Check it out, my book is listed as the second most popular book on amazon.com! Well, in a sub-category of a sub-category. Also, all the reviewsaverage out to 4.5 stars. The only 1 star review is actually my favorite (thanks Cindy!).
This is a recipe that is NOT included in the book, but it's heart wrenchingly wonderful. I'm adding it here to this blog as a way to share the love!
CARAMELIZED ONION SAUCE
3 yellow onions (finely chopped) 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) 1 red pepper (finely chopped) 4 oz olive oil 2 oz peanut oil (or any high heat oil) 1 oz soy sauce 1 oz hot sauce tablespoon tahini tea spoon salt tea spoon pepper dash of vinegar dash of sugar
(all weights above are measures, not weight)
Start by cooking the finely chopped onions in a large skillet on low heat with the peanut oil. Stir frequently for approximately 20 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and brown.
Add the finely chopped garlic and red pepper let cook approximately 10 minutes.
Add the soy sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar. Let this cook another 10 minutes or so. The stuff in your pan should be brown and gooey.
Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Put the warm concoction in a blender or food processor with the olive oil and tahini. Blend until smooth.
You will now have a brown flavor packed sauce that can be added to your camping meals. Carry it in a small lightweight plastic bootle. Approx. 2 ounces (in weight) per person per meal will bring tears of joy at dinner time.
PLEASE NOTE: I'm a cook that ignores recipes, I pretty much just wing it in the kitchen. I encourage anyone reading this to get creative and tweak the above recipe to meet their own needs, and to match whatever you might have on hand in your pantry!
Tip number 54 in the book is how to make toothpaste "dots" by drying stuff out of the tube yourself. But look what I just found (thanks Clayton)! Linked HERE.
Product description: Archtek's Toothpaste Tablets are a chewable tablet that replaces paste in a tube and creates an incredibly clean feeling mouth. The tablet is placed in the mouth, chewed, followed by normal brushing and rinsing. Chew, brush, go! Travel-friendly Toothpaste Tablets are lightweight, more sanitary than toothpaste and the packaging is recyclable. Less mess, less weight, more green, more sanitary.
I thought you would enjoy this photo. It is of a student I had here at NAU [Northern Arizona University] - he was already pretty committed to the lightweight gospel but went the extra mile this past April on a 17-day trip in the Gila Wilderness. He made his own pack the day before the trip from mostly recycled materials - tyvek scraps from a construction site, buckles and flat webbing straps from an old pack he found at goodwill and an old cut up ensolite half-pad. The only new items I recall were some gorilla glue/adhesive and thread from the sewing machine.
I think the empty pack weighed in at 10 or 12 ounces. He was able to carry a 7 and then a 10 day ration, group gear and such with the pack and I think his largest pack-weight was in the upper 20's during the 10-day ration period. We had just received a half dozen copies of your book - hot off the press - loaned him one about 3 days before the trip and he attributes his inspiration and success to YOU!
From Mike C: The above just arrive in my in-box. Oh how I dearly LOVE this kind of thing!
If you are curious about my book, the creepy corporate giants at amazon.com do offer a pretty cool resource. You can LOOK INSIDE the book, and check out the the first bunch of tips (the most important ones!) and see the table of contents too.
I'm impressed with this tidy little service because it'll give anyone a pretty good insight about the book and it's tone.
The Dinky Stuff (tip 61) is an area where too many campers go completely overboard. When you get right down to it, there actually isn’t that much you really need. All the dinky stuff should easily fit in one ziploc baggie. This items in the video may fluctuate a little between an overnight and a 10-day expedition, but not much.
Simple first aid kit (tip 55) is required. The stuff in the video is pretty much what I would take on any moderate trip. You have minimal gear, so your ability to improvise with what you might have on hand is drastically different than the traditional camper with their extra gear. The stuff in the kit reflects items that would be impossible to improvise. All stored in a ziploc baggie. Weight: Less than 3 oz.
This spartan little kit is not a substitute for proper first aid training. There is a professional certification titled Wilderness First Responder, and I would strongly advocate this course to anyone who travels in remote environments. Please, use your brain to avoid the kind of accidents that would make you need a first aid kit in the first place.
Simple repair kit (tip 56) is important 'cuz stuff breaks. And (mostly) it’s easily fixed. Here’s a simple list of what I would carry on the model trip. All stored in a ziploc baggie. Weight: Less than 3 oz.
Is it water safe to drink water straight from a mountain stream? The answer is an unequivocal sometimes.
Please be aware, drinking un-treated might have serious gastro-consequences. The text book signs and symptoms of Giardia read as follows: “Explosive diarrhea with a foul sulfurous odor.” That sounds gross, right? Knowing what is reliable in the backcountry is critical here, and making an informed decision is a combination of experience and a working knowledge of the hazards.
My pal Phil carries a cute little 500ml plastic juice bottle in his hand during all his mountain travel. It’s never on his back, so it adds zero to the pack weight. When he gets to a trustworthy water source, he fills up and drinks. Nothing to treat, no pumping, no hoses, no boiling, no mixing chemicals, no time waiting for anything. Phil has achieved a sort of mastery when evaluating the safety of water, and this came from years of experience in the backcountry. I’m a little more cautious than Phil, but I regularly drink un-treated water.
I realize I am outside of the perceived norm of camping practices to even suggest that it’s okay to sometimes drink water straight from it’s source. It might even come off as heresy in a world filled with filters, pumps, chemicals and weird glowing ultra violet batteries operated gizmos. These tools serve a purpose, but not all the time. In my opinion, it is entirely appropriate to do what we as humans have done since the dawn of time.
I only drink from springs and very small streams. And I’ve found that a lot of the small little streams are easy to follow uphill to their source, where the water bubbles up out of the ground. This is actually very easy to do, especially with a UL pack. If you are aware, and looking uphill, you’ll quickly gain a good sense of where to find the quality springs. Before drinking directly from any un-treated water source, I run through this simple check-list:
SAFE WATER CHECK LIST:
~ Are there any zones above this water source that could impact the quality? (popular camping, mine sites, moose mating grounds, etc)
~ Is this a popular camping zone?
~ Is the water running from an outlet of a lake or pond?
~ Are there any wildlife feces near the water or upstream?
~ Is there a dead elk in the stream?
If I answer NO to all these questions, I happily drink up, most of the time. I’ll add that if I find a spring bubbling straight up from the ground, I will always dip my cup as close as I can to the source.
My advice, carefully factor in all available data before drinking ANY water in the backcountry. For questionable sources, I carry Aqua-Mira, a chlorine based treatment.
There is an interview where I share stuff about the book at the on line magazine Backpacking-Light.com. I talk about the book as well as promote an upcoming Tip-of-the-Week on BackpackingLight.com. This book is a nice fit with the content of the web-site.
The above list is everything inside the backpack (or gear carried) that makes up the BASE-WEIGHT. This excludes the food and fuel, see the spread-sheet below devoted to the CONSUMABLES. Not that the total BASE-WEIGHT comes in at exactly 8 pounds.
This list is the GEAR WORN, and that means items NOT in the backpack. This list is somewhat arbitrary because on a really hot day I might wear a little less (thus slightly more on my back), but this would be the core of my hiking ensembal.
I might have an item or two in my pockets, but that's not factored in on this list, though some UL hikers will make good use of their pockets as a way to cheat - er, I mean - as a way to lower their overall pack weight.
The above set of spread sheets is to show that consumables are really tho only thing that will impact a hiker's overall PACK-WEIGHT because the core of their gear carried is pretty much the same for an overnight or a 10 day expedition.
There are some links on the sidebar (to the right) with info on ordering. This book is a whole buncha cartoons (and words) that focus on the metaphysical side of getting your pack-weight down to the absolute minimum. Sure, there are some tips on gear too, but fewer than you think (because you leave most of your gear behind).
Just so y'know, I'm super proud of this little book!
Call you neighborhood bookstore, and tell 'em to pre-order a few copies.
The nimble fingers of Andrew Skurka creating a tiny powerhouse stove.
Make your own alcohol stove
There are oodles of cool designs for homemade alcohol stoves, and they are all made from junk out of the recycle bin. Searching the internet for alcohol stove designs is like going down the rabbit hole, be prepared to get overwhelmed with information. The stove designs drawn here are made with cat food cans and a simple paper punch.
For solo cooking, most stove designs require setting the pot is set right on the stove unit, so there is no reason for any kind of stand. The smaller sized Fancy Feast cat food can stove and a solo cook mug is an amazingly simple and efficient cook-system. I was turned-on to this tiny stove by Ultralight superstar Andrew Skurka. He’s traveled thousands of miles with just this little beauty in his pack—no need for anything more.
Use nothing more than a simple office supply hole punch as your only tool.
Cat food cans gleaned from the trash are the source for an excellent alcohol stove.
If you are cooking in a team of two, the larger can (3 3/8” diameter) requires a little gap between the stove and the bottom of the pot. You can use three tent stakes to make a perfectly sturdy platform, and get multi-use points for the stakes!
I've played with this design using the 3 3/8" sized can, and I find it has more ooompf that the "Fancy Feast" size. It can be used with a pot setting right on top of the little can. But, for a little bit better performance, using the tent stakes as a stand helps the heat output and cook time.
A very light alcohol stove with heat output for a team of two.
If you're truly on a roll using every trick to boost efficiency, there should be only mere minutes between sleeping and hiking. If you are cooking meals on-trail (see tip 70, eat dinner on the trail) you can hike ‘til bedtime and quickly climb into your bag and sleep. In the morning, you simply roll out of bed and start hiking again.
With this streamlined strategy, the term “in camp” doesn’t really mean anything.
But, if you wanna relax at the end of the day (and the next morning) in a beautiful spot, you’ll be plunked down in one spot for an extra bunch of hours. This is a traditional form of camping and this lazy zone of dinner/sleep/breakfast is known as being in camp.
If this has been your time-honored mode of camping, I implore you tore-think your standard operating procedures. (see tip 24, the human factor) No need to spend time simply parked in one place. Yes, it might be beautiful in camp, but so is moving through the Wilderness with a UL pack. You can drink in that same beauty as you travel.
The traditional camper will only find his comfort in camp, and only after the crippling backpack is jettisoned off his back. The ultralight camper finds their comfort on the trail.
Here's an example. Why sit in one place when you can effortlessly glide down the path, like a hovercraft of groovyness! (Wind River Range, Wyoming)
Grand Teton National Park rangers get a short tutorial in UL camping from my pal Phil. May 2007.
Note the backpack. That's a 3.5 ounce Gossamer Gear Whisper fully loaded for 4 days and 3 nights of early summer conditions. Phil Schneider-Pants playin' it cool in the presence of the federal employees.
You actually NEED very little; food, water and oxygen are obvious. So is warmth, comfort and peace of mind. But we are all too easily swayed by our WANTS, especially me!
Some things, like the backpack, are obviously required. But what about the tent? Is that something you WANT or NEED? These are decidedly different and it can be a challenging human exercise to attempt separate them from each other. Can you replace the thing you WANT with a something you truly NEED? Is there an option that’s lighter, cheaper, simpler or multi-use? Can it be nixed entirely? It should be easy to ditch the tent and replace it with a tarp, but all too often this decision can be fraught with emotion.
I have a beautiful camping knife. I love this elegantly crafted tool. I feel a very real WANT associated with my well-designed (and expensive) toy. This is a good item to truly scrutinize with ultralight eyes.
Are you hypnotized into believing you NEED a knife when all you are really doing is WANTING a knife? (see tip 53, What! No knife?)
A nice tool at 0.1 oz, and that includes the home-made envelope, built from cereal box cardboard and tape.
Personally, I’ve found a 0.1 oz single edge razor blade, void of frills and charisma, solves my need for a sharp thing in the mountains. Thus, the beautiful knife stays at home, and that liberation feels good!
In the book I stress getting up early, hiking for a little while until you find the perfect place to stop and cook breakfast. This photograph clearly shows an example of such a place. Wind River Range, Wyoming.
The author in the act of creating breakfast muffins. I'm seated near the lake (and water source) in the photo above. Please know - Coffee was integral to this experience.
Perfect muffins steam baked in the the Talkeetnabackcountry in Alaska.
There comes a point on a long hiking day when I succumb the overriding urge to close my eyes in the sun. The afternoon siesta can be a beautiful thing. I encourage you to practice this beloved mountain skill. And I confidently predict you’ll achieve mastery, even on the first try.
Ingenious Napping Checklist:
~ Find a spot well away from the trial so other hikers won’t worry that you’re dead. ~ Take your shoes and socks off and let those feet air out! ~ If it’s buggy, find a spot with a slight breeze. ~ If you are in Grizzly country, keep the bear spray handy. ~ Use your backpack as a pillow. ~ Don’t get sunburned.
Should you set an alarm? I don’t, (because I don't carry a watch) I find that the entire napping process, from picking the perfect spot to being back on the trail (with sleep in between), usually clocks in at exactly an hour.
This process of afternoon renewal can be effectively followed with coffee on the trail. (see tip 130, coffee on the trail)
Anyone can suffer with a light pack. The point is to thrive and enjoy the experience. The simple checklist of four points (below) is a good way to rein in your trip planning. Staying warm, sleeping comfortably, eating enough to be satisfied and energetic and not skimping on safety gear like first aid items and a simple repair kit. All of these points can be blended together to meet the needs of any individual trip.
If you skimp on the tools (or mindset) that would insure any of these four simple points, you’ll eventually end up unhappy.
Always refer back to this short list if you have any questions. An example: A traditional camper will bring a big vessel just to lug water to his campsite. This can be eliminated because the Wilderness traveler with a lighter pack can position any cooking near water. It’s better to leave the big water vessel behind and take an extra warm layer. That layer can insure warmth and comfort, the water vessel is nothing more than a convenience. (see tip 2, Comfortable and safe are vital! )