Thursday, March 5, 2015

Everything You Need to go Broke for a 4-day Backpacking Trip

 You want to take your kids backpacking in the Tetons for four days; fantastic! One of the less trafficked national parks, it features beautiful scenery, and within easy driving distance of Yellowstone, it's a great place to go. The problem is, you don't have the right gear. Well, my friend, you need worry no longer because the good folks at Men's Health have you covered. With the help of their outdoor experts, they:

"...pored over our extensive backpacking gear coverage to come up with the bare minimal list for a four-day backpacking trip. Here are the 25 items you shouldn't leave without."

The list is pretty straightforward as it goes along; tent, backpack, sleeping bag, et cetera. What isn't so straightforward is the price. I got halfway through the list and stopped in amazement. Tallying up only the least-expensive options they list (which, they note very helpfully, are often of lower quality than the more expensive stuff they recommend), I was at a total of $1554- and that was only half the list!

Are you telling me that, in order to equip someone with a "bare minimal" list that contains the twenty-five items you simply cannot leave with it, it costs over fifteen hundred dollars for half the stuff to go backpacking?

What really did it for me was when they listed the $190 pair of sunglasses you needed to take along. Now, you might think, heck, I can just get a pair of throwaway sunglasses. I don't need to spend $190 on them- but that's a dangerous assumption to make, because "even four days on the trail can put you at a higher risk for retina cancer."

Yes. That's right. Buy a $190 pair of sunglasses, or else you'll get retinal cancer. 

Retinal cancer. Really. Really, retinal cancer? REALLY? They might as well have said, "even four days on the trail can put you at a higher risk for underpants gnome theft." It'd make about as much sense. In a country of 318 million people, the American Cancer Society estimates there'll be a total of 2,500 new cases of eye cancer overall. Even worse, despite rigorous searching through the CDC and American Cancer Society websites, associated journals, and other scholarly work, I can't find a single place where it references any adult cases of retinal cancer whatsoever. The only thing I found said that:

"...the link between sunlight and eye melanomas is not proven, but some doctors think that sunglasses might also reduce eye melanoma risk (emphasis mine)."

It's no wonder that we can't get more dads out enjoying nature with their kids. This is the sort of thing we have to contend with. And I'm lucky I know enough to research these things, that I've worked with kids who actually had retinal cancer, and that I know just how exceedingly rare it really is. Because if I didn't know better, I'd probably do one of two things.

1) I actually blow $190 on pair of sunglasses because the outdoor experts at a supposedly reputable publication told me I could raise my risk of getting RETINAL CANCER, or

2) I take a look at the sticker shock of that, and the other items on their list, and simply give up in frustration, since there's no way I can afford half a month's salary on these supposedly "essential" items for the trip I want to take.

Which of those two outcomes do you think is more likely?

This is exactly what Backcountry Dad is here to fix. We're in the business to show folks that you don't have to break the bank to get outdoors with your kids. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to get reliable gear. Anyone with the drive and willingness to do it can. 

And we aim to show you how.

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