Last month, I heard from a fellow 2010 Pacific Crest Trail through-hiker who was putting the finishing touches on a video and eBook series to to introduce others to lightweight backpacking. Dave Collins of Cleverhiker.com sent me a pre-release copy of the entire set for review. As you can see, the series has already been released now, and I’m finally getting around to writing about it. How’s that for punctual?
CleverHiker’s lightweight backpacking series was crowdfunded through indiegogo, and has at its center a ten-part, one-hour video series. The eBook is a very useful companion to the videos, but my guess is that the videos were the bulk of the production. And the question most likely on many people’s minds would be, why should I pay cold, hard cash for a set of videos when I can just go to Youtube? In a word, quality.
Before any of the content pops up, you can tell that the videos weren’t some backyard afternoon project. The videos are shot in high definition, with professional editing, crisp sound recording, and serious filming know-how. There are scenes at night in a tent, or during a bright day on a snow field, with no lighting issues. The background music is skillfully edited into the background where it belongs. All of the narration is smooth and well-rehearsed, with no stalling and “uh, uhm” to fill the space. This is something you wouldn’t think is out of place on a TV show.
How about the content, though? The video series does a great job at introducing the concepts of lightweight backpacking skills and gear, happily leaving out most opinions (some did creep in there) and keeping things brief and informative. Rather than delving deeply into specialized techniques, or talking about specific brands and models of equipment, Dave highlights general reasons for lightening your load, pros and cons of certain designs of equipment, and the basics of going light. The generality ensures that a certain piece of equipment going out of production won’t make the information outdated right away, although it will hopefully lead people to explore equipment choices in more detail (the eBook companion basically serves this purpose, but for the obsessive gear researcher like me, it will only scrape the surface).
Since the current video series and eBook are aimed toward introducing hikers to lightweight backpacking, I’m hoping they also serve as an introductory series for CleverHiker. Once the current series takes off, I can’t wait to see how the brand grows– if the high-quality production for an introduction to lightweight backpacking moves on to more advanced techniques and discussions of hiking, it would be to the great benefit of the hiking community. But for now, I’m pretty happy to kick back and enjoy the first (of hopefully many) videos. Head over CleverHiker.com and check it out!