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Outdoor Gear, Backpacking Consumerism, and the Marketplace

  • Thread starter Deleted member 67185
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D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
A friend of mine who hosts his own blog posted this latest entry I've posted below.

Given discussions about gear and clothing we've had on the Forum, I thought this might be of interest as a commentary on the increasingly sad state of backpacking consumerism as it has now evolved. Now, I am all for the free market and I love capitalistic success stories, but I also cringe at marketing products at the expense of true innovation.

This is a separate issue from that of gear and clothing costs which, for specialized backpacking gear, can become quite pricey - despite the ultralight advantage in many instances - for singular Camino use.

This is of special concern to me as one who may be hired to gear test products. . . am I contributing to snake oil and hype by what I do? Would my concerns even matter to those who hire me? After all, quality control and gear testing is a bit removed from the folks who market the stuff. For me, this smacks of an ethical dilemma that I may need to deal with; so far this has not been an issue.

If it ever does, just shoot me. . . please :)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<Begin Quote>

Joan and I hosted a well-known person in the backpacking community who designed gear in the past. He stayed the night with us, and we had some great talks about various outdoor topics, and then I shuttled him to the start of his multi-day trip the following morning.

One topic we discussed over our kitchen table that evening? How much consumerism drives the outdoor marketplace.

It’s nothing new, of course; people always want the latest article of clothing for various reasons. You buy another 3oz fill puffy to replace yet another 3oz fill puffy. And the cycle continues.

But what our guest brought up is how this consumerism is now taking hold in the hard goods category as well. A standard idea is purchasing another expensive tent to replace a few grams heavier shelter. Or to get “the latest and greatest” piece of gear, or how manufacturers are always “updating” their packs seems somewhat newer in our small niche community of long-distance hikes and lightweight backpacking gear.

In short, manufacturers are typically coming out with “new” gear for the same reason Gatorade has so many flavors of their sugary beverage: Shelf space in a grocery store.

Except for the gear and clothing shelf space is room in our closest, or more appropriately, our credit card limit.

Mind you; gear does get updated and innovated. And we all get new equipment on some level. Myself included. You wear out clothing or tools, or you want to try new techniques and ideas. But buying for the sake of buying? That’s a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax.

In short, gear and clothing as fashion.

Something to discard when you are bored and need a dopamine fix. And not something to replace when worn or needs updating.

I made a note to write about this topic on an electronic sticky note, and kind of forget about it over the months.

Then I see a three-hundred (!) response thread about a new grid fleece on Reddit that closely mimics the storied Melly fleece Note by me: (Melanzana - a cottage manufacturer out of Leadville, Colorado).

An earlier thread about a similar piece of clothing has merely (ha!) seventy-one comments.

I remembered the sticky note buried in Google Keep.

For those not familiar with this piece of clothing, the Melly fleece ends up being a well-made, reasonably priced piece of clothing made in the USA that has a cult following. Assuming you can get one as you can’t buy it online, Melzana has limited stock, and people scalp this item for up to three times the price on eBay.

All for a modest grid fleece.

I saw the thread on this topic and went, “Holy ****!”

I wrote my nickel’s worth of thoughts on a separate thread and remembered my conversation with a friend a few months ago.

I find the whole marketing and consumerism aspect interesting: How a simple, if well-made, grid fleed fleece hoodie became an icon.

Not just in ultralight and thru-hiking circles, but also among climbers and #vanlifers (among others). When I took my WFR course this past November, many Melly fleece hoodies abounded.

It’s just a fleece at the end.

However, as with many consumerist items, the purchase and wearing of the piece became a statement in itself. Rather than what you do with the said item in many ways.

<Snip of stuff about living in vans>


But aspirational things sell. You can purchase something and become part of a lifestyle. Practical reality? Not-so-much.

A Melly fleece, at one point, found a niche as mainly a comfy piece of clothing to ward off the chill while camped out or walking in a mountain town, getting your next batch of supplies between climbs. Now, it is an item that costs twice the price or more, on eBay vs. its retail price.

For many people, not all, purchasing a Melly sends a specific statement about your lifestyle, aspirations, or “being in the know.”

A Melly Fleece is the tulip craze of the outdoor world in many ways. And the tool itself has become more important than the experience where you use the tool for many. 🙂


Though Guy Waterman wrote the following text about mobile devices, I feel the last sentence can easily apply to fetishizing gear:

When a new technology is applied to the backcountry, we tend to focus on its practical uses. When someone later points out a gadget’s impact on the quality of the wilderness experience, we tend to classify such ramifications “secondary” or “side effects” of the technology’s application. By taking this view, we preclude questioning the original, intended use of this technology. But in fact the changes that a new technology makes on the wilderness experience are not all secondary, but are intrinsic to the very nature of that technology. The medium is the message. The tool becomes the experience.”
(Emphasis is the author's)

<snip of Harley Davidson analogies>

So we buy the clothing or gear often because we want to be in the know, live a lifestyle, and aspire to do things when time is scarce, but disposable income might be more abundant.

And by making gear and clothing the equivalent of Gatorade with marginally different sugary water flavors at times, manufacturers are happy to help with this goal.

<End Quote>

https://pmags.com/the-quiver-a-plethora-of-puffies
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Dani7

Stop wishing, start doing.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
When the time is right
Having never backpacked in my life and now planning my first Camino I have to admit that ´gearing up’ has been a challenge to NOT fall prey to the latest and greatest. Some choices I realize now were not the right ones and customer reviews and popularity swayed me when something else would have done the trick as well or perhaps better at a lesser price. I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn. It’s not easy but thankfully this wonderful Camino forum community has helped a great deal. Excellent article Dave. Thanks for posting 😀
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
You are not contributing to the snake oil and hype IMO, its always good to get an opinion on new gear by someone who has trialed it, whether you get the gear for free or not does not matter as long as you give an honest opinion as a long distance hiker. After that its up to everyone to make their own choices. The gear I bought for my 2012 Camino was the first I bought since my 1976 tour around Europe and I'm still using that (2012) for the most part. Its all down to the individual whether they get caught up in consumerism or not.
 

FSP

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(13)
Portuguese & Finisterre(16)
Norte & Muxia(18)
Olvidado&Salvador&Primitivo(20??)
Interesting topic. I follow a few thru hikers on youtube and have watched a ton of other youtube backpacker videos testing gear. The marketing towards ultralight is non stop leading a lot of people to spend large sums on gear that may not be appropriate for their level of experience and conditioning. A lot of these social media hikers make it sound like if you don't have an $800 one person tent or a $600 windbreaker or a least a few items made out of cuban fibre you can't hike. To me I think the danger is too many people thinking going ultralight is a substitute for being in the proper condition and having the requisite training and experience. I follow reviews on outdoor gear lab. I like their advice that ultralight gear should be used by hikers with a good level of experience and training and that even then it can get dicey as some of their own very experienced testers have learned. Personally I like comfort so I have a backpack that is larger than I really need for any camino, it was on sale after all, but it fits great and carries weight very well where it should be and I am now disciplined enought to carry only what is necessary. I do have a fleece of course. I bought it in a touristy store for $16 bucks figuring I'd throw it way after one use but the bloody embarrassing thing just won't wear out and now I've grown attached to it.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
You are not contributing to the snake oil and hype IMO, its always good to get an opinion on new gear by someone who has trialed it, whether you get the gear for free or not does not matter as long as you give an honest opinion as a long distance hiker. After that its up to everyone to make their own choices. The gear I bought for my 2012 Camino was the first I bought since my 1976 tour around Europe and I'm still using that (2012) for the most part. Its all down to the individual whether they get caught up in consumerism or not.
Thanks. :)

The thing I'll add is that the gear I test is not for consumer review purposes, but only as feedback to the manufacturer as they are looking at quality control issues and areas to improve a product's usability. I do not post consumer-style reviews.

Now, that is not to say that I haven't been exposed to great stuff that I wouldn't recommend for folks to try out. :)
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
Thanks. :)

The thing I'll add is that the gear I test is not for consumer review purposes, but only as feedback to the manufacturer as they are looking at quality control issues and areas to improve a product's usability. I do not post consumer-style reviews.

Now, that is not to say that I haven't been exposed to great stuff that I wouldn't recommend for folks to try out. :)
Exactly, you tell us don't you. ;)
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
So we buy the clothing or gear often because we want to be in the know, live a lifestyle, and aspire to do things when time is scarce, but disposable income might be more abundant.
True - but the smartest of gear by itself doesn't always help :cool: I have told this story before but here goes anyway. My second Camino Frances. Out on the meseta somewhere. I came across a picnic bench in some shade where a young man was bandaging some very badly blistered feet. A real mess. He looked me up and down and then went on to criticise everything I was carrying or wearing with the exception of my underpants which he inexplicably failed to mention. Every item of gear he possessed was brand new and state of the art. He told me so in great detail and at some length. He managed to suggest that with the ancient and worn-out junk I was using I was lucky to still be alive. When he eventually paused for breath I pointed out as tactfully as I could still manage that I was walking about 10km further than him each day and yet my feet didn't look the bottom of a butcher's scrap bin....
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Interesting topic. I follow a few thru hikers on youtube and have watched a ton of other youtube backpacker videos testing gear. The marketing towards ultralight is non stop leading a lot of people to spend large sums on gear that may not be appropriate for their level of experience and conditioning. A lot of these social media hikers make it sound like if you don't have an $800 one person tent or a $600 windbreaker or a least a few items made out of cuban fibre you can't hike. To me I think the danger is too many people thinking going ultralight is a substitute for being in the proper condition and having the requisite training and experience. I follow reviews on outdoor gear lab. I like their advice that ultralight gear should be used by hikers with a good level of experience and training and that even then it can get dicey as some of their own very experienced testers have learned. Personally I like comfort so I have a backpack that is larger than I really need for any camino, it was on sale after all, but it fits great and carries weight very well where it should be and I am now disciplined enought to carry only what is necessary. I do have a fleece of course. I bought it in a touristy store for $16 bucks figuring I'd throw it way after one use but the bloody embarrassing thing just won't wear out and now I've grown attached to it.
You make some terrific points. 👍

In my mind, ultralight gear is not really the issue in its broadest sense. There is little doubt that having the lightest load makes it easier to enjoy carrying your backpack, which in turn allows you to better enjoy WHY one backpacks. . I have a far better time enjoying my surroundings, communing with my navel, enjoying birdsong, etc, when carrying 8 pounds than when carrying 18 pounds. Or 24 pounds.

It isn't about IF one can carry a heavier load, it is whether one can better enjoy the 'WHY' of what they are doing if they can carry a lighter load. :)

Cuban Fiber is one of the more durable, yet lightest fabrics on the market. . . and it IS expensive. Not only expensive to make, but expensive in how it must be handled and crafted when making something like a tent or backpack.

But dyneema and cuben fiber-based products were a genuine innovation for backpacking.

So the issue is NOT if they are snake oil, but if their purchase meets a cost/benefit ratio. Cost/benefit is of no consequence if one has money to burn, but for most of us we want the best bang for our buck. Whcih leads up to what you and I both agree on.

My criteria is based on Cost Per Mile (kilometer).

If I am needing gear to walk a 500 mile Camino, and I doubt I'll use it much beyond that, clothing and gear become much more expensive than if I need something that I'll use for 5,000 miles. Suddenly, that $125.00, two ounce cuben fiber poncho not only contributes to an ultralight load, but it goes from costing about 0.25 cents per mile, to costing only 0.025 cents per mile.

The Snake Oil consumerism that I am referring to is seen in a recent example with a tent manufactured by Big Agnes. I know tents aren't a Camino issue for most, but it provides a stark example.

It is about 4 ounces lighter than my much roomier Zpacks 2 person, cuben fiber tent (which weighs 20 ounces). BUT, Agnes wanted the "I've got the lightest" trophy by producing something that is flimsy, cramped, and costs $1,000.

Yes, my superior and still ultralight tent is expensive, but it cost me $450.00 4200 miles ago. Today it would cost about $600.00

Was the tent Big Agnes produced REALLY an innovative change? Not in my mind. After my first night of testing it, I terminated my contract to test it, and sent it back with a note which in effect stated. . .Nope, it DID state. . "...do not EVER contact me again if you need to test a piece of crap."

Is the product selling? Yup. Is it worth buying? Nope. Should BA be allowed to make and sell it? Sure. In a free market, manufacturers wont lose profits making things that people won't buy. Do novice backpackers need better education and guidance about gear and clothing? Yes.. . . but social media, by its very nature, makes GOOD guidance difficult.

In fact, there are good quality SilNylon tents by cottage manufacturers that are quite lightweight that will give both quality and space. The weight penalty is about 12 ounces, but the cost is $800. less.

You know what. . .your post and this reply has me thinking that time might be well spent by developing a Budget Friendly Gear List. I have been thinking of doing this for a while, and maybe the time is right. A list of different categories of stuff that is both lightweight but conducive to a 500 mile Camino budget rather than a 5000 mile backpacking need.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
True - but the smartest of gear by itself doesn't always help :cool: I have told this story before but here goes anyway. My second Camino Frances. Out on the meseta somewhere. I came across a picnic bench in some shade where a young man was bandaging some very badly blistered feet. A real mess. He looked me up and down and then went on to criticise everything I was carrying or wearing with the exception of my underpants which he inexplicably failed to mention. Every item of gear he possessed was brand new and state of the art. He told me so in great detail and at some length. He managed to suggest that with the ancient and worn-out junk I was using I was lucky to still be alive. When he eventually paused for breath I pointed out as tactfully as I could still manage that I was walking about 10km further than him each day and yet my feet didn't look the bottom of a butcher's scrap bin....
Wonderful :) That was a perfect story/point.
 

K Turner

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August-October 2019 CF
My husband and I did our Camino with cost in mind at every step. Our fleece sweaters came from a thrift store. Our packs and socks came from theclymb.com so they were from the model year prior so the color changed. We're not ones to follow or want something just because it's the latest. Our inexpensive gear serves us beautifully!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I prefer resale/thrift store shopping in my regular life and that includes the enjoyment of looking for items for walking the camino. I do not seek after name brands with outward labels in general because I feel they do not represent who I am as a person. I do not get my personal self worth from owning "the latest and greatest", nor succumb to the trap of "keeping up with Jonses". I do take exception in shoe and backpack quality as I feel they are the most important components of any long distance walk.
I do wear lightweight wicking clothing on the camino, purchased mostly at resale shops, or the Dollar Store. I try to be frugal with myself, but generous to others in my life.
Edit- My main luxury in retirement is the cost of traveling overseas to enjoy the camino experiences I've come to cherish. They make me feel young although I am no longer young!
 
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Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
A timely post, @davebugg. I often have occasion to remind myself of Thoreau’s injunction: ‘beware of all enterprises that require new clothes [or gear] ... If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes.’ But the sage’s advice that ‘one thick garment is, for most purposes, as good as three thin ones’ would probably not find favour among caministas.

You’re safe on this forum: we don’t shoot messengers for or against consumerism!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
A friend of mine who hosts his own blog posted this latest entry I've posted below.

Given discussions about gear and clothing we've had on the Forum, I thought this might be of interest as a commentary on the increasingly sad state of backpacking consumerism as it has now evolved. Now, I am all for the free market and I love capitalistic success stories, but I also cringe at marketing products at the expense of true innovation.

This is a separate issue from that of gear and clothing costs which, for specialized backpacking gear, can become quite pricey - despite the ultralight advantage in many instances - for singular Camino use.

This is of special concern to me as one who may be hired to gear test products. . . am I contributing to snake oil and hype by what I do? Would my concerns even matter to those who hire me? After all, quality control and gear testing is a bit removed from the folks who market the stuff. For me, this smacks of an ethical dilemma that I may need to deal with; so far this has not been an issue.

If it ever does, just shoot me. . . please :)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<Begin Quote>

Joan and I hosted a well-known person in the backpacking community who designed gear in the past. He stayed the night with us, and we had some great talks about various outdoor topics, and then I shuttled him to the start of his multi-day trip the following morning.

One topic we discussed over our kitchen table that evening? How much consumerism drives the outdoor marketplace.

It’s nothing new, of course; people always want the latest article of clothing for various reasons. You buy another 3oz fill puffy to replace yet another 3oz fill puffy. And the cycle continues.

But what our guest brought up is how this consumerism is now taking hold in the hard goods category as well. A standard idea is purchasing another expensive tent to replace a few grams heavier shelter. Or to get “the latest and greatest” piece of gear, or how manufacturers are always “updating” their packs seems somewhat newer in our small niche community of long-distance hikes and lightweight backpacking gear.

In short, manufacturers are typically coming out with “new” gear for the same reason Gatorade has so many flavors of their sugary beverage: Shelf space in a grocery store.

Except for the gear and clothing shelf space is room in our closest, or more appropriately, our credit card limit.

Mind you; gear does get updated and innovated. And we all get new equipment on some level. Myself included. You wear out clothing or tools, or you want to try new techniques and ideas. But buying for the sake of buying? That’s a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax.

In short, gear and clothing as fashion.

Something to discard when you are bored and need a dopamine fix. And not something to replace when worn or needs updating.

I made a note to write about this topic on an electronic sticky note, and kind of forget about it over the months.

Then I see a three-hundred (!) response thread about a new grid fleece on Reddit that closely mimics the storied Melly fleece Note by me: (Melanzana - a cottage manufacturer out of Leadville, Colorado).

An earlier thread about a similar piece of clothing has merely (ha!) seventy-one comments.

I remembered the sticky note buried in Google Keep.

For those not familiar with this piece of clothing, the Melly fleece ends up being a well-made, reasonably priced piece of clothing made in the USA that has a cult following. Assuming you can get one as you can’t buy it online, Melzana has limited stock, and people scalp this item for up to three times the price on eBay.

All for a modest grid fleece.

I saw the thread on this topic and went, “Holy ****!”

I wrote my nickel’s worth of thoughts on a separate thread and remembered my conversation with a friend a few months ago.

I find the whole marketing and consumerism aspect interesting: How a simple, if well-made, grid fleed fleece hoodie became an icon.

Not just in ultralight and thru-hiking circles, but also among climbers and #vanlifers (among others). When I took my WFR course this past November, many Melly fleece hoodies abounded.

It’s just a fleece at the end.

However, as with many consumerist items, the purchase and wearing of the piece became a statement in itself. Rather than what you do with the said item in many ways.

<Snip of stuff about living in vans>


But aspirational things sell. You can purchase something and become part of a lifestyle. Practical reality? Not-so-much.

A Melly fleece, at one point, found a niche as mainly a comfy piece of clothing to ward off the chill while camped out or walking in a mountain town, getting your next batch of supplies between climbs. Now, it is an item that costs twice the price or more, on eBay vs. its retail price.

For many people, not all, purchasing a Melly sends a specific statement about your lifestyle, aspirations, or “being in the know.”

A Melly Fleece is the tulip craze of the outdoor world in many ways. And the tool itself has become more important than the experience where you use the tool for many. 🙂


Though Guy Waterman wrote the following text about mobile devices, I feel the last sentence can easily apply to fetishizing gear:


(Emphasis is the author's)

<snip of Harley Davidson analogies>

So we buy the clothing or gear often because we want to be in the know, live a lifestyle, and aspire to do things when time is scarce, but disposable income might be more abundant.

And by making gear and clothing the equivalent of Gatorade with marginally different sugary water flavors at times, manufacturers are happy to help with this goal.

<End Quote>

https://pmags.com/the-quiver-a-plethora-of-puffies
Senor Bug,
You have touched on a subject that is a disease of pandemic proportion around the world. First let me tell you that you know how much I respect your knowledge and guidance in a multitude of areas. I think if we met we probably would have very different opinions on a whole variety of non pilgrim topics but who cares. I also know that you will know when it is time to step away from product testing because you are just another "cog" to feed the beast. Now you are giving you are giving honest and needed information based on your years of experience. The moment will come when you feel that you and others who are honest testers are having their recommendations twisted and distorted by the manufacturer.
I think in some ways the Camino is a perfect reflection of the world and the rampant consumerism that affluence brings to one's mindset.
It is more obvious than ever that huge numbers of people gain purpose and a self of identity by losing their identity to the I[hone, their twitter, their clothes, their political and social associations. The list goes on and on. The label on a garment, for many, is an extension of their identity and their entry to meeting "like minded people". I used to fight with my wife when she bought me clothes that had a label on the outside. I always said why the hell are you paying more for this shirt? I am giving this a@@H$$le designer free advertising, he should be paying me to wear it.
On the Camino, having lightweight, durable, washable and clothes that will protect you are important. But where does it end? I remember reading an article about what clothes to bring on a camino and the price tag for everything was in the multiple thousands. Over $100 for a headlamp, close to $100 for a hat, $500 for a sleeping bag. You get the idea. People ask about their iPads, their $1000 iPhones, their variety of cameras that I have no idea what they cost, the list goes on and on. I understand people are into these things and they enjoy it. But it is a pilgrimage first, last and foremost. Are you living your experience through a sense or a computer or telephone screen. When do you just feel what you are doing and live it. I think this is just an extension of consumerism and the death of capitalism that has rotted into, well lets not get political. It is also the added sense of isolation that so many feel trapped in front of their screens and only being able to connect through their transfixion of materials. We must have the next best thing as soon as possible even though what we have at home or in our pockets works just fine. Look at the Phone addicts who line up at each new release of a new iPhone. It is just like the junkie who needs more fixes a day because the effects of your high diminish with every new spike in their vanes.
I KNOW THIS IS ALL A JUDGEMENT, SO ALL YOU NON JUDGMENTAL JUDGMENT PEOPLE WHO LIVE TO BASH ANY HINT OF POLITICAL INCORRECTNESS NEED NOT WASTE THIER BREATH AND KEYPAD STROKES TELLING ME HOW JUDGMENTAL AND UNCAMINO LIKE I AM. DON'T SWEAT IT AND IGNORE ME.
It is a pilgrimage. It is a time of fellowship, joy pain, love and solitude. Not a time to be walking product catalog for some incredibly overpriced clothing or gear company. No need to get into how 99% of these corporations we support are all crushing workers rights, directly or indirectly destroying our environment, lobbying for even greater tax cuts etc etc etc that most pilgrims in their hears want to see changed but not at the expense of their comfort or their consumer identity.
This is not just pilgrims, or you or me specifically but it is a poison throughout the world and it is only growing.
So Mr. Bugg, keep doing what you are doing and have no worries.
For me and any opinion you may have, trust me, I am just as much to blame and probably one of the great dickheads who is still a dickhead, maybe a little more spiritually oriented dickhead, even after 5 caminos.
If their are typos don't blame me I hate proofreading.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
I love this post. And I find myself at times judging others for their expensive gear (I am not rich), but the truth I don't like to admit is that I too find myself susceptible to the seduction of the 'next best thing'. I do have ultralight gear that is/was expensive, but I have a tender back and need to pack light.

But... I am susceptible to the latest and greatest at times. It's a real struggle to talk myself out of needing what I don't really need. It's an ongoing challenge.

Thanks, @davebugg for reminding me that this is something I always need to keep in front of me.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Several issues are being rolled together in this discussion. Some are necessarily connected but others are not.

There is the rampant consumerism (which is bad) and the pursuit of excellence with respect to gear design, etc. (which I think is good, in itself).

I love my smart phone. My husband doesn't use one. We are both similar in our values with respect to consumerism.

We are quite frugal, overall. But he will only buy a brand new car that scores very high in consumer and technical reviews. We get a new one every 30 years whether we need it or not.

My wardrobe is pitiful. However, I take great pleasure in my expensive Icebreaker merino wool zip sweater, for example. It was not on sale. I enjoy it immensely because it is such a well made, designed, and attractive item. According to my idealistic values, I probably should have found something slightly less expensive and donated the difference to a good cause.
 

ginniek

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances 2017
It's not just backpacking--name the sport or activity, and gear and apparel become the main topics of discussion. It has gotten much worse over the years, because the choice was so limited. 50+ years ago I hiked up my first mountain (wouldn't call it climbing because it was not "technical") in tennis shoes that were no longer good enough for tennis. Then I upped my game and started wearing my little brother's hand me down work boots. Now Hoka provides my footwear. I really never expected swimming to need so much stuff, other than well designed competition suits, goggles to fit various faces, kickboards and pull buoys. Now there are websites full of gear. Since I still swim 4-5 miles a week but don't like spending more than I have to, I depend on last year's colors--at a discount--from Swim Outlet, but stick to two particular brands of suits and one model of goggles.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
When I look through my photographs of the last ten years, I seem to be always wearing the same clothes...and they are still in the cupboard, and still being worn, although the red Macabi hiking skirt has faded badly. For some things I paid full price, others came from Aldi or Costco, others came from the fabulous Baptist recycle shop.

@C clearly I loved your comment about the car. We are the same. The current model has a nice diamond pattern of quilting pins holding up the roof upholstery, and the car unlocks itself on a hot day, and the "climate control" is stuck on freezing. But it is so comfortable for long drives and the engine is really, really good!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I loved your comment about the car. We are the same. The current model has a nice diamond pattern of quilting pins holding up the roof upholstery, and the car unlocks itself on a hot day, and the "climate control" is stuck on freezing.
I think you might fit in the category of needing the new car at the 30-year point. Ours is currently only 21, but it does have a few minor scrapes and it has lost the new car smell. At this rate we might be in the "not needing" category.
 

simply B

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
somewhere between "not enough" and "way too many"
There was a 30-year span between my time of lugging 30+kg of gear up-and-down the Rocky Mountains and my "gotta-get-outta-US-election-season". (The latter turned into the walking the Camino.) In between, there was hunting and fishing to do (apologies to those averse!) and my initial gear worked just fine for those.

BUT...for a long distance walking tour? Nope, I fully recognized the relationship that "Work = Mass X Distance" and knew that I had to slim down weight carried because, well... 30 years.;)

Wow, it was just a shock stepping into REI for the first time in decades. So much so that I limited myself to just trying on essentials, tabulating price of the "possibles" along with weight (yes, I went with a scale :))

The main reason I found myself overwhelmed was because EVERYTHING was just so LIGHT! In the back of my mind there was a nagging feeling that I was going down future paths naked.

After arriving home, I set up a budget, checked gear ratings from at least three sources then spreadsheeted the results.

The Lowa Zephyr boots were the big item...$300, I think. T-shirts (Merino), briefs (ExO), Socks, a couple pair cargo pants and "tech" shirts each and I was done. Over 4 Caminos totaling about 3,000 km, I had to retire one pair of pants and replenish socks (total rotation about 3 pair of liner and "hike" each), and the original set of Lowas.

What has worked for me, will work for me; "stuff" is already light enough. The mantra that I keep in mind, that I have always tried to teach the younger generation, is "Perfect is the enemy of good enough."

As for social media and "influencers"? Well, while not involved directly in the field, the rumblings that I get suggest that their day is passing rapidly...which is to be desired.

Much appreciation for laying this out @davebugg , quite timely.

B
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
What has worked for me, will work for me; "stuff" is already light enough. The mantra that I keep in mind, that I have always tried to teach the younger generation, is "Perfect is the enemy of good enough."
Absolutely :) I used to buy big brand name hiking gear. For the past five years or so I have worn cheap builders' boots on all my walks and almost every time I step outside my front door. About £25 a pair and usually good for upwards of 1000km walking. In theory a pair of really lightweight specialist hiking boots at £150 a time might give me a slight edge but if I can walk 40+km for several days in succession without a problem anyway do I really need that extra 5% performance?
 

Adelina

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - s'2018- Astorga to Santiago
Camino Frances - s' 2019- St Jean to Carrion
Thought provoking thread. We are all different, and we need to begin thinking of the environment - do we really need new stuff? Can we settle for something used? Can we borrow gear? I've walked portions of the Camino 2x and felt great taking my slightly used pack purchased from Craigslist (US site) from a young woman who had taken the pack through Asia, borrowed rain pants from a fellow pilgrim, and lent some of my gear to others (my pack caminoed another time with my sister), and I hope to camino it again! I guess the main point is: does each individual need stuff they may use once - or can we learn to share?
 

Tandem Graham

Every new day an adventure
Camino(s) past & future
Bike: Mont St Michel-SdC. Budapest-Vezelay. Alicante-Burgos
Walk: Le Puy-SJPdP. Dax-(CF)-SdC.
May I post in support of charity shops, thrift shops or re-use and recycle shops? They sometimes sell hiking or running gear that has had little or no use, and often support a good cause at the same time.
With the knowledge gained from this forum and reviews elsewhere, one can become quite a clever shopper in such places.
Even if not for use actually on the Camino, there are bargains to be had. If you're not keen on wearing your hiking gear on the plane, choose a travel outfit from your local charity shop and donate it to one in the city of your arrival. And when you arrive in SdC, and you need the equivalent to travel home in, check out the couple of charity shops in and around the city. It can work out cheaper than posting or forwarding luggage.
 

mikebet

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
Yeah, this is one of my favorite hobby horses to ride (or beat when dead). I became a member of REI back in the late 70s when living in Bolivia and climbing in the Andes. It was one of the few sources (outside of Europe) for high-quality climbing gear -- ice axes, ropes, crampons, etc. -- and the catalog they sent out was about 20 pages thick with nothing but really serious gear, no fashion models wearing $200 sweaters. Everest and K2 mountaineer Jim Whitaker was the CEO then (IIRC) and the store reflected his no-frills attitude. Now when you go into an REI store you better hold onto your wallet to wander through the racks of designer duds which seem to be carefully selected to look good lounging around in the chalet. And the few ice axes and crampons they offer seem to be just props to give the impression that they are a serious outdoor outfitting store. It's a damn shame, if you ask me. AND YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN! (LOL)
 

PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Camino(s) past & future
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
This is touching the uttermost important topic within pilgrim society IMO....

How to share knowledge without biaz and subjective experience....?.....impossible...??

.....you easily get flooded with all kind of advice on gear....but what that works for one individual is not eqvivalent to sucess for the other.....

...so testmules benefit at all....?...of course....but not if we as listeners not
V A L I D A T E gear B E F O R E put to use on a camino.....

Major suppliers offers sometimes 100% satisfaction guarantee.....test it with extreme care and take it back if you regret the purchase....a winner in my book.....

Footwear, backpack checkout to the max....?...should bee mandatory...

(And.....money saved on sales is huge...)

Just sayin....
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Yeah, this is one of my favorite hobby horses to ride (or beat when dead). I became a member of REI back in the late 70s when living in Bolivia and climbing in the Andes. It was one of the few sources (outside of Europe) for high-quality climbing gear -- ice axes, ropes, crampons, etc. -- and the catalog they sent out was about 20 pages thick with nothing but really serious gear, no fashion models wearing $200 sweaters. Everest and K2 mountaineer Jim Whitaker was the CEO then (IIRC) and the store reflected his no-frills attitude. Now when you go into an REI store you better hold onto your wallet to wander through the racks of designer duds which seem to be carefully selected to look good lounging around in the chalet. And the few ice axes and crampons they offer seem to be just props to give the impression that they are a serious outdoor outfitting store. It's a damn shame, if you ask me. AND YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN! (LOL)
You are speaking a shared viewpoint. This is an REI rant I posted a while back:

-------------------------------------------------------------

Excuse me for a second. <VENT ON>

The reason for REI recommending ANYTHING has little to do with 'best practices' for climbing, biking, backpacking, hiking, or trekking as far as knowledge about the current and proven state of the art (which does not have to mean expensive, btw) in equipment and clothing and techniques.

It has to do with what they choose to stock in their stores, which -- at least for the big gear and clothing items -- is tremendously affected by negotiations and agreements with manufacturers. Like Walmart, if manufacturers wish access to REI's huge buyer base, they need to accept REI's conditions, which among other things, cuts the wholesale product costs to REI, and certifies an ability to meet inventory supply for its stores.

Today's REI is hardly recognizable to what REI was in the first 30 years of its existence, some of that time under the management of Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Everest. I am member 25,707, and joined in 1965 at the age of 12 ... with my dad's permission and consent :). I still have that original card. This was at a time when REI led the bleeding edge of climbing, backpacking, and hiking gear. They actually worked with cottage manufacturers and new companies who were innovating the gear and clothing at a furious pace, trying to provide lighter and more resilient gear than the normal Army surplus store stuff that was so prevalent to that point in time.

From the original Coop store lodgings to the move into the large, refurbished, multi-story warehouse which was where REI really began to take off, no one at REI ever conceived that it would become a chain retailer and turn its back on the original concepts that brought it to life.

Anyone who spent time going to that old warehouse knows what I mean when I say that these 'new' stores are seemingly sterile places, minus the soul which made going to REI more of a 'pilgrimage' than a simple shopping event.

Now, I look at an REI and it is no different, in my mind, than shopping at Amazon or Costco. In fact, most of the items at REI have such high markups, that it is usually a better bargain to shop elsewhere. Yes, yes, I know about the vaunted REI guarantee, but most of the really innovative industry equipment manufacturers will match REI in that regard. ULA is one example.

I have spent some quantity of time at ULA's shop and warehouse in Logan, Utah. The first time I was invited to visit, I came away with the same sense of feeling I used to get when visiting the early REI. During that visit, the owner was actually on the phone with a customer quickly agreeing to replace a pack sent out 6 months prior, with a different model from their backpack lineup because the customer couldn't get used to the 'feel' of the pack. When I asked about why he did it, he just grinned and told me that he had not only made a lifelong customer, but that this would bring in even more customers based on word of mouth. Plus, he said, the returned pack will be refurbished to a near new condition and be put up for sale on their discount listings.

Does REI carry ULA? Nope. Nor Gossamer Gear or ZPacks, or Mountain Laurel Designs, or ..... REI doesn't carry the bleeding edge stuff anymore. Nor does its sales staff usually ignore what the store inventory carries when recommending gear, regardless of what exists elsewhere and regardless of the superiority of gear not available thru REI.

Does that mean that one should avoid shopping at REI? Nope. The above was simply to give background as to why REI recommendations are no longer the gold standard, and should be taken with a grain of salt. REI does have some good stuff: I like their Sahara shirts and lightweight zip-offs, for example; they are within the range of a lot of very lightweight clothing options. Although Kuhl makes a long sleeved, button up backpacking shirt that is the standard to beat, IMHO.

<VENT OFF>
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
This is touching the uttermost important topic within pilgrim society IMO....

How to share knowledge without biaz and subjective experience....?.....impossible...??

.....you easily get flooded with all kind of advice on gear....but what that works for one individual is not eqvivalent to sucess for the other.....

...so testmules benefit at all....?...of course....but not if we as listeners not
V A L I D A T E gear B E F O R E put to use on a camino.....

Major suppliers offers sometimes 100% satisfaction guarantee.....test it with extreme care and take it back if you regret the purchase....a winner in my book.....

Footwear, backpack checkout to the max....?...should bee mandatory...

(And.....money saved on sales is huge...)

Just sayin....
I absolutely agree with the sentiment of your post.

Part of my life has been as a so-called 'expert' who is hired by backpacking gear and clothing and shoe manufacturers to evaluate their products for quality control, performance, and usability. My skill set involves one important ability that is essential for proper evaluation: To be able to set aside subjective concerns and focus on objective measurements and observations. Objective evaluation involves a lot of functional comparisons, as well as actual use in similar conditions and circumstances.

As an example: I have tested shoe that I have hated. I did not like how they 'feel' on my feet. But my concern during testing is focused on issues of construction and longevity, claimed motion control or cushioning, stability and traction issues, etc.

Of course I would make a note of WHY I did not like the feel of the shoe in my reports, but I avoided coloring my objective observations because of my dislike of that shoe.

The above is why manufacturers will hire quite a few people to do the same testing. . . to seek common issues and problems with use, to account for the performance outliers, and to look for the weakness that occur during all spectrum's of use.

The bottom line point: Your concern that people buy an item, based on other people's recommendations which are largely subjective, is valid.

Backpacks, shoes, and clothing are big examples of this. What feels good and performs well for one person, might be Misery On A Stick for someone else.

For example: When someone says that all someone needs is a liner bag for sleeping, we do not know what that person's baseline temperature comfort rating is. The largest problem with sleep system ratings by manufacturers is their stated Temperature Rating Range.

It is a fact that each individual will sleep comfortably at a warmer or colder temperature than someone else. There is no reliable baseline temperature that covers everyone. That is why sleeping bag and quilt manufacturers use a temperature 'range' to describe the parameters of its product to consumers.

The problem is, that HOW they arrive at that comfort range can be sneaky.

So what to do when people say that "this pack, or "that shoe" or "that pant" is what they use and recommend it to others?

Simple. Folks need to think of that personal recommendation NOT as a recommendation to go out and buy it, but as something to add to a list of products to try.

I am asked a lot about what I would recommend for gear and clothing and shoes. I don't mind folks asking one bit. People who are novices are feeling around and trying to find a place to start.

I will share what I know from experience, or the experience of others I know and trust, as to what a well constructed and designed piece of gear or shoes or ... whatever . . might be that seems to fit what the person is looking for. My suggestions are for auditioning only, to try it for fit and feel and personal usability. As something to add to the list of items to consider before making a decision to purchase.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I dislike the discussions touting expensive equipment on here because it may intimidate prospective pilgrims who peek in here looking for advice who simply cannot afford it. They want to walk the Camino and when they do it will be a tight budget. I do not want any of them to believe that expensive equipment is a necessity. That new equipment is a necessity. That super rugged, heavy duty equipment is a necessity. It simply is not the case. You can easily but 90% of your equipment and clothing needs from American stores such as Wal-Mart or Academy. Same goes for the Decathlon stores in Europe. You can also purchase good, inexpensive equipment on amazon. If you can borrow a backpack and other equipment, even better.
I have walked the Camino with a pack costing 30 and a pack costing 150. Honestly, I could not say one was better than the other. It is just a pack, folks.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
I dislike the discussions touting expensive equipment on here because it may intimidate prospective pilgrims who peek in here looking for advice who simply cannot afford it. They want to walk the Camino and when they do it will be a tight budget. I do not want any of them to believe that expensive equipment is a necessity. That new equipment is a necessity. That super rugged, heavy duty equipment is a necessity. It simply is not the case. You can easily but 90% of your equipment and clothing needs from American stores such as Wal-Mart or Academy. Same goes for the Decathlon stores in Europe. You can also purchase good, inexpensive equipment on amazon. If you can borrow a backpack and other equipment, even better.
I have walked the Camino with a pack costing 30 and a pack costing 150. Honestly, I could not say one was better than the other. It is just a pack, folks.
Absolutely. I would not look for gear or clothing that can last for 6000 miles, when I only need it for 100 miles or even 500 miles. Look for the lightest weight and most comfortable stuff you can find with the budget you are limited to. Be cautious of spending huge outlays for stuff that will gather dust when you are done with Camino.

As with those who can afford, and want a Ferrari rather than a Ford, budgets, needs, and wants are a personal affair. . . just don't do something you will regret later. Like buying a Ferrari on a budget that can only afford the Ford. :)
 

ManShootsSnaps

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Spring2020)
Its always best to avoid that terrible affliction GAS

Gear
Acquisition
Syndrome

Many times manufacturers launch new products that are not driving innovation, but merely to sustain their own business models ... sadly with many walking/hiking and outdoor gear.. the model is often fashion/trend based

The old adage “Hike your own Hike” remains true
Wear what works for you, the conditions and your budget
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
When I started walking on my own back in the late 1960s I couldn't afford to buy kit so I made much of my own. When you've hand stitched a tent because you were given some beautiful Egyptian cotton fabric but didn't have a sewing machine you know how every inch of it goes together, and learning how to sew stitched eyelets and splice ropes came in handy down the line when I was working on charter yachts. I made a sleeping bag out of the down (the real thing) from a very old comforter. I knitted socks because wool walking socks only came in large sizes for men. I knit sweaters because I couldn't afford to buy one ready made, although with the price of yarn now that is no longer the case. I made my own waterproof parka and on another occasion a poncho as an experiment.

These days I have enough money that I can afford to buy most of my kit but I very rarely pay more than I have to. Sometimes buying the very expensive piece of kit is worth it. When I'm winter camping it is very important that my kit works, that my tent does not fail, and that my sleeping gear keeps me warm. I use Paramo waterproofs as much as anything because they are amazingly comfortable, and they have the added benefit that they are supporting disadvantaged women. Most of my bicycle clothing comes from Aldi, their sports kit is no frills but the quality is good and the price is a fraction of the fancy brand name stuff.

I use things until they are worn out. things get mended and patched because it offends me to throw away something that is still functional.

Perhaps the most useful thing about starting out as I did is that I learned to make do or to do without. I learned what is really important and what is just nice to have.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Moorwalker, you sound like a very talented lady in using your hands to sew, knit, and mend. I think your type of skills are slowly becoming lost in our throw away, 1st world countries.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Moorwalker, you sound like a very talented lady in using your hands to sew, knit, and mend. I think your type of skills are slowly becoming lost in our throw away, 1st world countries.
Thank you. My Mum taught me to sew and knit and I've found them to be useful skills. She was 14 when WW2 started so was very skilled indeed at mending and making, and she could make a good tasting meal out of the most unlikely ingredients. My Dad was a Scout back in the late 1920s and it was he who first took me walking in wild places and taught me all sorts of useful skills.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Absolutely. I would not look for gear or clothing that can last for 6000 miles, when I only need it for 100 miles or even 500 miles. Look for the lightest weight and most comfortable stuff you can find with the budget you are limited to. Be cautious of spending huge outlays for stuff that will gather dust when you are done with Camino.

As with those who can afford, and want a Ferrari rather than a Ford, budgets, needs, and wants are a personal affair. . . just don't do something you will regret later. Like buying a Ferrari on a budget that can only afford the Ford. :)
Absolutely. But so few of us here are ever "done with Camino". Once you realize that you will be returning again and again and again to the Camino(s) the $/km analysis starts to change. :)
 

PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Camino(s) past & future
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
I absolutely agree with the sentiment of your post.

Part of my life has been as a so-called 'expert' who is hired by backpacking gear and clothing and shoe manufacturers to evaluate their products for quality control, performance, and usability. My skill set involves one important ability that is essential for proper evaluation: To be able to set aside subjective concerns and focus on objective measurements and observations. Objective evaluation involves a lot of functional comparisons, as well as actual use in similar conditions and circumstances.

As an example: I have tested shoe that I have hated. I did not like how they 'feel' on my feet. But my concern during testing is focused on issues of construction and longevity, claimed motion control or cushioning, stability and traction issues, etc.

Of course I would make a note of WHY I did not like the feel of the shoe in my reports, but I avoided coloring my objective observations because of my dislike of that shoe.

The above is why manufacturers will hire quite a few people to do the same testing. . . to seek common issues and problems with use, to account for the performance outliers, and to look for the weakness that occur during all spectrum's of use.

The bottom line point: Your concern that people buy an item, based on other people's recommendations which are largely subjective, is valid.

Backpacks, shoes, and clothing are big examples of this. What feels good and performs well for one person, might be Misery On A Stick for someone else.

For example: When someone says that all someone needs is a liner bag for sleeping, we do not know what that person's baseline temperature comfort rating is. The largest problem with sleep system ratings by manufacturers is their stated Temperature Rating Range.

It is a fact that each individual will sleep comfortably at a warmer or colder temperature than someone else. There is no reliable baseline temperature that covers everyone. That is why sleeping bag and quilt manufacturers use a temperature 'range' to describe the parameters of its product to consumers.

The problem is, that HOW they arrive at that comfort range can be sneaky.

So what to do when people say that "this pack, or "that shoe" or "that pant" is what they use and recommend it to others?

Simple. Folks need to think of that personal recommendation NOT as a recommendation to go out and buy it, but as something to add to a list of products to try.

I am asked a lot about what I would recommend for gear and clothing and shoes. I don't mind folks asking one bit. People who are novices are feeling around and trying to find a place to start.

I will share what I know from experience, or the experience of others I know and trust, as to what a well constructed and designed piece of gear or shoes or ... whatever . . might be that seems to fit what the person is looking for. My suggestions are for auditioning only, to try it for fit and feel and personal usability. As something to add to the list of items to consider before making a decision to purchase.
Good deliberations from you.....It’s for another time perhaps but social media culture or the lack of it...together with forum tech that is letting us all down in my reckoning....why...?

This forum house enormous amount of shared experience.......but it takes a rare and endangered skillset to search old threads....

In this day and age is strange that we put effort upon effort upon effort in layers....effort at the bottom...quality stuff but forgotten still ??Picture taken just now one day south of Astorga.....

BEF805C5-0412-47F3-8BE8-2B23305F022C.jpeg
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
It's not about the gear. And (unfortunately), it's not really about the environment either. Rather, it's about one-ups-manship: proving that I'm better than you are. I'm better because my gear is lighter, more expensive, more exotic, harder to source and purchase, more rare, more distinctive. I'm better because I walked further today, I started earlier this morning, I carried my own pack, I took fewer rest days. I'm better because I suffered more, walked uphill both ways to school, donated a son to the priesthood. I'm better because my car is more expensive, my house is grander, my daughter is a better athlete, my son got admitted to a more expensive school. They're all just verses of the same hymn.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
It's not about the gear. And (unfortunately), it's not really about the environment either. Rather, it's about one-ups-manship: proving that I'm better than you are. I'm better because my gear is lighter, more expensive, more exotic, harder to source and purchase, more rare, more distinctive. I'm better because I walked further today, I started earlier this morning, I carried my own pack, I took fewer rest days. I'm better because I suffered more, walked uphill both ways to school, donated a son to the priesthood. I'm better because my car is more expensive, my house is grander, my daughter is a better athlete, my son got admitted to a more expensive school. They're all just verses of the same hymn.
And I'm better because I am humbler, less competitive, less judgmental....
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
This thread arrived as good timing for me, as I was attracted to buying a new, and very expensive, tent. As I do not use a tent on camino, it would be useful for only the small amount of backpacking that I do these days. And my current one-person tent is in good shape and cost a lot of money when I bought it a few years ago. But an issue for some of us on this forum is whether we need to consider switching to lightweight or ultra-lightweight gear in order to be able to go on walking trails with packs in the future. Finally I decided that "I like my current tent." it is well ventilated, so I never get moisture on the inside, and I reduce the weight by leaving behind the stuff sack and putting it inside my pack. So I shall go on using it, hopefully for another walk from Banff to Lake Louise this summer. But there are so many factors involved in choosing gear and clothing for outdoor use. I have seen postings on the forum from walkers who note that their lightweight, comfortable shoes wore out before reaching Santiago. I don't know how to be sure that new shoes will last the distance, but quality footwear that will last the trip should be anyone's first purchase for a camino (after the air ticket, for some of us). I use boots, currently quite a cheap brand, but they last and are comfortable. I have had the same problem with MEC as others describe above with currently buying gear from REI I usually get gear and clothing for outdoor use elsewhere these days. I agree with those who say that what matters is doing the walk, and having decent footwear for it. The rest is optional.
 
Last edited:

Hilarious

Hilarious
Camino(s) past & future
Planning stage Camino Frances from SJPdP (Sept. 2019)
Very interesting thread. Thanks for posting Dave. I have read all the comments with interest. As many have said the best gear for you is fit for purpose, as comfortable as it can be for your individual body type (in the case of clothing, footwear, backpacks etc) and meets your budget requirements. Prior to my Camino I hadn‘t done any long distance walking. I got some excellent advice here and then I went out and tried various products. I then trained with the gear I would be using on the Camino. Personally, I would be prepared to pay a higher price for gear like shoes and backpack (provided it was the most comfortable and fit for purpose) than to buy expensive tops and pants.
 


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