Gear of the year… How about gear made for decades?
Here’s a thought which occurred to me a couple of times in the past week (once while I was speaking with a consumer about older gear in his possession, once while I was writing a draft of a blog post on sustainability). Here it is: good gear lasts.
OK, not much of a revelation, you might think. After all, manufacturers usually make a point of claiming how well their products are made.
My point is this: if you are concerned with sustainability (in the sense of keeping your footprint on the planet as small as possible), your focus should be firmly centered on buying a product which will last a long time. And you should make every effort to maintain and repair it for as long as possible, too.
This is not the same thing as buying a product from a vendor who will replace it if something fails. That still involves nominally serviceable gear ending up in the landfill. Clearly, this ‘send it back and get a new one’ idea is very seductive: I recall a gear conversation in a ski hut one evening where one of my companions was convinced of the quality aspirations of a specific brand. “After all”, the person said, “They’ve replaced a defective item three times now”.
Fortunately, not everyone subscribes to this mentality. The consumer I was speaking with last week would certainly disagree: he had a number of older products, and was convinced that ‘older gear was better’. A glance through my gear closet reveals a number of 20+-year-old items. Tents which are still weatherproof, sleeping bags which are still cozy, and my go-to backpack which has served me faithfully for almost a quarter of a century.
The only point where I would disagree with the caller would be this: a lot of older gear was really well made – but so are some modern pieces of equipment.
So – just for the record, here are some items of Sea to Summit gear which I’ve had for at least 10 years now:
Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks (perfect for keeping gear dry, sorted and color-coded in my pack)
Reactor Liner (the first layer of any sleep system –add-on warmth for very little weight)
X-Bowls (they work as cutting boards! They work to measure and pour ingredients! They work great for eating breakfast and dinner out of, and they pack flat)
It’s not an official accolade, but for their ten years of great service, I herewith award these items the Ask Baz Gear of the Decade award.
(An honorable mention goes to eVac Dry Sacks which were launched 10 years ago this year – I just haven’t owned any for the entire time because I keep giving mine away to fascinated hut users on ski tours).
So – if you have an interest in sustainability, buy gear which will go the distance. Ask the store staff how often they see returns on any given item. And once you’ve bought a piece of gear, maintain it as well as you can.
You’ll find items of Sea to Summit gear in a variety of colors – but all of them will help you in becoming just that little bit greener… B