If you have been searching for gear for any outdoor outing lately, you will find lists everywhere – “Best gear for…(name the activity)”, “Best 10 jackets for….”, “The 10 best packs for 2015” and so on. Those lists are offered by many sources – from major chains to niche retailers, gear reviewing sites, personal blogs and so on – but what is “the best outdoor gear”?
The problem with calling something the best is that it assumes that no other parameters exist besides a specification list, or a price list, or a brand’s reputation. With any of these assumptions there is major factor missing – you, the user of that named product. The best for the writer is probably not the best for most people out there, for many reasons. To name some:
1. Fit – body shape, feet shape (mine are really wide, a nightmare with boots), odd sizing combinations etc.
2. Height and weight – these will determine how much you can carry, how you fit into a canoe, or whether a bicycle will actually fit your long arms or not.
3. Strength and stamina – if you tend to sweat a lot, having a super waterproof jacket won’t help you – you need some thing more breathable. No point of having a heavy haul backpack when you weigh a mere 50kg and have never walked more than a few miles with a daypack. Heavy boots for skinny legs? Not a great idea. And so it goes.
4.The “sub sport” – 10 best ski jackets might not include your specific telemark trip you have planned for Finland in March, or for the great ski holiday in the south of France in February. Your specific outing has its own limitations and parameters, and you need to understand them well to pick the right ski jacket for you….
5. Personal preferences – maybe it only comes in blue, but you must have a bright pink one? Or the fabric irritates your skin?
6. Budget – maybe you can skimp on the footwear for a better sleeping bag? Or neither – if you are only going for some hostel-hopping in Thailand, all you need are flip flops and a bathing suit.
The list goes on, but hopefully now you see that picking a best is not the right way to shop. Instead, aim for the best gear for you – check fits, be realistic about needs (save money on the gear and get out more, or spend more on gear and be safer out there) and demands. If the gear purchase takes away from your fun of going outdoors, it has missed its purpose. Get gear that makes you safe and allows you to have the most fun – this is the real “best” outdoor gear.
Think you know what is the “best” out there? prove me wrong.