I’ve got a story for you. Well … not really. Not today. Today I wanted to take time out from my storytelling ways and talk to you about gear. Until recently I’ve never been much of a gear hear. My philosophy was always “make do with what you’ve got.”
I had a few basic items and I used the same limited gear supply for everything. It didn’t matter if I was hiking, running, in the gym, biking or kayaking. If I was cold, I added a sweatshirt. If I was hot I wore a tank top. I never paid attention to dry wicking fabrics or sport-specific gear.
Then I started hanging out with friends who were "gear heads". They’d talk about all the gear they had and what they were using specifically for the day’s elements and activity. Initially I scoffed at their silliness, but as time wore on I started noticing differences in the way we ended our outings. They seemed comfortable no matter the weather, terrain or event. They never had to stop to adjust something or were too hot or cold.
I started asking questions and learning why they used what they used and did what they did. They graciously shared gear with me so I could try out different things before buying. They explained why they picked these cycling shorts over those or why they preferred this cold weather brand over another. I learned not all products are created equal and that usually you get what you pay for. I fell in love with their gear and how it actually made a difference in my enjoyment level. I wasn’t constantly fighting my gear through every activity. They became non-issues…. things forgotten in the background. I could focus solely on my activity and fellowship with friends.
Then the real journey began. I wanted my own gear. I needed everything and had nothing. I didn’t have a big budget to buy loads of stuff so I called on those same friends to help me out. They went with me shopping and helped explain fit. They knew when specialty stores had their best sales. They taught me to buy at the end of the season for the next year, and now I have the basics to see me through everything I do in every season possible.
My take away from the experience is that while it’s not a requirement to have all the right gear to participate in an activity, it does make it easier to enjoy it when you do. Work with what you’ve got to see if you like a sport; but as soon as you know you do, take the time to invest in gear that makes it more enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to ask help. Good friends who understand that what works for them may or may not work for you and are willing to help you find your perfect gear are the best friends.
See you on the trail!