I came across this book after reading a review on a blog I like (Hiking in Finland). I liked the book however there are some caveats that I might be useful for people thinking about purchasing it.
Firstly the good stuff, the pictures and diagrams are clear, fun and interesting. The writing is straightforward and informal. A lot is common sense but there are some very nice little tips and ideas scattered through out. It's also nice to have a concise guide of the things to remember during the process of preparing for a backpacking trip and it's useful whether you're going ultra-light or not. I'm actually not an ultralight backpacker (probably mid, maybe lower, light) but I'll still be trying to incorporate a decent number of things from this into my future trips.
However there are a few things that don't translate that well to a non-US audience (I'm sure it wasn't aimed at us, but there isn't anything on the cover/summary blurb that indicates how US-centric it is). For a start the bear tips are completely meaningless in most of the rest of the world I'd imagine, certainly in the UK anyway. I felt some of the tips would not do so well in the UK due to very different weather systems (hot/dry weather with odd heavy storm vs continual rain, very little sun, mild temperatures) but at the same time it does make it clear in the book that you should plan according to the weather you're likely to see (not that you should need a book to tell you that). There are also a variety of words that I assume make perfect sense across the pond but I had no idea about (eg Tyvek). This is especially bad in the food section where it almost seems like a foreign language. Another thing that is bound to drive some people up the wall is that all measurements are imperial, in the UK depending on the type of measurement or on your age that might be ok, but everywhere else you're going to be looking up conversion rates and doing mental arithmetic all the time. Also regarding the food ideas at the back, if you have nut allergies or just don't like them, then you're not going to get as much out of it (although there are still useful tips in there) as I think all the recipes have a lot of nuts in various forms in them.
In summary, the book is good but if you're not from the US you're going to get a little bit less out of it and you're going to have to work harder for it.
If you are relatively new to backpacking trips there are some good tips in this book. It is a series of suggestions that can be read in isolation to one another and used as a reference if you wish to have an insight on different aspects of backpacking. Ex why have a bivvy and tarp and be relatively warm, what to take and not etc. The philosophy behind its conception is to lighten your pack to ease your travel and enjoy your walking in the wilderness. However if you are experienced you probably will find that most of the options offered to lighten the load are just the author personal preference and make little sense to you as we all have different level of comfort expectation, budget and hygienic standards etc. Ex do we really need to dispense of toilet paper to shed a few more grams off our packs??? LOL! Very entertaining. Written for US audience and weather conditions.
I love the style of this book being both easy to read and fund. Highly informative illustrations and great ideas. Being based in the UK, I would have liked metric weight equivalents, but I can live with that.
Overall, i found the book to be an easy read with some excellent advice is excellent that has made me completely rethink my approach to backpacking.
Although I'm not over obsessed about lightweight backpacking, this book has helped me to literally half my load. I can't say that I would go to some of the extremes that the author advocates, but what the book is very good at is getting you into the 'mindset' of packing light. Its good to dip into too and is written with humour.
Although I have not done any long backpacking trips yet this book has made me feel more prepared and confident in doing so. Superb reading for the novice like me. I practised with the ultralight stove in my garden and if I got it to work, anyone can!
I bought this to give me some ideas how to lighten my pack for expeditions. Whilst some are a bit extreme for me it gives excellent practical advice on what can be done and gets you into the right mind set to prepare for an expedition and not having to carry unnecessary clothing or equipment.