Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Gear Lust Becomes Gear Disappointment

(An old article – posted here so as not to lose it during the site transition.)

At Two-Heel Drive, Tom writes:

Fed up with buyer’s remorse. Something that occurred to me over the weekend: Almost every piece of gear I’ve ever bought has turned out to be the wrong thing. Tents, packs, sleeping bags/pads, you name it. They serve their purpose but are always flawed — primarily in comparison to some other piece of gear which has the attributes my gear lacks. … [Two-Heel Drive]

A rainy weekend pack trip seems to have provoked Tom’s Monday morning philosophizing – he was not completely dry and he found himself pondering the various gear options he might have resorted to – follow the link to read his piece.

Two interesting topics come up in his post: gear lust and expectations. I think almost all of us who hike, packpack, ski and so forth succumb to gear lust on a regular basis. There is always some piece of gear out there that is too cool to resist, some new piece of equipment that promises to improve our experience, an answer to a long-standing problem, or something that simply looks to be well-designed. I can report that, for me at least, the affliction never seems to go away completely, but it does moderate somewhat over time.

Tom also touches on the issues of what sort of performance we can really expect from our equipment. To read advertising copy one might imagine that with a particular tent, shell, pair of socks and so forth that one will be able to stay dry and warm all the time. Sorry, but it just isn’t so.

When it rains you will get wet, and when it snows you will have to deal with cold. Its not so much that your gear will make the difficult, uncomfortable, or risky conditions disappear – rather it is that you can draw the line between comfort and disaster a bit closer to the comfort zone.

I’ve been rained on quite a few times while on the trail. The difference between me – when I’m equipped properly – and someone who is less welll equipped (and perhaps less experienced) is that I may only get damp while they might get soaked; I may react to the cold sooner. If I get a little damp, I have strategies for minimizing the consequences and for drying out.

On the other hand, Tom does intend to try to get a handle on gear lust for awhile, and that is a good thing. (Though, Tom, what was that about a bicycle? :-)



April 17, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary

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