First off, I want to qualify what I’m going to say here with a little background. I’m not a mountain man, I do not jump out of varying aircraft, my appearance in a forest does not cause animals to come to a realization that they should simply take my knife and skin themselves with it and hop up on a spit conveniently. Fields of flowers do not magically bloom, and amazing pictures do not take themselves and appear in my camera as I walk through the forest. My mere presence does not purify and beautify the land around me. I’m not a park ranger, military ranger, and was not raised by wolves.
Now that you know what I’m not, I will say I’ve spent my fair share of time out in the woods covering various styles of outdoors life. Boy scouts, US Army, and private ventures into the outdoors I have done, and not always successfully. I hope you too find not all your ventures successful, since the failures are the ones you will learn from and remember the most about, as you laugh with others about them when you ARE successful.
In this time of varying experiences, I’ve used some really bad gear, and i’ve used some alright gear. Will the best gear make everything magically happen? Nope. What good gear will do is hopefully save you some time and help to bring out the maximum benefit of the skills you have or are developing. And honestly, better gear should have less of a chance of failing on you when using it the way it’s meant to be used for the tasks it’s designed for.
I remember very vividly a 14 year old me on a weekend camping trip at a state park with the boy scouts, paired up with the kid that noone ever wanted to be paired up with in a very cheap two man tent. The other kid in the tent with me forgot his deodorant and snored all night long in a sleep so deep an explosion would not have woken him up. By about midnight a storm had rolled in, and with it came some strong winds that decided to knock only our tent out of commission. My tent partner slept through the water getting in our tent, the guy lines for the fly having been ripped from the fly itself, and the front pole of the tent having collapsed in the weather. I think it was after this that I started to pay attention to the quality of the gear I used outdoors.
Twenty years later, I found myself with a family of four camping at the exact same state park in a Eureka! Tetragon 1210. And like before, a storm moved in. This time even worse, the NOAA weather station for the area was giving warnings of 60+ MPH winds. Instead of having a tent fall apart on us, the tent actually gave nicely in the wind, sometimes bending the walls (i can stand up in the center of this tent) down to our faces on the floor of the tent. But the tent stayed up with no damage to it.
The morning came, and we were told by the park rangers that the storm would be getting worse and that it’d be a good idea to leave. Thanks to good planning of carry gear and diligent planning of knowing what we bring and where it goes, we went from a fully setup family camp to in the vehicle and on our way to a warm brunch at a local diner within 45 minutes. This again was made much easier by better quality gear.
All that said, I’m very tempted to challenge myself by buying the absolute cheapest gear one can ever find and give real and honest reviews of it to really put some contrast as to why I like better quality stuff. Who knows, going camping and having everything I bring fall apart might actually be fun?