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“Fear is heavy…”

-Hiking Dude

In my quest for updating to lightweight gear without breaking the bank for next year’s SHT Thru hike, I’ve been selling or giving away the older stuff and picking up new gear at gear swaps or sales.  See last week’s post on 10 ways to rock an REI Garage sale!  Facebook groups are another resource that I’ve had luck with (better than Craigslist)

OUT WITH THE OLD!  Wiener dog and teenager not included.
IN WITH THE NEW!   2 hats, wool trail running gaiters, ibex merino wool shirt, hiking pants, marmot fleece, hammock, athleta/prana tops, sawyer squeeze water filter, dry bags, winter bike pants, winter bike shoe covers, neoprene socks, new helmet.  And a book on ultralight backpacking

Last Saturday I went to a gear swap hosted by the Thrive Women’s Outdoor Adventure group out of Hudson WI.  I have been to clothing swaps with friends, but this was my first gear swap.  I ended up only swapping one thing, a Hummingbird ultralight hammock including Whoopies (!) for my Hennessy and buying the rest.  Sold some snowshoes and hiking clothes and came out just about even.  I still came back home with a bunch of my old stuff (that is still sitting in the kitchen), that needs to be dealt with, but it was good to have a reason to thin the herd.

Looking forward to testing it all out, but my favorite item so far:

THIS BOOK!  Ta-daaaah!


Ok.  Regardless of where you are on your backpacking journey…read this book!  Even if you know EVERYTHING about backpacking, read it for the funny pictures!  If you read it in public, people might look over your shoulder and try to read it with you…so beware, there are 8 illustrated pages about bathrooming in the woods!  

I read the whole thing in one day sitting on a plane and will read it again.  The author’s knowledge as a National Outdoor Leadership School instructor and seasoned backpacker is evident, but his humor and wit is what makes the book so great and easy to dig into.  Here’s a preview of the Ultralight Manifesto and table of contents.

From the Back Cover

Walking into the wilderness with a pack on your back is an empowering experience—all the more so when that pack on your back isn’t weighing you down. That’s where this book comes in. Outdoors expert and celebrated illustrator Mike Clelland offers advanced techniques on how to pack light without sacrificing the essentials or your safety yet staying well fed and comfortable.

Just a few of the top ten tips expounded upon in the book:

* Use a scale.
* Comfortable and safe are vital!
* Make your own stuff, and making it out of trash is always the best!
* It’s okay to be nerdy.
* Try something new each and every time you go camping.
* Know the difference between wants and needs.

The Ultralight Backpacking’ Tips companion blog also has a spreadsheet and additional tips for lightening the load.

Besides the 8 illustrated pages about bathrooming in the woods, my most memorable take away was that many things can be made, improvised, or simply left at home.  I have long held the belief that I need to have a pack that’s 35-45 lbs to have what I need for a week on the trail….or I need to spend A LOT OF MONEY if I want lighter gear.   The “a-ha” realization for me was that, even if I decided to buy all of the super light gear….I would inevitably overpack anyway if I didn’t address wants vs needs.

Addressing wants vs.  needs…and remembering that fear is heavy are two things I’ll be working on this winter.  Also makes a pretty good metaphor for a simpler life.

Got any new gear you are trying out?  Tips for lightening the load on a budget?  Ditch a piece of gear recently?  Post questions or comments below.

Happy Trails!





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11 thoughts on “Moarrr Gearrr… and my new favorite backpacking book!

  1. This book looks awesome! Honestly many of my backpacking trips have been a short hike so far, so I’ve brought lots of things I didn’t really need. I know in my heart that bringing a book is technically a “want” and not a “need” but I really feel like it’s a need for me so I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave it at home! I just make sure to pack one with not so many pages in it.

    1. Hi Mike! You know hiking dude? He is cool!! I see we both know Mike Neiman, he’scool too! I’ve got some great mentors. Those guys both really helped me out when I was just getting started in this whole outdoors thing about 6 years ago. Small world!

      1. Hiking Dude and I folow each other and have links on our blogs… small world. He’s definitely been around… the trails, that is… into scouting too!

  2. I purchased this book several years ago and it was a real eye-opener. I’ve been replacing my traditional weight gear with light, and ultralight options since reading it. Fortunately I have a sewing machine and have been able to save considerable money by sewing my gear. I’ve also encouraged my friends to skip the traditional weight gear in favour of lighter options (as their budgets allow).

    1. Thats so great to hear! I love it when you can substitute heavier items by making something, improvising or just eliminating it all together. Do you have a favorite gear hack or item that you’ve made?

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