Minimalist backpacking via Clint Eastwood

– I can’t find my tent.
– Where’s my poncho liner?
Damn it, who’s got my web gear?
Profile, that’s my canteen.
Aponte better get back here.
He’ll do time for being AWOL.
People, let’s have an equipment check.
Let’s keep it simple.
You got boots on, you can walk into combat.  Let’s go.
–GySgt Highway (in bold) ,Heartbreak Ridge

Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge

A memory from childhood is my Dad’s love ofClintt Eastwood movies .  The Eiger Sanction was probably my first view of mountain climbing (Clint Eastwood did his own stunts!), I caught the Man with No Name trilogy over the years, and I very much remember watching the Beguiled with Dad. I am looking forward to the remake.   As I became older, I appreciated the nuances of The Outlaw Josey Wales and its importance as a movie.

Clint Eastwood is noted for his lean direction. And unusual for Hollywood, his movies are done quickly and often under-budget!

Putting aside politics (please! 🙂 ), many of his movies are iconic.  And movies such Unforgiven and the previously mentioned The Outlaw Josey Wales are rightfully viewed as important classics in cinema.

Heartbreak Ridge is not one of these films.  It is an entertaining movie for a rainy Saturday afternoon at best.

After the recent ALDHA Ruck where a photo of Clint Eastwood was used in a presentation, I flashback to a scene in the Heartbreak Ridge.

Activation of a Marine battalion occurred.   Everyone is scrambling around frantically and looking for their equipment.  The grizzled sergeant played by Eastwood puts a stop to the chaos all and asks if the rifle and boots are in place. Yes? Then you have all you need. Let’s go.

And that same scene applies to backpacking.  Lightweight backpacking discussion in particular.

Much lightweight backpacking discussion revolves around what gear to buy, swap in, add, and consume.

But the real secret to going lightweight? It is minimalism.   It is not what you take. It is what you DON’T take.

We are in the time of many small manufacturers of backpacks and tents, lots of light and affordable insulation pieces from various companies, and canister stoves that aren’t that functionally different.  A person can easily procure a base pack weight of 15 or even 10 lbs that provides comfort and is not that much money.  You really can’t go too far wrong no matter what you decide to purchase among these similar choices.

But to keep it light, or go even lighter, take fewer items. Don’t buy more “stuff.”

Take a lesson from Clint Eastwood.

Keep it simple.

You have your shoes on, your pack is worn, and you have three days of food.

Just go.

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7 years ago

So true. One of the beautiful things about backpacking is that it allows me to escape the commercial world, and yet at the same time so much of the discussion about backpacking involves gear. And thats ok, because it’s part of the fun of it- but only up to a point. No one should be fooled into thinking that they can :buy: a better moment in nature. Sure, there’s a certain threshold amount of gear necessary to serve as your passport to the outdoors, but that list is short. Once you have the basics, just get out and go.

Tom Guidry
7 years ago

I laugh when I think back on how much weight I carried. Now, down to 27 lbs with all of the comforts needed, so much better in all respects.