Before I start, I want to say that I love the word kit. Sometimes, the British just have better words for stuff than us Americans do. Okay, moving on . . . I think it’s a natural tendency of older travelers to already have gear to travel with. As people mature, the majority of them, tend to acquire good, solid travel gear and hold onto it.
most people just starting to travel tend to acquire whatever gear is A) available, and B) will do the job at the time. It’s cool to start this way. pretty much everybody starts this way. I started this way. You grab stuff from friends, go to yard sales, shop at the Army Navy Store, and the like. Now-a-days, you search the deals on Amazon.com and find stuff on eBay. Whatever works for you, it the same process whether it’s brick-and-mortar or virtual low-cost shopping. Granted, most everyone starting out is usually strapped for cash to begin with, that’s why their travelling on the cheap.
But at some point, all that stuff your acquired got swapped out for better stuff. This usually happens when you start making real money at a job, and can afford to buy brand name gear. You’re all excited by it. You bought the new North Face backpack or the best Hiking shoes on the market. You’re a proper traveler now.
Most older traveler have, by some point, collected a whole assortment of dependable travel gear. Let’s face it, the pictures in the magazines of the top gear for this season are great to look at, but not too many people use them as actual shopping ideas. They look at them and then go back to the spare room and pull out the same stuff they used last year. It was good last year, it will be good this year.
There is a point in your life where you see things as an investment. And with the price of good travel gear, this is one of those places normal people don’t want to be reinvesting cash every year. I’m the same way. I’ve collected great pieces of gear over the years, and I go back to those items year-after-year, because I know I can.
That being said, older travelers tend to be busier individuals. They have jobs, maybe kids, and responsibilities of all varieties. Using the random hour of free time to go through your stuff probably isn’t appealing. It never is for me.
If you’re looking at heading out someplace for more than a few days, I suggest that you give your gear a thorough shakedown and make sure that it’s still serviceable. When you’re twenty, if you loose a strap off your pack it’s an inconvenience. If you’re forty-five and you do that, it can be back straining and trip destroying. Let’s face it, sometimes we can’t just power through like we used to.
Now that I’ve spent forever on the setup, here we go with a story. I may have mentioned this before (I honestly didn’t go back through the recent posts to check) but I’m headed out this spring to hike the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain. I’ve been several years, and a couple jobs, talking myself into doing it. I’ve finally hit the point where; okay it’s time to get it done or forget about it. I’m not really getting any younger, you know?
As a guy who travels a lot, I naturally went to the gear storage and pulled out all my old kit. I took an inventory of things that were location specific (things I would need to buy for this trip), but was otherwise fully ready. Well, kind of. I found my expensive Petzl headlamp oozing battery corrosion because I forgot to take the batteries out of it. It’s probably junk. And, I grabbed my trusty Merrill hiking boots to start training for the big adventure. They are great boots. Well, they WERE great boots. I bought them in like 2002 when I went to Costa Rica to wander in the cloud forests. Apparently, seventeen years was enough for them. I wore them for about two weeks of heavy walking and they basically started coming apart at all the dry-rotted points. And, they made my feet hurt really bad!
I would suggest, that if you plan to head out soon, go check the status of your gear. Checking your gear in advance will lower your pre-trip stress level greatly. You can find the weak points in your stuff and get it fixed before you need to start worrying about important things like plane tickets and hotels. I’m super bad about just grabbing it when I need it, and assuming it will be fine. Sometime this is the case, and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I think it’s fine, and it breaks when I get wherever I’m going. I adapt pretty well, but I wouldn’t need to do so much of it if I checked my gear better before hand.
As a side note: If you are a younger traveler or you’re just starting out with the adventurous lifestyle, Congratulations. I hope you have great travel experiences. Don’t be afraid of getting second-hand gear for your first trip. Your buddy’s backpack or your friends sleeping bag and mat will usually get you through one trip fine, and let you know if it’s something you want to keep doing. I used all of my old army field gear for a couple of trips, when I first started. Whatever works, well . . . it works. I would say though, if you’re going to grab gear off of eBay or from a sale somewhere, check around and make sure that you’re getting the best gear you can get for your dollar. Then, take a good hard look at it and make sure that it’s serviceable.
Okay, Now everybody go check your gear! So, you’re not carrying a backpack with a broken strap on it! (It just looks sad.)