This is a “must read” for anyone who loves to hike, and especially for the gadget person who likes to modify/rig their own gear.

The Beyond Backpacking, Ray Jardine’s Guide to Lighweight Backpacking book is mentioned so often in distance-hiking forums as “essential reading” I figured it’d be worth reading before hitting the trail.  After devouring it in three days, I consider it a textbook for my future hiking aspirations.  Yes, it’s that good.
Outside of his other accomplishments in rock climbing, sea kayaking, sailing, etc…Ray Jardine and his wife Penny have hiked 12,000+ on thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide and Appalachian Trail. With a background in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, he took his knowledge of materials to figure out a simple system to lighten the load for long-distance hiking. The result is a book that not only describes a complete backpack with a 8-9lb baseweight (light enough to sling over one shoulder), but goes into almost every facet of the backpacking experience.
His book talks about what the body needs to excel in hiking including nutrition, dealing with hot/cold, dangers of animals/insects, getting potable water… even making your own gear!!  More than that, he explains it so simply it seems like common sense, yet I kept saying “aha! now that makes sense” throught the entire book. He never comes across as trying to “sell” an idea, rather he’s simply stating what works and what he’s passionate about.
I wish I’d read this earlier before spending $$bank on some of my equipment.  I can see now that expensive is not always better. Afer explaining his system, he has a “sewing” chapter in the back with complete designs for how to make your own tarp/tent, backpack and clothing! I’m really thinking about ditching my tent and backpack and just making my own now! Great book.