No New Gear 2012
Staring at a computer screen sometime in the evening, browsing gear, specifications, and shipping costs, I rub my sore neck and it occurs to me that I could’ve been working in the garden and now it’s too dark. Bouncing back and forth between manufacturer sites and Google searches, I have completely wasted a couple hours and it begins to dawn on me that I have been running a fool’s errand, that I am shopping for “fun”, shopping for a trip that hasn’t even been planned, and obsessing over details that are utterly meaningless.
Read any internet forum and it becomes painfully apparent that we are likely in the height of the Age of Vicarious Living Through Gear, made possible on this scale by the internet and the plethora of shiny new offerings and site after site of reviews and teaser photos of a new toy in action. Not that the gear obsession is entirely new; prior to the computer, I remember pouring through Climbing Magazine ads and Patagonia catalogues, reading specs, and absorbing the potential of new offerings…for a few hours, but then it ended. It was hard to obsess over things, at least for very long, because there simply wasn’t enough information available. Soon the magazine was dog eared and beaten, relegated to a pile somewhere, the gear forgotten about until next month’s issue. Or I’d take a trip to the local outdoor shop, browse the racks and shelves, talk with the owner, and saunter out. Nobody would want to be the person that stays in the shop comparing gear for 5 hours and nobody would do it multiple times a week.
Enter the computer, the great gear enabler, making it ever so easy to burn 5 hours a week shopping and searching from the anonymity and isolation of your home. It is now entirely possible, common even, to launch into heroic campaigns of ruthless shoe comparison, sitting at 2AM and juxtaposing the weights of every minimalist trail runner currently made while your family soundly sleeps. It’s tragic really, because now in one click of a mouse button your favorite wind shell that’s served you faithfully on the last twelve trips suddenly becomes mysteriously inadequate in the face of some fresh new fabric you just have to have. Oh, how we all like to say it’s not about the gear…
No more! I have everything I need, I will resist.
I propose a challenge, a personal experiment, perhaps an antidote to the gear-centric, consumer-driven outdoor world we can all become mired in:
No New Gear in 2012.
No backpacking gear, cycling gear, fishing gear, climbing gear, etc. No new gear.
What if something begins to fail? Fix it. With the exception of a few items (running shoes, socks, running shorts/underwear, climbing rope, and a few bicycle wear and tear items, namely tires/brakes), I cannot foresee being able to wear anything out that cannot be fixed, borrowed, or simply replaced by another piece of gear I already own.
So here’s to the challenge, to a year of learning new things, to studying the names of plants and animals and rocks instead of the technical specifications of tents. To a year of adventure, of buying food and gas and plane tickets instead of stuff, a year of doing it rather than thinking about it. Here’s to starting 2013 with a tattered kit full of tears, duct tape patches, burns, grease stains, and amazing memories.