As great as it would be to have a giant garage to store a million things in, or at least to better organize things in, I like that I have to use the space I have wisely. My general rule is that if I haven't seen, used, or thought about a given item in a year, it's time to get rid of it. On a recent foray into my gear closet in an effort to find those things it's time to get rid of, I found a few items that came with memories attached.
My First Sleeping Bag - When you're starting to accumulate outdoor gear, you don't always know what you need. During a summer internship in Maryland in college, I found myself with a long weekend off and a colleague willing to take me camping. She had everything we needed except an extra sleeping bag. I was eager to start the process of outfitting myself and zipped over to Hudson Trail Outfitters to pick one out. I did what most proud college students do and insisted I knew more than I did about what I wanted. Luckily, I still ended up with a Moonstone Mountaineering synthetic bag I've gotten a lot of use out of over the years. (Pictured above right, also doubles as a cat bed.)
Friendless Gloves - We've all heard of the sock monster, but apparently, I've got a glove monster in my apartment too. I found four completely different single gloves and mittens in my gear closet, and of course, none of them would make a good pair. From left to right (pictured right), the single to my first pair of serious mittens from EMS, a glove liner from an old pair of ski gloves, half of my favorite pair of Ibex liner gloves, and an old, cheap cotton glove from a drug store. I'm tempted to hang on to them, just in case the glove monster has a change of heart.
"Bug Hats" - On one of my first backpacking trips in northern Ontario, I learned a lesson about being prepared that I'll never forget. When you're traveling to a new place for backcountry adventures, it's as important to know the trail as it is to know the ins and outs of the area. My trip partner and I didn't anticipate how awful black flies and mosquitoes can be in that part of the country during backpacking season. Luckily, a few locals gave us a pair of what we dubbed "bug hats" after we told them we didn't pack any mosquito netting. They're not the most attractive outdoor accessory, but they saved me from what could easily have been millions of black fly bites. (Click here for a moderately embarrassing picture.)
Banff Squirrel "Refreshing" Pins - On a cross country drive from Alaska to Pennsylvania in 2007, we stopped in some of the most unbelievably beautiful parts of northwestern North America, including the town of Banff, Alberta. At the time, a $22.8 million refresh of the city's infrastructure was underway. Knowing construction, blocked sidewalks and closed roads would frustrate tourists, the city came up with a campaign to ease the pain. Initiatives included a series of squirrel mascots on signage, squirrel tracks to guide people around the city, and ambassador stations. Visitors could collect five pins featuring squirrels with beautifying tools on them, and of those I collected, two survived. (Pictured at top, middle.)
|Hiking to a beautiful hidden lake outside of Anchorage, circa 2007.|
Life is Good Tote - As a proud member of the Alaska Clubs in downtown Anchorage, I'd visit one of two fitness centers on a regular basis. I had my eye on a cute Life is Good tote in the retail area for weeks, but couldn't bring myself to spend over $20 on a bag I likely wouldn't get much use out of. But after getting a job as a front desk attendant, my employee discount brought the price down enough for my liking. As predicted, I can't remember the last time I used it. (Pictured at top, left.)
Whether it's spring cleaning, moving, or searching for an item you need for your next trip, it's amazing what you can find in your gear closet. What does your gear closet look like? When's the last time you sorted through everything? What's the weirdest thing you keep in it?