Two things struck me about the “Back in the Day” walk to Lees Paddocks last weekend:
- How much I enjoyed the camaraderie and warmth around a proper campfire. That wasn’t a surprise.
- Old gear from the 1970’s is not all that inferior to modern gear. That was a bit more surprising.
First the gear: In the spirit of “back in the day” I took as much of my oldest gear as I could still find. My rucksack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and billies were from the early 1970s (don’t ask why I still have all this stuff). Although my 1970s clothing is long gone I wore the equivalents as much as possible – wool shirt, King Gee shorts, Dunlop Volley sandshoes. Others did likewise to the extent that they had old gear and it was particularly pleasing to see John Counsell’s “golden tan” Paddymade japara tent as well as his Paddymade japara water bucket.
And all that old stuff was perfectly functional and comfortable, although I was slightly more aware of the H-frame pack on my back than I am with my usual rucksack. Nor is the gear heavier:
- Japara tent (including poles, pegs & fly): 3.5 kg, about the same as our modern 4-season 2-person tent. Also a lot more spacious inside, and robust in all but the strongest winds.
- Paddy Pallin H-frame rucksack: 2.5 kg, a little heavier than the pack I normally carry but 1 kg lighter than my big expedition pack (which actually has less capacity than the H-frame)
- Paddy Pallin “Bogong” sleeping bag only marginally heavier than my current bag (although a fair bit more bulky but that didn’t matter with the big rucksack 🙂)
It’s interesting to realise that modern gear is only incrementally rather than dramatically improved over the old stuff despite looking very different. Having said that, the increment is sufficient that my reversion to 1970s gear will not be ongoing. Perhaps the most significant improvement is in bulk rather than weight, so that I now get away with a smaller and lighter rucksack.
One exception to the incremental gains: waterproof clothing. I’m most definitely not volunteering to exchange my modern breathable waterproofs for oiled japara.
Now the campfire: Back in the day when I started bushwalking, and for many years after, the evening campfire with companions was one of the joys of the whole bush experience. Even in the snow we often had a campfire. It was a bit of a shock to me to find, when I resumed serious walking in Tasmania a few years ago, that as soon as it got cool and/or gloomy everyone would retreat to their one-person accommodation and not be seen again until morning. I was quietly thrilled on Saturday night to see almost our entire group conversing around the fire, sometimes involving everyone and sometimes a several different conversations.
I’d like to organise more walks with a campfire despite the very limited locations where it is possible. We are also thinking about hosting the occasional “campfire social” on our bush block, although that would be quite different to a walk-in event. Watch the program.
(Before you go – this is not my blog, it’s Pandani’s blog. I’d love to see posts from other club members on any bushwalking related topic you feel like writing about.)