When we tell people about Just Trails they either tell us about an adventure that they had or they tell us reasons why they don’t or can’t get outside and explore. While the actual concept of hiking is pretty simple we’re realizing that there are a lot of barriers, both physical and mental that keep some people inside. It’s inspired a new blog series. Every Monday we’re going to talk about one barrier to outdoor recreation and how to combat it. We’re calling this series “Trail’ology” and today we’re talking about gear.
Sometimes outdoor bloggers do the outdoor recreation community a disservice by posting gear reviews of fancy and expensive name brand clothing and gear. I’m guilty of it too. Our intentions are good, we want to tell our readers about a cool pieces of gear or a neat product or lament about a product that really sucks. We get excited about gear, especially gear that we get to test and blog about. But online gear reviews can be off-putting to someone who is new to hiking/skiing/snowshoeing/mountain biking etc and can’t afford to buy the latest and greatest in technical wear and gear or simply doesn’t want to.
When we started Just Trails I had one pair of hiking pants. They were 10 years old, that was all I needed since I just explored on the weekends when I wasn’t working. I hiked in an old pair of combat boots or my trail running shoes. I wore cheap moisture wicking t-shirts that I bought at Target or Walmart. I wore SmartWool socks but only when I could buy them on sale.
We started a small business about hiking without brand sponsors or fancy hiking clothing and gear. Naturally our stash of clothing and gear has grown but as always it’s proportional to how much time we spend on the trails.
What I’m trying to say is that you don’t need the right gear and clothing to go hiking! Please go explore your local trails wearing blue jeans and a sweatshirt. Wear your athletic shoes, hike in your yoga pants. Pack a PB&J on white bread, take a candy bar instead of a gluten-free, whole grain, granola bar infused with protein, and carry it in your old backpack (you know, the one that once hauled around your college text books). Use a plastic garbage sack as a raincoat. Pick up a stick on the side of the trail instead of buying telescoping trekking poles. And don’t go out and buy fancy equipment and clothing if you don’t need it or can’t afford it.
When the time comes to invest in outdoor clothing and gear, check out your local Walmart, Kmart or Target for inexpensive synthetic moisture wicking clothing, buy more expensive things like boots, socks, outerwear at REI Garage Sales or Sierra Trading Post and look for used camping equipment.
The good news is that you can take a nice walk in the woods with very little financial investment. Looking like a North Face sponsored athlete is simply not necessary for a fun day on the trails.