Book Nerds: This Kindle Is My Favorite Piece of ‘Ultralight’ Gear

It stands 6 inches tall, weighs approximately 7 ounces, and fits over 30 books inside every bag I own. My Kindle is my most-utilized piece of lightweight gear.

For over 4 years, I’ve been carrying my third-generation Kindle Paperwhite with me everywhere I go. It’s accompanied me in multiple wilderness areas, deep in tall canyon walls of southern Utah, beachside in Baja California, and in the doldrums of waiting rooms, solo meals, and long layovers. It serves as an antidote to the reckless availability of wasting time on my phone and replaces it with a literary goldmine.

In turn, I read dozens of books per year. My reading life has been substantially transformed by this ultralight piece of technical equipment. And it takes me back to the nights I spent as a kid reading late into the night with a flashlight under the covers. My Kindle isn’t just another piece of gear — it’s the ultimate reading companion.

But It Isn’t a Book

Like many voracious readers, I scoffed at the Kindle initially.

“I love the tactile and sensual nature of reading a book,” I’d remark to my Kindle-carrying friends. I then snagged a gig working with a best-selling author for a number of years, and he once quipped something about the revolutionary ability for a Kindle to carry dozens of books at one time, anywhere. My interest was piqued.

Kindle Paperwhite

I bought myself the Paperwhite for Christmas on sale for about $100, utilizing Amazon’s available payment plan. At the time, money was tight. And the $20 monthly payments put the technology into my hands quickly and without a huge burden.

I’ve had the same Kindle since. I was nervous to buy yet another screen, thinking it might just gather dust. This never happened. Instead, it accompanies me everywhere, much to the chagrin of my fellow humans. I continue to hear my own initial argument used against my Kindle. But read on, friends. There is more good news when it comes to this little piece of equipment.

Why a Kindle Paperwhite?

Author drinking beer and reading her Kindle in a hammock

The transformative component of my Kindle Paperwhite (starting at $130) is the glare-free screen that truly mimics the look of paper when the backlight is disabled. Reading on screens is mostly a drag due to the constant blue light and eye strain that I’m already inundated with at work and beyond. Turning to the Paperwhite is immediate relief. I can use natural light to read, and in the moments I need a bit more, I bump up the backlight.

This would be my recommendation for paying a bit more money to buy a Paperwhite. The lowest-priced Kindle E-Reader ($80) has a lot of similar features. But the lack of backlight would sufficiently drive me crazy, and I use the backlight enough to justify the extra expense. Additionally, the Kindle Oasis (starting at $250) seems a bit overkill. It has a few extra features — auto-adjusting light sensors and page turn buttons — but it’s bigger, and the extra money spent just doesn’t seem worth it.

The one thing I definitely regret is not buying a Kindle without special offers. Every time I open mine, there’s a giant ad for a romance novel or some sort of nauseating self-help book. Spend the extra $20 to avoid this. Thank me immediately rather than later.

Books, Books, and More Books

From the initial spartan standpoint, I’m also obsessed with the ability to check out books for free from my library while at home, in my pajamas, without worrying about having to return them.

Amazon partners with Overdrive, a badass system that allows you to enter your library card number to access to the swath of books your library has available to e-book readers. You can check out books on demand for 2 weeks at a time, sign up for waiting lists for popular books, and request that your library purchase certain books you’d like to read.

It’s a phenomenal program, and you can download both the Overdrive and Kindle apps to your phone or iPad to utilize the reading services there as well. Yeah. I know. A.Maze.Balls.

Additionally, I use the Kindle to hide my, um, more embarrassing book selections that I definitely don’t want gracing the shelves of my personal library. I also snag a number of books via Amazon’s Kindle Store and Kindle Unlimited Program.

Typically, if I love a book on Kindle, I’ll go back and buy the hard copy to have in hand. I’ve been able to truly KonMari my personal library — which at one point was easily a few hundred books — and build the perfect curated collection. It’s yet another way I’ve been able to lead a minimalist life with a Kindle.

The Perfect Outdoor Reading Companion

A hammock and a dog with a lake and mountains behind them

After years of owning my Kindle, I’m excited to see that the latest Paperwhite is waterproof and even lighter than my third-generation model. Somehow, my little e-reader has survived a number of trips (and let’s be honest, at least a couple hundred baths) without taking a dive into the depths. Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade.

But, on the other hand, my current Kindle has accompanied me to so many places and moments of travel while expanding my knowledge and sense of story within these places. So it’s hard to quantify its importance to my existence. Spending $100 in 2015 opened up a wide world of reading that hadn’t existed prior. There’s sentimentality attached to it at this point.

Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking about the next time I’ll hang my hammock on the sunny edges of a high-alpine lake, crack open a cold one, and spend a few hours in the depths of a good book. And my Kindle is now ubiquitous to that warm-weather daydream.

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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt/Fish Editor. She’s an avid outdoorswoman, and you can find her anywhere from the back of a good horse in Whitefish to solo hunting the breaks of Montana, to backpacking with her border collie in the Absarokas.

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