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Wilderness Survival
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My Ultralight Backpacking Book


Here is the introduction to my book on ultralight backpacking. There is no paper version available, but you can get it as a Kindle book here:

Backpacking: Ultralight Secrets

Following the introduction I include a few more notes on keeping it light, and then I have the table of contents from the book for those who are curious.


The first time I started to hike fifteen to twenty-five mile days without blisters I was sold on ultralight backpacking. You may already be a convert too. If so, you can skip the first couple chapters, although they might add to the reasons you already have for going light.

Be sure to read the Backpacking and Wilderness Survival Quick Tips found in each chapter. This is where you'll find many of the "secrets" you won't see in other backpacking books. I am often asked why I have so many tips on edible plants, wilderness survival, and other things that seem only indirectly related to ultralight backpacking. I include them for the following reasons:

1. Knowing which plants can be used for food, medicine or survival tools is interesting. You may love to feast on numerous different berries while hiking in the mountains, as I do. You may also like to know what the plants and things around you can be used for.

2. Knowing just a little bit about how to survive out there makes going light even safer. A compass can be lost, and your food can be stolen by animals. A wet sleeping bag can lead you dangerously toward hypothermia; unless you know how to deal with these survival problems.

3. I want this book to be different from other backpacking books. To justify using the word "secrets" in the title, there should be some knowledge and ideas here that aren't found in other books out there.

This book is weak in some areas. I have never had serious injuries when backpacking, so I have not been motivated to learn and pass on the latest first aid techniques. Since I have no desire to cook much when backpacking, you won't find recipes here either. The purpose of a non-fiction book is not to say everything there is to say about a subject, but to say something new and useful. I am certain you will learn some new things here, and few useful things as well.

Steve Gillman

I should add that the book is weak when it comes to the latest and greatest equipment too. I do not review any new tents or other gear in the book. I mention what I have used, and what else is available, but these parts are likely to be a bit out of date. The book is more about techniques than gear. Here is the table of contents...

Chapter 1 - Why Ultralight Backpacking?
Chapter 2 - Light Backpacking - Getting Started
Chapter 3 - Finding a Good Ultralight Backpack
Chapter 4 - Ultralight Backpacking Tents
Chapter 5 - Backpacking Tarps
Chapter 6 - Using a Bivy Sack
Chapter 7 - Sleeping Bags
Chapter 8 - Sleeping Bag Liners and Alternatives
Chapter 9 - How Light Is Light?
Chapter 10 - Knee Pain
Chapter 11 - Foot Care
Chapter 12 - Physical Conditioning
Chapter 13 - Hiking Shoes
Chapter 14 - Clothing
Chapter 15 - Rainwear
Chapter 16 - Trekking Poles
Chapter 17 - Camping Stoves
Chapter 18 - Outdoor First Aid Kit
Chapter 19 - Other Hiking Gear
Chapter 20 - Wilderness Survival
Chapter 21 - Water Purification
Chapter 22 - Drinking Water
Chapter 23 - Backpacking Food
Chapter 24 - High Altitude
Chapter 25 - Hypothermia
Chapter 26 - Frostbite
Chapter 27 - Thunderstorm Safety
Chapter 28 - Bear Attacks
Chapter 29 - Mountain Lions
Chapter 30 - Other Dangerous Animals
Chapter 31 - Insect Bites
Chapter 32 - Cleanliness
Chapter 33 - Wilderness First Aid
Chapter 34 - Winter Weather
Chapter 35 - Hiking in a Desert Climate
Chapter 36 - How to Use A Compass
Chapter 37 - How to Start A Fire
Chapter 38 - Planning
Chapter 39 - Backpacking Trip List
Chapter 40 - How Many Feet Are in a Mile?
Chapter 41 - Better Off Alone?
Chapter 42 - Full Moon Hiking
Chapter 43 - Leave No Trace
Chapter 44 - Backpacking Gear Ideas
Chapter 45 - More Backpacking and Wilderness Survival Tips


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Ultralight Backpacking Book