Backpacker Radio #170 | Mike Clelland, Creator of Ultralight Backpackin’ Ideas, on Light-weight Tenting, Illustrating, and How Owls Relate to UFOs


Mike Clelland joins us on tonight’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek. Mike is the author of one of UL’s standout backpacking books, Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips For Extremely Lightweight Camping. We feature some of his top tips for reducing pack weight, how he got into the world of UL backpacking, his work with NOLS, his Alaskan expeditions and more. We also delve into Mike’s fascination with the interplay of owls and UFOs, which is perhaps predictably equal parts bizarre and intriguing.

We end the show with a triple crown of things we don’t like about Colorado, cliches we think are total bullshit, and we get another update from MG.


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Interview with Mike Cleland

Timestamps & Questions

00:04:47 – QOTD: What’s one cliché that you think is total bullshit?

00:07:17 – Memories: support the Blue Sky Fund and Subscribe to Backpacker Radio!

00:08:57 – Introducing Mike

00:11:02 – When did you get involved with illustration and cartoons?

00:13:51 – What was your favorite toy to draw an advertisement for?

00:16:29 – Was your job something like Mad Men?

00:21:05 – How did you get into backpacking?

00:28:56 – What was your backpacking experience before you worked at NOLS?

00:30:31 – Have you had concerns about switching to ultralight gear?

00:32:16 – What are some of the main differences between lighten up! and Ultralight backpacking tips?

00:37:35 – Tip #3: Question everything

00:41:40 – Tip #6: Do you try something new every time you go camping?

00:46:44 – What is a recent example of something you’ve tweaked on your setup?

00:48:24 – How important is it for someone to have DIY skills?

00:50:56 – Tip #9: Cut stuff off your gear

00:58:07 – Why would anyone go ultra light?

01:05:30 – Tip #25: Appreciate the wilderness

01:08:17 – Tip #30: Is ultralight more expensive?

01:11:22 – Do you examine your food as closely as you examine your equipment?

01:16:31 – Tip #55: Prepare a basic first aid kit

01:20:44 – What do you think of upper body length sleeping pads?

01:24:08 – You say a backpack can be as light as 3 ounces?!

01:26:22 – Tip #65: Choose bold routes

01:29:01 – Tip #100: The humble pillow

01:31:15 – Tip #116: Poop

01:40:44 – What are some of your favorite and disliked natural mopping devices?

01:49:30 – Talk to us about UFOs and owls.

01:59:17 – What is hypnotic regression?

02:03:02 – Do you think these are ghosts, aliens or other paranormal experiences?

02:04:45 – What percentage of owls do you think are suspicious?

02:10:00 – Should we be suspicious of owls?

02:11:48 – Mike’s latest owl stories

02:17:28 – Are certain owl species more suspicious than others?

02:22:07 – Where can people learn more?


MG check-in

Send us your owl stories

propaganda traces

Triple Crown of Things We Don’t Like About Colorado

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