Best of 2011, part 2

2011 has been an extraordinary year.  If the mission of this blog is to explore the cultural consequences of personal development as driven by outdoor adventure, this should have been a good year for blogging, which it was.  This time last year I wrote that day trips were bullshit, and that the packraft made further gear commentary superfluous.  Today I write that in 2011 I spent more nights in the wilderness than any other year in my life to date (excepting 2003 and 2004, when I was paid to be out in the woods).  I also write that last years use of the packraft to deepen my wilderness appreciation has grown enormously in 2011, and in new ways.

But that is the topic for next post!  This evening I write about gear.  My work at BPL has given me a new perspective, a more objective one.  Having half a dozen or more of a given product at your disposal is invaluable when assessing strengths and weaknesses.  And embarrassing though the excess of riches may at times be, not having any reason to be attached to a given item fosters clarity.  That being said, while I’ve used a lot of good gear this year, these days of reflective angst and (in my case) fantastic feedback remind me that the most enlightening physical things in my possession have not been the ones associated directly with trips.  They’ve been the tools of exploration and explication which have made this such a good year for blogging.

So first, the traditional gear of the year:

Werner Shuna: an amazingly utilitarian and aesthetic tool for packrafting enjoyment.

Haglofs Ozo: close to the perfect rain jacket, and in my world today rain jackets are important.

Rab Boreas: what I expect to be the most-worn garment of 2012.

Surly Karate Monkey: this bike is older than this blog, and even as my cycling interests change the Monkey evolves right alongside, with nothing lacking.

LaSportiva Crossleather: my opinions have not changed in over a year of use, and I made it through the Wilderness Classic with one blister.  They’re not perfect, but more than good enough.

And the less traditional, more abstract or tertiary items; just as worthy:

-Canon S90: far from perfect, but took a lot of good photos which were always satisfying to post here.

-The sewing room: what perspective on gear I may have is due in large part to the hours I’ve spent right here.  I haven’t made too many things, ever, with which I’ve been happy, but every one has been a fantastic learning experience.

-The Flathead: living in the drainage of one of the greatest river systems in the lower 48 is neither luck nor coincidence.  The benefit of doing so has been most of the trips written up here.

-Ya’ll: too bad there’s no less-colloquial neuter plural in Engrish.  Thanks everyone.  That I’m having the useful impact on people I know and those I’ve never met has been the most satisfying experience of the year, bar none.

And last on the gear front, a hint of the future.  Still a few things missing, but not for too much longer.

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