Every month I receive all the trade publications for the latest, greatest and most technologically advanced outdoor gadgets conceived by the constant human drive to work “smarter, not harder.”
These ‘gadgets’ range from the “Huh, why didn’t I think of that,” to the “Somebody has WAY too much time on their hands” spectrum, with most falling into the “Re-inventing the wheel” category. Then, as I start to calculate what it would actually COST the average outdoors enthusiast to outfit themselves with these “do-all” devices, I suddenly realize that the pure and simple lure of the outdoors with all of its challenges may be drowning in a new type of “Space Race”…that of “How do I jam all of this stuff into the same cubic inches and into the same budget!”
Well, let’s take a quick personal inventory of what we REALLY need when it comes to enjoying, or even surviving a jaunt into the wilderness. Water, Shelter, Heat, maybe Food…definitely a Knife…. But what beyond those basics? What does modern 21st century outdoor man require that his pre-historic (probably more appropriately dressed) ancestor didn’t already possess on every excursion in the wild? What do I need to rush out and buy that will REALLY make a life and death difference to my next 3 day back-packing trip? What bells and whistles do I need to add to my already over-stuffed back-pack that will be worth the added weight when my middle-aged knees start to talk disrespectfully to their owner 8 miles into the trek?
Now don’t get me wrong…as I stated before, I LOVE these gadgets…I love to play with them, demonstrate them, SELL them to you!! But sometimes, isn’t it just the height of personal satisfaction to head into the woods with the bare minimums and ‘just survive?’…no French Press Coffee, not 3’ x6’ solar charger for the ipad, phone, ipod and weather radio. Does it give you chills to think about leaving those devices at home? Yeah, me too….but those types of “Primitive Skills” can be practiced at any Starbucks that doesn’t have enough 110 outlets for all the patrons packed inside….and that ONE guy has been here for HOURS!
So I am encouraging each of you to get out there and become first-name acquainted again with those basic skills of fire making, water and food procurement, primitive shelter and creative ‘acquiring’ of the basics that make for a closer-to-nature’ and more fulfilling wilderness experience. Sometimes it’s great to just dust off the old hymnal on the seat-back in front of you and let that “Old-Time Religion” take you back to the basics.
Now Gear-Up (Lightly) and Get Out There !