Not that long ago I read in a magazine where the writer had commented on how he (I think the writer was male) was no longer paddling as it had been cut back to pay for all those things that come with getting older and settled. This has lead to me thinking about how we have gone from the point where all we needed to get on the water was a boat shaped object to the point where even sports with few equipment requirements have become too expensive to participate in? Have we bought so fully into the idea that to fully enjoy the outdoors we must have the latest gear, have we fallen into the same mentality that has people lining up for half the night at electronic outlets to buy the latest piece of marginally changed gear to replace the one which we have just begun to figure out how to use all the features of.
It is easy to make a sport too expensive to participate in but in this case it is just as easy to make it affordable, you may have to paddle a boat that is a few pounds heavier and your gear may look like it has few miles on it, but you will be outside and not in the office trying to make an extra dime so you can afford the gear you want. I know that what gets me outside and what lead me out there in the first place, it had and has nothing to do with the equipment being used; it is place where I’m using it. One of my memories from when I was younger was sailing with my uncle and a friend of his the boat was an old plywood boat, and my purpose on board was to bail as it was a leaky old tub, the memories of that day have nothing to do with the quality of the equipment. When it comes to canoeing the memories are of paddling the flood waters behind our house in a beat up boat with a couple of friends. When you think through your memories of outdoor adventures what are they made up of, my guess is that they are not fond recollections of equipment but of people, places and experiences both good and bad.
I think that carbon paddles and super light Kevlar canoes are cool, have you seen the ad with the guy holding the boat in one hand over his head? That’s nice but I don’t usually use my boats like that I prefer them in the water, and portaging with the boat in one hand seems impractical. When the gear that we use becomes as important as or even more important than the experience of the outdoors have we not already lost much of what we chasing in the first place.
Let's get outside.