Sunday, September 21, 2014

The gear doesn't matter.

As I look around me, I realize how much my life is intertwined with gear. My work, my play, and my passion are wrapped tightly with some sort of outdoor gear. I have spent the better part of the last 20 years, learning, playing, thinking, using, deconstructing, repairing and teaching people about gear for the outdoors.

I have had the great pleasure of working for some amazing organizations - currently I work for the largest provider of outdoor education in the world* - albeit the newest branch of that organization. I have seen how gear fails for a single recreational user and at the institutional level. I have also heard every excuse from users as to what made a piece of gear fail, when I can see - and know - right away, that it was user error or misuse.

I know where the manufacturers send your gear when you send it to them to get it repaired, and I know - for the most part - which company owns which company and what is still privately owned. I know if a product has stitching where it is made and if it has stitching and poles that it was made someplace else.

I know which organizations swear by which pieces of gear and if it will work for them, with thousands of uses in a summer, it will work for you, mister weekend warrior.

I don't mean any of this as bragging (I don’t mean to brag about any of this.) I know many people with much more knowledge than I have and we all talk about gear and the way people use it - or misuse it - and chuckle. When I don't know what the answer is to a particular problem, I know exactly who to go to for an answer.

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to earn my living doing something I enjoy, I also knew that following that path would mean I would never be "well off" in the traditional American sense. I was okay with that, though I sometimes feel out of step with the world around me.

But when it is all said and done: when I think about the gear that I deal with every day, the gear I am always learning more about and teaching people about, the pack that I lug, or the box that I haul, the boats I put on the roof, or the stoves I am constantly cleaning, I realize none of it matters. What matters is getting outside, and sitting around a campfire with friends and a simple dinner or a quiet ride through the woods on my very simple mountain bike following someone I trust, knowing I can just follow their line…or that effortless roll, just to cool off.

It is about being outside, and feeling the sun on my face, or the rain, or the wind, and knowing, at that moment, that it doesn't get any better.

No comments:

Post a Comment