I love poring over this book and dreaming up building my own thru-hiking setup. The approach Ray Jardine takes to lightweight backpacking, “The Ray Way” as it’s known, at first seems a little extreme and dangerous — eschewing weight at all costs means going without some extra REI bells and whistles. But the gain is also extremely appealing: speed and enjoyment. By leveraging knowledge, planning, and an adaptable set of choice equipment, one can enjoy natural trails without the feeling of lugging heavy boots and bags every inch of the way. I’ve not built my own “ray way” backpack yet, but I’ve definitely lightened up my hiking gear and it’s made all the difference.