Jan 2, 2012 at 10:04 am #1283618
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 catalogs, 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.
Happy New Year everyone.
…also published on my blog at http://sweepingthegarden.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/no-new-gear-2012/Jan 2, 2012 at 10:14 am #1818668
Careful, Craig. Without the talismanic power of new gear, you may be jinxed.Jan 2, 2012 at 10:15 am #1818669
I with you Craig, in 2011 I bought batteries for my headlamp, replaced my worn out socks and made gear repairs as needed and I plan to do the same for 2012, best of all my bank statement looks better.Jan 2, 2012 at 10:16 am #1818672
Excellent post and precisely what I was just thinking this morning. I have enough gear. Maybe too much and yet familial duties transpire, time flies, and I am not out in the hills.
I will take this challenge – I will not purchase any new gear in 2012. In fact, I may just start selling a bunch of it off. I liked the post by Miguel in another thread that looked back at how he managed with just one pack, one bag, and one tent. Short of changing seasons (we seem to have 5 in my parts), I think this will be a resolution for this year.Jan 2, 2012 at 10:49 am #1818691
Great post, Craig.
I will mostly be joining in. By "mostly" I mean that if I do another cold-weather trip, I will probably have to buy a few things that I don't already have–namely down booties and winter water purification system (Steripen maybe?)
Other than that, I've got more important things to save for or spend my money on, and plenty of gear that is perfect for the other three seasons.
I too, would like to get out more, even if it is for a simple overnighter.Jan 2, 2012 at 11:06 am #1818701
@mikefaedundeeLocale: Under a bush in Scotland
I'm into the sentiments of this thread, but i hope nobody else is.
If my cuben Trailstar works out, i may be selling a few other shelters. ;)Jan 2, 2012 at 11:16 am #1818705
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Excellent thoughts Craig. I'm not commiting to not buying any gear this year, but I am going to continue my commitment to avoid as best I can the sort of useless obsessing so well evoked above. I want to finish the fat bike I've been building up, and get some new nordic skis, but the rest of my loose change I've decided to put towards the trip fund.Jan 2, 2012 at 11:40 am #1818713
@thomdarrahLocale: Southern Oregon
A slight change to the GossamerGear mantra seems to say it all;
"have less. do more."
I, like Dave C., will not commit to not buying new gear for 2012 but I do go into 2012 with the decided goal of limiting and refining my gear closet. I started the new year with a gear purging PIF here on BPL. As of 01.02.12 my gear closet is clearly starting to reflect the "have less" side of the mantra, now on to the more challenging "do more" side.
I keep looking at a Yukon Yak – be strong, be strong.Jan 2, 2012 at 11:50 am #1818722
one can easily get tarred and feathered here for expressing such … mr jordan partially expressed such sentiments lately (also along with his views on "cottage") and hes getting lambasted
i agree personally with yr post … whether i have the self control not to spend the mec gift cards i got for xmas … only time will tellJan 2, 2012 at 11:56 am #1818727
I'm with you Craig. I had earmarked some money, for the new Neoair Xlite, from the sale of my Neoair, but I may just make do with my ten year old pad.Jan 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm #1818732
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
Isnt the comitment to buy nothing and fix everything just a much an obsession as buying more?
Really if there is a piece of gear that will improve your experience then you should buy it.
I will be buying a neoair xlite to replace a 17 year old thermarest for both comfort and weight reduction and a montbell ul down to replace various fleeces.
I will however support the notion of not obsessing over minor improvements.Jan 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm #1818734
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I'm not going to buy anything I don't need, but there are a few items I do need. My 12-year-old grandson is going to need a new pack next spring (hopefully his parents will pay for it), and I always need a few odds and ends. At this point I don't anticipate any major purchases for myself (I made one of those in November). I'm not going to promise a thing, though! That sort of promise always comes back to bite you!
On the other hand, I definitely need to sell or give away some items. I still have most of my bought-in-the-1970s-and-1980s heavy gear, which I'll probably donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. By the end of next year, after I've used my new ZPacks Hexamid Twin for a season, I'll decide whether to sell that or my GG Squall Classic.Jan 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm #1818757
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
Dot and ditto.
OTOH, I already have a whole lot of gear, and less aggressive future plans. Making this statement in a previous year would have been more meaningful! :-)Jan 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm #1818759
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
I think you could have run a few miles in the time it required to wax poetic on not taking any gear on deck for 2012. Gear is like a black hole sometimes isn't it? If you're not buying it you're conspiring about it, when you're not thinking about it then maybe you're using it, when you're not using it you're probably cleaning or storing it, when you're getting ready to get to the trailhead you're fussing with it, when you're bored with it you're selling it, when you're here at BPL.com then you're likely talking about it. No escape!
Looking forward to running with you in the big ditch in April man!Jan 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm #1818767
drowning in spamMember
I wish I could, but I'm still figuring out my rain gear, so I'll be trying different things. Other than that, this is my year to make gear. I'll make as much as I can. Does buying materials for myog count as buying new gear?Jan 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm #1818768
Very well said. I'm in.Jan 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm #1818774
Damn right Eugene.
If anyone else would like to join me, do so, but on your own terms. I've been in this long enough that I have my stuff dialed pretty well. Well enough, in fact, that I should be able to get through 2012 without any new gear just fine. Hell, maybe even 2013 if I really take care of things (providing I don't take up big wall climbing, underwater caving, or high altitude mountaineering anytime soon!). And I figure that if I simply say I'm NOT buying anything this year, well then there's no point to browse, weigh, obsess, or waste time searching anymore.
It's nothing but a little oath to keep me on track with some of my goals. No more, no less.
Now onward to trying to run every single day of 2012…Jan 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm #1818784
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
The way I see it if I need it I'll pick one up.
Truth be told once I got my rack (climbing) and kit (backpacking) set up a couple years ago I haven't had the need for much new gear except to replace the commonly worn out items (shoes, guylines, ect.) Heck I don't think I've even tweaked my gear lists in that all that time. I guess I've just found what works for me and really don't need any new gear.Jan 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm #1818816
I'd like to cut down my "gear closet" to 2/3 of its current volume while increasing functionality and simplicity. Get rid of multiples. If I need something (e.g. gaiters), then fine, but no duplicates/similar items (e.g. base layer).
My 3-season kit is dialed in, but I'm starting to do more climbing and winter stuff.
I have 4 down jackets (1 is a vest) in my closet. I have 3 shelters: a tarp, tarp tent, and 4-season 3-person tent – can I move to two? Far too many identical base layers – when's the last time I wore these? Something like 5 packs: 1 running pack, 1 daypack, 1 small pack, 1 big pack, 1 extra durable pack – while each one "has its purpose," it's silly to think about.
No more "better" stuff for me in 2012, unless it replaces 2 items I already have.Jan 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm #1818880
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
WE don't need any new gaer–that made Christmas shopping harder. But I just made a new lighter backpack. So it didn't cost me much of anything, and it gave me something to do for a few days (and think about for months)
Now we'll see how it works on the trail. But the specs are nice–just about 2 pounds, and 3800 cubic inches…Jan 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm #1818892
@servingkoLocale: Intermountain West
It may be a bit too easy to make no purchases in 2012 seeing how I have been going a bit crazy the past few years. I keep a close accounting of what has been purchased, and since my quest to lighten up and simplify my gear on the trail, I have spent nearly $13,000. I have also sold and given away much of it, recovering a little more than $5,000. I have been working towards just one of everything to help simplify the pre-trip planning as I anguished over which item to take for the same need.
To date I have been able to do that with the exception of quilts, pads, and stoves. For these I have two of each, one for three season use and one for winter. If I stopped going out in the winter I could reduce one of each of these items, but I really enjoy the solitude of winter that can be had so close to home.
I am still waiting for my Backcountry Boiler….does that count?Jan 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm #1818901
Good goal Craig. I'm trying to outfit myself for the next 15 years. I turn 45 next week. I'm set in my ways hiking style wise. I know what I like and what works for me.If you take care of your gear it lasts and lasts. A few things left that I would like to change out. But I'm nearly there.
Need to add a bear canister compatible pack.Jan 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm #1818910
@benwoodLocale: flatlands of MO
Its day 2 of 2012 and I have already broke that goal. Dangit!
Oh well…the streamline is in process.
I recently went on christmas vacation on which I thought I might have the chance for a quick overnight. It took me 2hrs to pack for the overnight. "Which stove should I take?" "Which shelter?" "Which quilt?" And on and on and on…then I packed my duffel bag for the 2 week vacation, 10 minutes for pete's sake!
That's proof of unnecessary gear.Jan 2, 2012 at 7:25 pm #1818923
drowning in spamMember
I think I already broke it. I just used some of my credit at The Clymb.Jan 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm #1818928
Nicely put Craig
I like the way you summed things up:
"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."
I have the Patagonia "Don't buy this jacket" ad taped right next to the computer and have bee thinking a lot about this anyway. This year has a mountaineering class and wilderness first aid class on the list. Can't commit to the NO Gear challenge because I want to expand into other things like cross country skiing, kayaking but as far as backpacking, it is no new gear.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.