Falling behind schedule, the family is loaded in the car waiting, the dogs are going nuts in anticipation of the hike, and I suddenly wonder if I’ve brought enough gear. Maybe I should have packed heavier jackets. Do we need a shovel in case we get stuck in the snow? I forgot the backup batteries for the GPS. Did we bring the dog’s folding water bowl? And so back into the house I run for more gear. Sometimes it borders on obsessive–compulsive disorder.
Some of the best comedy is stuff that makes you laugh at yourself. In this video clip from the TV series Portlandia, the couple goes way overboard on the gear for their “big outing”. While I don’t go to this extreme, it does remind me of myself at times.
I recently read a book of essays about John Muir. He’d go off into the wilderness for days with just the clothes on his back, some bread, tea (and a cup), and sometimes a blanket. Not even today’s ultra-light backpackers pack that light. These days we can get too wrapped up in the gear. Some of it is essential for comfort and safety. Some of it’s just fun. Or maybe we just want to look the part. I admit to walking through an outdoor store like REI, not only looking for what I came for, but sometimes to discover new things I didn’t know I needed.
Get the Gear. Just remember to balance it out. Take what you need, have some fun with your gadgets, but don’t let your gear consume you. Otherwise you’ll end up bringing all the distractions you’re trying to get away from, and only get 15 minutes of outside time like the couple in the video. The main goal is simply to enjoy the outdoors!