Backcountry footwear pollemica!

Phillip heading in for a January Subway.  Which was an awesome freaking trip.  Go look at the photos non-longtime readers.

I have an article on Fast and Light Shoulder Season footwear up at BPL today.  It’s the evolution of ideas which started in this post, and were born during Le Parcour de Wild, confirmed during my May Thorofare trip a few years ago, and tested to the limit during the Wilderness Classic this year.  Three trips which explain my becoming a real backpacker as good as any.

It’s interesting, looking back at the rush of learning which occurred for me in 2009 and 2010.  In the past year I’ve been slowly consolidating all that, putting things into place in memory and habit.  I also became BPL staff, and that achievement, contrasted with my current gear review projects and doing wolverine trips with Sally, has thrown certain aspects of my personality into interesting relief.  I don’t consider myself an especially analytical person, in that numbers and empirical data don’t tug very strongly at my heartstrings.  This is particularly clear when trying to build on Will Rietveld’s work.  I am a very particular and perhaps obsessive person.  I like to understand things I care about thoroughly and well, and it bugs the crap out of me when something like a backcountry footwear system doesn’t work flawlessly.  Because I know that things like that can work without a hitch.

Contrast that with Sally, who as a backcountry ranger puts in a ton of hours and miles outside, and as an Oberlin grad and generally empowered type-A postmodern woman has more than enough of both intellect and experience to be an uber-gear nerd.  Instead, she is a fantastic example of that class of hardcore outdoor user who finds what works and then works it, without excessive nit-picking and self-examination.  I admire this approach, but find the particulars of backpacking gear and it’s application too fun to step back from.

All of which is to say that, in addition to the pack project I’ve discussed here recently, I’ve got some other BPL gear projects underway right now.  Gear reviews, but reviews which will go beyond the what and where of grams and fabrics to the how and why of getting wet and muddy.  To say nothing of a few things (rainwear state of the market, bikepacking series, on trail navigation) in the editorial process which will I hope find a receptive audience.  All of which is finally to say that 3.5 years ago I was just posting on BPL for the first time, wondering if the membership fee was worth it.  It is.  The archive of deep and subtle knowledge to which you’ll gain access is massive.

3 thoughts on “Backcountry footwear pollemica!

  1. You’re a badass, plain and simple. Looking forward to your presence over there at BPL, which is in desperate need of some vitality and relevance.

  2. Dave, classic BPL post on footwear. It’s as if the mid- to late-2000s are back and technique and management are king again. Excellent article.

    On another note, I sent you an email a while back, wanting to take you up on the offer to have a beer. I’m not sure if you got it or not, as I’m sure you’ve been busy lately. If you’re still up for it, you can get a hold of me on the “Profile” page of my blog. (Sorry for the workout, I hate publicizing that kind of information. But I’ll happily give it to you privately.)

    1. Damn Clayton, sorry about that. My yahoo account is so effed up with spam these days the filters have been “catching” things like crazy. Time to decommision it. Will contact you today.

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