I’ve been doing a lot of shopping lately. It’s a big deal for me, because I don’t like shopping much and I don’t do it often. Usually I find it hard to justify purchases. “Do I really need this?” “How often am I going to even use it?” “Where will I put it?” These are the thoughts that go through my head.

But it was clear to me that I would need a tent for this trip. And a sleeping bag that didn’t weigh 30 pounds. And so on. The good news for my sanity is that most of the things I’ve purchased so far feel like investments, because this trip won’t be the only time I use them. I’ll be doing a full packing list post at some point, as that sort of thing appeals to people like me, but for now I wanted to give you an idea of what I’ve been blowing all that carefully saved cash on, as well as what I decided against getting for this particular trip.



Tom Bihn Synapse Backpack, $140 at – This specific bag was highly recommended by Tynan, and the company has popped up several times when I’ve been looking for bags and backpacks. I haven’t had a decent backpack in years, and felt that I would need one on an almost daily basis for this trip. Here’s hoping the bag lives up to it’s reputation.

REI Passage 2 Tent, $160 at REI – My biggest desire in a tent was simplicity. I wanted something that would be quick and easy for me to set up, and take up little space both in the car and at the campsite. In a perfect world I would also get something that could be fully set up without stakes, as tent stakes are at the heart of most of my past camping frustrations. But maybe having a brand new bag of steaks and a proper mallet will solve that.

Matching Tent Footprint, $24 at REI – I considered whether this one was worth it, but Rob wisely pointed out that it’s the kind of thing you’d rather regret spending money on that regret not having when you need it.

Marmot Trestles 30 Sleeping Bag Long, $109 at REI – I think I must have tried out 10 different sleeping bags while I was at REI, and in the end I concluded that I don’t have a lot of opinions about sleeping bags. I’ve never used a mummy style before, so I’m hoping I don’t spend all my time claustrophobically kicking into the sides.

Platypus Softbottle Water Bottle, $8 at REI – This is more of an investment in my Bug Out Bag, but it seemed like it might be helpful on my trip, especially on long hikes.

Gorillapod Camera Tripod, $20 anywhere – I’ve thought about getting one of these since the first time I saw one many years ago. I’m not sure how much I’ll use it in my life after the trip, but I thought it would be helpful if not vital if I ever want to take a picture of myself at some fantastic location.

Rockforge Camp Axe, $19 at Home Depot I’ve only had to set up a campsite by myself once before, when I was volunteering at Mt. Rainer Park for the weekend. One of the perks of volunteering is that I got to stay in a secluded campground meant for volunteers and staff. They said there would be free fire wood, so I didn’t bother to pick some up on the way in. What I didn’t realize was that the free firewood was in gigantic logs. I had no way to break up the logs, and I ended up scrounging around the base of the woodpile looking for scrap bits that I could use to start a fire. I have no intention of ever doing that again. Plus a small axe just seems like a good thing to have around in life. You never know when something will need chopping.

Rubber Mallet, $5 at Home Depot – As previously mentioned, I shall not be defeated by tent stakes. Also this seems generally useful, see above RE: Axe.

Five Gallon Bucket with Lid, $4 at Home Depot – I figure a bucket is a combination kitchen sink and washing machine. I’m sure I’ll find many other uses for it. After all, it’s a bucket.

Canon Powershot, $150 at B&H – I felt like it was time to upgrade my camera, but I wasn’t interested in spending $1000. I did a little research, but quickly determined I’m not enough of a photographer to care about most of the differences I was comparing. The Powershot was recommended by a friend and fit my price point.

Merrell Siren Sport Shoes, $90 at REI – I spent at least 20 minutes putting on different hiking shoes at REI, but I ending up buying the first pair I tried on.



Travel pillow – I was a little worried that a normal pillow would be a bulky nuisance, but considering the price of the travel pillows and the likelihood of ever using it again, I’m going to stick with one of the regular old pillows I have in the apartment.

Camp stove – I lucked out on this one. My folks have a small butane stove that they’re letting me borrow.

InstafireThis stuff seems pretty cool, but so does becoming adept at starting campfires by myself.

Cooler – I already own a small, 9 quart cooler. The plan is to use the cooler more as general food storage and only occasionally bother with ice. It’s not much, and it’s possible I’ll want something bigger as I go. But a bigger cooler is something I am positive I can and will find at stores all across the country this summer, so I’m waiting until I know I need it to upgrade.

3 thoughts on “Investments

  1. “I already own a small, 9 quart cooler.” Just bought a 110-quart cooler, with wheels and a pull-out handle. Maybe you could tow it behind the car.

  2. Seems like you have done your research and are prepared. Have a fun and safe trip. Love you.

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