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Thread: Gear isn't everything

  1. #1

    Default Gear isn't everything

    I wasn't sure where to post this Craig Medred article, it being pertinent to many outdoor activities, so I'm putting it here. Ive always liked his writing, though I haven't always agreed.

    Gear is fine but won't replace skill or good sense
    CRAIG MEDRED
    OUTDOORS
    Published: May 4th, 2008 03:25 AM
    Last Modified: May 4th, 2008 03:25 AM
    When did everything become so much about the gear?

    Want to catch more fish? Buy a better -- and, of course, more expensive -- high-modulus graphite rod with state-of-the-art ceramic guides.
    Want to be safe from avalanches? Buy the latest beacon with digitized tracking.
    Want to be secure in your ocean kayak? Buy not only the best personal flotation device but a Gore-Tex dry suit too.
    Want to be faster on the bike? Buy a new ultralightweight carbon frame.
    Buy, buy, buy!
    Pick up a lot of outdoor publications these days, and they look more like advertising supplements, right down to the quote-unquote "gear reviews."
    Why not just run a pretty picture of the newest, hottest piece of gear and a headline simply saying, "Buy this!''?


    I've used a fair bit of this state-of-the-art gear. Some is very, very good. Some is not.
    Article continued here
    Last edited by Brian M; 05-18-2008 at 13:13. Reason: copyright rule

  2. #2
    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Interesting thread, Mauser.
    I hope you don't mind but I copied it into the "outdoor gear" forum also.

    It seems like a good fit in both areas.

    Best,
    Frank

  3. #3
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default good read

    I must agree. I also have my share of gear. The one thing that I have developed is a strong sense of appreciation, or should I say, um.....comfort in the gear that has worked well in the past. For example, my latest pair of boots, American made Danner boots. This is my third pair and I've completly worn out the first two. They have peformed as needed and my feed are just as healthy as the next guys. I will never worry about another boot advertisement as long as they make em. As I get older you can add products onto my list of "don't ever need it, not interested".

    Grandpas's old spinning rod for example.....I've caught 50Ibs kings, steelhead, coho, chum, pinks, ect.............Modulus, weight, action, Hell I don't know! Catches fish? Hell Ya!

    Enjoy the simplicity when possible, you'll apreciate it when things get crazy back home.

  4. #4

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    "Gear isn't everything

    Ain't that the truth!

    It applies nicely to new rifle and handgun calibers, too. If you're not packing a 500 S&W handgun these days, you have no business being in the woods. Never mind that you couldn't hit a bus with it while standing inside.

    Magnumitis? Yeah, I guess I've caught it too. My latest muzzleloader is a 58 caliber Hawken, even though I've got a perfectly good 54 caliber sitting right beside it in the rack.

  5. #5

    Default

    I agree, know your basic survivals skills and use the newest, whatever, if it improves your situation but never let it replace the basic survivl skills.

    I love my GPS but I always start my jouney with a compass

  6. #6
    Member Gr is for Greg's Avatar
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    Default Agreed

    My friend and I went on a caribou trip last year. For redundancy, we both separately took responsibility for navigation, he with his GPS and me with maps and a compass. That way, we figured, if the GPS crapped out on us.... we'd both be dead.

    But no joking, it's crazy that a bunch of people wouldn't even think of that these days. New gear is great, but depending too heavily on it makes us forget that Man is pretty good at surviving the elements if he uses himself properly.
    My signature is awesome.

  7. #7
    Member sbiinc's Avatar
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    Default good thread

    great story by Mr. Medred, and thanks for the link, i've already sent it out via email to about 20 people i know that need to read it, lol...

    i'm a geek in every sense of the word with the exeption of appearance (i hope) a true technophile in regards to about everything except my camping/hunting gear. i do carry a gps but its only purpose (most times) is to let me know how fast i'm going or download tracks of where i've been when i get back.

    i navigate with only my compass and map. good skills that have kept me from disaster more than once, and need to be practiced to stay proficent.

  8. #8
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    That was one of Greg’s better articles.

    Researching and acquiring more, and/or better gear can be entertaining, and it is often an attempt to buy success. A lot of it is really nice, but the truth is, you can get along without most of it.

    I remember how I used to backpack wearing my USAF Brogans, using the GI Pack board, GI Canteen, and one of the sleeping bags I was issued. I had a cheap rain parka, and for Cooking I carried the Canteen Cup and a spoon. I used a piece of Visquine and parachute cord, to make a lean-to, so I could sleep out of the rain.

    I didn’t have a lot of super gear, but I wasn’t burdened by it either. Every time you encounter a problem or some discomfort in the field, there is something you can buy to solve it, but it usually doesn’t work that well, or there is a downside.

    I have a lot of neat stuff, that was more fun buying than using.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  9. #9

    Default Womens Shoes

    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    That was one of Greg’s better articles.

    Researching and acquiring more, and/or better gear can be entertaining, and it is often an attempt to buy success. A lot of it is really nice, but the truth is, you can get along without most of it.

    I remember how I used to backpack wearing my USAF Brogans, using the GI Pack board, GI Canteen, and one of the sleeping bags I was issued. I had a cheap rain parka, and for Cooking I carried the Canteen Cup and a spoon. I used a piece of Visquine and parachute cord, to make a lean-to, so I could sleep out of the rain.

    I didn’t have a lot of super gear, but I wasn’t burdened by it either. Every time you encounter a problem or some discomfort in the field, there is something you can buy to solve it, but it usually doesn’t work that well, or there is a downside.

    I have a lot of neat stuff, that was more fun buying than using.

    Smitty of the North
    Yea that's like women, they buy shoes and more shoes. They may never wear them but they had fun shopping. Tommorrow they'll still be wearing the same old crocs they wore yesterdy.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

  10. #10

    Default

    Gear isn't everything... but the improvements in design and technology in the last 20 -30 years have made it possible to go farther, longer and do more in the backcountry.

    25 yrs ago woll socks were bulky and today you can get light weight merino ski socks which are warmer and fit snug.

    Can't imagine not having gortex boots. Sure you can *get by* without them, but you wont go as far and do as much in wet conditions.

    I have a sturdy 2 man tent (roomy for one) that weighs less than 5 lbs. Last summer it got me through an intense thunderstorm in the high country with some wind gusts up to probably 50 mph and a lot of rain and sleet.

    I just got a comacpt light weight stove that takes about a tenth of the volume and weight of my old coleman and heats just as well.

    I have a durable light weight two piece rain suit that weighs less than 2 lbs and can fit in the space of two pockets.

    I have a headlamp that is lighter and more useful (leaves both hands free) lasts longer than conventional flashlights.

    GPS's are a little heavier than compasses but are much more useful. Had one situation last year high on a plateau in 100 ft visability, where if I had GPS I could have saved almost a day of travel and about 4 miles of backtracking.

    Then there's freeze dried meals.

    Digital cameras that weigh much less than conventional and can take endless pictures that don't require developing, I have thousands of pictures on my computer that I browse a lot more than my old bulky photo albums.

    For fly fishermen, graphite rods are hands down superior to bamboo rods, They can provide a variety of stiffness and and casting speed and presentation.

    I think I could go on and on. Yeah sure, we can get by with the *good ole days* but I like and appreciate the better equipment I have now and can accomplish a lot more with it.

    I can easily outfit myself for two weeks of back country travel in a 60 lb pack, where as 30 years ago, I would have needed a mule or horse to get me in the backcountry for two weeks. Not to mention being more restricted in where I could go with a horse.

    JMHO

  11. #11

    Default Gear isn't everything

    This is again the time vs. money argument.

    You can get to the same places without the high end gear but it takes more time and you need to be more aware of your surroundings.

    Gear sluts are out there. These are people who specifically buy more gear than they can use. They are the same folks who have electric swiss army knives and portable solar generators to charge up all of their toys.


    It is interesting that Medred wrote the article since he seems to be more gear obsessed than most chronic Alaskan outdoor users.

    On the other hand, you should have the equipment necessary for survival and anything Alaska can throw at you.

    I found the Alaska Experiment was amusing as the Flower Lake People took 70lb packs for a 40 mile trek to Hawkins Glacier without having enough food or enough seeming sense to stay hydrated. I guess they never heard of tang, or gatorade. I bet you that they were hauling those pakrafts up the glacier when they could of created a cache.

    People can get so gear crazy that they get themselves in trouble.

    However, there is a caveat on the other side as well. Much of the country that I like is littered with camps and gear that people leave that is relatively inexpensive and bulky. Larger guys and gals; and I am admittedly not tiny ;sometimes believe that they can make up for high tech lightweight gear by being bigger. The truth about carrying heavier weight and gravity makes its self clear about 3-5 miles in on the moutain slopes and they leave their gear and get back out.

    I generally will find tents and camps about 200 yards from treeline that have two burner coleman stoves, frying pans, caches of canned goods and everything else. These are abandoned. Many are left for many years. Tents usually fill up with water over time.
    The frost action eventually will rip the material apart or some black bear will. I will generally make two trips per year just to clear this stuff out.


    You really need good lightweight gear that will last. I see raingear that is supposed to be the lightest best thing coming but it doesn't work right in the field. It is important to test your gear before you seriously use it.
    You should buy the best and then not be afraid to use it. If it fails, you can grumble at the manufacturer. When you know how to use your gear and you are in shape to use it right, it is amazing on how fast and far you can go and where you can go.

    A balance should be struck somewhere but I tend to agree with Montana Rifleman. Gear is good to have.

    Sincerely,

    Thomas

  12. #12

    Default Mountain House

    I don't even use Mountain House anymore, I make my own lightweight food. It's actually pretty easy and tastes a whole lot better! I went to the Cabelas in Spokane last week, spent 3 hours and didn't even cover a third of the store. I did enjoy the trip, I didn't buy anything, and now I know why all their stuff is so expensive. Gear won't make up for common sense and experience, although I definitely have better gear now than I did 40 years ago. I don't know if I could do a sheep hunt today like I did back then...

  13. #13
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    MontanaRifleman:

    Our opinions, ideas, and preferences are formed from hearsay, our own personal experiences, and also the Marketing Hype we buy into, which is the real problem to consider.

    I’m glad you brought up these thought provoking specifics. This is from my own perspective, as regards to lighter weight, etc.

    “Gear isn't everything... but the improvements in design and technology in the last 20 -30 years have made it possible to go farther, longer and do more in the backcountry.” _______ There have been some improvements, but they aren’t as big as they sound like IMO.

    ”25 yrs ago wool socks were bulky and today you can get light weight merino ski socks which are warmer and fit snug.” _______ I’ve never considered “sock weight” to be an issue. I still like wool socks, preferably with nylon to make them more durable”.

    ”Can't imagine not having gortex boots. Sure you can *get by* without them, but you wont go as far and do as much in wet conditions.” _______ I’ve never owned a pair of gortex boots, and gortex raingear has never worked for me. I like those LaCrosse Insulated rubber boots myself. I had rubber boots when I was a little kid.

    “I have a sturdy 2 man tent (roomy for one) that weighs less than 5 lbs. Last summer it got me through an intense thunderstorm in the high country with some wind gusts up to probably 50 mph and a lot of rain and sleet.” ____ For some kinds of trips, a tent is in order, for others a lean-to is better. I’ve been through that kind of weather in a 5’x7’, $14.99 waterproof nylon pup tent, several times. It doesn’t have all the features that are deemed essential to the knowledgeable, but it weighs much less than 5 lbs. One time on a Sheep Hunt, we thought it was gonna shake itself apart, but it didn’t. Today, It’s as good as it ever was. For other trips, my Cab Over Camper is best. It don’t weigh much neither. It hardly slows my 3 / 4 Ton truck down at all.

    ”I just got a compact light weight stove that takes about a tenth of the volume and weight of my old Coleman and heats just as well.” _____ The problem with stoves is you gotta carry fuel too, but one can be handy for some kinds of trips, like in wet areas, and places where an open fire isn’t practical, but you can get by without the extra weight. Besides, you can take food that doesn’t need to be cooked. If you can boil water for coffee or tea, that’s good.

    ”I have a durable light weight two piece rain suit that weighs less than 2 lbs and can fit in the space of two pockets.” ____ I gave up on that stuff a long time ago. A rain parka that is longer is better IMO. I MIGHT carry a pair of rain pants big enough to take on and off easy. The best, I’ve tried is those waterproof Fleece type parkas, because they can double as a jacket.

    ”I have a headlamp that is lighter and more useful (leaves both hands free) lasts longer than conventional flashlights.” _____ I LIKE those LED headlamps and flashlights a lot, because of their light weight, and battery life, but I’ve not had much need for them. To me, they’re more like a survival item.

    ”GPS's are a little heavier than compasses but are much more useful. Had one situation last year high on a plateau in 100 ft visibility, where if I had GPS I could have saved almost a day of travel and about 4 miles of backtracking.” ___ I wouldn’t go jumping to any conclusions, about that. I regret buying my GPS. I’m glad I got one that wasn’t too expensive, because frankly it hasn’t been very useful so far.

    ”Then there's freeze dried meals.” ___ OK, eat that crap for a few days, and your teeth will get sore. You need something chewy. Besides it’s so bulky, it takes up too much room, in the pack.

    “I can easily outfit myself for two weeks of back country travel in a 60 lb pack, where as 30 years ago, I would have needed a mule or horse to get me in the backcountry for two weeks. Not to mention being more restricted in where I could go with a horse.” ____ If you ever tried both, I’d almost betcha you’d find that using a mules or horses would be a better way to go. Granted, it’s probably impractical for most of us to do the horse or mule thing. A 60 lb pack can restrict you too.

    My point here, is not to critique your gear, or your conclusions, per se, but to suggest that a lot of the gear we buy is really more trouble than it’s worth in additional comfort, or usefulness. And, most of the time it doesn’t contribute that much to our success either.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  14. #14
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    Well, for years and years I would "get by" with what I had because it was either that or stay home! But, how many times was I out in the woods wishing I had some better stuff. I finally got to a point in life where I could afford some better gear so now I have some. I'm not into buying all the latest greatest gizmos, and we all know there is a TON of marketing hype. And I try to balance cost with functionality and won't pay full retail for anything. But, getting some better stuff is just part of the enjoyment of the whole experience for me. Hunting should be fun, not "survival" mode.

    I think it depends on what you are doing also. There's a big difference between grabbing the '06 a spam sandwich and thermos of coffee, jumping in the truck and driving the logging roads looking for a buck... and going on a 10 day walk in sheep hunt in the Alaska Range. I've worn blue jeans, an orange cotton sweatshirt and cotton socks and killed lots of deer but I could have died with that kind of gear on a couple expedition type sheep hunts I've been on. Thank God for the high-tech North Face tent! You can have the old canvas pup tents!

    With some outdoor gear the following statement holds true...

    "They don't make em like they used too..... and it's a good thing!"
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

  15. #15

    Default

    You know, all this reminds me of the most important piece of gear of all for evolving an outfit that really suits your own need:

    A gear list you keep updating as the years go by.

    Some stuff you pack and never need.
    Some stuff wears out or breaks and needs replacement.
    Some stuff never works right.
    Some stuff you find out you need and forget to buy before the next trip.
    Some stuff you forget to pack and discover you really need.

    We're all pretty smart and have good memories, but dang it all anyway. Somehow we manage to forget stuff, whether to pack it in the first place, to get rid of it, to replace it, or to buy it.

    If you've got that permanent gear list somewhere in your pocket or your computer rather than trying to store it in your brain, your gear kit usually works out better.

    Reminds me of the time we got dropped off on a remote river for a two week fishing trip. Thank goodness the next plane that came in two days later was a friend and loaned me a sleeping bag out of his survival kit. Yup, I got a mind like a steel trap.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    You know, all this reminds me of the most important piece of gear of all for evolving an outfit that really suits your own need:

    A gear list you keep updating as the years go by.

    Some stuff you pack and never need.
    Some stuff wears out or breaks and needs replacement.
    Some stuff never works right.
    Some stuff you find out you need and forget to buy before the next trip.
    Some stuff you forget to pack and discover you really need.

    We're all pretty smart and have good memories, but dang it all anyway. Somehow we manage to forget stuff, whether to pack it in the first place, to get rid of it, to replace it, or to buy it.

    If you've got that permanent gear list somewhere in your pocket or your computer rather than trying to store it in your brain, your gear kit usually works out better.

    Reminds me of the time we got dropped off on a remote river for a two week fishing trip. Thank goodness the next plane that came in two days later was a friend and loaned me a sleeping bag out of his survival kit. Yup, I got a mind like a steel trap.
    Brownbear,

    Now that was funny, in addition to being accurate!

  17. #17

    Default Gear is like money....

    That reminds me of a weekend paddling trip on went on out of Whittier to Shotgun Cove. Ummm, forgot the food! Noticed that in Whittier and was able to stock some basics, and then caught some fish as well to supplement...but still....DUH!

    I will say this: I have a propensity to be a gear whore as well...but it is a learning experience for certain. What works, what I actually use, etc.. OKay, Okay, so I have 5 tents..... but there is a specific time and place where each and every one was just the 'right' tent for the occasion Sure, I could have 'gotten by' with a rain parka lean-to, and dug a little pit and place fire embers in, then covered with dirt and slept in the pit to stay warm. Point is, I didn't have to. And it sure has been nice on those times where I have found myself tent bound for a day or two to be able to sit in the vestibule and make coffee, cook food out of the wind and rain, whereas the folks I was with didn't have the room and became so sullen that they didn't even want to join me and be a little more pleasant.

    Now to finish my title:
    "Gear is like money; it ain't everything, but having it sure solves a lot of the problems that NOT having it creates"

  18. #18
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    Default

    Snyd:

    "Hunting should be fun, not "survival" mode."

    That's true and a good point.

    However, since, hunting in the Greatland is, more often than not, an expedition to a somewhat remote area, and not an afternoon affair, and the wrong gear, particularly clothing, can quickly put you into a survival situation, Survival is the number one consideration. Also, a measure of comfort and practicality is part of survival.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  19. #19
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default expedition hunting

    Since you mentioned it.........My first mistakes as a virgin Alaskan hunter was to rush my hunts and have a hasty aproach "get in, get out".

    I really put myself in a compromised posistion and certainly didn't enjoy myself as much.

    Now days I utilize my gear to help lengthen my time in the woods considerably. Now we have expedition hunting. Large or Small thats my favorite way to hunt Alaska. There are too many wonderful things to see and experience at my leasure.

    Also I believe an animal worthy a shot is worthy the time and patience necessary to properly process the meat and hide. With the proper gear and hunt planning that component is built into my trips.

    I had a guy ask to do a two day hunt in August for Blacktail. I turned him down, until he could arrange at least a three day trip. He came back with a new schedule and now we'll be on the mountain for three days. It just allows for much better hunting.

  20. #20

    Default

    The better the gear, the better the experience, the greater the chance of survival.

    I'll take my Mt House over easy w/hashbrowns, sourdough toast, and bacon

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