The Gear Can Wait

The Gear Can Wait 1

By Kristi Westberg

The Gear Can Wait 2Who doesn’t love a trip to REI? When I walk in the store I get this invincible, adventurous, go out and get’em feelin that makes me want to do crazy things like hike the PCT or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. First they seduce you with a pitched tent right at the door then the rest of the store bamboozles you into purchasing a new water filtration system, special breathable underwear or an artisanal bag of dehydrated camp food.

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE going there…but my bank account lets out a tiny scream when I enter the store. The thing that keeps bringing me back again and again is the knowledgeable staff. During my most recent visit I eavesdropped on an associate teaching a family about camp stoves. Then I tried on some hiking pants. And I rounded things out with a solid lesson on the various types of water filters and purification systems they currently sell. Everytime I walk out of the store I feel a tiny bit smarter.

As I made my way to the register I had the pleasure of being helped by a gentleman who we’ll call Mark. As Mark was scanning my purchases he asked me if I had a trip coming up. I said I was working up to backpacking, but wasn’t quite sure where my first trip would take me yet.

In response he leaned in and whispered, “don’t tell anyone, but I’ve actually never been camping or backpacking”.

The Gear Can Wait 3
Neighborhood walks

We laughed about it and then he let me know my total. My face must have given away my shock because he followed his comment up by saying that he hasn’t gone camping because getting the gear is so expensive.

This comment struck me as true and really sad.

If I could say one thing to the people who aren’t getting outside because of cost I would say, start small and just go. You don’t need special shoes, high-tech clothing or a fancy pair of trekking poles to hike. All of that gear can wait.

The first step to getting outside is to GO OUTSIDE. The outdoors are all around us. There’s no need to drive for hours to a national or state park to be outdoors. Take a walk around your neighborhood or in a city park. Even when you live in a densely populated urban area you can get outside.

The key is to open your mind to what “outside” means. If you want to be technical about it, outside is simply a space beyond an enclosure. The moment you step out of your house, your car, work or school you are in the outdoors. Once you start paying greater attention to the world around you and you will start to notice new pathways, plants, bugs and animals.

This is pretty much how I started getting outside. Before moving to California I lived in Massachusetts. Back then I was mostly a gym rat, but occasionally on a crisp fall day I would take a walk. These walks were mostly around the streets near my apartment….I wouldn’t want to stray too far, I was indoorsy, what if I got lost?! So I walked. I slowly increased my distance. I enjoyed looking at all of the New England houses (as someone who grew up in Texas the colonials and Cape Cods were new and exciting). I listened to the leaves blow in the wind and the birds singing. Yes, there were car noises, lawn mowers and the occasional leaf blower, but I enjoyed my time outside.

Once I’d exhausted all of my nearby streets I asked a coworker about local trails and she mentioned one just steps from my house. It was a pretty tame loop that amounted to roughly 3 miles from door to door. I started walking that loop in my sneakers and gym wear. No new equipment necessary. I jumped when twigs cracked, moved away from rustling bushes, and occasionally cursed at the bugs who refused to fly anywhere but in front of my face. I bought bug repellent. And I sprayed it on my hat.

Over the next several years I started hiking more. I got a little braver and a lot stronger. I bought a backpack and went on longer hikes. I made travel plans and visited state and national parks. Now I end up hiking several times a month, but until a few weeks ago I didn’t even own a proper pair of hiking shoes. And so I’ll say it again, all of the gear can wait. I’m a testament to this fact. I hiked for many years in my runners, jeans and a t-shirt. I hiked with my phone in my pocket and my water bottle in hand. And it was great!

 

I got to go outside, appreciate nature, figure out how much I loved it and start saving for the gear I needed and the trips I was dreaming about. You don’t need to go broke to go outside, you just need to open your eyes to the beauty and be brave enough to start a new adventure.

 

At the Grand Canyon!

 

Blogger & Multiple Contributor at | Website

Kristi Westberg is a writer, indoorsy camper, hiker and bookworm living in Pasadena, CA.

She is the creator of “Indoorsy Camper” a blog that helps scaredy-cat’s like herself gain the confidence and bravery to get outside.

A self-professed “indoorsy” person, Kristi tries to make camping, hiking and backpacking approachable for everyone.

61 thoughts on “The Gear Can Wait

  • September 17, 2018 at 3:28 am
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    That’s a very interesting post. Very true. I’ve been on a number of mild hikes and I don’t even own one piece of hiking equipment!

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    • September 22, 2018 at 7:11 pm
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      Exactly! No need to go spending all that money until you really need to.

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  • September 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm
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    Very informative post! I never tried any camping at all or trekking but will be. As a complete beginner, I’m happy to read your advice to get started.

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  • September 14, 2018 at 3:01 pm
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    I totally agree with you. As for me, I actually only have trekking shoes and I wear fit clothes then I go hiking. I don’t think I have the right gear for doing so but we all have to start somewhere. Little by little as we fall in love with hiking more, we can save up for better gear so we can camp and hike further. Cheers to this post.

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  • September 14, 2018 at 3:17 am
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    Wow this is step by step guide into how to start hiking! Start small is indeed the mantra!
    I too have a love for outdoors, plan to start big on it when I get a little freer. Hope that happens.

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  • September 14, 2018 at 12:40 am
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    I love this! The tendency for me is to have all of the equipment before I try something new, but I adore this perspective. 🙂

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    • September 22, 2018 at 7:12 pm
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      I have a similar problem….but have tried very hard to make sure i’m really into something before I start the spending spree 🙂

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  • September 13, 2018 at 3:38 pm
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    The way I see camping is such an adventure, however, acquiring the gear and equipment may be a tedious task. Camping is an activity for the people who are never afraid. I do love nature but I might take my time before I would go camping eventually.

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  • September 13, 2018 at 7:09 am
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    Hey…I used to love camping in the past, and also love to collect gear to be used previously, your sharing made me recalled my camping memories in the past, thanks 🙂

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    • September 13, 2018 at 2:32 pm
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      You are very welcome! I didn’t make many camp memories as a kid…so I’m making up for that now 🙂

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  • September 12, 2018 at 2:55 pm
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    That is probably the reason why I don’t go camping — I don’t want to buy camping gear. We just don’t have the budget for that. We do have a tent though, and we used it only once haha We camped at my mother’s backyard and the next morning I had UTI. :p

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    • September 13, 2018 at 2:33 pm
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      Backyard camping is the best! My dad used to set up his 10 man ten in ours and we would have a blast….I think I was too afraid to sleep in it, but I had lots of fun all day long. Renting gear could be the key to get you camping more 🙂

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  • September 12, 2018 at 8:29 am
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    This is so true! Sometimes you don’t need to spend so much on the gear but rather focus on the sport/activity. I think it’s common that people just spend already on equipment then, unfortunately, end up not continuing or liking the sport/activity. This is way more practical. 🙂

    Also, love the picture in the Grand Cayon! How long did it take you to get there?

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    • September 13, 2018 at 2:35 pm
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      Thanks! It took me a while to make it to Grand Canyon….but I got there. A birthday celebration got us there in the end 🙂 It was a great way to spend it. I’m heading back next year to hike it from rim to rim! Pretty excited.

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  • September 11, 2018 at 9:59 pm
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    I’m just getting into being more outdoorsy now and I completely agree with you that starting small is the key and learning slowly before purchasing stuff that is not necessary is apart of that.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 2:37 pm
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      Yea…it’s so tempting to go all in and spent lots of money (and people can do that…no judgement here), but if the money is what’s keeping you from going outside I think there are ways to work around that.

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  • September 11, 2018 at 3:41 pm
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    You are correct. You don’t really need to buy any specialized gear to hike in and around your area. But, once you do go “backcountry” it’s absolutely addicting. The silence is deafening other than the haunting early morning call of loons echoing off the lake. A lake that you and your companion have all to yourself as you lay under a blanket of bright stars. The flickering flames of a warm campfire casting dancing shadows around you. I love going backcountry. Ain’t nothin like it.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 2:38 pm
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      That sounds pretty amazing. I’m just getting into back country camping, but I can already tell I’m going to love it.

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  • September 11, 2018 at 4:38 am
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    What a lovely idea! Starting small is the key and the big things will fall in place. The gear is not so important as the will to get out of one’s comfort zone. We have a lot around us to appreciate but we miss out on those little things in search of some big ones that we think we can’t achieve. The idea is the shift of focus. Thanks for sharing this beautiful thought.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 2:39 pm
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      You are very welcome. I love the way you described shifting your focus. That’s a perfect way to describe it.

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  • September 11, 2018 at 4:14 am
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    This is such great advice! When starting something new, It can be really tempting to get all the expensive new gear to set yourself up – but you might not even know if it will be worth the investment yet! With all my scuba diving and skiing, I borrowed and used hand me down gear until I knew it was worth investing in my own gear. But I built it up slowly, not all at once. No need.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 2:40 pm
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      Exactly! Scuba sounds tempting. I have a friend that just returned from a month long scuba trip. It sounded amazing…not sure I’m ready for something that intense yet.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 7:44 pm
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      Wow! Scuba diving has always sounded amazing to me….but I’m a little too nervous to try. Knowing I could rent equipment might make me more likely to give it a try.

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  • September 10, 2018 at 7:20 am
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    It’s always interesting to read posts on camping for women. I am yet to start the camping experience but with 2 young kids I really want to get into it and no other place then here to get all the tips required. I think it can get quite expensive if you get carried away and start buying a lot of gear so worth keeping a check. Sad that you can’t do as much as outdoor activities and hope to read more from you. Surely look for some inspiration from this and want to start soon.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 7:46 pm
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      I think getting outside with 2 young kids could be a really great experience. I think borrowing gear is a great place to start…or even camping in your backyard. I did it as a kid and loved it.

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  • September 10, 2018 at 12:37 am
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    That’s hilarious, who knew the sales reps themselves likely haven’t experienced what they are trying to sell you. I totally agree with you though. You don’t need to spend money on expensive gear to explore the outdoors. Some of my most favorite memories have been exploring nearby parks with my husband.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 7:47 pm
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      Exactly! I really love the parks and trails that are less than 15 minutes from my house. Honestly…I felt a little better hearing that REI associate say that. I do give him props for being honest 🙂

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  • September 9, 2018 at 8:26 pm
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    Starting small and just going on with it is a great tip. I need to explore the outdoors around me a little more.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 7:48 pm
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      Yes! I highly recommend doing that. All Trails is a good place to start if you are looking for local hiking. Have fun!

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  • September 9, 2018 at 7:22 pm
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    You are very right, you don’t have to go broke to go outside! My wife and I do our best to spend our weekends outdoors. They just opened up their first REI store in our area. After reading your post I’m excited to go in and see their selection of gear!

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    • September 13, 2018 at 7:49 pm
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      You will have so much fun in REI! I love visiting…but have to give myself a budget or go in for specific items. There’s so much to see and honestly the sales people are so knowledgeable. Have fun!

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  • September 9, 2018 at 3:57 pm
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    I so agree with this, it doesn’t mind if you don’t have the right gear, just go out and do it. I have hiked lots and don’t buy the really expensive boots or clothes. I don’t have the right tshirts or jumpers for hiking, I just wear what I have and make do. Though I have to admit to splashing out and buying a northface waterproof jacket, which is amazing in rain, though usually it is sat at the bottom of my rucksack and never used!!

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    • September 13, 2018 at 7:50 pm
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      I completely agree. If you want to splash out on specific items do it, but there’s no need to spend your whole paycheck on gear. When you need a waterproof jacket you need it….someday you’ll pull it out of the bottom of your rucksack 🙂

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  • September 9, 2018 at 9:30 am
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    “You don’t need to go broke to go outside, you just need to open your eyes to the beauty and be brave enough to start a new adventure.” Very well said. I agree. It’s first about enjoying the sights and the whole journey. Great advice you have!

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm
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      Thank you! It’s hard to not get caught up in all the fun purchasing, but I think it’s good to start small and figure out what you need.

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  • September 9, 2018 at 9:01 am
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    How informative and lovely. I used to hike a lot in the past but thanks to my sciatica, I’m obscured from doing so any further. But I have my ex- hiking mates who will be learning a lot from here for their next treks. I miss doing this though 🙁
    Keep outdoor always ?

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:47 pm
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      Sorry to hear that you can’t get outside as much as you would like. During time when I’ve had health problems I’ve found that even spending time outside reading or enjoying a view can give lots of good energy and happiness to my life.

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  • September 9, 2018 at 8:09 am
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    Wow, I loved your definition of outdoors. Outdoors really does not mean some famous national parks or beaches but it is everywhere surrounding us if we step out from our boundaries. I totally relate you as initially, I used to feel safe at home but after going for long outdoor walks, I found it very motivating. Yes very true, that we don’t have to plan big or spent so much on going outdoor, but just a serious thought of it can move us forward.

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm
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      Thanks! It took me a while to figure out that just stepping outside your front door leads you to “the outdoors”. I think we can all explore our surroundings, we just need to stop and take the time to see the animals, plants and views that we often take for granted.

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  • September 9, 2018 at 4:38 am
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    I too camp and hike occasionally. I will take your suggestions before I go trek shopping the next time. I too have a water filtration system when the need arises!

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm
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      Fantastic! I hope your next outdoor adventure brings you lots of joy.

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  • September 9, 2018 at 3:15 am
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    Not an outdoorsy kind of girl, so i’d be lying if i say i can resonate. My cousin is a hard core mountaineer though and i remember him telling me that he went up the highest mountain in taiwan in really old beat up boots and hiking clothes that he bought in some local flea market. Everyone else he was with were decked out in expensive merch, but they all reached the summit just the same. Anyway my takeaway from your story and his is, experienced mountaineers know which gears to splurge on and which ones you can skip. Also love how you said that before going on a spending spree, you kinda have to spend some time outdoors first before you determine which stuff you really need. 🙂

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:51 pm
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      That’s a great point. I think we can all stand to take a little time to consider our needs instead of jumping in and spending all of our money.

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  • September 9, 2018 at 1:02 am
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    What a lovely statement that the gear can wait. I love REI too and appreciate their gently used resales (I think once a year). REI also rents out equipment. I remember overhearing an excited dad with his kids at Walmart and when he saw the price of the big tent and other things, he told them that they wouldn’t be able to go. Don’t overthink it, just do it.

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:52 pm
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      I had a similar experience to the dad at Walmart when I started camping. I would have started earlier except I couldn’t afford all the gear. Luckily I found REI rentals and had wonderful friends who let me borrow gear. Over time I’ve slowly acquired my own stuff, but those first few trips wouldn’t have been possible without the help of friends and rentals.

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  • September 8, 2018 at 9:30 pm
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    I am not a very experienced camper. I love camping in the great outdoors but I don’t get enough opportunities. I like your idea of just getting out there and worrying about gear later.

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:53 pm
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      Thank you! I think the cost of the outdoors can really make us feel like we shouldn’t be out there, but you can!

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  • September 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm
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    This is a really helpful post indeed. It is often so tempting to go right out and get everything you need when you start something and it isnt always necessary.

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:54 pm
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      Exactly! Buy what you can when you can and do your research before spending.

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  • September 8, 2018 at 11:53 am
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    I totally agree with you. Many people get crazy about shopping, buy expensive gear and just want to show off on social media. The real camping guys are doing different!

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:56 pm
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      Yes! I have no problem with people getting new shiny gear (I have some myself), but I think you can try out lots of outdoor activities without investing first. Then once you know what you need spend the money if you still feel like it’s something you really want.

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  • September 8, 2018 at 8:36 am
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    Being an adventure enthusiast myself, I can relate to your post. I agree when you say that money should not stop people from embarking upon adventures. I have myself managed to participate in many adventure activities using the gears and resources I already had. I also agree that for many of us adventure starts in our backyard. If only we look closely.

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:57 pm
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      Exactly! I find lots of beauty and excitement all around me all the time. It’s important to take the time to appreciate the nature right outside your door.

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  • September 8, 2018 at 7:16 am
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    I’ve done a trek america tour which was all camping and trekking. And I’ve done a few other trips like this but you’re right you should start off small x

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:58 pm
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      Wow! A trek America tour sounds fantastic! I’ll have to look into that.

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  • September 8, 2018 at 3:40 am
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    I definitely agree! Although I have been tempted a few times and gave in 😛 hehe. Made sure my purchases were super worth it before buying haha. But I’m on a no shopping ban at the moment, trying to save money for the Christmas season!

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    • September 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm
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      Excellent point! Christmas is coming much quicker than I’d like to admit. I’ve also put a spending ban on myself from time to time :).

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  • September 7, 2018 at 6:59 pm
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    I couldn’t agree more! 🙂 The price can really put people off, but like you said, to be able to enjoy nature it is enough just to step outside the house. And the journey may begin. 🙂

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    • September 9, 2018 at 6:00 pm
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      I love that! Step outside and let the journey begin. 🙂

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  • September 7, 2018 at 12:59 pm
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    I am not a very experienced or skilled camper for sure. Who doesn’t love the outdoors though? It’s good to focus on this rather than expensive gear.

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    • September 9, 2018 at 6:01 pm
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      Totally agree. I’m not experienced either…but I’m slowly learning my way.

      Reply

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