The Overlook: Good Gear Lets You Be Present
Jun 15, 2021 at 9:00 am #3718695Ben KilbourneBPL Member
Companion forum thread to: The Overlook: Good Gear Lets You Be Present
What’s the perfect pack? One that stays off your mind.Jun 15, 2021 at 1:56 pm #3718751Gerry B.BPL Member
@taedawoodLocale: Louisiana, USA
Excellent essay. I can surely relate to it. I have learned that sometimes when searching for the “best” piece of gear I make the mistake of seeking the “holy grail” of lightest weight when in reality I need to seek for comfort and simplicity.Jun 17, 2021 at 9:39 am #3719032Curtis CarmackBPL Member
For me a sign that I’ve made a good gear choice is that initially delights me and then fades into the background, as Ben suggests. If I stop obsessing over that particular category, then I really know I’ve made a good selection.Jun 18, 2021 at 4:45 pm #3719184James MBPL Member
I really like this piece. One tactic I’ve found helpful is thinking about all of the really good experiences I’ve had with less-than-ideal gear. I have a big optimizer part of my personality, and it can be fun in and of itself to try to optimize my gear, but ultimately that’s a separate and much less important hobby to me than being out there and away from everything.Jun 18, 2021 at 5:45 pm #3719192Rex SandersBPL Member
Beautiful essay, important lessons.
“but the point is that I found something that works for me.”
Something most of us strive for. But how do we do that if we’re not professional gear testers, or can’t afford (in money, time, or trips) to buy, try, return or resell, and repeat? And gear that gets out of the way on one trip might be miserable on another.
As I’ve written before, sometimes good enough gear is just that. Still, I’m tempted to find gear that fades away.
Maybe that’s more important for some pieces than others. Makes me glad I’ve found a backpack that works for me on most trips – after buying and trying about 20 others over too many decades.
— RexJun 20, 2021 at 1:23 pm #3719347Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Ben, your statement that you felt safe in your tent is exactly how I feel in mine. For 3 season backpacking it’s a Tarptent Notch Li and for winter solo trips a TT Moment DW with modified internal crossing pole.
As an “elder of the tribe’ I absolutely must pare weight but I refuse to pare comfort so that means a full length 3 season air mattress, 20 degree down mummy bag, secure tent and, like yours, with a useable vestibule that also shelters the entrance. All this means I sleep well and am well rested in the morning despite foul weather.
And my pack must have a frame for that on-the-trail comfort. Even though my pack weight, with 2 liters of water, is 28 lbs. on the first day of a 5 day trip I still want my Osprey EXOS 58 for its comfort. An example of a little comfort item is 1/2 of a Thermarest closed cell sit pad that stores behind my EXOS’ mesh trampoline back panel. Maybe it’s an extra 2 ounces but it is a lot of sitting comfort, especially on cold or wet days.
SULers that insist on cutting off hiking pole straps and using packs with no frame are, IMHO, ounce wise and comfort foolish. But still, HYOH.Jun 22, 2021 at 1:00 am #3719531Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
a little comfort item is 1/2 of a Thermarest closed cell sit pad that stores behind my EXOS’ mesh trampoline back panel.
Long long ago (40+ years) we were walking Offas Dyke Path in Wales (UK). It was, to put not too fine a point on it, WET. All the time.
Every time we sat down we got a wet bum – a COLD wet bum. And our packs were getting very wet.
So we stopped in a town along the way that had a good gear shop. Was it Alston? Can’t remember. We bought pack covers and sit-mats.
Next morning, when we stopped for morning tea sitting on a wet log, we used the mats. 5 seconds after sitting on them, my wife and I turned to each other and said, simultaneously, “I’ve got a warm bum.”
We have carried them ever since – and they still work.
CheersJun 22, 2021 at 7:25 am #3719544Murali CBPL Member
Every trip, I have a new perfect backpack and new perfect tent – different from the previous trips:-)
Eric – regarding your comment:
SULers that insist on cutting off hiking pole straps and using packs with no frame are, IMHO, ounce wise and comfort foolish. But still, HYOH.
Eric – you could have also said the following: “I use my Osprey Aether. Anyone who uses a Exos is ounce wise and comfort foolish. Using a 2 ounce foam for sitting? Crazy – I use a chair”
Everything in life is relative.
But to Ben’s article and Rex’s comments. I feel the beauty of the setting makes me forget my gear always. I am always enjoying/soaking in the views, taking pictures and just smiling ear to ear and just being happy on the trail – not thinking about the backpack etc. I do know that I have had some sore shoulders when setting up tent some nights. But, these gear experiences are not what I remember about my trip. Or the painful climbs up the passes. I guess my point is beauty of the nature is more noteworthy than any pain you may be experiencing with gear or the trail. I feel it is easy to be present in a beautiful setting.
We humans are never satisfied – that’s what makes us try new tents/backpacks even if we have something that works. We humans are perfectionists – if something works 80%, but doesn’t work for 20% of the time, we want to find something that works 100% of the time. So, the search will always be there for that perfect something. But, blessed is the person who is happy with the gear they have and stops looking. Because, nothing is perfect in life – there is no perfect backpack, no perfect tent, no perfect wife or kid. Just trade offs. There will be good days with gear, there will be bad days with gear.
I understand the sentiment of this essay. Good essay Ben.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.