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The consumer side of hobbies

September 8, 2008

When I took sailing class this spring, I bought the bare minimum I thought I could get away with.  A windbreaker (I didn’t own one), white sole shoes (ugly ones!), and sunglasses.  I didn’t even buy the “suggested” text book.  A young couple in my sailing group showed up the first day and bought the nice sailing shoes, and some really great looking brand new jackets.  Another classmate helped them to justify the purchases by saying, “Well, part of the fun of starting a new hobby is getting all the gear!”

Granted, this couple probably had been thinking about sailing for awhile, and they were much more serious about it than I was.  They were talking about buying boats by week 3, while was only going because I got a great deal on the classes.

Still, is there fun buying the gear?  Trent wrote a really good post about this, about how purchasing Stuff is sometimes a substitute for actually getting out there and doing the things you want.  Though I know it wasn’t true, I egotistically wondered if he saw my post on backpacking gear purchases and been inspired!

I have to admit that with backpacking, picking out out my gear was pretty fun.  We would go to REI and look at all the options.  We’d go home and research online, trying to find the maximum value for us.  Was it worth an extra $15 for a camp mat that weighed less and packed up smaller?  What kind of boots will serve me the best in all possible situations?  Can I just buy this much cheaper rain coat and seal the seams myself?  T and I, both analytical problem solvers, had fun with it.  (Except for the pesky part where they ask for your money in order to give you the stuff!)

I did make an attempt to use what I already had, but when it comes to packs and shoes, you just can’t.  I found that out on our first trip.  Used?  I made some attempts to find stuff on craigslist, and have been checking out  But I haven’t bought anything used.  The price difference wasn’t enough with all of the end of summer closeout sales.

I don’t think there is a good way to get into backpacking without buying the gear, and you need to get much of it at the same time if you have nothing suitable.  Still, we need to take a step back.  With what we have, we can do basic overnight trips anywhere that bear canisters aren’t required.  From there, we can carefully evaluate what else we need.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2008 2:49 pm

    I have to admit, for most hobbies, there is a minimum of startup gear required. It’s just that getting more than the minimum is so tempting! 😉 I made do with a lot of old stuff for yoga because my class was so casual that I could use their old mats and my beach towel, but BF insisted on buying a cute pair of yoga pants and a yoga sweater for me a few classes in. The yoga sweater is *the* warmest little sweater I’ve got, now.

    I try to stick to things that only require casual workout gear and sneakers these days.

  2. September 8, 2008 4:17 pm

    @revanche – yes, that would be a good plan — stick to things that require minimum start up gear.

    I was several hundred in before I realized what I had gotten myself into!!! I’m trying to relax about it, because I generally spend very little on fun/hobbies, but it is pretty shocking.

  3. September 9, 2008 9:27 am

    It is so true. Hobbies can be so expensive. Knitting for example, at first you start thinking it will save you money on gifts and then you start using nicer and nicer yarn and the next thing you know it’s costing you more than buying something similar at the store! I think running is the same way, I’ve gathered a lot of running gear along the way, dry fit clothes, a camel back, a water bottle with a hand strap. I get tons of use out of all of it, but I wonder what I can do without.

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