What’s Up With That?
I disdain holidays. Almost all of them have become a means to market stuff. Many have been bastardized so government employees get a 3-day weekend (think President’s Day). Most holidays are created by folks wanting to sell you something. The only redeeming value of holidays is that I normally go camping or backpacking when they pop up on my calendar.
This morning my first email of the day was from a co-worker announcing that September 18th is National Cheeseburger Day. Never heard of it. But I can get behind this holiday. I am known as a Cheeseburger aficionado. When traveling with co-workers I try to eat at least one meal a day that consists of a Cheeseburger. Sometimes I eat one for both lunch and breakfast. Joyce doesn’t let me eat many Cheeseburgers when I’m home.
So I forwarded the National Cheeseburger Day email to Joyce and she said we could go out to dinner and get a Cheeseburger. God bless Tiny Tim!
Last week I read A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. I normally don’t read popular books of this genre. However contrary to that statement, I have reviewed several popular “hiking” books over the past few months.
This is a good one.
You don’t have to be a genius to know that the lighter your backpacking kit is the easier it is to hike. The easiest way to lighten your load is to discard things you don’t need, get rid of duplicate items, and opt for items made from lighter weight materials. Often gear can be jettisoned and replaced with skill alone.
At some point the parring down process reaches a point of diminishing returns and can enter the realm of “stupid light” as described by well known adventurer Andrew Skurka.
Today I hear many backpackers, who are trying to lighten their gear, ask, “What is the best pack that weighs less than X ounces?” and often that request for input that has an arbitrary formula such as:
X <= 16 ounces
One might wonder what rationale or unfounded thought process brought these folks to the conclusion that X ounces is the defining criteria for a piece of gear. It is the concept that less is more, or the lighter your pack the more enjoyable your trek will be. That may be true to a point, unless you cross into stupid light or into the kingdom of diminishing returns where weight compromises comfort and efficiency.
Less is more is an oft quoted concept of the modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. What it means is good design is dependent on focus and simplicity. The corollary proposition to this concept is the modernist architecture mantra of form follows function. The shape or design of an object must be based on its function or purpose, not some random goal such as a specific weight as the only consideration.
How did we get to this point where pack weight trumps function? We can blame Don Jensen, Dana Gleason, Wayne Gregory, Ray Jardine, and a multitude of other pack designers.
I have few backpacking acquaintances, fewer than I have fingers on my hands. And I have even fewer backpacking friends, and an even smaller circle of close friends. That’s how it should be. Just because someone likes you on Facebook or is your friend on one of the other social media sites, doesn’t mean they are true friends.
Anyway, my few backpacking acquaintances and friends know I go screw-shit when I see so-called gear or outdoor experts operate a stove in an unsafe manner. One of these fine folks (my acquaintances – not the so called experts) emailed me a “stove” picture. No subject in the email, no comments; nada. Just a picture. Guess he thought it would piss me off.
A while back an acquaintance of an acquaintance, who is a friend of a friend, sent me an email inquiring whether I could recommend a backpacking gear App or did I think a spreadsheet could possibly suffice. I occasionally get these kinds of requests, but more often people ask me to review their gear list and then want to debate any recommendations I might make. Worse than that, they send me a link to some online gear program that won’t run on my iPad, forcing me to open my computer to look at it. I’m too busy to jump through hoops like this to help someone out. What is the world coming to?
I am not big on campfires. I build a campfire on less than 5% of our camping trips. I haven’t built a fire on a backpacking trip since 1971.
But there is something special between our species and campfires…
As you know, if you have read my posts here, I get out quite often every year for backpacking and camping. Usually over a hundred nights a year. Well, that hasn’t been the case this summer: so far. You see, there is one very important rule in life:
Happy Wife = Happy Life
My last post was about the wonderful Bic Lighter.
I touched on the fact you can hold a light to it and see how much fuel is left. I have never tried to check the level on a trip with a headlamp, because I am incredibly smart — I check it before I leave home with a flash light. Below is an example.
You can see the lighter is half full (the optimist point of view) and you can also see the pickup tube.
I often read gear reviews that are really just initial impressions. Some folks use gear for a year or two and call it a long term review. I think if gear is used for 10 or more years, it qualifies as a long term review. This way we can answer the question, “Does it stand the test of time?”
For the past 40 plus years there has been only one piece of gear I have taken on every backpacking trip. It has also accompanied me on most day hikes and camping trips too.
Almost two years ago I wrote about the phenomenon known as the Fastest Known Time or FKT. At the time, I stated I wasn’t against the concept per se, but I did express several concerns.
Stuck at home this weekend, I spent some time catching up on a few of my favorite blogs. And my fears about the FKT negatively impacting wilderness areas were personified in this simple one line statement and picture on Tom Jamrog’s blog.
I don’t have anything to add.
You might want to read Paul Magnanti’s comments on the above subject. His thoughts mirror mine.