A couple days ago I was writing a post about the stoves I use on most trips. I guess the point was that people spend too much of their time talking, playing, and reviewing stoves. Just buy a freakin’ stove and be done with it.
Most of my posts are for my kids, and when it comes to things backpacking, the posts are for my son Joe who also backpacks.
I suppose I have done my share of gear talk, but I am really, really getting bored with backpacking gear.
Over the past year I have created around 230 posts and pages here on PopUpBackpacker. Forty-three of those have been related to gear in some context or another. Most have been about how I plan trips or how I use gear on trips. Many have been trips down memory lane with some vintage stuff. The actual gear reviews have been few.
So you may ask, “Why does Nick post so often, seeing that he has added 230 posts and pages in the past year?”
Pretty simple answer… I have flown over 100,000 miles during the past year. So I make my airplane time constructive. I also can get my business work at 30,000 feet.
LIGHTWEIGHT GEAR FETISH
I have concluded that the worst offenders of gear lust and obsession are usually the so called lightweight and ultralight backpackers. Over at BackpackingLight.com, the majority of posts are in the six different Gear Forums. It is crazy. It is nuts. Many people there and on other websites, and blogs throughout the world have clogged up the electronic universe with all things gear related. Many buy multiple packs, stoves, and shelters every year. They post about all their new gear that they are waiting to try out in the future. They are consumed with building spreadsheet-based gear lists in order to have the lightest kit possible.
Many of these lightweight and ultralight hikers are constantly evangelizing their religion to the so called traditional hikers, who these preachers want to lighten their gear. But I have to hand it to the so called traditionalists; they buy their gear and just use the same stuff over and over.
GEAR REALITY CHECK
Okay, I get it.
I enjoy reading several blogs owned by other backpackers, especially trip reports. Even though I have been hiking for a long time, it is amazing how much I learn from other hikers.
But more and more, it seems the majority of backpackers spend their time writing about the gear they have purchased and how they hope to use it in the future, or they are searching for the next best wonderful piece of gear, or they are reviewing the 6th stove or pack they bought this year.
When it comes to gear, it is just a means to an end. Gear is needed for multi-day trips. I do appreciate some of the tips and techniques others share as it relates to HOW they use their gear.
I really don’t own much gear, if you take into consideration I have kept almost everything I have accumulated over the past 40 plus years.
When I got out of the Military in 1971, I bought a complete kit from an outfitter in Fresno, CA. It replaced all the crap I had bought at swap meets and department stores when I was a teenager. Over the next 3 or 4 years, I filled in or replaced a few items as I refined my skills. This was my kit for the next 10 years.
In the 1980’s I added additional gear. This was to fulfill two needs
- Appropriate gear for backpacking in winter in snow conditions
- A larger pack to handle copious amounts of water needed as I extended my desert travels
For the next 20 years my gear purchases were limited to replacing clothes that wore out. Nothing more.
The New Millennium
In 2008, I turned 58 and noticed I was slowing down a little bit. Even with my well used traditional gear, my pack weight without food, water, and fuel was always less than 20lbs, except for the occasional long snow trip. So I started testing the ultralight waters so I could continue my hikes without compromise to Father Time.
Over the next couple of years I assembled a completely new kit, relegating all my old gear to the museum (the garage). Some gear just didn’t work out, as it was too fragile or poorly designed. So I gave what didn’t work to others who could use it.
By 2010, I was set with my gear. I didn’t need to buy anything, except for a couple specialty items for special trips.
In 2011 I replaced a couple more light items with more functional pieces.
In 2012 I bought two stoves; a WindPro II that was more functional than my original WindPro and a Lite Trails Cooking system for when I needed a more robust pot than my Caldera Cone set up.
This year, 2013, I bought a TrailStar tent for trips where I expect high winds. I bought a couple replacement Coghlan’s Squeeze Tubes for peanut butter and honey to replace the ones that had worn out, and I bought a paring knife to spread the peanut butter.
That is it. I don’t need any more gear. I am done, unless something wears out.
And now I find all this gear talk boring, so I shall quit writing about gear for a while.