Confessions of a Non-Gear-Head

Confession: I am not a gear head (I know, wrong crowd to admit this to but I am practicing radical self-acceptance). Actually, I’m not really into it at all.  I also really hate shopping. So acquiring my gear for my March NOBO is not something I have been looking forward to. If someone just sent me a bundle and charged me a flat rate, I would happily accept (good business opportunity for someone more go-getter than me!)

Too many options, reviews, pros-cons, ounces, prices, judgemental sales people and neon lights.

I don’t like it.

But since there were big sales today and I figured I should stop by REI on my way home.

I walked in with the intent of silently scoping the sales prices, and maybe stealthily scoring a thing or two. But I was greeted immediately by a friendly and helpful clerk who was so excited at the prospect of my through hike. He had hiked the Shenandoah section  and eagerly shared his wisdom with me. He whisked me around the store on an hour-long breakdown of options from everything from apparel to cooking systems to packs to footwear to filtration and when we were done, I was appreciative of his time. But I was busy making a mental note of how much money I would need if I had enough time to earn it and was becoming aware that I don’t yet fit into backpacker culture and was mentally and emotionally exhausted.

After the hour we circled back to the down coats that were on sale, they were only $60 and despite being a non-gearhead I knew this was a good price and since this was an item I would need, the time was now. He talked about the different options, densities, and prices.

He probably saw my eyes glazing over because he asked me to communicate my thought process out loud. I looked at him a little intimated and told him I would say it, but he couldn’t make fun of me. He urged I just say it.

“Well I want a pink one, but the pink ones don’t have hoods.”

He smirked.

Now I know color doesn’t matter. A jacket is a jacket is a jacket is a jacket. But I like pink. And this is my stuff. That I am buying with my money, and pink makes me happy. I imagined a day that was hard  and I was tired and maybe a bright pink jacket would make me feel better. He agreed color was not important and reminded me the sale ended tomorrow.

I bought a black one.

I’m pretty much over it but it gave a good window for reflection. Part of embracing yourself is owning your decisions even when they don’t make sense to someone else. Not having to apologize for what you like or over explain yourself to someone else. Like hiking the AT. It doesn’t make sense, and its hard to explain, it’s not practical but its what I want. It feels right to me and is what I am going to do. Prepare your own hike (PYOH?) Is that a thing? I am sure the black jacket will work just fine, good value, good price. Practical. Sound.

But I just ordered my sleeping bag online, any guess what color it i?

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Comments 11

  • Michael Sweet : Nov 29th

    Own it, Leah. Way to be real. Seeing a pink sleeping bag in a shelter would sure make me smile!

    • Leah : Nov 29th

      Thanks, Michael! You will not only see a pink sleeping bag but a BRIGHT pink one! Haha, thanks for the encouragement.

  • Notebook : Nov 29th

    Yay for non-gearheads!!! And damn that REÍ employee for smirking. I say take the jacket back and wait for an REI garage sale of a pink one. You WILL need the cheering up and your approach makes all the sense in the world. Yay!

    • Leah : Nov 29th

      Yay! Thanks for the support!!

  • Ashley Hill : Nov 29th

    I am not a gear head either and am still overwhelmed by this whole process. To me, researching gear is more tiring than the physical preparations I’ve been doing.

    • Leah : Nov 29th

      I hear you! SO glad to know I am not the only one out there.

  • Mindy mellott : Nov 30th

    Sorry on the jacket but just think the end of the day when you’ve had enough you’ll pull the sleeping bag out and have a big smile before you shut your eyes.

  • Mike : Dec 1st

    I’m not a gearhead either but slowly getting it together for April 2017 Good luck on your hike!

  • Annette : Dec 11th

    Great post! I definitely agree with not needing to apologize or explain. I don’t think it’s necessary to do either in order to be ourselves.

  • Antoinette Goud : Dec 13th

    Loved the article. Even though I do enjoy researching and shopping for “gear” I relate because at a certain point I start to “check out” when overloaded with info . You have encouraged me to go with my “gut” and choose things I know I will enjoy – even the color!! And most importantly, just to get out there!


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