The Woes of Gear Shopping

I’m sorry to say I have no pictures to attach to this post so you will have to use your imagination. My husband and I spent months researching what was needed for a successful overnight backpacking trip. There were tons of Youtube videos, articles and gear reviews. When we were done with the list of gear we wanted to buy, we took a window shopping trip to the nearest REI store which is about two hours away. While there we got fitted for backpacks, which is a pretty in-depth ordeal and we left with confidence that we had made the right choices.

Fast forward a month and we are back at REI, and we are there to buy! Our cart was filled with sleeping bags, backpacks, water filtration, and cooking gear. Oh, and our tent! I don’t think I’ve been that excited since my mom took me to Disney World as a kid. It seemed like we had done everything right. Then we got home…

After unloading all of our newly gotten goods, like kids on Halloween night, we started tearing into things. Fitting all the gear into the new backpacks and seeing how they felt fully loaded was entertaining. Jason’s fit great, mine fit like it was made for Kate Moss. For those of you who don’t know backpacking packs have a hip band that is supposed to curve around your hips. Mine curved INTO my hips. I still have no idea what happened. I tried the pack a month earlier and it fit great; however, there was no way I was going to be able to wear it fully loaded five feet let alone on any kind of backpacking trip. We made the decision to go back to REI at the next available opportunity.

Then we tried the sleeping bags. Let me just say that neither of us ever stopped to consider that being fluffy would carry the horrors of clothes shopping into the realm of camping equipment. In fact, we were in such denial about this that during all that research, not once did either of us bother to look at the measurements on the bags at all. I mean they are sleeping bags…aren’t they one size fits all? NO. The answer is no they definitely are not!

As Jason laid his mummy-style bag onto the bed and climbed in, I watched as he zipped it up. Imagine a grown man wrapped so tightly, that he basically put a straight jacket on himself and you will understand why I stood by laughing. There was absolutely no way he was going to get out of that bag! In hindsight, I should have kept it as a torture device. Now, it’s my turn to give it a shot. I am slightly claustrophobic and therefore opted for something with more room around the feet than a mummy bag. I climbed into my bag with the confidence of someone who had no choice because I had just spent ten minutes laughing at Jason’s unfortunate ordeal. As I started to zip, I thought briefly that I had dodged the fluffy curse. However, as I got the zipper up to the level of my arms, full-blown panic set in. I started yelling at Jason to get me out, I couldn’t breathe and then the struggling started. Since he is a better person than me, he didn’t laugh at my panic, at least on the outside.

The moral of this story is even though one might think that camping gear is one size fits all, if you are fluffy…check the measurements and never leave the store without being fitted to the backpack you are actually taking home.

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