Sunday, May 9, 2010

To Buy Or Not To Buy

When someone says “hiking” the next word that pops to mind is invariably “shopping.”

For my first hiking trip, I bought long underwear tops and bottoms – bright white. White long underwear was the foundation of my anti-tick defense system. I wasn’t stepping foot into the wilds of New England without them.

Ouch, I could have bought a candle-lit dinner for two for the same price. At least the word Patagonia was embroidered on the waistband. It makes all the difference in the world to ticks.

For that first trip I borrowed all other necessary hiking paraphernalia. Plagued with a need to prove myself, I had to show stick-to-it-tiveness and earn the right to spend. I’ve always been this way. Frugality laced with guilt forced me to tango in cowboy boots for a year before buying suede soled shoes. That was over a decade ago. Though they no longer fit, I keep them around to torture myself with. I always think of them when trying to answer the age old question, “To buy or not to buy?”

Like Hamlet I’m haunted by the past. I agonize over purchases that proved pointless, teetering at the edge of insanity, afraid of repeating mistakes. But after a couple of hiking trips I’d earned a few essentials, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, backpack, liner socks, knife, tick key and head lamp.

Of these purchases only the sleeping pad and the head lamp were free of regret. The special order light weight women’s sleeping bag was so silky it felt slimy and made my skin crawl. I gave it to my daughter and snagged my mom’s old bag. Why is it that everything is more special if it was your mother’s first? Don’t answer that. Just wish your mother a happy Mother’s Day. Then buy her some wool socks. That’s what mothers the world over want. You can buy them at your local camping store but don’t succumb to the temptation to buy anything for yourself, lest my shopping disease be contagious.

After I bought the tango shoes, I danced for less than another 6 months. It's been the same ever since. It's like a curse. After buying the sleeping bag and backpack, our next two trips were cancelled. It was over a year before I used my brand new pack. I count myself lucky that I hiked ever again. To make so many large purchases was tempting fate. Think twice before you do the same.


  1. we all have our impulse buys ... some buy shoes, others buy purses, for me it's pens and notebooks ... you can never have enough pens and notebooks! various colors and shapes are obviously needed for various activities and needs of the day, or of the hour, depending on how frivolous i'm feeling :)

  2. I've noticed that same thing about sleeping bags, I bought a light bag for summer use and it was really uncomfortable, like sleeping on plastic. So I bought a sleeping bag liner (fleece), now the combo weighs about the same as a regular mummy bag. Oh well, keep shopping.

  3. Wow Jimmy you have a great sleeping bag page - check it out everybody!

  4. I completely relate to this! Why is it when we do something so simple we now need so much gear? It was like that when I began yoga. Sure, I could've used the studio's stuff, but instead I bought a: mat, block, band, yoga pants, and bag to carry it all.