J: Hey, what's that package?
Me (mumble): ....sleeping bag...
J: Didn't you just get a sleeping bag?
Me: (mumble): ...Yes....
J: Well, are you going to send the other one back?
Yes, I have a gear problem. As I prepare for my 282 mile section hike of the PCT, I am becoming overly fixated on gear. Before you hate, know that I am chained to a desk for ten hour days during the week, and that is how I can afford said gear. There are days when I'd rather be free and still carry the sleeping bag I had at seven (which I still have).
When I first started backpacking sans parents, there weren't a lot of choices. I remember backpacking in cotton sweatshirts and jeans. My boots were big wafflestompers crowned by Ragg wool socks, the grey itchy ones. When it was warm we all wore super short running shorts and cotton T-shirts. My backpacking stove was a ginormous Coleman that sloshed with fuel as I walked. A pack weight of forty pounds was considered outrageously light. Packs themselves were seven pounds empty, festooned with endless straps and pockets. As a wilderness ranger in the early nineties, I regularly encountered Boy Scout troops grimly hiking with flannel bedrolls bigger than their heads, strapped to their packs. Their eyes met mine, a study in misery. Those kids weren't ever going backpacking again.
Now the market is flooded. You can find one pound shelters. Packs that are seventeen ounces, less. It's easy to get caught up in all of it--I want it, I need it all!
I'm calling a moratorium on new gear. What I have is what I'm using. I'm resisting the siren call of new stuff. I have a backpack to test and my new sleeping quilt, and that is it. Nothing new comes into this cabin!
I mean it.