Friday, April 4, 2014
I look at the prices of new outdoor gear and wonder how the hell the average, middle class person can afford to purchase anything new. Obviously, people are buying the gear because retailers are selling it for those prices, but how can your average dirt-bagger afford to pay $200 for a pack, $250 for a tent, another $100 bucks on a sleeping pad, and still have enough money left over to pay for the gas to get to the trail head? I've decided to go with ingenuity instead of consumerism. For example, I saw an ultralight bear bagging kit for $50 online. It consisted of a stuff sack to put the food in, 50' of light line, a carabiner, a second smaller stuff sack for rocks, and an "odor proof" clear plastic waterproof container. Seriously? $50 plus shipping? First of all, there is no odor proof clear plastic bag. Somewhere in the woods a bear or a raccoon is laughing his ass off after reading that marketing ploy. I'll pack my trail food in a Ziploc that's already in my pantry and it will be just as useless at keeping animals from smelling the food. Secondly, I have quite a few stuff sacks that came for free with second hand gear I bought off of eBay. I've got all kinds of light cordage laying around so I'll just use some of that. And the last time I went to a conference for my job I got a handful of carabiners that should work just fine. With all of the great how-to videos online, you could easily modify most techniques to work with what you've already got in the garage or basement. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of solid, affordable, high quality gear that lasts for years and years and I've bought my fair share of those things. It's just a shame that retailers won't produce a line of useful gear for the weekend warrior that's affordable - they'll have to take a little less in terms of profit margins but they will get normal people like me to shell out some cash on new gear. Kind of like that old $30 Coleman Sundome tent I have from 15 years ago that is still perfectly serviceable and will be for years to come. It's great for canoe camping but its just not sexy. Oh, and one more thing while I'm on my soap box. Living in Ohio, I spend most of my camping and backpacking time in the area. We don't have many bears to worry about. It's those sneaky raccoons and mice that destroy your food bag and dig through your pack. Someone needs to make a cheap, raccoon proof bag that local retailers can sell to those of us around here - I'd pay for that. Hey, wait a minute, maybe that could be me...then I could cash in.