gear

4 Reasons To Hate Adventure, and How To Get Over It

Don’t get me wrong, most of us love a good adventure. But sometimes there are reasons to hate adventure. I’ll give you four examples today, and offer solutions on how to fix them.

1. Fear & Anxiety

Adventure is largely about the perpetual pursuit of pushing your limits, always aiming your sights on the next big rush. Sometimes in the middle of doing this you realize you’re in too deep, and there’s nothing you can do about it. This is exactly when fear and anxiety sets in, two dreadful and common feelings found in adventure.

It’s happened to me many times. I only got a few hours of sleep one night on my last whitewater trip because I already got my ass kicked twice by the river and we were headed into a remote wilderness section called Adrenaline Ally in the morning. No backing out. Sweet dreams, right?

The Fix: Focus on what you can control. In my whitewater example, I made sure I ate a good breakfast, stayed hydrated, and laid off the beer until we were done with Adrenaline Ally. You better believe I immediately cracked open a cold one afterwards, though.

2. One-Upsmanship

The next guy is always going to attempt to one-up you, whether you’re in the field or swapping stories at the bar. It’s a fact of life in the adventure community, and sometimes it’s just plain annoying.

This exchange is enjoyable when two parties are sharing valuable information, but it’s irritating when your adventure accomplishments are constantly belittled. “You bungee jumped at an amusement park? Weak sauce, bro. I BASE jumped off El Capitan.”

The Fix: Easy. Ignore the competitive one-upper and move on. Or one-up them with unrealistic tales. “You BASE jumped off El Capitan? LOL! I sailed around the world on the backs of killer whales, surviving on box jellyfish along the way.” If they try to top that, you know they’re full of shit.

3. Bucket Lists

Bucket lists. I don’t mind them, necessarily. It makes sense, wanting to jot down every last adventurous thing you can think of and then feeling satisfied when you cross items off your list.

I just think the concept has been blown out of proportion. 100,001 “must-do” activities on your bucket list? Really? To me, it’s a slightly rigid, inflexible approach to adventure.

The Fix: Hear about something cool you’d like to try, and then make arrangements to try it as soon as you can. This works best for those of you with a “go with the flow” mentality. Hardcore list makers? Not so much.

4. Gear

Gear can be a touchy subject. There will be times when you are made to feel inadequate because you can’t afford top of the line equipment. The dude at the shop is just doing his job when he suggests the thousand dollar upgrade. The twerp on the trail is just doing his job when he talks down on your cheap tent.

The Fix: Go with what works best for you. Always. Experiment with different set-ups. If a piece of gear fails, dump it. It’s OK to have different set-ups for different scenarios. And it’s more economically feasible to amass your gear collection over time, rather than going all out right from the get-go.

Now stop being a hater and go do something fun today.

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A hundred and one uses for a bandana

Is there another piece of travel/backpacking gear more versatile than a bandana?

I bet we could come up with close to a hundred and one uses for a bandana.

I’ll kick off the first five:

1. Coffee filter

2. Glasses cleaner

3. Pot holder

4. Use to put pressure on wound

5. Emergency repair for broken strap on pack

 

 

 

The Basics: Backpacking 101

Backpacking is a lot fun if you know what you’re doing. You’ll gain advanced skills and know-how over time, but it’s best to have a basic understanding of what you’re getting into beforehand.

With that said, let’s go over a few pieces of backpacking gear and the skills you’ll need to stay safe.

Good Boots

It all starts with good boots. Go to your local outdoor store and have them fit you for the right boot. Boots come in a variety of price ranges, from the inexpensive to the tricked out high tops only the richest hiker could afford.

There are plenty of quality mid-range boots, though. I’ve easily put hundreds of miles on my $85 Hi-Tec boots. They’re broken in to the max, and I have no intention of buying new boots any time soon.

A lot of long distance hikers prefer lightweight shoes in place of bulky boots. Your call, really.

Tip: If you experience any sort of regular foot pain on the trail, I recommend trying a pair of Dr. Scholl’s inserts. I did just that, and it made a huge difference.

A Good Backpack

The second most important backpacking item after boots is a quality backpack. Don’t skimp here. You can spend a lot of money on packs, but like boots, a mid-range pack is perfectly acceptable.

It seems like there’s a million packs to choose from these days, and it can be a frustrating experience finding the right one for you. Size should probably be your biggest consideration. What kind of backpacker are you? A lightweight minimalist able to do more with less, or a “bring it all” type? (Hint: If possible, aim to be a minimalist.)

When it’s time to purchase your pack, don’t risk the online buy unless you’ve been to the store, know your measurements (very important!), and have tried on packs. Only then would it be OK to buy a pack online, especially if you found a killer deal.

I have an Osprey Aether 60, and I’m pretty stoked with it so far. I used to have a Gregory Z65, but over time, I started finding things about it I didn’t like. Choosing a pack is ultimately about personal preference.

Tip: Learn how to property pack your pack. It makes a huge difference.

Maps & Compass

Having a map is one thing. Having a map and knowing how to read it is another. Your map is worthless if you can’t identify symbols, contours, and features.

I can’t stress this enough: know how to use your compass! It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, a compass is an extremely valuable tool.

GPS units are a good investment, as well. The thing is, a compass and a map do not run out of batteries.

Tip: Many outdoor stores offer map and compass lessons. It’s worth your time and money as a backpacker to sign up.

I check my map often. Especially when I can't see 5 feet in front of me. Fogged in, Sequoia National Park.

I don’t want to bombard you with too much information right away. So next time we’ll talk about tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, food, route planning, and anything else you can think of.