In the past I swore off buying expensive clothes to travel with from North Face and Mountain Hardware or whichever other company was trendy at the time. I always thought that the best equipment wasn’t essential and was inspired when local porters and guides used the most basic equipment possible to hike or raft or whatever, even though it wasn’t likely a matter of preference for them.
But after one too many times freezing my ass off after using a sleeping bag at 12,000 feet in the Andes that I bought at a Colombian supermarket, bracing the summer rains in Patagonia with a wool sweater, and seeing the prices of the same gear in stores outside the US I have gradually altered my stance. I have accepted that these things aren’t all for show. Now, when Outside’s Gear guide comes around (the summer issue is out now and on the shelves) I read it like its Playboy and drool over sexy new kayaks and mountain bikes and Gortex Storm Shells. Does anyone else have this reaction? I still can’t afford more ore less anything in the guide, but every once in awhile I’m finding it ok to splurge on something that I know I’ll use for a long, long time. The advanced capabilities of equipment even give me story ideas.