Do You Really Need Special Outdoor Gear?

special-gear-smallThe almighty checklist. People frequently come to Uncle Sam’s with a checklist in hand, looking to get outfitted for their next adventure. A lot of these lists are incredibly specific and thorough. “All forks must have 4 prongs” or “All t-shirts must exceed x thread-count.” But is it necessary? Do you really need special outdoor gear?

The short answer to that question is no. People camped before tents and walked before shoes. You also technically don’t need a vehicle to get from L.A. to New York, but it would be pretty rough without one. Special gear might not be necessary, but it makes your outings more comfortable and more enjoyable. Whether or not you want to go all out and get the latest and greatest in gear can depend on multiple factors.

The type of trip you’re going on definitely matters. If you’re doing a one night hike you probably don’t need a lightweight backpack with bells and whistles. However, if you’re going to be in the back country for three weeks, you probably want to have a top of the line pack.

Some people are naturally more resilient than others. One guy might sleep like a log directly on the ground while another guy might need a Thermarest. If you’re looking into buying gear, consider the type of person you are. Try to objectively gauge your fortitude and whether or not you need to splurge and buy the more luxurious gear for the sake of comfort. You might like the idea of being stoic, but it’s hard to act tough when you’re miserable and uncomfortable.

A third and more obvious factor is budget. Sometimes gear can get expensive. If you can save a hundred bucks by buying last year’s model, you might be willing to suffer the extra 3 ounces of weight.

You might not want to follow your checklist to a T and you might not have to. Consider all the factors. Think about the type of trip you’re going on, whether or not you would really benefit from the specialized gear, and whether that gear is affordable for you. The latest and greatest is always nice to have, but even the newest gear eventually gets old. The most important factor to keep in mind when buying gear is whether or not it is right for you.

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