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Lead Image

Ultralight Gear: Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies


Production Method




Subplot Design Inc.

Creative director, designer, illustrator: Matthew Clark
Writer: Craig Copeland
Photographer: Kathy Copeland
Production Artist: C.J. Poznansky



Asia Pacific Offset
Case Manufacturer: Royal Case Company

Breaking up a 677-page tome into nearly weightless booklets, Vancouver-based Subplot Design makes hiking into the mountains a peak experience. 




Quantity Produced

Production Cost

Production Time

Dimensions (Width × Height × Depth)

5.5 × 8.5 × 2 in

Page Count

677 pages

Paper Stock

Number of Colors




matte laminate, perfect bound


Zig Zag
Palatino Linotype

This piece is available for purchase for $59.95 + Shipping

Ultralight Gear: Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies
Ultralight Gear: Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies
Ultralight Gear: Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies
Ultralight Gear: Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies
Ultralight Gear: Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies ---

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Project Description

How can a 700-page hiking guidebook be considered "Ultralight Gear"?

Guidebooks have always been hiking gear, but publishers have ignored that fact. So Alberta, Canada’s hikingcamping.com re-invented the guidebook when they created the 7th edition of Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies.

In setting out to package this set of books, Subplot Design Inc. aimed to make it a serious piece of ultralight equipment. It doesn’t even look like a book. It’s protected in a bright green, hardshell case that looks like outdoor gear. Zip it open and you’ll see it allows you to leave most of the book behind when you go hiking but take the trail directions and orientation map in your pack, so you always have those essentials with you in the backcountry. The average trail-weight per hike is just 67 grams, or 2.4 ounces. That’s as light as a pair of sunglasses you can wear on your nose all day without noticing.

The Ultralight Gear 7th edition is divided into Opinion and Fact. The Opinion book contains all the trip descriptions, and most of the photos. It’s intended for use at home, in the car, at the trailhead. It provides everything you need to choose your next hike. It’s also an inspiring read when you’re between trips. But it stays behind, in the hardshell case, when you go hiking. The nine Fact booklets contain the trail directions and orientation maps. For each hike, you carry just the one booklet you need. Compared to eReaders, tablets or smartphones, these booklets are lighter, simpler to use, and easier on your eyes. They don’t rely on limited batteries. They won’t break if you drop them.

Production Lesson(s)

1. Let the function inform the form.
In this case, wanting to lighten the weight for hikers and yet maintain the deep-dive format of the book (677 pages!) lead to the idea to create a modular book in a case, rather than a single, large tome.

2. Be patient with the industrial design component.
Innovating a custom case was a challenge. Working closely with the manufacturer, we went through many rounds of development to achieve the final case, and make sure all elements (foam, fabric, 3M coating, rubber zipper pull, pockets, rubber front tag, emboss) all worked to our satisfaction.”

Post Author

Author Picture

Jessica Mullen

Writer for UnderConsideration LLC.

More: Online / On Twitter


Date Published

July 16, 2015


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About UnderConsideration

UnderConsideration is a graphic design firm generating its own projects, initiatives, and content while taking on limited client work. Run by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit in Bloomington, IN. More…

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