Wallowing in Confusion
I thought I’d be outfitted by now. I thought the more I researched equipment, the easier the choices would be. Instead, the weeks are rushing by, the start of our thru-hike approaching with alarming speed, and I’m feeling less and less prepared. I’m wallowing in indecision, anguishing over every item of clothing and equipment, unable to decide what to buy. As a result, all I’ve bought so far are some incidental items – a few miniature tubes of Shoe Goo, some electrolyte replacement tablets, and a blaze orange buff.
Last weekend, for example, I decided to buy my pack. After doing tons of research, studying the online forums as if they held the key to immortality, and querying every thru-hiker I met while hiking on the trail nearby, I’d made a list of several options I thought might work. My husband walked into the store, tried on one pack – the ULA Circuit – and was sold. He also picked up a pair of rain pants, completing his backpacking wardrobe. Within minutes he was ready to leave.
Not me. I spent three hours trying on packs. I tested several sizes and styles. I swapped out the belts and straps. Then I stuffed the bags with different weights and clomped around the store, trying to answer the outfitter’s questions. How did it feel? (Like I had a pack on my back.) Was the pack riding too low? (No idea. Where is it supposed to ride?) How about the belt? (What did he think? He’d pulled it so tight I could barely breathe, then kept claiming that it was too big.) I spent hours trying to understand the array of features, too inexperienced to know what to look for, and utterly bewildered by all the straps – load-lifting, compression, load-stabilizers. How would I ever adjust a pack on my own? I couldn’t even get the hang of taking it off! (A complicated hand-over-hand maneuver I didn’t have the flexibility to execute.) And when I did finally decide on a pack (the same pack as my husband’s), it turned out that they didn’t have the size I needed in stock. In the end, all I came home with was a pack cover and some water purification tablets, along with instructions for ordering the backpack online.
Now panic is setting in. I don’t have my sleeping system yet. I don’t have rain gear, a stove, or even most of my clothes. I’m feeling confused and stalled, the enormity of this undertaking starting to make me scared. How can this be so easy for my husband and so hard for me? And if buying equipment is this difficult, how on earth will I survive the trail? I’m beginning to fear that I’m in way over my head.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.