Loyal readers probably are aware that I’m an old-school outdoorsman who prefers a map and compass to GPS, gorp rather than an energy bar and silence instead of cellphone chatter.
Don’t get me wrong: I use a modern, lightweight pack and sleeping bag, hike in clothing made from the latest waterproof, breathable materials and paddle in kayaks made with Kevlar and carbon-fiber.
But I don’t like to rely on electronics and would rather blame my own ineptitude than a dead battery or lost signal when things go awry on the trail or open water, as they often do.
Still, I get a kind of reverse-vicarious thrill while poking through racks and display cases at outdoor outfitters, as well as flipping through catalogues and magazines, to check out the latest gear I won’t be buying.
Some of the stuff does seem useful, but a lot is just plain ridiculous.
With this in mind, I have devised a quiz for discerning outdoor enthusiasts. Your assignment: Guess which of the following describe actual products, and which are my own fanciful creations. Give yourself one point for every correct answer. The answers are at the end.
1. The Mnemic-Pro Optical Recorder. This wireless camera, designed for high-altitude expeditions and whitewater excursions when conditions preclude use of traditional digital or SLR devices, downloads images and video directly to the cerebellum, where they can be safely stored for later transfer to a computer hard drive. Required mplant surgery required.
2. Omnitrax Removable Boot Soles. A new concept from the brand that brought you the unconventional FiveFingers footwear, the Omnitrax Removable Sole System offers boot manufacturers interchangeable, removable soles that snap on and off to mutate tread and grip on the ground for varying conditions.
3. iPad in your Pack — Tap on a Google map without removing your iPad or tablet from your pack using the Portal Series from Osprey. Portal series bag offers flip-open access to a touchscreen device. A padded tablet sleeve and a touch-through TPU window allow instant connection to screens.
4. TrailConnex 24/7 Automatic Satellite Facebook Poster/Twitter Feed. The 24/7 keeps you connected to social media by sending friends and followers regular updates of your latitude, longitude and elevation. Optional features include transmitter to send signal for emergency evacuation.
5. Inflatable Pack Lightener. Photo-voltaic cells activate production of lighter-than-air hydrogen, which fills internal bladders, thereby reducing weight of backpack. Standard model eliminates equivalent of 10 pounds of weight; deluxe model, 20 pounds.
6. Bait ’Em 907 Bear Bait. Alaska's Bear Bait and Moose Lure Company’s Sweet Surrender is 100 times sweeter than sugar. The powerful flavor and scent is highly concentrated. Use sparingly on the bait of your choice (old bread, dog food, popcorn). Bring old bait to life with an extremely concentrated sweet flavor. One pound will sweeten four to five 55-gallon drums. Scents available include Insane Banana, Blueberry Muffin, Orange Cream, Raspberry Delight, Strawberry Cream and Cotton Candy.
7. Wearable sleeping bag. Now in its fourth generation, the Selk'bag Sleepwear System offers a new Lite version that is 30 percent lower in weight than Selk'bag 3G. Rated to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the uncommonly comfortable Selk'bag 4G Lite is an excellent solution for those who are uncomfortable in traditional mummy or rectangular sleeping bags. Perfect for a variety of adventures, the Selk'bag is used by outdoor enthusiasts the world over for immaculate comfort, or even in your RV, camper, SUV, or dorm room.
8. The Victoria’s Secret Camo Collection. Fleece-lined and goose down intimate apparel for that special outdoorswoman in your life, designed to wear while lounging around base camp or scaling high summits.
9. The Extreme Turkey Hunting DVD. This video features over two action-packed hours of hunting footage from across the USA. You'll see over 20 turkey hunts with gun, bow, and crossbow called in by both young and experienced hunters. You will witness big gobblers strutting into range time and time again. You'll learn tips and techniques to become a more successful turkey hunter.
10. Level Trailz Pack Ballast/Handicapping System. Tired of one hiker in a group always taking the lead and forcing others to scramble to keep up? The Level Trails Pack Ballast/Handicapping System consists of lead ingots to be placed discreetly in faster hiker’s backpacks. Comes in 5-, 10- and 20-pound models.
Answers (T = true products; F = false ones).
1–F; 2-T; 3-T; 4-F; 5-F; 6-T; 7-T; 8-F; 9-T; 10-F.
10: Congratulations! You are a certified gearhead who obviously spends more time tinkering with gadgets and obsessing over tenths-of-an-ounce differences in equipment weight than you do in the wild.
5-9: You are devoted, but not a slave to, high-tech – a good person to have on an expedition, capable of repairing a valve on a butane stove but not making the rest of us feel like Luddite dolts.
4-8: You like creature comforts and don’t mind shelling out big bucks for freeze-dried fettucine alfredo, but every so often still enjoy a good old Snickers bar.
1-3: You are a former Eagle Scout who knows how to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, but are far too polite to criticize anyone who uses waterproof matches.
0: Congratulations! You are a certified mountain man/mountain woman who has been hiking in the same hobnail boots for 37 years, carries gear in an external frame pack and sports lederhosen and knickers.