Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ray Jardine DVD - 2010 A.T. Gear

Probably undeservedly, I like to think of myself as a backpacking purest. No, I really don't know what that means either and I'm sure it carries a certain undesirable but anticipated snobbish connotation. I suppose in a nutshell it means that I backpack to get in touch with nature, myself, friends, and priorities, and all while doing my best to respect it all. This means I don't carry headphones but I do carry a lightweight shovel to responsibly answer the call of nature. I don't leave trash behind and I don't dirty water sources or make loud noises. In the end, I try to keep things as I found them and appreciate the big and the small.

To this end, over time I've taken the position of supporting others who I admire or who I otherwise think are doing things (meaning backpacking and wilderness activities) the "right way". As a result I often spend my money on cottage industry manufacturers. It also means that I spend money on certain things nearly entirely....just to spend money without any real expectation of personal gain. My hope is that my contribution will help a backpacker pressing towards a particularly impressive endeavor. (Disclaimer - No need to ask if I'll be contributing to your endeavor. If I'm interested, I'll find you.).

It is not uncommon for me to buy DVD's, books, gear, art, collectables, or audio recordings to this end. These may be available for free in any number of sources or even undesirable as a whole, but I purchase them merely to help out the owner and fund perhaps a small fraction of their journey. These "contributions" are made not for the quality or desire of anything I may receive but is sufficient justification for both parties to feel they are doing something more than panhandling.

Recently I noticed famed long-distance hiker and general lightweight backpacking Godfather Ray Jardine put out a video. To me, despite Jardine's endless marketing of himself and all of his self-perpetuated ideas of original thought, I think he has contributed a tremendous amount to the lightweight backpacking industry. Some criticize him citing arrogance, narcissism, or just general dislike. Personally, I feel neutral about Jardine. Some things I agree with, some I don't. This is really no different than my view towards most people and most things.

What I do find intriguing is the fact that Jardine gave up a promising career built on a strong foundation of education to simply - explore. His simplicity of thought is admirable and his outward expressions of love for his wife are commendable. As a guy entering the twilight of his life, he has and continues to achieve remarkable achievements which most of us could only dream of and quite frankly few could likely physically achieve. I remember listening to an interview about Jardine from a former coworker who worked with him during some of his days as a wilderness guide many decades ago. The coworker described Jardine as one giant muscle with legs and a chest twice the size of anyone he knew. Jardine lived how he wanted and found a way to do it - simply. For that, to me anyway, he's worth paying attention to.

That leads me to the point of this whole entry. Jardine recently put out a DVD called 2010 A.T. Gear which you can purchase from or for about $16 plus shipping. In it, you'll see Jardine in his standard hiking outfit toting many of his homemade products. He'll explain in detail how to set up a tarp and net tent in a highly trafficked campsite as well as a "stealth" campsite. The whole video is 93 minutes and by the time you're done you may either learn something or scratch your head and wonder what you just saw. My review of it in the context of a legitimate review is unimpressed, yet I'd have no problem buying it again or suggesting that you do too...whether for Ray Jardine, or the many Ray Jardine disciples of the world just trying to find their own bit of happiness. After all, is the content of your purchase your entire reason for purchasing it?


jephoto said...

I interviewed Ray about ten years ago for a magazine article I wrote about him. I found him to be very humble and in no way arrogant. He was a real gentleman.

He has been able to live a life most just dream about.

Great post by the way.

Basti said...

I totally correspond with your thoughts!
I think RJ has done a fabulous job by just living his dreams. I don't elevate him as a guru but I do accredit him for his ideas, skills and experiences.
(I've written a blog post about this a while ago. Unfortunately it's only in german...)

I do own several of his products and I'm still very pleased of their simplicity as well as their performance. I've got several of his books. And as some ideas and techniques of him seem to be quite odd on the first sight they do proof themselves as indeed functional when applied outdoors!

That made me think different on many things. Nowadays I try to be more open minded when facing new and unusual ideas. I too try to avoid the big brands and honor the cottages for their idealistic attempts and innovative ideas.

I must confess I'm still a bit unsure about purchasing the DVD. Not because of the quality and not because I think there's nothing left that it can teach me (Quite often I find myself browsing RJ's books over and over again and learning indeed something new I haven't recognized before).
As I'm living in Germany I'm not sure if the DVD could be played on our DVD player 'course of the country-code. I once bought a DVD (the Muppets first season!!!) from the US that strictly withstand my attempts to be played on my DVD player.
Maybe you can check this up for me?

Jolly Green Giant said...

@ Basti - Good point about the open-mindedness. I think that's key. Regardless of whether we agree with any of these kinds of legends, in the end they do offer new techniques with proven track records which I find infinitely helpful.

As to the country code on the DVD, I'm not sure. How can I check that for you?