Why Buy That Expensive Tent When You Can Rent?

Throughout the planning process, Arrive kept in touch. When I picked a FedEx center that didn’t hold shipments, it found a convenient substitute. The Tuesday before my Friday pickup, I received an email confirming that my shipment had arrived, providing peace of mind.

Opening the 30-by-24-by-12-inch box was a Christmas-morning thrill. Nestled neatly in brown paper was all the gear I had ordered, in great condition, seemingly new and so much more modern than the older, heavier camping gear I own.

For this trial, I enlisted my husband, a frequent camper and backcountry MacGyver, should I need his improvisational skills, though he was instructed to back off and let the average consumer, the not-so-technically-inclined me, figure out how to use unfamiliar equipment.

Had he helped me order, we would have known that the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Backpacking Stove — basically a burner and ignition device weighing just 2.9 ounces and meant to hold our cooking pots — came without fuel, a detail I did not notice. After loading the gear and provisions into the Deuter 60 + 10 L backpacks, Walmart was our first stop to pick up fuel on the way to the trailhead.

An inner panel on Deuter backpacks offers pictographs of emergency arm signals, so that I could flag down a passing plane if necessary. But I found no such instructions for adjusting the height of my pack, which was top-heavy from the first step. If I weren’t the type to hang around REI, I wouldn’t have known how to adjust a Velcro strap that brought the entire pack down to my size. Arrive says it has a customer service line to help with users’ questions. I think it pays to visit an outdoor store and preview the gear.

We hiked nine miles — packs comfortable, legs less so — before reaching our backcountry camping site behind the sandstone ledges that line the Caribbean-blue Lake Superior. We chose a site beside the Mosquito River, which, despite its dispiriting name, flowed like nature’s gentle white-noise machine throughout our stay.

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