lightweight backpacking equipmentJudging from my saga of preparing for camping, then actually going camping, you might think that “Lightweight” refers to me! But it’s actually an homage to my long-suffering husband, Jonathan, written when he was really in the thick of his lightweight backpacking craze a few years back:

  • 24-ounce mega-cans of Heineken beer
  • Snack-sized Starkist tuna lunch kits

This could be the shopping list of a frat boy who cares about  Omega-3 fatty acids but not about mercury. Instead the list is my husband’s, and he’s not even a drinker. Jonathan intends to pour the beer down the drain, give the cat a treat, and fashion a portable stove from the cans.

Jonathan is obsessed with lightweight backpacking. He spends hours online chatting with like-minded fanatics about the newest miracle fabric that repels water, retains heat, and is lighter than air.  They swap recipes for freeze-dried concoctions requiring less space than a teabag. Each gram shaved from the overall weight of the pack is cause for celebration; it means he can go faster and farther on his solo trips into the wilderness.

Jonathan spends all day experimenting, drilling holes into the beer can, creating a miniature windscreen. Our teenaged daughter catches him trying to boil water in his makeshift tuna-can stove. Rolling her eyes, she declares, “This mid-life crisis has gone too far!”

I know I should be grateful. Other men troll online for extramarital flings or buy expensive sports cars to stave off the onslaught of age. My husband is both frugal and true.

Yet I can’t help but wonder about his preoccupation with traveling light. How much does he long to unburden himself of home and family, of a life heavy with obligation?  The mortgage, my hot flashes, college tuition, endless household chores–they all add to his load.

No wonder Jonathan wants to set off unencumbered at a swift pace. Come to think of it, I’d like to join him. If I promise to travel light, maybe he’ll boil enough water for two.


What encumbrances would you like to shed?