I have this habit of being brutally honest, with my friends, family and colleagues. Though, I am hardest on myself. I have found that it’s best to just tell the truth and move on: That way I don’t have to keep track in mind what lies I’ve told and to whom, I have tried to make exceptions and tell white lies, but I find even those I don’t really have any justification for. In any-case, I want to talk about my book, and give my honest opinion on it, what could be better, and most importantly, how I look upon it now, 4 years removed from writing it.

I got the idea for writing this post when I read a comment on a forum, trek-lite I think is what the forum is called. Basically the author of the comment wrote: “I hope he can run the store better than he can write a book”, my first reaction was not sadness, or angry or anything else, I simply smiled to myself and thought, me too. Don’t get me wrong, some chapters in my book I think are pure genius, and still some of the funniest writing to be found in a hiking book. And this was kind of my goal with the book, to just have fun and take a piss on everything. It was a great laugh when I wrote it, and as I’ve said, some chapters are brilliant. However, there are other chapters that are mediocre, and a few that are complete garbage. My guess, is that with a proper editor for the book, more than half of the book would have been sent back for re-edit, not just in context but in style.

Of course I knew this at the time, and it’s also why the book is as cheap as it is, because I knew it was a good laugh, but perhaps not a complete guide on anything and everything ultralight hiking. I have over the last couple of months been working on a re-write of the book, as I think some chapters could use a bit more filling, and proper information. Such as tent selection, trip planning, trekking poles and so on. Other chapters I have decided to just delete altogether. Also, as with most things we grow and advance – I’m not the same hiker or person when I started writing the book four years ago, and if I’m honest, if I had to choose just one thing for people to remember me by, it wouldn’t be my book.

So I’m at an impasse, do I re-edit my book completely, or do I delete it and start over? Maybe write a new book and give Ultralight and comfortable away as an ebook on my site? How has the book aged just 4 years on?

Posted by Kenneth Shaw

Blogger, photographer and backpacker. If you like my writing or my site don't be afraid to follow me, like or share my posts here on the site. Thanks and enjoy!


  1. It depends on what you want your readers to get from the book. You also might have to change the title. A reader who did not know you would expect sage advice from a book called Ultralight and Comfortable, not humour. Could you separate clearly written, solid advice from funny stories?

    I haven’t read your book so please ignore this comment if it is not applicable but very few readers want sarcasm. On the other hand, scholarly tomes can be boring. One of the first authors/editors in this area fell into that trap. A light touch is always welcome.

    You’ll solve your puzzle by thinking about your readers while taking care to maintain your unique voice. No one needs another run of the mill instructional.

    I hope this helps.


  2. I haven’t read the book but the following popped into my mind reading your blog entry.

    Perhaps you can use the book as an ongoing communication with your customers / readers and others in the ultralight community. Integrate stuff you write yourself and accept (parts of) chapters from others; you be the editor/publisher for all the authors thus making sure the style is how you’d like it to be.

    Publish the book in editable form somewhere (i’m a software developer, so I’d probably choose github, but that may not be suitable for others) and see where the authors take it under your supervision.

    Just a thought.


    1. Hi, thanks for the comment.. I actually like the idea of making my stuff copyright free, allowing other people to take it where they wish and profit if they wish.. I have been kicking around the idea for sometime as it fits more in my values than charging for everything


  3. I did read the book about two years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it for both it’s educational and entertainment value. I’ll have to re-read it now to find out where the “pure genius” and the “pure garbage” is. I will give you my totally honest opinion but I am probably not critical enough to be a good editor!


    1. Thanks Gerry! I appreciate it!


  4. Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting this when I wrote my rather blunt attempt at a quip and it is refreshing to see an author not taking himself too seriously and being able to look back on a book as you do.

    Just to expand a little on my initial comment, I’ll say that your current assessment matches mine. Reading this blog made me want to read the book and I found it had me chuckling quite a few times, some bits were interesting but overall it was let down by a tendency to lose its focus. I did get the impression that it got overwhelmed by the tongue-in-cheek layer of piss taking.

    I hope you don’t throw it in the waste basket and write a better one instead.

    And run a successful shop. 😉


    1. Hi Balagan, thanks for the update 🙂 Like I said, the book was more for shits and giggles, but I do think it lost it’s focus. I had just got done watching a bunch of bear grylls survivor shit and couldn’t help but feel sorry for the saps who buy all this equipment to be the next bear… Selling shit products using extreme survivor antics..

      In anycase, I’m not throwing away my book, and I will soon publish the update of it that I have been in the works with. Instead I am uncopyrighting the book and everything else, let other people use what they wish and maybe somebody else will publish a better variation of it 🙂


  5. I also have read the book, and actually I’m a fan and re-read sections frequently. I know it’s light hearted in its treatment of the subject but I think it’s a sensible approach, here’s why.
    I’ve found when trying to help out hiking pals who are struggling with massive packs and sore, blistered feet that this is an extremely sensitive subject. In some ways it’s the area where two worlds collide and both sides can be very entrenched in their positions. By firmly staying lightweight but stressing the comfortable we are better able to win over converts without upsetting anyone.
    I love the video reviews and advice on your YouTube channel and also the shop, keep up your good work and good luck for the future.


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