A bomb has just exploded in my living room. There are boots and backpacks, trekking poles, various sizes of hydration bladders, headlamps, camp stoves, more head lamps, first aid kits, random bandaids in every size known to man, fleece jackets, wind breakers, two man tents, four man tents, sleeping bags with different temperature ratings, and much more. It looks as though perhaps I robbed the local REI and am assessing my booty.
In reality, I’m going on an overnight trek/camping trip. But I have to bring just the right gear, lest I face anything less than the comfort of home.
Somewhere in the last couple of decades, everything you could ever need for the outdoors was invented. Regardless of the capacity in which you’d like to enjoy it (house on wheels or backpack stuffed with dried food), there is likely equipment that facilitates your adventure.
We have solar chargers for our iPhones, stainless steel wine glasses (my personal favorite), boots for mountaineering, boots for hiking, boots for walking. We have backpacks for heavy loads and light loads. We have pants for this sort of thing and that sort of thing.
Along the way, it seemed to become impossible to consider adventuring outdoors unless one had spent the appropriate amount of time, research, and money on acquiring just the right kit for just the right trip.
Once upon a time, people climbed Everest in woolies and leather boots. I’m pretty sure it sucked. But I can tell you that it doesn’t suck any less with the right gear. (You may keep more toes, however.)
Not having trail shoes doesn’t mean you cannot veer off the road and explore some new terrain. We used to run in All-Stars on the track and the historical trail runners of our nation have been wearing moccasins without blisters or knee injuries for quite some time.
We used to hike in jeans. I’m pretty sure John Muir did not have an internal frame, hydration pack capable, conveniently compartmentalized backpack. Lewis and Clark schlepped cedar chests through uncharted territory, not to mention a lot of paper and ink.
A while ago I met with someone for a trail run. He’d never been running before and it was a cold winter day. He was wearing Vibram five-fingers, Carhart pants that looked like they’d been through a firewood season or two, and a grin as wide as his ears.
I ran with a horse trainer in Ireland who forgot his running shoes one day so he ran in his training boots. Twenty miles. He’d eat chunks of soda bread while we slurped gels. He’d wear his waxed rain slicker on colder days. He was sixty-something, outran most of us, and seemed to have just as much fun.
Getting outside for an adventure should not be dependent on having just the right shoes or flexible-kneed, moisture-wicking pants. It should be dependent on a sense of adventure. Somewhere between dangerously unprepared and a maxed out REI card is a healthy balance. You will not die if you run in a cotton t-shirt on a hot day. Your nipples might chafe away though.
This is not to suggest you attempt to summit Rainier in your Keds or head out without enough water. It doesn’t mean you should climb peaks with insufficient equipment (or training!), or be generally ignorant or unprepared about what may happen in the great outdoors. Bring your knife and a first aid kit in case you need to get survivalist out there.
The next time you find yourself resisting an outdoor excursion because you don’t have just the right accessories, think about those who have gone before you. They were not limited by anything but their sense of adventure. Take a knapsack, a can of tuna, and go find yours.
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