The growing trend in America is to hit the great outdoors. Millions of people every year visit our parks to enjoy the mountains, forests, oceans, rivers, lakes, deserts and other areas that make up our great country. You don't have to go far into popular culture or television advertising to see just how strong the trend is. Nissan and Pontiac play on the emotions of this growing trend with edgy ads featuring vehicles like the Xterra and Aztek. Ford has built a whole ad campaign around being your outfitter, complete with working out special packages for kayaking and mountain biking. Being, lean, green, and outdoors is really, "in."
One of the biggest barriers for most people in trying a new outdoor sport is the quantity and cost of the gear that needs to be purchased. Recently on a newsgroup one poster lamented how their backcountry and mountaineering gear cost them $2,700. Even day hiking can get expensive with a good pair of boots costing close to $100. Most people just aren't willing to spend $3,000 to find out that they don't like a new sport. You've already got that treadmill acting as an expensive clothesline; you don't need an ocean kayak taking up your garage.
The great news is that it is very easy to get a taste of almost all varieties of outdoor adventure without the huge investment and commitment of buying all the gear, or a new vehicle to go with it. In almost all parts of the country outfitters and retailers can be found that will not only serve as your guide, but also can provide you equipment on a day trip or weekend adventure.
Hiking, mountaineering and camping outfitters can be found in most parts of the country, even near urban centers where the outdoors might seem far away. Although you will be responsible for buying a pair of boots and providing clothing, many outfitters can provide you with the rest of the equipment for a day, weekend or longer trip into the environment of your choice. Just choose wisely what your first experience is going to be.
If you're thinking of taking up mountaineering, don't get your mind set on climbing Mount Rainer to see if you like the sport. A good outfitter can take you on a number of easier climbs in say the White Mountains of New Hampshire that will still present a good challenge. Of course if you live in say Omaha, Nebraska you need to factor in the travel expense and time to enjoy climbing a peak, which may be hundreds or thousands of miles away. Likewise if backcountry hiking is what you want to pursue, rethink that guided climb to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Start off with an easier trek to sharpen your skills and give yourself a chance to enjoy the experience.
In some cases dedicated outdoor stores may hold open houses to try out gear. Some may even let you try out gear for a weekend to see how you like it. If you purchase quality three season gear for going into the backcountry, expect to spend from $1,000 to $2,000. If mountaineering is going to be your new sport, expect to pay even more.
Rock Climbing is one of the fastest growing sports in America providing both a physical and mental challenge. In many cities across the United States, indoor rock climbing facilities are now available. Many of these facilities can provide you with training and allow you to use gear to practice your skill in the comfort and safety of an indoor climbing wall. Even children as young as six can start rock climbing and classes with gear can start as low as $15 a session! Depending on the technical level you want to achieve, rock climbing can actually be relatively inexpensive, when doing technical scrambling or bouldering, to costing well over $5,000 if your journey leads you into big wall climbing, where you may spend several days scaling a rock face.
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