Friday, November 17, 2017

Expensive Hiking Gear

There's a recent article in Adventure Journal about the high price of hiking gear. The author brings up some very good points. It's worth reading. Even accounting for inflation, basic hiking gear has gotten pricey. Apparently we can't look like bums out in the woods anymore.

Personally, I thought a lot of gear was expensive and unnecessary 40 years ago. Then again, I never had much extra money to waste. When everyone was going to expensive lightweight down jackets, I had a heavy wool coat. However, my wool coat was still warm when wet while a wet down jacket was pretty much useless. New synthetics are better in wet weather these days, but there are good enough versions and way too expensive ones.

One place I tended to spend a little more money was on my sleeping bag. A good night's sleep makes all the difference in the world. Even there, you can save a lot of money if aren't trying to shave every ounce off your pack weight.

That's another thing that bother's me. There's such an emphasis on light weight that other qualities are sacrificed. Durability is one of them. Ultralight gear that falls apart in the middle of the woods is no bargain. I'm also more inclined to add things that truly improve comfort and safety.

Don't get me started on trekking poles. These days people use freaking trekking poles to cross the street. They pay serious money for them too. I like a good walking stick and mine was free for the taking. If you really feel the need for treking poles, go to a garage sale and get some old ski poles then take the baskets off.

One of the things that makes ultralight weight hiking possible is the availability of resupply points. For example, the Appalachian Trail has many places along the way that cater to hikers. You don't need to carry much food if you can resupply often. Also, if your light weight gear falls apart, you can replace it in a day or two.

I've been thinking about hiking lately as my leg has been getting better. Thanks to being more active I've been losing a few pounds. By the time we get back from our winter travels, I'll be in better condition. While I have little desire to be an Appalachian Trail Georgia to Maine through hiker, I do want to wander off into the woods more. A lot of the places I'd love to see again don't even have trails so old style tough gear will be the way to go.



  1. The old style stuff is hard to beat, when you can find it.

    1. I like to shop where loggers shop for their outdoor gear.

  2. They just don't make things like they used to. And don't get me started on why China is now our biggest supplier of goods.

    1. China sizes are all wrong too. Just bought a coat for my granddaughter who's going to be 11. Had to get her a woman's medium.

  3. Agreement. Who needs a $40 hiking staff when a free pick up in the wild is right there. $100 plus canvas backpacks - what in the world ? Give me a military rucksack and I am good to go.

    One of my favorite hiking "jackets" is actually a vest. You start off cold, but as the hike progresses (especially with elevation changes), you warm up quickly. You don't really miss the sleeves unless there is precipitation.

    Vests are also for cold weather shopping trips. Cold outside - warm building interior, a vest does not require removal to be comfortable.

    1. My old full frame pack is way out of style, but still in good shape.

      I like your use of a vest for going from cold to warm conditions.