What is this?

This is Ben Goes Hiking, a blog about a man named Ben, who goes hiking.

Can you tell me more?

Surely the title is self-explanatory but:

Ben Massey is an IT product manager and nerd in Vancouver, British Columbia. He’s male, 30-something, and rather overweight. He wears bifocals and has a beard. He looks the very model of the modern computer dork, which he is, except that in his spare time, when not going to soccer games or cramming more books into his apartment, he enjoys hiking. Multi-day backpacking trips and day hikes, dragging his beer belly into the mountains or down the beach, and having a hell of a time, all of the time.

This is the website where he writes about that.

You must be an expert!

Just a guy.

Most of us are “just a guy,” though. Genetically given average gifts, inclined towards comfort, a little too fond of the Blue Buck and the pancakes. Exercise sometimes, but not as often as we should. It makes the idea of (say) doing the West Coast Trail seem very distant.

The thing is, though, this is literally what humans evolved to do. Go long distances carrying their goods on their back. As a species we spent hundreds of thousands of years doing just that as hunter-gatherers, and the ones who were good at it survived and reproduced and led to you. No matter how much time we waste writing PHP, we can get back at least a sanitized modern version of that. It’s literally in our blood, we just have to want to. And if the massive crowds flooding into parks every year are any indication, lots of us want to.

This is not a hardcore blog for those who live life to the edge. We don’t cut down toothbrushes. We don’t have a Lighterpack. We have never bought anything from Z-Packs. We’ve heard of cuben fibre, and heard it’s not supposed to be called that anymore, but don’t remember the new term and refuse to look it up.

What have you got against ultralighters?

Actually I admire the hell out of them.

Man, I read Andrew Skurka like they’ll take him off the Internet if I don’t. The things those guys do, their ingenuity in the field, the craft with which they set up at home, and the creature comforts they do without, all in the name of exploring the rest of the world without leaving too much of a mark. It is unconditionally excellent.

More importantly they’re completely right: if you’re going to hike 20-mile days on the regular, which you must to comfortably beat the really big trails, you need to hike long hours, and to hike long hours long-term without breaking down you need to keep your pack weight to the minimum that you can humanly get away with. Mac at Halfway to Anywhere has statistics to back it up: the lighter your pack, the better your finishing odds on the Pacific Crest or the Continental Divide.

But I have a job and a life and will probably never be able to take four months off for a life-changing odyssey. In one-week bursts it’s much more practical to bring along your creature comforts: full tent, cozy sleeping bag, camp shoes, chair. And I do. When I can.