely, and the illustrations by Mike Clelland really communicate.

Veteran ultralighters will find Lighten UP! impressive, but familiar. But for anyone interested in going ultralight, this book is the perfect reference to recommend for them to read. It says it all and says it well.

Mark Larson
( mlarson )

Southeast USA
So-so on 09/08/2005 01:53:10 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

At first blush, I don't feel that the author takes a strong stand on some points, which I think could leave the reader a bit lost. I was surprised to see that some basic and popular UL advances only receive topical discussion, like using lightweight trail shoes, alcohol stoves, or windshirts.

On the other hand, Mr. Ladigan's book is a quick, easy read, and quite accessible to the novice hiker. While it doesn't offer a rigorous, guided, systematic approach, there's a lot more information in there than you realize on the first time through. The illustrations are also very well done, with some lasting value.

I'd give it a 3. It's more of a "Basic Introduction" than the "Complete Handbook" it claims to be. Not a book that I'll keep on the shelf, but it's worth passing around to my friends.

John Taylor
( JThiker )
Very Good Material on 09/12/2005 18:44:15 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Just finished this book and was impressed with the scope and clarity of this small volume. The illustrations are super, and the text is concise but also quite complete.

Without being preachy, and without being long winded, the ideas are presented and laid out clearly. I especially liked that the book concentrated entirely on going light weight, and did not spill over into the areas such of navigation and first aid, etc, which have been covered nicely in many other backpacking books.

I can't imagine a better book to recommend for a hiker interested in lightening the weight of their pack.

Ben Klocek
( benklocek - M )

SF Bay Area
Very Accessible on 09/21/2005 10:00:32 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The whole book is a joy to read. Not all that useful for a longtime ultralighter, but for those who are just beginning, and need to understand the basics, it is priceless.

Mark W Heninger
( heninger )

Pacific Northwest
Great Book on 12/26/2005 08:05:59 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Loved this book as a consise, updated look at lightweight/ultralight backpacking. I've always recommended Ray Jardine's book for those interested, but this is a much better book for those just getting into UL. I was especially pleased to see it is up to date with current technology.

The illustrations are well done, the writing is humorous and competent and the author covers what he needs to.

Nary a complaint.

Craig Shelley
( craig_shelley )

Rocky Mountains
An excellent introduction on 11/20/2006 12:21:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've read several books on backpacking. This book is the best, without a doubt. I'll agree with Mark that it isn't a complete guide. Sure, you can read extensively on the web site and eventually learn much of what is in the book - and more. But you will spend much more time doing it and read a lot of misleading information as you peruse the forums. This book does an excellent job of concisely stating lots of good information on how to lighten a backpack. I wish it would have been the first book I read, but it wasn't written yet. If you're interested in backpacking, I strongly urge you to read this book.

Glen Van Peski
( gvanpeski - M )

San Diego
Should be in everyone's library on 11/22/2006 08:22:19 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

As others have said, this is a perfect book to introduce people to ultralight concepts. It's an easy read, with lots of pictures to keep interest up and readily explain the concepts. For experienced ultralighters, I would still get and read the book. I know I learned a couple of new things, and I'll bet everyone would learn something.

Mark Verber
( verber )

San Francisco Bay Area
Best Brief into to Light/Ultralight Style on 11/22/2006 23:42:58 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

If I was going to write a book, it would look a lot like Don's book. This is a short, easy to read book which anyone can benefit from. This is a very good book for a heavy-weight style backpacker looking to "lighten up". He understands that people need to hike their own hike so he lays out options / trade-offs rather than suggesting which options are "best". Don doesn't spend a lot of time talking about specific products, but rather takes about general issues (sleeping bag -vs- quilt, tent -vs- tarp). This is a good approach because talking about specific gear will result in an extremely dated book in just a few years.

Channing Sze
( eeyore )
accessible and inspiring on 11/23/2006 06:26:50 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

imho, like a book on how to swim, a lightweight backpacking book can only do so much. ultimately, one needs practical experience to make it work.

however, what a book can do though is to inspire, to give advice so that one's experiences are manageable and enjoyable. i think this book does this very well.

the pictures are indeed worth a thousand words -- funny, yet highly descriptive. i've found them often coming to my mind when i'm out in the backcountry.

lastly, these series of books (along with "allen and mike's really cool backpackin' book" and "allen & mike's really cool backcountry ski book") are the ONLY outdoor books my wife will read and i have a lot of outdoor books.

Dondo .
( Dondo )

Colorado Rockies
Lighten Up! by Don Ladigin on 11/23/2006 08:15:24 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This is the book I recommend to friends and folks I meet on the trail who are interested in going lighter. It's fun, unpretentious, and lays out the basic ideas in ways that are easy to understand. Don Ladigin's writing style is friendly and straightfoward and Mike Clelland's illustrations are funny and really get the point across.

Doug Johnson
( djohnson - M )

Washington State
Personal favorite! on 11/26/2006 17:40:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I agree with what many others have said. This is the book I ALWAYS hand to beginners first. It's clear, concise, and enjoyable to read. Even as an experienced ultralighter, I've read this book several times and have learned something new or reinforced a skill each time.

HIGHLY recommended!

Steve .
( pappekak )

Funny & Informative on 12/27/2006 16:44:05 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Lighten Up is an entertaining introduction to lightweight backpacking. Lots of good material for the beginner and a nice review for experienced lightweighters. The illustrations really make the book. They are not only funny but also informative.

Rating: 5

5 - Highly Recommended
4 - Recommended
3 - Above Average
2 - Average
1 - Below Average

Edited by pappekak on 03/03/2007 18:04:55 MST.

Stephen Nelson
( stephenn6289 )

Sunshine State
excellent introduction to ultralight on 01/24/2007 20:18:40 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I read this book over the summer. It was directly after an agonizing 100 mile trek with a 50+ lb pack. I loved what it said and how it directly compared traditional gear and ultralight gear. It is excellent for anyone just wanting to get started on their transition and to find out what this thing is all about. Also, I found it's illustrations to be very helpful. I gave it a 5

Glenn Roberts
( garkjr )

Southwestern Ohio
Lighten Up! by Don Ladigan on 03/03/2007 07:37:51 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

This was a good introductory level book - about on the level with the first edition of Harry Roberts' Basic Essentials of Backpacking. (The 2nd and 3rd editions paled in comparison.)

Not a lot of in-depth information here, but an entertaining read - and Mike Clelland's drawings are superb! (Without them, the book is about a 2.) It's a well-written book, with no obvious errors, but not enough detail to be really useful to beginners. The information on ultralight packs and single-wall tents is very general; the kitchen section is better, and has a good discussion of alcohol stoves.

Fun to read, but my copy will probably go to a teen-age kid who knows nothing about the topic yet.

Better reads: Ryan Jordan et. al. Lightweight Backpacking, Fletcher & Rawlins Complete Walker IV, Berger's Hiking Light Handbook, and Townsend's Backpacker's Handbook.

UPDATE (9/3/07): I've re-read this book several times. I've found that I like it a little better now. It's still not a thorough guide to the subject, but it's growing attraction for me is that it requires the reader to think. The material itself sketches the basic concept; reading it very slowly and thoughtfully, one section at a time, a moderately experienced traditional backpacker can think about the topic and fill in the missing detail (or at least come up with a plan for him/herself.) However, if the reader is a new backpacker picking up the book hoping to get a lot of information for a first trip, it's not here.

That's one problem with light/ultralight books: they seem to assume that you have to progress from traditional backpacker (where you learn your skills) to light/ultralight. Perhaps Mr. Ladigan's next book could start from the perspective of the new backpacker who wants to skip the "initiation rites" of 5 pound tents and 7 pound packs.

Edited by garkjr on 09/03/2007 06:56:44 MDT.

Shop 3RD, Walker products at GearBuyer
Mike Clelland
( mikeclelland - M )

The Tetons (via Idaho)
Lighten Up! By Don Ladigin on 03/24/2007 08:44:10 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Hi there - I was the illustrator of this book, and worked closely with Don throughout. Here's my take on this tidy little book.

One day, Don called me up on the phone, and told me about his project, and he was very eager to have me do the illustrations. At the time, I was cautious because book projects can be overwhelming and complicated, and they end up NOT being fun. But, Don won me over with his very wonderful optimism and excitement. And, as far as the illustrations, they were mostly very simple. (I also do climbing rescue instructional drawings, and those can be excruciatingly complicated)

At the time I took on the project, I had never done any true light-weight backpacking. I work for an outdoor school, and most of my work involves 30-day mountaineering expeditions with HUGE packs. But, Don was showing me the simple techniques that sort of blew my mind. Everything was new to me, and it was a real eye-opening experience. With very little investment, I purchase a few key items and tried it out on my own. I was shocked at how FUN backpacking could be. It had been drudgery up until my interactions with Don.

Now, just a few years later I have become an outspoken zealot for the cause. I'm known as the "ultra-light" guy in my little town. It's been a delightful transition, and I feel like I've found a new and delightful passion. And it all started with Don Ladigin and his first phone call.

The book is thin (100 pages) and it's purposely sparse. As reviewers have pointed out, it's meant to be a simple introduction to a subject that might seem scary to a newcomer or a "traditional" camper. Don was very clear that he wanted it to be un-intimidating to anyone who picks it up. This web-site is for a very special sub-set of enthusiasts. If you've made it to this review, you would probably benefit more from Ryan Jordan's excellent (and much thicker!) book. But, if you have a friend who, just maybe, would want to try to do something bold. I highly recommend Don's book as a fun and streamline introduction to a new set of skills.

Yup, Highly recommended. It changed my life!

Kevin Babione
( KBabione )

Great book - Explains a lot to novices on 03/28/2007 05:52:41 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just finished reading the book - it's an enjoyable and quick read. I've got two weekend trips planned this spring with guys who have never backpacked in their lives. I'm passing the book onto them to give them the background as to why we're not carrying the proverbial "kitchen sink" with us...

We're going light (not ultralight, but light) and I think the book will answer a lot of their questions as well as generating a host of new ones. It's a great book to keep on hand to give to anyone who expresses an interest in backpacking.

Alan Burnce
( aburnce )

Brooklyn, NY
Great starter guide! on 03/28/2007 08:34:29 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

After years of car camping, I just got into backpacking over the last couple years. I had almost no appropriate gear or clothing, so I started checking some things out on online forums. I knew I'd be investing some cash to get started and I wanted to make sure I spent well. I picked this book up early in the process and it was absolutely invaluable! It explains all the light and UL principles clearly and with no fuss, and was the main text that helped me understand what I should look at purchasing, why, and how it all fit together. This last point was the most important - it made it crystal clear to me, in very simple terms, how to conceive of everything you wear and carry as one big integrated system. I'm not really UL yet, but I'm definitely a lightweight devotee and I've been very happy with almost every gear and clothing purchase I've made. I don't think I would have made nearly the same choices without this book. I needed to do more research, but Lighten UP! showed me what to ask. Great book.

Eric Viviano
( lightweightpack )
Fair at best on 09/26/2007 08:57:25 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I guess I am going to stand out here, it seems everyone is giving a 5 rating. All of the info in this book is freely available on the internet. It does not go into specifics. Just read this website and you will come away with a far more in depth grasp on going lightweight.

Margaret Snyder
( jetcash )

Southern Arizona
Funny as Hell on 10/02/2007 12:49:45 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

A good intro, like most have said. Read it if you don't have to pay for it. The drawings are hysterical! A fine rainy Sunday afternoon book.

Thomas Knighton
( Tomcat1066 )

Southwest GA
Fantastic Overview of Going Light on 10/11/2007 07:04:41 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

First, let me preface this by saying that I found no new information in the book really. However, that doesn't take away from the book. What I did was read it in the context to which it was intended to be read, that of someone trying to lighten their load.

The book does an excellent job of outlining lightweight and ultralight backpacking for traditional backpackers and new backpackers alike. While this isn't a step-by-step guide, it does a good job showing how to take traditional backpacking to new and lighter loads.

Unlike one ultralight book on the market that's fairly popular, this book was intentionally written to be timeless. The authors personal opinions on gear selection are kept to a minimum, and information on shelter options and stoves are presented in a way to allow you to make up your own mind.

All in all, a must read for anyone wanting to go lightweight. In fact, I've told my wife that she needs to read it just so she understands my mind a bit better :)

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