Backpacker Stereotypes Part IV:The Walking REI Ad

Friends, meet The Walking REI Ad

The polar opposite of the Christopher McCandless Wannabe, and consequently, usually a member of the The Itinerary Junkie species, this type of traveler is always prepared. He or she likes to think of themselves as the MacGyver of Travels, an Inspector Gadget if you will. You can easily spot one out, because they are graffitied with the brand names of Marmot, Chaco,Patagonia, North Face, etc., looking as if an REI  vomited on them.  It is not surprising, that a hot topic of conversation is how much their REI member rebate will be in March. Anything less then $100 is clearly unacceptable, and therefore offers no bragging rights.

So we get it. You are outdoorsy, and clearly love adventures.

Thus, you are eagerly cautious that we don’t forget this by suiting up in a uniform consisting of your weather proof jacket, convertible quick- drying pants, high-tech altitude watch, top of the line hiking boots, topped off with a sun proof hat, all the way down to your $30 quick drying underwear.  Hell, this person could practically be a spokesperson for Patagonia.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being prepared. And I am certainly guilty of owning yuppie outdoor gear as well.  But sometimes, it’s rather comical to see this John Doe trekking up a volcano on a 7 hour hike, clad in armor as if the extremities of Mt.Everest lay ahead.

Have you ever noticed the footwear tour guides wear in other countries?? Flip Flops- old sneakers with holes in them- I’ve seen a couple pairs of Tom’s that were most likely donated. I wonder what they think of the hoards of foreigners waltzing in with their hundred dollar special outdoor shoes, GPS watches, power lock trekking poles, and freeze dried provisions, as if their survival depended on these go-go gadgets. We must look like pompous assholes.

Yes, efficiency is key, and more importantly, quality is imperative, but is all this really necessary for your jaunt down the Gringo Trail? Seriously, I can see a Shell station across the street. So have no fear, I don’t think we have lost touch with all civilization quite yet. Therefore, do yourself a favor, and unload the provisions of canned foods in order to take a load off your back literally, and metaphorically. As I see it, moderation is key. And no, I am not suggesting going technophobe like our dear friend Chris, but don’t go all glut either.

Let’s be honest, all he needed was a map.

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