Time to start the year with some book reviews. Because books rule.
Last year Mike C! published another one of his fantastic books, Ultralight Backpackin' Tips
. I got it pretty much right away, and it is an enjoyable, easy read which you can read in a few hours (provided you have some English language proficiency, though if you lack it - well, happily there's cartoons in this book =). The highlight of Mike's books are unmistakably his funny illustrations and humorous way of writing in which he educates us about some obvious (though often overlooked/ forgotten), and some not so obvious tips to lighten up.
The way the book is structured is simple: Mike discloses "153 amazing & inexpensive tips for extremely lightweight camping
". These tips are further divided into 21 Chapters, with topics such as Basic Starting Points
, The All-important Mind-set
, Travel Techniques
and a bunch more. Mike even got Glen Van Peski and Ryan Jordan to contribute a tip each = added value! It is a well rounded list of useful chapters and tips; if you have read some of Mike's other books some stuff will sound familiar, but there's also plenty of new tips in there. The only shortcoming is in my opinion the lack of an Index at the end of the book, though that might just be me.
My favourite tips are number 34, 35, 42, 65, 78, 95, 130 and 153. I'm working on implementing tip 116 into my outdoor experience. One of the biggest advantages of Ultralight Backpackin' Tips
is its high re-reading value. You will read it once, and then you will be going back to it again and again, looking up this one idea, that tip, this concept. So even when one might easily dismiss that there's only
153 tips, I promise you that you'll have a long time joy on this fine little book.
I have a hammock
, and have several times over the last two years tried to sleep in it - never successful. It's great for relaxing, but I yet have to sleep a whole night comfortably in a hammock. So imagine my delight as I saw Derek Hansen's book "The Ultimate Hang
". In case you think "Hey, that looks a bit like Mike C! illustrated it!" - hmm, nope. Derek wrote and illustrated the book, though it does bear some resemblance to Mike C!'s illustrations. Anyway.
I like the book. Derek's illustrations are humourous and funny, not unlike Mike's (though Mike definitely draws better humans =). I especially think that Derek show's that he's what I'd like to call "Internet savvy" - there's QR codes and links all the way through the book, with a wonderful table of all hammock gear manufacturers and what they offer at the end (there's a lot of them!). I know that the hammocking community is a very relaxed, open-minded and fun group (Hammockforums.net
should be your next destination if you're hammock-curious) and Derek's book represents that well, and gives plenty of love to his hammock friends (Sharing is Caring!).
The book feels like it is aimed at the beginner to intermediate hammocker, so it was just right for me (I'm more of the former than the latter). It gives us the hammock terminology (aka slang, so you can talk the talk!), hammock history and an (slightly biased) overview of hammocks and tents. I now know that what I have suffered from in my hammock camping trips is called Cold Butt Syndrome and have after reading this little book a good idea of what I did wrong and what I can do better to solve it.
The book is divided into an Introduction
& The Basics
, and then breaks it further down into Site Selection
, Leave No Trace
, The Hammock
, Suspension & Anchor Points
, Staying Dry
& Staying Warm
and a couple more chapters. There's plenty of good illustrations; discussion of different techniques; benefits of different hammocks, tarps, insulation possibilities and more. I did not feel overwhelmed, but found that I learned plenty of new things to improve my hammock camping experience in the future - from how far apart tree should be and how high to attach the anchor points over how to avoid the Cold Butt Syndrome to installing drip lines.
I like that Derek included a MYOG tutorial and tips in the book, and the Hammock Gear Checklist in the end of the book shows in a ingenious way what to remember when you go hammocking, and where to find the info in the book. The quick reference page, which shows imperial and metric measurements is a nice way to make sure those of us who don't follow the arbitrary retarded rollercoaster
of imperial measurements get an idea what all those ounces and inches mean =) The table of hammock retailers and manufacturers is a useful tool for anyone interested in the topic, and Derek shares some useful websites (Shug
I can recommend both books for the interested lightweight/ ultralight backpacker and hammocker. They compliment each other well, and what you learn from Mike you can apply to your hammock camping experience, and you also can adapt some of the hammocking tricks to your UL ground-dwelling camping routine. Two thumbs up from me. Have you read the books? What's your take on them? What's your favourite tip from Mike? Have you had a better hammocking experience after reading Derek's book? Let me know!
If you don't yet own the books, consider buying them via the following affiliate links (yes, I won't retire from the few cents I earn from them =) Europe - PaperbackEurope - KindleUSA - Paperback USA - Kindle