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Tent Essentials

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I can feel the judgment when they spot my stack of books. Ultra-light and sanctimonious, they pass me off as a Tilley-hat type, lost to the past. Screw 'em. I look forward all day to stretching out in the tent, warm and dry, and falling in to a bit of narrative. I'm not worried about the weight; I'm worried I'll read through my whole stash. An emergency New Yorker tucked in with the maps is as important as the spare sat-phone battery: You hope it won't come to that, but you're glad you have it. Sure, you can read for a month on the cheapest Kindle snapped in a $3 Tupperware, but books are more reliable, and just feel better. Besides that, how can you truly explore a place without reading about its culture and past? Olson in the Boundary Waters, Thoreau in Maine, McPhee in Alaska, Fermor in Europe. Without books, you're missing a piece. — ZM

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