This past weekend was the 3rd annual Paddling Otaku Expedition Skills Camp. It was just myself and one other paddler, who will be joining me on next summers Alaska Glacier Awareness Project. It was a great weekend, but a few pieces of gear that have been hanging around for quite a while took their final trip.
It got me thinking about gear that has come and gone, I tend to get attached to my gear, and while I embrace change, parting with a loved piece of gear is always tough. Recently I retired my Astral Buoyancy 300r and replaced it with a new Astral Seawolf. I decided after years of using a rescue (type 5) vest that I wanted to simplify and go to a type 3. I hemmed and hawed about the decision for quite a while, almost buying its rescue version bigger brother the Green Jacket. This was the first multi day trip I have done with the Seawolf and really enjoyed it. I still haven't completely decked it out with my gear. but it performed really well. I will do a full review in the coming weeks.
I remember when my first kayak went to someone else's home. I sold it to use the money to step up to my Delta, and I couldn't love my Delta more, but seeing my old, rotomolded perception shadow leave on someone else's truck made me sad. So it was a tough weekend to lose three pieces of gear on one trip.
The first piece I knew was not going to be able to last much longer, but I was still sad to see it go. It was the old blue duffel bag I have used for food storage for close to 15 years. It fit perfectly inside my kayak, and though it wasn't waterproof it worked perfectly with a thick plastic bag inside of it. It has been chewed by mice, rained on. dropped and dragged, and it was finally too far gone to make the trip. My wife put it immediately in a garbage bag so I wouldn't have the chance to change my mind. I wrote about this bag before, and after trying a couple, and researching many I haven't been able to find anything to replace it. There is one last option that someone recommended which I am going to look into. I am very optimistic.
The next piece of gear to say good bye will take some explaining. On my NOLS instructor course there was another instructor candidate who was already an established instructor. He had previously taught backpacking courses but wanted to slide into paddling. I learned a trick from him when we shared a tent, which was, the pee bottle. Now, this may gross you out, but peeing in a bottle on a cold night - so you don't have to get out of your warm bag - is awesome. But take my advice. Put the lid on REALLY tight! You can also use it in your kayak so you don't have to go ashore to go to the bathroom. So it is a really useful tool. It does gross/freak some people out, but it shouldn't. Going to the bathroom is one of the only things I can guarantee you do. It is something we all share. So I am sharing this bathroom tip. So this past Saturday I was getting into my bag, it was very cold, and I reached for the old white nalgene bottle I use - wide mouth is key! - and as I grabbed it, it literally exploded in my hand. Fortunately it didn't have anything in it.
The last item that bit the dust this trip was a tent. A tent that I have loved for 6 years, that I got from an REI Used Gear sale - I think for $40 dollars. I never found anything wrong with it, it was practically a steal. It was the REI Cirque 2 ASL tent. ASL stands for All Season Light which is the REI way of saying, more than a 3 season tent, but not quite a 4 season tent. It is listed as a two person tent, but is so small it is really a one person tent. It is - or was - my go to solo in bad weather tent. A feature I have always liked is that in the top of the tent, in the rain fly there is a small window. It lines up with a large, close able vent. So it can let some light into the tent, which is really nice. Unfortunately, setting up the tent I saw that the window was separating from the fly, and by the end of the trip it was almost completely gone.
This is going to be the hardest - and most expensive piece of gear to replace. I will probably wait until January to start the hunt. The timing was actually pretty good, as I am in the middle of Minimalist November, meaning I have to part with an item from my life, every day, and the number of items each day corresponds to the date of the month. So on the 10th of November I have to give away 10 things.
For me it reinforces that I shouldn't be too attached to the gear around me. It may come and go. But it serves a purpose, it doesn't define me.
But I loved that tent.