Agency: Subplot Design Inc.
Creative Director(s): Matthew Clark
Designer(s): Matthew Clark
Writer: Craig Copeland
Illustrator: Matthew Clark
Photographer: Kathy Copeland
Production Artist: C.J. Poznansky
Printer: Pacific Offset
Case Manufacturer: Royal Case Company
Project Type: Produced, Commercial Work
Location: Canmore, Canada
Packaging Contents: Hiking guidebooks
Packaging Materials: Fabric, foam, rubber, zipper, paper
Hiking guidebook authors and hikingcamping.com founders Kathy and Craig Copeland have trekked more than 61,000 km (38,000 mi) together—equivalent to one-and-a-half times the circumference of the Earth. They complete another ambitious journey this month, when bookstores, outdoor shops and online retailers begin selling the Copelands’ latest title: the all-new Ultralight Gear 7th edition of Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, the Opinionated Hiking Guide.
Reinventing the hiking guidebook was a long, challenging trek. From vision to reality, the Copelands relied on their trusted partner of more than two decades: Subplot Design Inc.
“Guidebooks have always been hiking gear,” says Craig, “but publishers have ignored that fact. So we re-invented the guidebook when we created the 7th edition of Don’t Waste Your Time. We made it a serious piece of ultralight equipment.”
“You’ll recognize it instantly, because it’s unique, unlike anything on the bookshelves,” adds Craig. “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,” explains Craig. “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.
“Finally,” says Craig, “a hiking guidebook designed for adventure, not just the armchair.”
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.
“This project was a perfect case of form following function,” says Matthew Clark, Subplot Design Inc. Founder and Creative Director. “Once we figured out how hikers would use the book—how it could fit into life on the trail as ultralight gear—we were able to conceive a format and construction that made sense.”
“Visually, everything flows from this format,” adds Matthew. “A simple grid design makes the different elements easy to understand: the focus of each book (Opinion or Fact), the general length of trip (Dayhike or Backpack Trip), and the trip ratings (Premier, Outstanding, Worthwhile and Don’t Do).
“The idea for Don’t Waste Your Time sprang from our own experience,” explains Kathy. “Like most hikers, we were unable to hike nearly as often as we wanted. Weekends and vacations were like oxygen to us. So we fully respected the value of people’s time. We understood that when someone goes hiking, they want to make the absolute most of that opportunity. They want the greatest possible scenic return for their investment of time and effort.”
“So we wrote a guidebook for hikers who don’t have forever,” says Kathy.
The Copeland’s opinionated approach found an appreciative audience. Sales surged. With every reprint, they improved and expanded the book, adding more trails, more photos, more details, more guidance. It now totals 677 pages and includes 560 colour photos.
The Ultralight Gear 7th edition of Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, the Opinionated Hiking Guide is available at bookstores, outdoor shops, and online retailers. The suggested retail price is $59.95. The ISBN is 9781927462027.
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