Sunday, May 15, 2011

Art of the Gear - Preface

Gear, gadgets, gizmos, hardware, tech, cheaters, it is what makes a trip hard or easy, but not in the way most would think.  Having the latest and greatest, the most expensive or complex pieces of gear will not guarantee success or comfort on the trail.  A complicated item that was intended to be a boon to one's trip may turn into a lead brick that does nothing but take up space and break one's back.  Those items will quickly be pitched from the edge of a ravine in frustration.

This series will cover my personal gear selection methodology as it applies to my own needs, philosophy, and budget.  If some or all of it applies to you, great.  Be sure to apply your own criteria and judgement in gear selection though, because not all of you are fat, balding, middle aged, nearsighted, arthritic, middle income, stubborn, intellectual geeks with sleep apnea.

I will break things down based primarily on my top ten assumptions listed in a previous post
  1. I will need to drink
  2. I will need to eat
  3. I will need to urinate & defecate
  4. I will need to sleep
  5. **I will need to walk (of course)
  6. I will become sick or injured
  7. I will get rained & or snowed upon
  8. I will get hot & cold (probably in the same day)
  9. I will do stupid things
  10. I will be subject to random acts of the universe
  11. I will be tempted to quit
I feel once these are addressed and satisfied, anything else is superfluous and will not be riding my back.  One may note I re-prioritized the assumptions from my original list.  I realized this is a more appropriate order for the following reasons:

  1. Drinking insufficient amounts of water can turn into dehydration which will lead to a dire situation in as little as 3-5 days.  A person can go for weeks without food, but less than a week without water, making it second only to oxygen in importance.
  2. Pissing in the woods is a fairly easy proposition, particularly for those of us fashioned with a point and shoot device.  The other part of the metabolic process of elimination can be at times more technically challenging.  There can also be all manner of... complications... with the process that will make ones journey near unbearable.  It may be an unpleasant subject to discuss, but necessary.  So, a conversation regarding number two warrants a spot at number three on my list.
  3. Updated 5/17/2011 - D'oh.  Most basic assumption about a hike is that I will be, well duh, hiking.  How did I miss that one?
To continue...

 Instead of breaking things down into the familiar groupings like "kitchen" and "bedroom"  that so many other books on hiking have done, I want to pose a different approach and tag each potential item with the category from above that is satisfied.  The more categories that are addressed by the object and the higher up on the list those categories are, the more valuable the object becomes.  This will come in handy when I start eliminating items because the pack is too damned heavy.

Being slightly on the anal retentive side, I will probably log all the candidate items into a spreadsheet and assign a score from 0-10 for how well it satisfies each assumption.   I am certain there is probably a similar method some really smart statistician, engineer, or other MIT grad would have a fancy name for, but I didn't go to MIT so I don't know the proper name.  So, I'll call it the Jefferson Starship method (my wife and any Supernatural fan will get the joke). 

I have already begun to accumulate some gear, and will be doing trial runs with each to test performance.  I will post my personal reviews on each, describing which are performers and which are dogs.  

With that, let the rampant consumerism begin.

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