New gear is great, but it’s the years of memories that make for a truly legendary piece of adventure gear.
Picking up a sweet new piece of gear is pretty rad. It’s shiny, it’s new and it’s boasting the latest technological advances out there. But there’s also something wonderful about that one piece of gear that you’ve had forever. Sure a new jacket will keep you warm, but it doesn’t have the memories of that great hiking trip during your gap year; it doesn’t have that stain from the time you cooked beans on a campfire the first time you went out solo, it wasn’t there when you had the best pow day Australia has seen for a decade.
We’ve all got at least one piece of gear that’s been around the block a few times. It’ll probably have a couple of dings, a few stains, maybe even a tear or two, but that old piece of gear wears those imperfections like badges of honour because it knows it’s your favourite, and it knows it’ll still be around for years to come.
I asked the WAE staff to dig out their old faithful and share the story behind the piece of gear that’s been with them the longest. Welcome to our favourite long term adventure gear.
Tim – Editor
I love gear, but I hate being a consumer. It’s a constant struggle: I see a nice thingy, my monkey brain gives me a rush of endorphins whispering ‘I’ll give you more if you buy it’ before my wallet and conscience rock up and shut the whole thing down.
One thing always works though: convincing the wallet and conscience that you’re buying a quality item. Good kit goes the distance and becomes infused with memories. That’s what was going down when I stumped up for my trusty Nalgene water bottle, instead of a more generic one, and 6 years later it’s still my go-to.
Not an easy 6 years mind you. There was that time it froze solid at 5100m in Nepal, a mistake I avoided with a chest pocket carry when I summited Mt Aspiring in NZ. One time I filled it with beer to take beer onto a bus in Peru, but last winter boiling water was the go as I made a bootleg hot water bottle to get through a night of snow camping down in Victoria. In fact, I once saw it take a 500m slide off the side of Kossie (pro tip number two: clip in your bottles).
Just staring at this thing is a time-warp. Buy quality and buy local if ya can; you’ll thank your past self.
Henry – Founder
In December 2011 my first baby arrived. It was a special day. I’d heard it’s one of life’s defining moments; the brain floods with Oxytocin and an unconditional love is felt in an entirely new dimension. I’d never felt happiness like it.
Yeah, I’ll never forget that day my Hennessy Hammock was delivered.
After a couple of nights getting used to the more restrictive sleeping positions, I was stunned by how much better I slept in there. There is so much I now love about it – the renegade challenge of finding the right trees, the speed of set up, the pack-down size the tarpless option under a galactic sky, the inbuilt mossie net, the womb-like sleeps I seem to have in it…the list goes on.
I’ve slept in this hammock more than 200 times now (including bikepacking 3000km from Darwin to Sydney with it) and it’s never, ever, let me down. When I buy gear I often think about the cost per usage I’ll get out of it. It’s fair to say that I’ve got some serious bang for buck from this baby.
Amy – Assistant Editor
Hmmm, my favourite long term piece of gear. This stumped me for a while. I’ve recently been stocking up on new gear to replace all the cheap second-hand stuff I’ve been gritting my teeth through for the last nine years.
But one thing did come to mind. My camo-green knapsack style daypack. It was nothing flash, in fact by the end of its life I was using an old shoelace as the drawstring – oh yeah there were no high tech zipper do-dads on this thing. It was my trusty companion through nearly every overseas trip, day hike and weekend away.
I bought it from a generic bag and luggage shop nine years ago, back when style was more important to me than things like comfortable straps and back support.
I packed this bag ’til it was bulging and the magnetic clasps had busted. I squashed it between plane seats, used it as a pillow and trekked it from Saigon to Paris. But the one thing that broke my trusty steed was the Sydney commute.
Bee – Digital Campaign Producer
What on earth would I do without my rainbow paddle pop? My Kungfu Cowboy 9”2. The first and only log I’ve ever had. Side by side, we’ve shared laughs, watched stunning sunsets, sat in stillness, frozen together on chilly mornings, spent too long in the sun, had a few collisions and enjoyed a number of post-surf brews. A piece of foam that’s just like a close friend, where hang outs feel effortlessly good.
Growing up, I thought being a good surfer meant trying to ride the shortest board on the biggest waves. My perception changed quickly when I moved to Byron. Surfing could be just about anything. Here I was surrounded by gods and goddesses who would gracefully glide past, dancing up and down on their longboards, or whatever floatation device they could get their hands on. It all looked too magical, and I had to give it a shot. Enter the rainbow paddle pop, bought off a local shaper just before Christmas four years ago.
After the board’s maiden voyage, I was hooked. I was able to catch more waves, spend a longer time on them and experience this weird, otherworldy beautiful ‘slow time’ that I’d watched others enjoy. A whole new feeling and a whole new world of learning. I doubt the paddle pop will lose its place in our board stack just yet, after every surf it feels like I’ve gotten to know it better, just like a close buddy!
Jono – Social Media Manager & Content Producer
As I rustled through my gear to find a piece of kit that’s been with me through thick and thin, I made eye contact with a very strong contender, my trusty daypack. The Columbia Circuit Breaker Daypack. Truth be told, my old man gave me this bag about 8 years ago and though I’ve used it in just about every situation known to man, it has easily stood the test of time.
While the durability of the bag has been it’s number one trait, it’s also packed to the brim with other functions that I love. Firstly, the sheer amount of pockets and compartments will give Mary Poppins a run for her money. The inclusion of a separate padded laptop compartment even allows me to lug gear to and from the work desk.
Secondly, the Omni-SHIELD repellency material which the bag’s made from, helps keep the contents of the pack clean, dry, and safe from any weather conditions. Last but not least, the backdraft and shoulder strap construction allows the material to constantly breathe, ensuring you’re not swimming around in your own sweat, even on the hottest of days.
There’s no question that this bag is sticking around for some time yet and nothing has made my back happier.
Mattie – Gear Editor
When I pitched this article to the rest of the crew, I had grand plans to write about my favourite surfboard. I’d already gone one step further and written my memoirs about it; man, I love that board. But when Bee started waxing lyrical about her board, I had to dig deeper into the closet and pull out something else. My 10 year old flannel shirt.
Thinking about it now, the flanny should always have been my first choice. While I love my surfboard, living in Canberra doesn’t provide me with many opportunities to ride it. The flanny, however, is pretty much my go-to piece of gear. The shirt’s so old and worn through that I can wear it in summer for sun protection, but I can also wear it for layering in winter – and pretend it’s keeping me warm.
This shirt was the first flanny I ever bought, purchased in London over a decade ago, brought with me when I moved to Australia and has accompanied me on pretty much every trip I’ve ever been on since. I wear it cycling, snowboarding, hiking and everywhere else in between. In fact, I’m probably wearing it right now.
Feature photo by @tim_ashelford