Three Pieces of Outdoor Gear I'll Never Get Rid Of and Why
|My North Face Badlands 60 Backpack and I |
in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. (2007)
The North Face Badlands 60 Backpack. This gem was a hand-me-down from one of my college roommates. I knew nothing about how to fit a pack, what to look for in a pack, or how to pack one properly. But as luck would have it, it's one of the few backpacking packs I've found over the years that actually fits me. Since that fateful day in college, the Badlands 60 got me through adventures in Virginia, California, Alaska, British Columbia Upstate New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and more.
But there was a time when I thought of replacing it. There wasn't anything wrong with it, aside from the fact that it was old. There still isn't. During prep for a trip to climb Mount Rainier in 2012, I went to REI to try on a fancy new pack because, hey, it's Rainier. You need fancy new gear for a climb like that, right? I couldn't find anything that fit better, felt better, or had the features I loved most on the Badlands 60. I walked out of the store, I felt guilty. It was as if I'd told the Badlands 60 it was inadequate and washed up. I decided was only fair that I take my Badlands 60 to the top of Rainier. And I did.
|The boots and I hanging out next to the |
Toklat River in Denali National Park (2007).
I walked out of the EMS in Ithaca, New York $185 poorer but stoked to have a real pair of boots. So stoked, in fact, that I didn't pay attention to the requisite break-in period and paid for it dearly on our first trip with quarter-sized blisters. Break-in period aside, I should have shopped more carefully. I went back to the same EMS a few months later and saw a pair of the same boots used, returned, and on the sale rack with a tag that said "makes users feet hurt." "Yeah," I thought, "they make my feet hurt too. Hmmm." The tongue still hits my ankles in an uncomfortable place, but I've worn them enough that after a few minutes of wear, they're fine. More than seven years later, they're still my first choice on extended trips.
The EMS Fleece You Can See From Miles Away. Another piece of gear I'm attached to is a neon yellow and black fleece. I was shopping the EMS sale rack in Ithaca with my college roommate Anna in 2005. Anna is one of the sweetest people in the world, and she did her best not to make a face when I asked her what she thought of the colors. Despite Anna's grimace, I took it home. It was cheap and it fit. (Noticing an EMS pattern here? That's because EMS was the only outdoor outfitter in town at the time. And it basically still is, save Old Goad Gear Exchange. Plus, they make good stuff that lasts.)
|The 2006 version of the EMS Divergence Fleece and I next to |
Kluane Lake in British Columbia (2007).
There's also the brandless, nameless bright pink long sleeved baselayer I got at for $25 at Cornell University's Lindseth Climbing Wall in 2004, the beat up REI bullet mug I took on my first ice climbing trip, the oversized men's Patagonia down jacket from a gear shop outside of Denali National Park...the list is endless.
Despite all of the newer, fancier, cooler options out there, what pieces of gear or clothing can you never imagine yourself getting rid of? Leave a comment (so I don't feel like a hoarder)!