Snowtrout wrote:They google search what gear they need to buy and buy it (Hobbes top 10 list). Most I have talked to, never tested their gear on a pre-trip and have no other experience with other types of gear. They know nothing besides what someone else told them.
Crowd sourcing can be an effective way of determining high value-to-cost propositions. This book describes the phenomenon in more detail:
For many, the top 10 list is a refinement of what successful thru-hikers have found to work. I hadn't even considered the Exos 58 until I started seeing it everywhere. I ran into this PCT hiker last year @ TM, and bought him lunch in HB as he was cycling through on his way south to Mexico. (He's section cycling from Alaska to Patagonia.) He's now doing the CDT:
He had some very interesting comments/observations about gear; or as he referred to them as "UL freaks". LOL. Anyway, the point being that if you're starting from scratch (or just updating gear), discovering not what just everyone else has, but what "successful" thru-hikers actually used (and the reasons why particular items worked), seems to be a reasonable strategy.
I'm sure there are other contributing factors such as fashion, herd mentality, fads, perceptions of fitting in, etc, but those personalities tend to get weeded out pretty fast. The glamour (whatever may have existed) about the trail is usually brutally squashed within weeks of starting.
Snowtrout wrote:I will say I am soured by my JMT experience and will try to stay away from that trail. Makes me appreciate the wilderness areas between Yosemite and SEKI and west of the JMT even more.
The number #1 reason for our early season JMT section hike was to "take back the trail":
http://highsierratopix.com/community/vi ... =1&t=14472
There's no reason to give up a great location just because everyone else has figured it out. Rather, you just need to go when crowds aren't there. Early season requires additional skills that many/most thru-hikers don't (yet) possess. Or, as so many who either quit or skipped the Sierra were fond of saying "I didn't sign up for thru-mountaineering"
That being said, there are some out there early season who perhaps shouldn't be. When we were taking a break on top of Kearsarge on our way out, a group of 20-something betas arrived from OV after re-supplying in town. One of them had an Exos, and like all Osprey backpacks, it had a plastic coated cable on one side to hang cams & carabiners. However, in his case he had his ice-axe head hanging through the loop, so that the pick was facing his groin and the shaft was down by his thigh.
The best image to conjure would be sort of like a gunslinger with his pistol hanging low for quick access. Seeing that and feeling charitable, I calmly/quietly (not wishing to call attention or embarrass) suggested to his friend that he might wish to advise his buddy about re-positioning his axe. That is, to the actual ice-axe loop so that the pick was upside down and facing inward (at the back of the pack as far away from his body as possible), with the shaft pointing up. His response "the pack has two ice-axe loops - that one is for quick access".
I sh!t you not. I didn't even know how to respond - I was tempted to go into full Marksor mode. Quick access! "Son, if that axe ain't already in your hand when you need it, it's already too late". LOL. This numbskull had a sharp, dangerous weapon pointed inches from his abdomen. It wouldn't even require a fall, just kicking a root/rock and a slight stumble would have done the trick. But, like the old saying goes "you can't fix stupid". I guess they got through ok, or for all I know, took one look at Glen and headed back out, promising to do the Sierra later in the year.