Gear, Stuff and What We Need


I’m on the lookout to buy a pair of belay gloves and two cool child-sized fleece sweaters, possibly from Patagonia, for my little kids. This year’s Gear Guide from Climbing magazine had a good breathable pair of gloves but no kids clothes (but why would they?)

I would probably send an Instagram around of both finds if I get them. I might even hash tag Gear Addiction or gearaddition just for amusement.

Since Natalie and I started our hopscotch move to a townhouse and back to our condo, we have let go of belongings and made rules about what new things can come into our home to stay permanently (such as decorations, books and magazines.) We’ve read that such habits can keep things tidy too.

The process of moving twice in just over a year, and reducing our collection of stuff, also made us examine why we want new things. It quickly became obvious to us: If it wasn’t something we needed or enhanced how we lived, that thing we thought we needed was merely emblematic of what we wanted our life to be. It indicated what we would rather be doing. It begged the question: Why not just do it or get rid of it?

I guess we were filling voids. For me, that meant gear for the kind of climbing and hiking I wanted to do but wouldn’t be able to commit to, if at all. I suddenly felt like I was forcing a square peg into a round hole.

What we really needed to do is go out and do what we are day dreaming about. Get out and do it. We’ll figure out what we really need, and in some cases what we don’t.

Take for instance my Uncle Tom. (He was my mentor and guide for getting into outdoors pursuits. I joined him on his quest to climb the Adirondack Mountains’ 46 highest peaks on several backpacking trips, mostly on trailess routes.) After every trip, he returned home and emptied out his old REI external framepack. He did so to ventilate the contents and sort everything into two distinct piles: 1) Stuff he used, and 2) Stuff he didn’t.

He cussed over the stuff he didn’t need. It weighed him down.

But we both learned something after these exercises. Sometimes things we needed we didn’t even bring. A hatchet would have been helpful. The pillow was unnecessary. And maybe we should take less food.

What I really remember are what shines through in the photos. The landscape. The smiles. The rocky trail and the feel of stepping stone to stone under a weighted pack.

I think we learn more from doing than shopping. We figure out what we need from trying. We find who we are out there.

Good luck.

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