Gear as lifestyle. Or why discussion of the minutiae of gear is so popular.
Photo from E-Bay’s outdoor gear section
For various reasons, gear talk is the most popular discussion on most outdoor forums.
Some of the most popular backpacking websites currently are gear focused.
Not just about the basics of outdoor gear, but the minutia as well.
Which three-point-something ounce stove is more efficient versus another three-point-something ounce stove?
Or which latest cuben fiber poncho is better than the previous cuben fiber poncho?
There is certainly a place for this type of discussion.
After all, money is a finite resource and we want to get the piece of gear that works for us.
But why the overall popularity of this discussion vs say outdoor ethics or the best spot for trout fishing? Where to get the best sunset photo or what are some favorite backcountry meals? Or even the logistics of getting to a place and planning for a trip?
Basically, why gear discussion for the sake of gear discussion? Is gear that important for outdoor pursuits in proportion to the amount it is discussed?
REI Garage sale photo from livingbozeman.com
For many various reasons, gear discussion dominates outdoor talk.
Here are my own thoughts on why gear discussion, esp discussion on specific gear items, is so popular.
- If a person is new to the outdoors, it is something very much of interest. If you have never backpacked before, seeing that a seemingly authoritative sounding website or magazine endorses a specific pack is comforting. The person new to the outdoors wants to know what is the best and what to buy. Again, considering money is a finite resource, that is an understandable desire.
- Specific gear is easy to discuss. It is something tangible. You can easily describe what the water filter weighs, the price, how past it pumps water vs the competition and so on. May be more difficult to discuss why a water filter may be more appropriate vs chemical treatment.
- “Gear is fun”. Buying the gear gives some temporary happiness. And many of us like our toys. Basically, we get a thrill when discussing what new things to acquire and then acquiring it. The credit card bill at the end of the month may change that feeling, however. 😉
All about the gear! From Portlandia.
Mostly, though, I think gear is discussion is popular because it is “gear as lifestyle