Sunday, October 21, 2018

Got a lot of Gear?

I have a lot of gear. There is no denying it. Even though I work hard to have a minimalist lifestyle, I teach a lot of topics and all of them have associated gear. I do try and minimize how much I have, but facts are facts. I have a lot of gear. It has always been something I struggled with as a minimalist, here is how I handle it and how I organize my gear which is something a lot of people active in the outdoors struggle with. 

I teach kayaking, and have for a long time. I have what I need for teaching and expeditioning, and that equals a large duffel bag, two kayaks and two paddles. 

I teach sup as well, and a lot of my kayak gear crosses over. I use the same PFD for both instead of a more sup designed life vest. A lot of sup instructors use inflatable PFD’s and I choose not to. But I have two boards, two leashes and two paddles. 

I teach navigation, and have a plastic lidded bin that houses all the things I need for those classes. Maps, compasses, and accessories. I would probably thin out my map selection if I wasn’t teaching this, but it is good for me to have a lot of resources for my classes. For the same reason I have three different compasses, to show variations on a compass theme. I also keep things in the bin that I consider as falling into the realm of ‘signal’. This is strobe lights, chemical light sticks, personal locator beacon and such. I also keep headlamps in there. 

Another bin I keep is ‘med’, which includes first aid supplies that I am always using and resupplying my many first aid kits. I have a separate canvas bag that goes on WFA courses with me. But if it doesn’t fit in that bag it doesn’t go on a course. This includes teaching materials as well props, prizes for students, note books for me, and reference materials for when I need to look something up. 

I have two more bins that get a lot of use. ‘Stoves’ and ‘H20’. The first is self explanatory, everything stove related is in this bin. Both canister and liquid fuel. I own 6 stoves. This is a little excessive and Ill be selling one of them soon. I don’t generally accept free gear, but two of the stoves I got for free, specifically so I could use them when I teach. The third is a backup solely for expedition use. H20 Is everything water filter related. I own four water filters and again, two of them were free for teaching. 

The beauty of this system is when I am going to teach a class I just grab the appropriate bin, and whatever expendables I need. I never waste time digging for gear. Some things stay in my truck for months at a time. The entire summer all my sup gear and kayak gear is in the truck. I use it all most weekends. All I do is replace expendables and ‘surprise and delight’ - leave a comment if you don’t know what that is! - and maybe wash something or change something out. 

When I speak of expendables I mean things that get used up and have to be replaced before the next class. In my map and compass class everyone gets a printed map of where we are working so they can learn on a very specific map. They get to take notes on it, and do things like plotting a bearing. It also refers to stove fuel - I use a lot of stove fuel in the course of a year - as well as things I give away like water additives and power food. 

As fall approaches and I transition to land based classes I keep a backpack loaded with the gear I always carry. Rain layers, extra warmth layers for students - they frequently under dress -  a hydration reservoir and other things I have to bring along. This keeps it easy to grab my gear and go. 

What about my big stuff? Well, in my office I have what we refer to as the gear monolith. A large divided structure for storing gear. I has a small cubby for anything that needs to be charged and storage for batteries. There is a power strip in the cubby, and all my chargers are ready to go. Just plug it in and let it charge. When I need it, it will be ready to go. Another, larger cubby has all my tents and sleeping pads. Self inflating pads are stored unrolled with the valves open so that they are inflated all the time. The more a self inflating pad is inflated the faster it will inflate when you use it. Tents and other pads are stored in their bags in this cubby. 

There is a large bin that contains a lot of my camp kitchen gear, and some specific food related gear that I only use when I teach cooking classes. There is a large central cubby that holds my large paddling duffel in the off season. Dry bags are stored in a large dry bag, as is my dry suit. 

For most people I say store your sleeping bags in large bags so they can be loose, but my sleeping bags are sort of always in use. Several are in my sprinter which is my rolling office a lot of the time. Another is always on my bed. But if you are a normal person store them in the big cotton or mesh storage bags. 

I have another large bin that is just water bottles and water reservoirs that aren’t in use.

I was never a particularly organized person, but forcing myself to get organized has made a huge difference. I refuse to spend time looking for gear, and to combat that I spend a little time organizing my gear. 

I never store gear in an environment that isn’t temperature and humidity controlled. No attics, basements or crawl spaces. Never. 

The final part of my office organization is the three large dry erase boards on the walls. I use them for organization of projects I am working on, as well as things I need to do, both for teaching or other projects. These help keep me on track. 

The important thing is to find systems that help keep you organized, so you can spend more time playing in the outdoors. 

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