Strider is a website about trekking and backpacking written and maintained by Marco, a freelance writer for several ICT magazines and an enthusiast backpacker for more than twenty years.
Are you really sure that your way to prepare a backpack, choose technical gear or cook outdoor, even if it has worked just fine for many years, really is the best one for your current needs and the most coherent with your love of the wilderness? If the answer is yes, then maybe you don’t need to visit this website.
In all other cases, on Strider you will find practical information, thoughts, pointers and, (whenever possible) personal field reviews of backpacking materials, gear and techniques which really work or are really innovative but still very little known in Italy or maybe most of Europe or, if Italian, are still unknown outside of Italy.
Sure, there are already plenty of backpacking blogs and forums. The reason why I started Strider, however, is that I still haven’t found one which really matches (southern) Europe culture, environments and weather conditions, one that is relevant for backpackers in those areas.
Backpackinglight.com or Backpackgeartest.org, for example, are very good websites, but often their content isn’t so relevant or useful to folks mostly hiking in Europe. The same is true of most Ultra-Light backpacking portals.
Personal reviews will include plenty of pictures, for the simple reason that, even if online shopping is much more common than 5 or 10 years ago, most backpackers will simply not buy online something so critical as backpacking gear if they haven’t at least seen lots of pictures of every possible detail.
Information for normal, extraordinary people
Almost all manufacturers of good backpacking gear sponsor some full time or almost full time backpackers and alpinists to co-design their product and test them in the field. Many of these people also write or speak about the techniques and gear which proved to be the most effective for them: for people, that is, that have the possibility to spend whole months at a time in the wild and almost as much time preparing those expeditions. All this is great, both because it is very inspiring and because it does help manufacturers to produce better fabrics and gear.
How much of this information, however, is directly applicable or relevant for the majority of backpackers who have a normal job and can only backpack for one to ten days every time, a few time every year (regardless of their skills and the difficulty of their hikes, of course)? For example:
home dehydrated food is much less expensive and bulky than most alternatives, but does it make sense to prepare it for not so long treks? Can somebody working a nine-to-five job and living in a condo afford it?
obviously, only gear that you designed and built yourself at home completely matches both your actual backpacking needs and the self-reliance philosophy which is so important in backpacking and mountaineering, but when it is really worth the effort and is also the most eco-friendly solution?
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints”, that is minimizing our impact on the wilderness is a must whose reasons are obvious. Only half of this task, however, can be done in those moments when we are actually out there: not using fires, bringing all the litter back to the city and so on. The other half consists of minimizing the environmental footprint of our days in the back country before we ever get there.
What about buying gear which lasts as long as it is reasonable, that is recycleable or produced with recycled materials and produced with the smallest possible amount of water, energy and raw non renewable materials? What about preferring for your hikes only food which was produced in the same way, as close as possible to where you bought it (ideally straight from its actual producers), but is still as compact, durable and lightweight as possible?
And when does it make sense to choose other gear or materials? For a “normal”, part time backpacker, for example, who hikes every other weekend, the way he or she buys or cooks food for every of those trips may have a much greater carbon footprint than that of one 100% plastic backpack or sleeping bag which may last 4 or 5 years. At the opposite extreme, when buying things like climbing ropes or helmets it is obvious that safety comes before carbon footprint.
Strider will attempt to answer this kind of questions, or at least to provide the right informations so you can decide by yourself. You are welcome to send suggestions, comments, critiques, relevant links, requests for specific articles or any other feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org (but remember to remove all the numbers from the email address!).