About 15 years ago, some new friends invited me to go to Linville Gorge for a camping trip. I’d only ever been camping a handful of times, and I’d always just rented equipment from my undergraduate college. I really wanted to camp, but I had almost no gear.
I walked into the local outfitter with no knowledge, little to no money and no idea of what to get. In the center of the store, there were some tents set up. I walked up to one and a bearded man that smelled of patchouli saddled up beside me. “That’s the new Hubba Hubba, the latest.” “How much is it?” “$300.00″, he responded. That was triple my budget.
He could sense that I was a newbie, and directed me to a 1-person tent that was within my price range. I had a pack that was a leftover of my college days from studying in Peru and Mexico, but little else. I picked up a sleeping pad (still have it), a cheapo sleeping bag, and a flannel pillow. That’s it. That’s all I got. I went backbacking the next weekend and had a blast. My gear was cheap, heavy, but I look back on those days with the fondest of memories. If I see a Gregory Shasta (my aforementioned traveling pack) I look at it wistfully, full of wonder at the world.
Over the past few years, I have backpacked extensively and have widened my knowledge of gear. Culturally, there has been a shift towards lightweight, ultralight items, of which I had been beholden for some time.
My family lives in a frugal fashion by design, we reuse and recycle items, and we give away things to those in need and share with our community. We buy used when we can, we fix items if needed, and we live well within our means.
For my part, this extends to all of my life, but backpacking. I had to have to the latest, greatest gear. The cuben fiber, the grams, the titanium. I would use the postal meter at work to weigh my headlamp. My headlamp. The most a headlamp would weigh is 3 grams. What was I thinking? I would see a posting about a new backpack and research it, read reviews, and felt that I had to buy it to satisfy some yearning. Capitalistic marketing at its best. This bothered me.
Secondly, since I have been blogging; the purpose of most of my posts and pictures has been centered on nature. I would also include posts on the gear that I used. I wrote 12 posts out of 156 on gear. Those 12 posts made up 90% of my “hits”.
One day I googled the gear names, to see what others were posting and discovered that several companies were using my pictures and my words without giving me credit.
That leads to a tangential point, of those corporate companies. So much of this so-called advent and rise in popularity of hiking gear is sex. Just look at any company or corporate gear maker’s Instagram page. It’s mostly women in spandex on top of a mountain with that maker’s gear, looking at a sunset with their ass pointed to the camera. Men, rippled with muscles and beards, climbing the face of a cliff with no ropes. Renegade hipsters showing you how to live life. That leads to a larger discussion re our society. Is not the gorgeous view enough? Why must we wear tight clothes and arch our derriere to instantly post to Instagram? Affirm me now!
My beginning vs. where I was: I saw the light. Hiking gear is suppose to get you from A to B. All this other puffery is corporate shenanigans to get you to buy stuff. So what did I do?
I took all my gear posts down, deleted all my merchandise pics, and sold all my lightweight gear and from a fraction of the proceeds I purchased hiking gear with the following criteria: gear that makes me happy when I’m camping.
I want to get back to that initial love of hiking, that had nothing to do with the latest gear, it had everything to do with being in nature.
You can view the gear page here.