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  • Writer's picturebalzaccom

What did you NOT buy today?

It seems that every backpacking site and community has a thread about what new gear people have bought, and why it is an improvement for the ages. So we got to thinking. It is increasingly clear that consumerism is a driving force in the issue of global climate change.

And as people who love spending time in the wilderness, don't we owe it to the Earth to be a bit more circumspect with our buying habits.

With that in mind, I am not suggesting that we avoid ever buying anything again, or even avoid buying anything that comes in plastic packaging, but I am suggesting that we should also celebrate NOT buying new gear.

So what you have re-purposed for your backpacking gear? What solutions have you found for gear that is low-impact/no impact on our environment. What gear do you have that has served its purposed well for more than ten years…and doesn’t need to be replaced, perhaps ever? What practices have you adopted that are a significant step in the right direction?

As examples of the former, we sometimes cadge mini-bottles from other passengers on airlines to rebottle our hootch on backpacking trips. We’ve done the same with Gatorade bottles for water, we’ve made seat pads from old sections of closed-cell foam, and we buy most of our fleece garments at thrift shops. We’ve also bought a couple of old external frame packs at those same thrift stores, and not only use them ourselves, but loan them to friends and family who join us on a trip.

And as examples of the latter, our sleeping bags of choice are a pair of REI Sub-Kilos that we’ve owned for at least a decade, washed a few times, and still think they’re good for the foreseeable future. That's them in the phot below--along with the two foam seat pads.. The cook kit was found abandoned and blackened in a campfire twelve years ago. Still works fine. And our MSR Pocket Rocket is older than that. The alpaca sweaters we bought in Peru still go in our packs, because they are light, warm, and work beautifully in a wide range of conditions. In fact, almost all of our gear is at least eight years old, and most of it is twelve years old or more. Nothing in the photo above is even close to new. It's all at least ten years old.

All of this has the added advantage of saving us lots of money that we would normally spend on gear. And that allows us to spend more time in the mountains, doing what we love.

Yes, this thread may offend some advertisers who want us to buy their gear. But I would hope that most of them would also see the long-term benefits of the discussion. And you'll note that this site doesn't accept any advertising from gear companies or anyone else.

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