Earlier today I decided to take advantage of the fair weather and “knock out two birds with one stone” by walking my dog while returning a couple of movies to the closest RedBox. The route I chose took us along a portion of the Swannanoa River, both on the way to the RedBox and on the way home. This particular stretch of road passes by what looks like a local dumping spot, but today I noticed at least one person that appeared to be living there. Was the person a thru-hiker? A world traveller? Or maybe just homeless? And was he really that different than me?
This incident reminded me of how simple living really can be, and I honestly found myself a bit envious of this likely “homeless” individual. Spending his days entirely on foot, carrying all of his worldly possessions on his back, cooking meals over an open fire, and sleeping under the stars. As a backpacker, I seek to do those exact things as frequently as I can, even though it typically amounts to no more than the occasional weekend.
While I may have gear that is lighter, fancier, and considerably more expensive, does Mother Nature treat us any differently? I don't think so. My sail cloth shelter doesn't leave storms shaking in their whitey-tighties, my titanium cookware doesn't really make my dinner any more tasty than something much cheaper or more readily available, and my technical clothing and footwear don't make the mountainous climbs much easier to scale.
I'm not imploring anyone to forsake their fancy gear for something lesser that might also do the job, but it's definitely something to consider when you're contemplating that next big purchase, especially with the buying season upon us. Think about how much you really need to cast aside your fancy ultralight gear as soon as you see something twice as expensive, but just tempting because it's newer and maybe ever so slightly “better”.