More than 20 years ago, Glen Van Peski began a quest to take less and do more, founding the company that is Gossamer Gear today. Like many of us who have spent time on trail, he learned about more than just gear choices and route planning along the way. His outdoor experiences taught him powerful life lessons—ones that may go against the grain of popular thought, but that have been proven to change lives for the better. And those tips are now available in book form.

Glen’s new memoir, take less. do more: Surprising Life Lessons in Generosity, Gratitude, and Curiosity from an Ultralight Backpacker, covers ways individuals can transform their lives, including everything from tips for living within one’s financial means to forging relationships through a lens of curiosity. It’s a must-read for those who seek adventure in their lives and who are looking to expand their community of connections, become unstuck in their circumstances, create more of what they want in life, and be of help and service to others. 

Interview With Glen Van Peski on Sharing the Deeper Takeaways of Lightweight Backpacking

We caught up with Glen to learn more about his book writing process and how he’s using the book’s proceeds to give back to the wild places we all love. We hope it inspires you to check out his work and explore the larger ways you too can take less and do more.

Gossamer Gear: What inspired you to write this book?

Glen: I became friends a number of years ago with John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods Market. John is a very strong hiker—hence his trail name, “Strider”—and does a number of trips every year. He told me, must have been 10 years ago now, that I should write a book and he would write the forward. I replied at the time that I thought there were already great books on ultralight backpacking, and didn’t think my two cents would add much. But on the next trip, and every year after, he would repeat the offer. I finally figured that not too many people got the offer of a forward written by John Mackey, and that I should take advantage of the offer. So, I decided to write a book that wasn’t just about gear and technique—although it does have one lesson devoted to that. I would instead write a book about how my half-century quest to lighten my base pack weight had helped teach me lessons on leading a more fulfilling life when I wasn’t on the trail.

What does “take less. do more” mean to you?

Well, of course, the first meaning is that taking less gear (and lighter gear) allows you to do more in the backcountry. But, it has so many more layers than that. The book offers 15 lessons about applying either take less or do more to all of life. For one example, having a lighter pack on a backpacking trip reminds us how very little we need to be happy. This can give us new appreciation for the luxuries we take for granted in our everyday lives, at the same time allowing us to realize that we don’t need more stuff to make us happy. Having lighter packs on a trip creates margin, so we are in a better position to help someone else, by redistributing gear or even carrying two packs if need be. Similarly, when we create margin in our lives—by putting aside a portion of our income to help others, by not scheduling every last minute of the day, by eating and resting to maintain energy—we can use the margin to help others that come across our paths.

What do you most hope readers take away from this book? 

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing earth-shattering in my book. I have not discovered any “new secrets” to living a more impactful, fulfilling life. But, what I do know is that we all hear things in different ways, and absorb things at a timing in our life that makes us receptive to them. So, my hope is that through the words I’ve chosen and the stories I’ve told, that the timing will coincide for some people, and they can implement some of the “take less, do more” lessons to make some changes and create a life with more purpose, meaning, and joy.

What made you choose to donate all book proceeds to the Pacific Crest Trail Association? 

I have a long history with the PCTA. Ever since I returned to the West Coast by riding my bicycle across the country in 1976, I’ve lived relatively close to the Pacific Crest Trail, in California and now Oregon. When our oldest son Brian joined Boy Scouts, the capstone backpacking trip was a week in the High Sierra on the PCT, and many of the training trips were on the southern portions of the trail. When my buddy Read Miller, the scoutmaster of our troop, decided to section hike the PCT in a year, I made many of those hikes with him. I spent time on the PCTA board of directors as a way to give back, and presented at many of the PCTA meetings. And it was my involvement with the PCTA that led to the introduction to John Mackey, which is single-handedly responsible for a huge majority of the goodness that has flowed into my life, directly and indirectly. I’m blessed to be in a place where more money won’t make a difference in my lifestyle. So, similarly to never having taken a salary from Gossamer Gear, I decided to commit to making no money off the book. And the PCTA seemed the natural choice to receive the profits.

Where can people find your book and what’s the best way they can follow along with any related launch events? 

I’ve been on a number of podcasts, which can be found on my press page, and people can check on upcoming in-person or virtual events on the events page. The book itself can be purchased from Gossamer Gear (where the first 100 orders will include signed bookplates), select other websites like Backpacking Light or Litesmith, anywhere books are sold online, or ordered from your local bookstore. People can download a sample chapter and find out more about the book on my website’s book page. The book is available in hardcover, Kindle, or audio versions.

For anyone wanting to contribute more to the PCTA for a personally inscribed copy of the book, they can contact me with “SIGNED BOOK” as the subject, providing their name, email, and mailing address, and writing the desired inscription in the message. I will give them details to send me $40 by Venmo, and will personally inscribe their book and mail it to them in a special mailer envelope with an extra surprise included. 

Learn the Surprising Lessons of Taking Less and Doing More

We hope Glen’s new book helps you deepen your connection with your favorite Gossamer Gear pack and start planning your next adventure—whether on or off trail.

We’d love to see where you read your copy and hear what “take less. do more.” means to you! Share your thoughts and adventures with us by tagging Gossamer Gear on social media (@gossamergear) and using the hashtag #takelessdomore.

Hungry for more insights from Glen? Check out some of our other articles from him on the Light Feet blog:

Buy the Book

April 18, 2024 — Korrin Bishop