Let's talk about new gear!
Let's talk about new outdoor equipment. What do you consider before purchasing new gear?
Black Friday easily splits the outdoor-community in two. One side that are happy about getting expensive gear slightly cheaper. Another side that rejects the sale completely due to overconsumption. At some point, this may also be an issue of social class. Generally it's harder for the singel mother, with three kids and a part time job as a nurse to spend money on a new fancy gas-stove, than it would be for a married engineer, who can put aside X-thousands every month. Personally I'm in for the boycott, despite a slim wallet. For me it's more due to idealism and since I've already created, bought second hand or been gifted with my gear. Later on I want to share some of my gear-craft-projects with you here and why I choose traditional materials and styles. But let's get back to the topic - new gear.
Of course there's lots of high quality outdoor-equipment out there, but there's also a lot of junk to be found. My partner and I have a little game, where they send me an unnecessary outdoor-dingbat and then I guess what it is. This far I was only right on the plastic banana-case. What I thought was a ruff hammock for guinea pigs turned out to be a portable fireplace.
Always remember that outdoors life is no competition. And no piece of gear will make you a "better" outdoors-person. Time outdoors, curiosity and a creative mindset will bring you far more experience and bring your skills to new levels. Not fancy gear. Good outdoor gear are simply tools that you know, or learn, how to use - in order to solve tasks like cooking, or being more comfortable when sleeping etc.
It can be fun with good gear though, the question is rather - do we need to own them? And in what quantity do we by them? What quality has it and was the purchase a conscious choice or not? Down below I'll share more of my thoughts and tips on the subject.
A personal exampel:
I've leered at those little twig stoves for a while in social media. First with unsympathetic despise, than with increasing curiousity and finally - I fell in love with a little "happy stove" (not the one in the picture above). It was sooo darn cute! But do I need it? I've obviously lived my almost 30 year long outdoor life without it. Can I make one myself? Nah ... Hm. I've got to think about this for a while ...
Most purchases of outdoor-gear are based (or should be based) on two different needs.
1. We miss a certain function in the outdoor life we're already living.
Example: I'm hiking on regular basis and want to cook more food outdoors, instead of preparing everything at home and bring it with me. Well, maybe it's time to invest in an outdoor-stove or campfire pots.
2. We're dreaming about a new adventure, but we miss some equipment to make it possible.
Example: I wish to hike in the mountains, but my tent ways 10 kilos. This kind of need is more treacherous. It might as well happen if I got myself a tent light as a feather - that it will remain on the shelf at home most of the time. This time it might be better to burrow it from a friend or rent a tent.
Evaluating before is your best map through the gear-djungle.
Borrow from a friend or rent equipment. It doesn't even have to be the exact brand or model you want to buy later. Just try it out and get your own opinion on what you like and need. Ask friends, physically or on the internet what gear they've got and what they approve/dislike about it.
Think of what you already have
Many everyday items works just fine in your outdoor life - cutlery for example. You may have some clothes that you don't want to smell of smoke, but often you have a pile of old clothes (at least I) that are dedicated for rough work or exercise, that works perfectly. At least as a middle layer.
If it's warm and sunny you can hike in any clothes. Summer 2018 me and a friend did inventory work in a forest. He dressed in shorts, flipflop-sandals and a huge black sombrero ornamented with silver. Me in a thin summer dress and rubber boots. If someone had seen us they might have sighed: "amateurs". Both me and David are more or less raised in the woods.
Photografer: Katinka Johansson
Check out the second hand market
My most beloved middle layers are thin woolen sweaters from second hand. Cost me about 40 SEK (4 €) A friend of mine found a pair of Fjällräven trousers for 150 SEK in another second hand store. To call out for certain pieces of equipment on Sell and buy forums at Facebook might also be a good idea. There's probably someone who has dreamt, bought and finally realized that they will never use that sleeping bag after all.
Especially in the beginning. With the experience I've today I would prioritize according to these two lists below. Remember that these are examples, not an universal key. And you definitely don't have to buy all of it at once.
List with cheaper gear
These will make your day trips easier, and let's face it. Most of our hikes are day trips.
- Thermos 0,5 - 1 liter - for warm water/soup. Or ice cream ...
- Rubber boots - keeping your feet dry is essential to keep you warm outdoors.
- Rain clothes ex. Itab - if you're only outdoors when it's sunny - then you can't hike that often. You can save money for getting better rain clothes later.
- Head torch - to not be stressed about making it back home when it's getting late or to find what you need in your backpack in the dark. Keep the batteries warm and they will last longer.
List with more expensive gear
These are great when you want to make several day hikes, sleep outdoors or simply cannot choose what weather you'll hike in.
- Hiking boots - a pair of good hiking boots should be your feets best friends. They shall support your feet and ankles without squeezing them. I personally appreciate thin boots, they're possible to dry outdoors and I choose how warm i want them to be by adding or removing socks.
- Undergarment of wool - Keep wool closest to your skin and you'll keep warm longer, even if you're sweating or get wet.
- Backpack - A good carrier belt and some air against your back is gold, no matter how big your backpack is. Rent or borrow first, then carry around some water jerricans or similar, so you can feel where the load presses on the system.
- Outdoor-stove - There's a huge amount of different versions on the internet. There's also lots of information on them. Search on the model that interests you on Youtube, there's probably a tutorial already up there. As already mentioned, there are small woodstoves on the market.
- Sleeping bag - once again: borrow or rent first, unless your completely sure about what you're looking for. Don't bother about the extreme-temperatures. It only tells you how much cold you can Survive in the bag. Take a look at the comfort-temperatures instead . If you're born with uterus, add another 3-8 ° , in case youäre checking out a model created for men or unisex. You can always piece out with a liner, sleepingbag cover, dry woolen undergarment, warm water bottle and some throughly exercise before bedtime and you'll nap nice and warm.
- Sleeping mat - There are those who claim that you need at least 1 cm thickness/ decennia you've lived. Sleeping mats of plastic is cheaper then the inflatable ones and have several uses. Like resting/sitting more than one on them while eating or as kneepads in the canoe etc. i always bring a plastic sleeping mat, though I brought an inflatable mat - in case if the latter is leaking. A well cared for reindeer hide is also warm and nice during winter, but it sheds. So storage it cool and in a cotton bag.
So, what about that little twig stove?
Well, I actually bought one, earlier this week (not on sale). Thinking "I can bring it on my guided tours, to show my guests that there are good alternatives to stoves run by fossil fuels." Or use it when there are no rocks, or when I don't have time to build a fireplace.
Or well ... Okey, I admit it - I caved. It was only too cute. I'll get back to you with a review in a year or so. By then I've had the chance to use it in all seasons and the novelty has worn off. Right now I just want to feed it with pine cones.
Whats your best/worst piece of outdoor gear? Let us know on Instagram and please tag us @tracelessintiveden So that we get to learn from your experiences!
Shop in peace, abstinently or better - not at all!