Secure in my shelter and listening as the rain dances on my tarp, I pull out my alcohol stove and relax, waiting for the water to boil. Twenty-seven miles of hiking in one day — a personal distance record. It’s been a good day.
Reflecting back 20 years, I remember purchasing a first-edition copy of Ray Jardine’s “Beyond Backpacking,” a book that completely reshaped my thinking on how to pack for travel in the backcountry. It wasn’t that long ago that the philosophy of Wilderness travel was to get a big bag and fill it up. Since then, the mindset of “more is better” has changed.
Packing ultra-light — once considered the mantra of wild-eyed survivalists — has now become firmly embedded as a philosophy among those in the multibillion-dollar human-powered outdoor recreation industry.
In my own case, I have moved beyond packing light to achieve big miles, and more toward doing it just for the comfort. Carrying less weight is better on the body, mind — and pocketbook. That’s primarily because I now cover more ground in the backcountry, spend less money on costly gear, and I find it much easier to pack and unpack at the beginning and end of each day.
First things first: Get thyself to a bookstore and pick up a copy of “Beyond Backpacking.” Then read it. After that, break out your gear and (more…)
Stereotyping is never a good thing — primarily because such finger-pointing prejudices are usually unsupported by fact. Take, for example, the 140 million Americans who either dabble in human-powered outdoor recreational activities to some extent or are fully immersed in everything related to the backcountry and Wilderness itself.
That’s almost half the nation’s population, if my math skills are accurate. Yet whenever the beneficial goings-on of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) are in the headlines, many local and state politicians conjure up a negative image in their heads. “Oh yeah, those deadbeat climbers, those slacker surfers, those burned-out mountaineers.”
These closed-minded politicians fail to recognize who their outdoor constituents really are, and what the outdoor recreation industry means to the economy. And that includes activities from the local and state level, all the way up to the top — the National Park Service.
A report recently released by the Outdoor Industry Association estimates our industry produces $887 billion in annual revenues, and employs an estimated 7.5 million people, both fulltime and seasonally. Let me repeat that — $887 billion, with a B!
Statistics like these have local and state government officials beginning to sit up and take notice. And it’s got many of them thinking that maybe saving all these wilderness treasures might just be worth the expense. As a result, some forward-thinking states are creating offices of Outdoor Recreation with director-level positions. Take North Carolina for instance — which is home to (more…)