Backpacking is Pointless, and That’s the Point

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Backpacking is Pointless, and That’s the Point

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    Ben Kilbourne
    BPL Member


    Locale: Utah

    Companion forum thread to: Backpacking is Pointless, and That’s the Point

    Maybe not everything about ultralight backpacking has to be optimized.

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    Schedule-wise, it’s not so much the hiking but think real life home life/logistics intrudes schedule wise.  Even the dedicated thru-hiker crowd mostly goes indoors for winter … or Mexico.…

    gear optimization

    Equipment wise there’s room for more argument.   There are those with full gear closets vs those making 1 packing list do multiple duties … gram weenies, oz weenies, and on the other side those with trail names known as “metric ton”.  If I were to try to impress someone new to backpacking, I’d probably throw in some luxury and ditto for the colder months when the nights get long for even myself.   Yet looking at a higher mileage endeavor next summer, already planning on a WPB based bivy system. We had a term in the Army .. depends on the situation. 

    David U


    Backpacking for me is relationship building. I now backpack a lot with my son and it is a great way to get to know each other outside of our busy regular lives.

    spelt with a t
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rangeley, ME

    Thank you for your thoughts. I find the concept of Dasein very helpful to work with. Erich Fromm’s To Have Or To Be might be of interest to you.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    Interesting take on backpacking. My interest is not miles accrued or trails accomplished, but just spending time in nature, to witness natural beauty. Part of my preparation for a hike is learning the trees, shrubs, flowers, and wildlife that is in the area. The natural history, geology and birds. I choose places that are rich in natural interest, which is one reason I’ll never do a long trail; too much of each of those trails is really boring, through 2nd growth and clearcut forest, dirt roads through human wasteland, etc. (That kind of terrain really makes me wish I had a bike!) Even the walking isn’t that interesting for me, although it’s good for me. There is a point, for me, and nature is it. Backpacking can get me to places that you simply cannot see by car. HYOH!

    John Giesemann
    BPL Member


    I think you can have the best of both worlds, i. e. you can have your neuroses and hike, too. The neuroses come in the gear buying, planning, and fretting before the trip stages. The hiking comes in once you get out of the car and on the trail. As Ray Jardine says: “If you get out there and find you don’t have something you need, you didn’t need it anyway!” or something to that effect.

    Or another way to put it: Apply the 50 year rule. Will it matter 50 years from now? If the answer is yes, then worry about it. If the answer is no, don’t worry about it.

    Paralysis by analysis is never preferable to a hike!

    Ian H
    BPL Member


    Going somewhere is when I go to work. Or the shops, etc. Going to a destination with specific intent. Like you say, backpacking is not really about a destination, because you always end up back home. It’s filling in the time with some (Type 1??, hopefully) fun.

    On a recent walk I saw a couple of sea eagles, so sat down on a cliff edge (about 200m high) to watch. I opened my cheese sandwich, while the eagle spiralled above me, then slowly spiralled down. He did a final talon dive, coming up with a fish. I got to have lunch with a sea eagle!!!!

    Rest of the 2 night trip was enjoyable, a familiar track on the Tasman Peninsula, but being there at just the right moment to see something I’ve never seen before, was reason enough for a good walk. And motivation to go back.

    Don’t worry about worrying, that’s why I fill my fuel tank, clean windows, check oil and tyre pressure in the car before setting out on a long drive to the trailhead. I can relax on the drive because I know I have enough fuel to get there, enough window washer for mud/rain etc. Same with the EPIRB, the first aid kit that rarely gets opened, the garbage bag and the toilet roll. Pack enough for optimal fun, and go for it. That day-old cheese sandwich tastes better if you can eat it with an eagle.

    Curtis Carmack
    BPL Member


    No doubt we are all different. For whatever reason, I am missing the worry gene. I always assume everything will be fine. Hence my packing list is truly there to make sure I don’t forget something important (as I’m not worried or obsessed about forgetting critical things). The internal debates about gear and buying new kit are most often fillers for the odd moments when I’m thinking about a trip and realize I can stop doing my work for a few minutes to think about something more exciting. The backpacking itself is a wonderful combination of testing my body to make sure it’s still alive and non-stop wonder at the beauty and complexity of the natural world. The solitude doesn’t hurt, either.

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