So does anyone else besides me see the dilemma on the horizon in the outdoor world today? OK, so it probably will not be the apocalypse and the Rapture did not come, but I do see two clashing ideas rising to the surface to battle each other like titans. To gear or not to gear, that is the question. We all like gear, who doesn’t, every time I get a new piece I sleep with it at night and dream about how cool I am, don’t pretend like you don't. Well, I know you either own a pair of “minimalist” five fingers or have thought about it within the last 30 days. With the rise of barefoot running and quick alpine style adventure the idea of doing more with less, like a caveman, is undoubtedly made its way to the forefront of the outdoor industry.
So which idea will win? Who will be the victor and claim the minds of the masses that head into the great outdoors every weekend? I see three groups of people; gear people, minimalist, and in-betweeners. Either you have one of everything, just the essentials, or a little of both. It also seems like minimalist and the gear people are both hardcore in their beliefs, with the rest of us left adrift in the middle, who go where the wind of advertising blows.
Bare Bones Movement -
You have to do it caveman style, that is the mantra, quick and fast is the clean way to do it. I think there is probably a hint of taking adventure to the next notch with this kind of mind set. From free climbing, alpine style assaults, barefoot running, and the whole less is more idea has come a new generation of athletes who want to experience nature in the most pure way possible. This new generation prides itself it not having a GPS watch, a huge backpack with everything it, or much of anything for that matter.
Does tackling a obstacle with less then your fellow man make you more a man than a mouse? Is barefoot running really more healthy, or just healthy for Five Finger’s wallet? You could make the argument that going bare bones will force you to be better at what you do, climbing, backpacking, or running. But, then again some of the best athletes in world are no minimalist either. Is there that much difference between a gear person and a bare bones worshiper? I’m not sure if owning 5 less pieces of gear or wearing five fingers either puts you over that invisible line or not. I would imagine bare bones style is more of a mindset then it is something you can quantify. But, ahhh new gear smells so nice!
Gear Junkies -
Don’t pretend you like you don’t want one. Even the guy running around in five fingers with no shirt on would take a second look at that Garmin GPS watch. It’s built into us all, those nice tents, sleeping bags, kayaks, stoves, you name it, it all looks so shiny and new. The right gear in the right place at the right time can extend our adventures and make us safe, safe to have fun and enjoy the environment more perfectly.
Besides, if no one ever bought anything from all these companies like Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Marmot and the like, how would they stay in business to give us all those products we love? Gear Junkies are needed aren't they? They keep the economy running and innovation happening. I mean we are all buying the our gear from the companies, just in different quantities and slightly different products.
Many times the great adventures that start us all out began with massive amounts of resources. Just take the first assaults on Everest for example, it took hundreds of people and supplies to open up that vision to the world and create that summit madness that blinds people today. What about people climbing with and without oxygen, is one more noble, or is that only seen in the heart of a person? Those who go before pave the way for those to come after. Those who come after to do it quicker and faster then the first, are they better then the first? Are they equal? Who has the more pure adventure, and does that even matter?
In the end I still have not decided which is more glorious, which is the better. Gear is great, it makes possible many things for an amateur adventurer that would not be possible otherwise. Bare bones style adventure brings with it a new sense of your surroundings and feelings of accomplishment, it hones your skill.
Which camp do you fall into? What are the reasons you pick the camp you are in? Does one camp offer more experience then the other? Will future generations lean towards one side more then the other?
Daniel's Bio: Cubicle warrior and weekend warrior, that is me. I am Midwest boy raised in the flatlands who grew up working and playing in the great outdoors...mostly because that is all you can do where I'm from. I'm a fan of anything outdoors, from fly fishing on the weekend to climbing Colorado's Capitol Peak. Doesn't matter if it is running, biking, or kayaking I like to do it all. I enjoy being a amateur of all them, I believe it makes life more interesting when you don't know what you are doing. I run a web site called www.ShareThisAdventure.com, a free web site made by outdoor enthusiast, for outdoor and adventure enthusiast. I want everyone to be inspired and to inspire others with adventure stories from the mountain to the weekend road trip. Basically anyone can upload a story with photos about any activity they have done outdoors and share it with the world, the idea is to share the love of the outdoors and get people off that couch.