American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Monday, April 10, 2006

Skills Versus Gear

There is an awful lot of emphasis today put on gear selection with little thought for skill development.

I am every bit as guilty as the next person of carrying far too much gear with me on a daily basis. Is it preparedness? Paranoia? An innate desire to see just how much my pants can weigh and my belt can hold? Perhaps it is all of the above.

Fortunately I'm finding myself with less and less gear as my skill development progresses. Some of that is directly related to proper gear selection and some to my growing confidence in the woods.

October 2004 found me in the woods for my first hike in a very long time. I arrived with a bottle of water, some emergency gear (firestarting kit, first aid kit, cordage, garbage bags,) and a fleece pullover and baseball cap. The weather was cool but not cold, it was sunny, and the sky was clear so there was little chance of a surprise shower.

Within a few months I was carrying a rucksack full of gear for day hikes. Overkill? Yeah, but that's what everyone in the group was doing. We were doing more with more rather than doing more with less. Cody Lundin says, "The more you know, the less you have to carry." Our running joke was, "The more you carry, the less you have to know." At the time it was funny.

Bigger packs have given way to smaller and smaller packs have now given way to small bags. The "required" gear for an outing has been dramatically reduced with the acquisition of the skills. For example, I used to carry a firestarting kit which consisted of fatwood, a magnesium firestarting tool (Doan,) vaseline soaked cotton balls, steel wool, flint and steel, a metal match, matches, wax paper, tinder card, trioxane bars, and two lighters. Now I carry a metal match and my flint and steel kit.

The belt and pants still need some work though.

Thanks for reading,



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