As summer draws to a close, more and more backpackers are turning to new options for camping, with some choosing to pack in the back of a van.
While this is a natural thing to do, the cost is prohibitive.
“We’re going a bit crazy,” says Josh, an American backpacker living in Mexico.
“I’ll get into a van for about $30, and I’m not getting the value.
I can’t see any value in spending $40 to $50 on something.”
Josh’s decision to pack the back has also prompted some backpacking experts to speak out.
“People are just getting into it and it’s so new that there’s no reason to be cautious,” says Rob Dyer, a member of the National Backpacking Club.
“When I first started, I would never say this, but it’s like going from hiking to cycling to running to walking.
There’s a lot of things that go into it, and it just feels like an adventure.”
While there are no shortage of backpacking tents and backpacking backpacks on the market, there are also some who are less enthusiastic about the whole concept.
“It’s definitely going to be more expensive,” says Greg, a former New York City backpacker and former professional triathlete.
“But I’m also just going to have to figure out how to get rid of all my stuff.
I’m going to get out a couple of clothes that are in pretty good condition and just stuff it in a backpack, but I’m probably going to need to go a little bit bigger and more elaborate.”
Greg’s new backpack is a tent with an inner tube.
While he’s not going to live the lifestyle of a minimalist, he says he can live the camp life of a backpacker.
“The main thing is just being able to have a lot more fun and be able to enjoy a lot less,” he says.
“If I can just go through a couple more months without doing this, then I’m gonna be pretty happy.”
The costs of backpackers moving forward is going to come with some significant changes, but the most important change will be how the industry treats backpackers.
Backpackers have been camping since the days of the ancient Egyptians, and there’s just no way they’re going back to the wilderness.
The only way to go back is with more tents and packs.
“With backpacking, I’ve seen people move up from backpacking for camping to backpackers for backpacking,” says Dyer.
“And they’ve done a really good job of doing that, and the cost for it has been really low.”
Dyer says he’s also seen people become more comfortable with their backpacking gear.
“That’s been an amazing trend in the industry, and people have been doing that for a long time.
But I don’t know if it’s a sustainable way to do it.”
The industry is also changing the way people think about backpacking.
“Backpackers are not going backpacking because it’s just easier,” says Jason.
“They’re not going backpack because they don’t like the idea of going out and walking.
They’re not backpacking just to be around the country.
They want to be outdoors.”
As the industry shifts away from backpacks, many people are looking to other types of backpacks for the same reasons.
“As I see the backpacking industry change, I’m kind of like, ‘Wow, I wish I had a backpack,'” says Jason, who’s been backpacking around the world.
“To me, it’s almost like I want to have an entire room of back packs, just in case I have to go somewhere or do something.”
But not everyone is happy with that.
“Many people think backpacking is not about having a backpack but about having more room, more space,” says Adam, who is currently backpacking in Europe.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with having more space.
But you have to have the space.
And if you’re doing it with only a backpack or only a tent, you can’t do the rest of it.
You have to do all of it.”
Adam says he is going back out to Europe with his pack and hopes to start off his backpacking life with a bag, but will likely continue with a backpack once he returns.
“So far, it seems like the only way I can make that choice is by being on a van,” he said.
“By that, I mean I have a car and a van, so I can drive.
But the thing is, when I get back, it’ll be a whole different world.
So it’ll probably be a bit of a switch.”