Scott and Ariane November 14, 2017 0

What is the most important piece of gear you carry?

Us backpackers can spend a lot of time looking at the latest and greatest new piece of gear out there. In fact, according to IBES World, market research say’s it’s a 4 billion dollar a year industry. That’s a lot of gear.

Over the next five years, as total recreation expenditure expands, demand at hiking and outdoor equipment is anticipated to grow

We are always looking for that piece of “WOW” gear that is the lightest and sometimes the trendiest. However, we have a piece of gear that doesn’t cost anything and we think is essential. It’s lightweight, it will stand the test of time, and it will get you through more uphills, downhills, and weather than you will believe.

The most important piece of gear a backpacker will ever need is a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  No piece of gear will ever help you embrace the trail and Mother Nature than a positive mental attitude will.

Let’s face it, sometimes there is a suck value to hiking in a cold rain storm that seems to last forever. But the one thing that you have going for yourself is your ability to be grateful for that suck value. I mean really, you are out there! You are doing what you wanted to do! Of course it’s going to have suck value. All things worth while do. But it’s going to be your positive mental attitude that will make or break how you experience your hike.

After 20 years of backpacking I can tell you that a positive mental attitude is everything.

For new people just getting into backpacking, getting started is the hardest part. However, with Social Media and the ease of just watching someone else’s adventure on a YouTube video, it’s easy to get caught up with the romantic idea of the adventure, instead of the journey. Moreover, just how hard it is to actually carry a backpack for 6 months and live in the woods.

When I thru-hiked the AT  in 2003 I probably quit a thousand times a month. It was one of the most aggravating thoughts I had. My thoughts in my head constantly nagging at me,”do you really need to do this?”  The answer was always the same…”NO”. I don’t HAVE to do this, I WANT to do this.  There is a time in everyone’s life when you have to look in the mirror and do that one thing that is the hardest, and that is…change.

Change is the one single moment in your life when you know for sure that the outcome won’t happen unless you change the way you think about what you want the most. I had to change my attitude about what I was reacting to.  Stop whining about the weather, my aches, pains, other hikers, the terrain, the food, just about everything.

It’s that quintessential reaction that I love to use when life or the trail start beating me up mentally. That one feeling that makes me stop in my tracks and breathe. That one beautiful thought that is free and weighs nothing. I carry with it with me whenever or where ever I hit the trail…that one price of gear is: Gratefulness.