I don’t consider myself to have ever actually backpacked.
There was the time in the Grand Canyon that my AmeriCorps friends and I camped in the backcountry.
But we made more room for beer than gear, and didn’t make it more than a mile due to time constraints.
The opportunity never presented itself to go on a backpacking trip yet I’ve always felt a pull to try it (More to come on why in the upcoming weeks).
Since moving to Duluth, life has blessed me with a lot of adventurous friends and good people craving the outdoors. I’ve found more opportunities to explore and test out new passions that help me get outside.
And finally, I’ve found the opportunity to backpack (somewhere new- Goal 34).
In May I’ll be hitting the road with the goal of completing the longest connected section of the Ozark Trail in Missouri, approximately 230 miles.
It doesn’t sound like much when I think of the accomplishments my parents are making in chipping away sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. However, 230 miles will be a good starting point into what will hopefully become a passionate obsession with backpacking.
This trip was made possible by my job. Gear is expensive and, coming off of the AmeriCorps stipend, it’s taken me months to reach a stable financial balance. 40-75% off outdoor gear because I work in the industry? A bit of a godsend.
Better than affordable gear, my position at Duluth Pack helped me develop more of an interest in learning about the equipment I was getting. Shopping isn’t my greatest hobby but when it comes to outdoor gear I could spend hours comparing products.
This past weekend, I finally accumulated all of the gear I need for the trip. When I took the time to look at the total cost and weight, I must say I was kind of proud of myself.
My base weight for my pack, meaning just the gear with no food or water and nothing worn, is 11lbs and 6.6 oz. My gear in total weights 13 lbs, with me wearing 2lbs and 9.4 oz.
As for price, without discounts, all of the gear that I purchased would have cost me about $1453.35. This isn’t including things I received as gifts or for free through my work, or items I previously owned. The total amount I actually spend on gear was $547.09.
There really is no feasible way I could afford all of that gear if it wasn’t for the discounts. As it was Cooper and I spent a month at our worst financial moment this past year budgeting groceries to $100 for the entire month, and forgoing alcohol or other luxuries. AmeriCorps prepared us well for budgeting but having to pass up a case of beer so that we could pay rent was a cruel reminder of adulthood inching closer and closer.
I’ve been balancing three jobs the past few months and Cooper’s been putting in tens of hours of overtime when possible at his job. It’s been exhausting but the reward of being able to hike the Ozarks will be well worth it. I think we’re both looking forward to the moment where we can escape the constantly moving lifestyle we’ve established in Duluth and immerse ourselves in the trail.