Lately* it seems I have been trying to quell the pangs of PCB by way of retail therapy and kit research. The other day I discovered that Cotswold Outdoors, where I have a Ramblers’ discount, were exclusively selling the new Osprey Mira 26, a smaller version of the same AG (anti gravity) back system as the new Atmos’ and Auras, which are too big for a Camino for me because I like to travel with hand luggage only. So what did I do? I ordered it online rather than ring them and make sure they had one available for me to try on. Then I went into town to collect it and try it on. It seemed potentially OK, but I did take it home to see if I could fit everything in. I couldn’t. I also couldn’t comfortably fit myself in the waist belt to be honest. Now I have to return it, and also a pair of Hoka One Ones I ordered online because people were on the forum were saying they worked for Plantar Fasciitis … They didn’t fit either. So that’s two things to return and I got a bit excited about getting my money back. And then it hit me: I’d be saving a lot more if I stopped spending!
I can’t really blame it on my size, it doesn’t change massively so I don’t need new clothes in a different size all the time. I can’t blame it on wear and tear, because nothing has really broken down or become unfit for purpose yet. I can’t even blame the wide variety of adventures requiring a wide variety of kit.
I can to a certain extent claim that my needs have changed – I now travel with handluggage only, I walk in a skirt instead of trousers, in merino T-shirts instead of synthetic shirts, I don’t like using my down sleeping bag in spring and summer, I find that poles work well for me. So of course I need a smaller pack (love it), a new skirt (on offer), more merino (an investment), a synthetic sleeping bag (check the blog posts) and Pacerpoles (back saver). Fair enough, but for someone who likes to travel light I am starting to get an awful lot of gear.
The real issue here is that I like shiny new things, things that are different from what I’ve got, it interests me to see if I can do something I haven’t already done and make it work better. The Camino is no longer just a daydream, it has become some sort of mental exercise – how can I do even more with even less? But that leaves me with lots of stuff I no longer need or use and only very little, less than 30L according to my backpack, that actually makes up my Camino kit. I have everything I need, and every single item has been extensively researched and considered before I got it, usually at a bargain price. I thought it was great then and it still works, I need nothing more.
So I am hereby calling a Shop Stop! No more purchases, not even sneaky ones like selling and then buying on Ebay. Selling, yes – buying, nope. It is time to be content with what I have and not go lusting after different packs and clothes and gadgets, as content with my kit as I am when I am actually using it!
One thing I will be doing while not shopping is really go through the stuff I have and donate, sell, swap or even use it, maybe in a different way or in combination with stuff I didn’t have at the time. Try the old Osprey Aura ventilated pack one more time, on a long walk, and see if it really stopped being comfortable or if it is really too big to go as hand luggage with my new, smaller kit. If I can, I might take it with me in April, as I have always preferred a panel loader to a top loader. Everything is going to be dug out, dusted off and tried again, like some sort of pilgrim kit audition where only the best few items get to go through to the next stage. I won’t try to fool anyone that I will be able to downsize to just one backpack, because I don’t go on just one kind of hikes or travels. I need clothes for summer walks as well as colder climes, I need layers and spares, but I will try to reuse and repurpose where I can. Think of all the money I’ll save!
I shall enjoy spending it on albarinho and seafood in Santiago …
*for many, many years now