202: The Slow, Methodical Accumulation of Gear

Show Notes: Episode 202

Today on the First 40 Miles, so you’re convinced! Backpacking is your new thing and you’re headed out to buy the latest and best of everything from the packing list.  Wait!  We’ll share a few reasons to slow down before you buy.  Then we’ve got a 4-in-1 piece of gear that will keep you warm and protected from the elements.  For today’s hack, a simple paradigm shift that will give you the most psychological bang for your buck when it comes to using your stove.


  • It’s tempting when you get into a sport, activity or hobby, to want to jump in to buy the latest and best of everything, all at once
  • How we made our purchases
  • How we prioritized
  • What do we need, instead of what do we think we want?

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy All Your Gear At Once

Some gear isn’t as essential as it sounds

  • Some gear looks so cool and essential—at least the ads or the store displays make it look essential

You may miss out on online only gear from small niche companies

  • Your local outdoor store is limited by their square footage
  • If you buy all your gear at once, you may miss out on lesser known brands
  • Dirty girl gaiters $23, super popular among thru hikers

You will learn your body and your backpacking style the more time you spend in the wilderness

  • Are you a hot sleeper or a cold sleeper?
  • Are you a fan of merino, synthetic, down, polypropylene, yak wool?
  • Are you a heavy sweater? A hat person?  High socks, ankle socks?
  • Slim and trim or dangly fangly?

You need a lot less than you think you do

  • If you buy all your gear at once, you risk overbuying
  • How many pairs of hiking pants do you think you need for a weeklong trip? How many pair of socks?

It’s hard to tell between technology improvements vs. fads

  • Osprey moldable belt—it sounds like it’s a technology improvement that will make your pack more comfortable. Or is it just a fad?  Or a marketing gimmick?
  • The most expensive, up-to-date gear on the shelves will be replaced next season by something even better
  • There will always be something better, lighter, stronger, smarter, etc.

SUMMIT Gear Review:  Thermarest Honcho Poncho 


  • Technical poncho-blanket-jacket
  • Poncho-blanket-jacket-pillow
  • Waterproof Breathable 20D Polyester RipStop
  • DWR coating
  • Has a water-resistant/breathable shell


  • Kangaroo pocket and top zip pocket
  • Used as a light jacket
  • Doubles as a light blanket
  • Has 37.5™ insulation
  • Cinchable hood
  • Poncho snaps together on sides, and unsnaps to create a blanket


  • 1 pound 12 ounces
  • Packed dimension 16 in x 12 in


  • Machine wash and dry
  • Packs into its own storage pocket.


  • $130


  • More coverage than a jacket, longer
  • One size fits all
  • Doubles as a pillow
  • Colors: Lemon Curry, Poseidon, Olivine, Deep Purple

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Save your fuel for Breakfast

  • Save your fuel for a hot breakfast.
  • It’s colder in the morning, so holding a warm meal will warm you inside and out.

Trail Wisdom

“Go as far as the eye can see, and when you get there, look farther.”
—Dag Hammarskjöld

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