What I like about this book:
- Good mental framework for going UL: Question every piece of gear to see if you can find a suitable UL replacement or simply leave it at home. One of the biggest challenges of going UL is the shift in mindset required to do it successfully.
- Good understanding presented on "systems" versus "gear". It is helpful to approach UL from the perspective of systems: shelter system, food system, etc. The author leaves out one of the most important systems: the survival system (addressed below).
- Some good specific guidance on weight reduction gear piece-by-piece. Take what works for you and ignore the rest.
Even if UL is not for you, going lighter should be a constant quest for every long-distance trekker. I am not a UL trekker, but the base weight of my pack drops with every trip (currently at 25 pounds minus consumables).
One other option to going truly UL is to condition your body and mind to handle extra weight. I do many local day hikes with an overweight pack (up to 60 pounds) as training for true wilderness treks. Once you have humped around a 60 pound pack your 25-45 pound pack feels light as a feather. Being in shape for trekking is just as important as your gear.
What I do not like about this book:
- Going UL/minimalist should not mean sacrificing safety. The goal is to enjoy the wilderness and come home alive. The author ignores the absolute necessity of the survival components of your systems/gear. The advice to take a razor knife into the wilderness is irresponsible and dangerous in my opinion. I do take one - in my first aid kit. I also carry a full-tang, high quality knife. It is gear essential item #1. After all, with a knife I can more easily make shelter, fire, hunt, etc. You should always have the gear and mindset to deal with the unexpected on backcountry excursions. If you venture out into the wilderness often enough you will eventually find yourself in unpleasant, perhaps even life-threatening conditions. Good luck with your razor knife and your book of bar matches (another ridiculous suggestion). I carry 18 oz of gear in my survival kit (excluding my knife). When your life is on the line an extra 18 oz of gear does not seem like such a heavy burden to carry.
For what it's worth, I have trekked over 25K miles on foot both as a 12-year infantry officer in the Army and as an avid outdoor adventurer. I have been in true survival situations and I can tell you that a good knife and other minimal survival gear (550 paracord, firesteel, etc.) can and does save lives (even if it's not your own necessarily).