The Complete Outdoorsman

Backcountry, Outdoor, related philosophical topics

The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby kevin_t » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:46 am

Do you consider yourself a complete outdoorsman ? This is a topic, I have been thinking about a lot lately. Not only as a business, or in relation to our customers, but also in regard to a divide amongst the different outdoor recreation groups. Dave Chenault recently wrote a blog that I thought was interesting, and true. The blog is located here http://bedrockandparadox.com/2014/03/01/the-death-of-the-outdoorsman/. I think it is a good read and many of the comments are good. He discusses, the REI crowd, vs the Cabelas crowd, and that they are very very different. I agree with this sentiment, and honestly the companies themselves seem to partially propagate this divide while selling to parts of each group as well.
Personally, while I have no concrete evidence, I feel that over the years, people have morphed from being more complete in their pursuits to more single focus. I will admit, my evidence is scant, but as you read old time books, or accounts of trips, you realize that many people hiked, rafted, climbed and hunted their way to the west. I have a neighbor, that is in his 70's that I consider very complete. He will hike every chance he gets, fish little alpine lakes, backpack in the summer, hunt in the fall, and ice fish in the winter and even climb a mountain on occasion in the summer. Sure, he doesn't ski, ride bike, or run, but his pursuits span a wide range. He is very connected to the land in a variety of ways.
Personally, I feel this "divide" is a shame, and that the divide is not needed with a bit of understanding. Is it necessary to categorize oneself within one group and one group only ? Is it part peer pressure and advertising or is it something broader ? I like to think our customer base is pretty rounded in their activities. After all, I know we have customers that have spent months cycling across the US, or time trekking in the arctic, or time cycling around the world, or hunting remote spots, and some that even just enjoy family camping.
While this small little forum post, does not offer a solution, personally I would like to see the gap be bridged. How do you identify yourself ? Are you primarily a part of one group, or do you avoid a certain group, or just not enjoy certain activities. Certainly, there are no right or wrong answers here, just observations and open discussion. Let the discussion begin
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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby ChrisF » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:13 am

That's an excellent question Kevin. I live in a province where there is a real polarization between the so called "redneck" outdoors crowd (hunting, fishing, snowmobiling) and the "synthetic clothing" outdoor crowd (running, cross country skiing, cycling). I'm one of the crossover crowd and I'm able to get a view of what's going on. I suspect that a large part of the problem is advertising. So many of my hunting friends feel that they must ride a quad, and that they must fit the image from the ads in the magazines they read. I'm the only one who will hike in and tent while hunting our northern forests. My cross country skiing group is appalled that I hunt, although they all seem to enjoy venison sausage when we are out together.

I'd like to see more bridges formed between the two groups. Everyone shares a passion for the outdoors and can, in general, agree that wilderness should be protected. A lot of my non-hinting friends are surprised to learn of the money that hunting groups pour into wildlife conservation and habitat protection. Wouldn't it be nice if the overnight backpacking crowd could go out with some hunters and they could learn from each other in a truly remote area? It's difficult to get each side to the table sometimes.
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The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby Nathan C » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:16 am

I think a lot of the "gap" is caused by the fast paced competitive culture we live in. We are always at work it seems, and in past jobs I surrendered time off that I didn't take because I felt like I had to be there working in order to keep up.

In that kind of environment people make time for what is most important to them. I trail run in the warmer months, when it is more convenient. I backpack and hike also when I'm able. I like to canoe and plan to do two or three overnight trips this summer. But when the chips are down, I'll sacrifice these activities to the work schedule if needed.

However, I WILL hunt. Screw work, I MUST hunt. That's who I am.

So to a point I think the gap is about our too busy culture, and individual priorities.


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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby ktimm » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:28 am

Very good observations. It would seem to me that while people have certain activities they prefer, that the various groups more often than not have a lot in common. Personally, I think it has more to do with how the groups are advertised and marketed to and that creates sort of an association within the customer base toward certain styles , items, or activities. The marketing companies use this to their advantage in creating a strong association with potential customers. I think the groups have a lot in common, but the division is awkward and the more extreme / loud factions of each side have a tendency to annoy the other side and make them cast the complete group in negative light. If the various groups, really got together and sat around a campfire, and left out the more extreme members and most of the preconceived notions that have been mostly "marketed" to them, I think they would find a lot of commonality. For instance, almost everyone enjoys a good steak, or duck , or any other type of game, and if you eat those (or meat of any sort), at some degree you do have the same blood on your hands, it is just how intimate you are with the acquisition. Yes, hunters do a ton for wildlife preservation, and in some countries, hunting is pretty much all that keeps the wildlife preserved, but the other side doesn't see that, they just see the other part that they don't like. The hunting crowd, often views the other side as trying to take away this right (which some of them are), but mostly they want to keep wild lands in good shape. If they got together, and said, hey ... we all want to keep wild places wild, we all want wildlife to thrive while being sustainable, we all are interested in a healthy sustainable ecosystem, that allows everyone including humans to thrive I think they would find more common ground. Anyway, this divide is sort of off topic, but relevant to the more complete outdoorsman vs the purpose built outdoor recreationalist.
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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby stseeker » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:42 am

It seems to me that both political forces (Conservative vs Liberal) and capitalist forces (Cabelas vs REI) have aggravated the outdoors divide in a very bad way. For whatever reason, the division between the two has spawned into a battle of who is the most morally sound outdoorsman. Who has the greater right to be able to do what they do? Unfortunately as appears to be typical, the differences rather than the similarities end up being focused on. I'm curious whether the growing popularity of the "lightweight backpack hunter" might just be the combination needed to put cracks in the wall?
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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby ChrisF » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:18 pm

I couldn't agree more stseeker. I think it's in our best interests to get out there with others and share our similarities. The "moderate many" need to find their voice.
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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby Marlon » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:22 am

Great Topic! This is something that I have noticed for years. I grew up in the hunting and fishing category of outdoor users and until receiving my first REI catalog 30+ years ago never realized that there were other types of outdoor enthusiasts. I think several reasons has caused a division but first is the constant marketing from both sides. Who doesn't feel ill equipped if we don't have the latest years model of ? Most of us have a limited amount of income to spend on our hobbies and unfortunately with the extinction of local community sporting stores we are forced to turn to the large marketers. In my area we have 2 independent Backpacking/Hiking stores and that's in a population of well over 4 million, To me that's very sad...
I own a small business and have noticed people coming in because they miss the personal interaction of their local business owners. My customers are important to me, we discuss topics that we disagree on but never to a point of being disrespectful. Maybe if we could get REI, Cabelas, Bass Pro to meet and discuss the areas of commonality we could become more unified than divided. But they would probably combine their assets and open a new genre of store!
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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby fairhill hiker » Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:33 pm

I am not a hunter, but I grew up in a family that hunts and have no issues with responsible hunters. I hike in a local park that allows bow hunting for deer. I will walk and talk with the hunters, but make sure they know who I am up front. It is a different skill set than ultralight hiking/backpacking. I do not consider myself a complete outdoorsman, because I do not hunt. I can handle a weapon, but I just never started hunting. I think previous generations were more complete because many people hiked and backpacked to get to that fishing hole or hunt.

To me the divide between REI and Cabelas is actually the divide between people who follow Sierra Club (REI) and the fishing and hunting people (Cabelas). I will shop at either one. This divide has increased as our society has polarized. I do not hike with the Sierra Club, because people take issue with my military reserve time. I belong to a local hiking club, but it is not connected to Sierra Club or groups like that. Even in this group some people had issues with me being an Air Force Reservist. In my free time, I am not going to spend a day or weekend with people who explain to me that the Military budget is too big and the Forest Service and Park Service should be given this budget. Been there, done that. Outdoor pursuits are following the same polarization of our society. It is an ugly thing to see. To actually live full time in the wilder areas, shooting and fishing are a necessity not a choice. As a kinder and gentler society, we are moving away from this. Many people today have no interaction with people who hunt and do not want to.

I met one of them in the local park a couple of months ago. It was around July 4. Someone was target practicing or shooting off fireworks on their own land nearby. This person assumed that someone was shooting deer or geese in the park. A ranger caused this by telling the person to be careful when walking the dog at dusk, because there were a lot of deer out and about. She was afraid that she was going to be shot at.

An interesting note about Columbia, the company that crosses the divide. Awhile back, Columbia execs decided to support gun buyback or some other anti-gun campaign. Columbia ended up pulling out of that after the hunters threatened to boycott their company. They decided they wanted their hunting lines to continue to sell. So REI and Cablelas also have to determine which group of people they are going to make happy. Granite Gear is another gear company that I like, because they have a military line of gear to go with the standard line. It is not easy for companies to straddle the line.
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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby mpenninger » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:24 pm

I see this division among outdoor sporting groups. I am an avid hunter, but I also hike, fish, and canoe. My hunting is largely done with a longbow and wooden arrows. The hunt is more about the complete experience than just the kill. I enjoy ultra light, high quality gear in order to stay safe, comfortable, and be able to go further for longer. Hunters as a group would be wise to align with more non-consumptive user groups to conserve habitat and wildlife, and protect roadless and wild areas. One of the biggest issues that effects all outdoor sportspeople on public lands is how roads are managed. Land management agencies are trying to reduce the road densities in areas with ridiculously high numbers of roads, but there's people who want nothing of it. Some of these folks want every inch of road open and to build more where none exist today. It reflects on values and what people seek in their outdoor experience. Some only want "miles in the saddle", and by "saddle" I mean ATV seat. There is little interest in physical exertion, reaching a peak or ridge on your own power, or appreciating the quiet, the flowers and wildlife along the way. This division is clear in the hunting community. It is sad for me to see this splintering of outdoors people.
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Re: The Complete Outdoorsman

Postby kevin_t » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:09 am

mpenninger wrote:I see this division among outdoor sporting groups. I am an avid hunter, but I also hike, fish, and canoe. My hunting is largely done with a longbow and wooden arrows. The hunt is more about the complete experience than just the kill. I enjoy ultra light, high quality gear in order to stay safe, comfortable, and be able to go further for longer. Hunters as a group would be wise to align with more non-consumptive user groups to conserve habitat and wildlife, and protect roadless and wild areas. One of the biggest issues that effects all outdoor sportspeople on public lands is how roads are managed. Land management agencies are trying to reduce the road densities in areas with ridiculously high numbers of roads, but there's people who want nothing of it. Some of these folks want every inch of road open and to build more where none exist today. It reflects on values and what people seek in their outdoor experience. Some only want "miles in the saddle", and by "saddle" I mean ATV seat. There is little interest in physical exertion, reaching a peak or ridge on your own power, or appreciating the quiet, the flowers and wildlife along the way. This division is clear in the hunting community. It is sad for me to see this splintering of outdoors people.


Well said. Various groups even within the groups have very different Ideas of what they want done with the land. Climbers want the ability to leave bolted routes , ATV users want lots of access how they access, foot travelers want no one not on foot because it makes what they seek harder to find

There is a lot of division and not much agreement between groups. It is sad.


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