There is a long standing debate in the camping community on the subject of comfort versus necessity. Hardcore outdoor enthusiasts and minimalists are quick to dismiss any comfort items and claim that they have no place on a camping trip. This group is quick to refer to those that enjoy their creature comforts as ‘glampers’ (a mash up of glamourous and camper) and other less friendly handles. Others want all the comforts of home and are willing to pay good money for the latest and greatest gadgets to make life easier. It’s easy to tell from taking a quick look in the camping section of any store that the comfort line of camping products is growing exponentially. Personally I only have a few comfort items in my kit, but the one that I won’t leave home without is my camp pillow.
I admit that I was hesitant at first to try a camp pillow. I was nervous about how my friends would react when I pulled a nice plush camp pillow out of my pack. What would they think? How would they react? Would I be viewed and categorized as one of those ‘glampers’ that we all snicker about? Would they lose respect for me? This group wasn’t the most hardcore group of campers, but I was afraid of losing face with them.
After much consideration I finally decided to purchase a camp pillow. I was heading out for my first Brent Run (http://quickescapes.ca/trips/darren-and-daves-july-2011-brent-run) and wanted to ensure that I as comfortable as possible before setting out on this daunting route. This pillow was a down filled from MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) and set me back about $15.00.
From that very first night I was in love. I couldn’t believe that I had camped for so many years without a pillow. If my friends wanted to label me a ‘glamper’, then I was glad to accept the title. My days of stuffing a sweater into my sleeping bag sack, having restless nights and waking up with a stiff neck were over!
Now I’m sure that all the minimalists out there will read this and groan. Some people will think that using a camp pillow defeats the purpose of the experience or that it’s just not traditional. Well the last time I checked, John Muir didn’t have Gore-Tex hiking boots, water wicking clothing and an array of fuels available for cooking while he conquered the American wilderness in the 1800s. I’m willing to bet that today’s minimalists take full advantage of technological advances to cut down the weight in their kits. Times change, technology advances, products are getting lighter and stronger and I am all for embracing these changes.
Looking back it almost seems laughable that I was so stubborn to embrace something as simple as a camp pillow. Frankly I wouldn’t really want to spend too much time camping without my pillow now. Being comfortable has only help enhance my overall experience.
In the end, each camper needs to make their own choices that cater to the experience they are looking for. If you gravitate toward the minimalist experience, embrace it. If you would rather tote around the latest and greatest creature comforts, so be it. Camping is a very personal experience and if something as simple as a camp pillow enhancing your experience, go for it. It’s only an extra 212 grams.