Do I Have a Shopping Problem?
I hate shopping! I am 26 years old and my mom still buys my underwear. Every Christmas, I have three pairs of American Eagle boxers waiting for me in my stocking and I must admit, the designs get better and better every year. They are the right amount of PG-13 to make the immature boy in me laugh, while somehow staying G enough to be able to get them from your mom. Like the Popsicle ones I got last year. YOU KNOW what you do with a Popsicle. But also, get your mind out of the gutter; Popsicles are amazing.
Anyway, ever since I’ve decided to do this little endeavor, I can’t stop shopping. Every backpack looks better than the last one. This raincoat is one ounce lighter than the one I just bought. And you know what the blogs tell you about every ounce! In one article my backpack is labeled as ultra-lightweight but in the next one it’s under lightweight. And we can’t have just lightweight; that would be preposterous.
Also, why does every outdoor company have such good customer service? REI will take back the socks I wore for a hike up Mount Tam because I found out that another sock company uses 45% merino wool instead of the 43% merino wool in mine. And to make matters worse, they’re happy about it! They’ll gladly take back my used socks. REI, you’re not helping me here. Have worse customer service.
The Sad Truth
It’s sad to admit, but at this point in my thru-hiking career, I have spent more time scouring the deepest depths of the internet to find the lightest possible titanium spoon than I have spent training for the PCT. So, do I have a problem?
That’s a complicated question. I definitely am obsessed when it comes to planning, as I have always made sure every one of my trips is planned to the T. I’m the guy who needs to make sure every hotel is booked, every restaurant reserved, and every flight ticket accounted for. While this is easy enough for a weekend trip, I’ve slowly realized it is impossible for a thru-hike and that’s a realization that I’m slowly coming to terms with.
Getting Your Mind Right
The sooner you start to accept that no thru-hike will go as planned, the sooner you can breathe and focus on what’s really important: the actual hike. No shoes will last the whole hike, no tent will keep out all the condensation, and no one blog can tell you if you prefer quilts or mummy bags. The only way to find out is to go find out for yourself.
So thank you, REI. Because of you, I realized I love quilts! I went to Joshua Tree last weekend and tried mine for the first time and I will not be returning it. So, anyone out there who has a bookmark folder full of the “Top 10 Ultra Lightweight Tents of 2019” like I do, take a deep breath. Don’t overthink it. If it doesn’t work out the first time, it will the second or third time. This is not to say that planning and research isn’t important. It’s equally as important to have the right weight and the right gear as it is to be physically prepared for a hike. But in a time when technology is taking over hiking and buying/returning gear is as easy as ever, we can’t forget about the real reasons why we’re doing this. Whatever that may be for you.
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Their garage sales are the best! Got over 1500 in gear for 500! Boohya!
Too bad the ultra lightweight gear movement hadn’t started yet in 1979 when I was hiking in Alaska with NOLS. Nothing like a nice cozy 75 lb metal frame pack to have strapped on for a few weeks. Ahh the good old days! NOT