It finally arrives, that package you’ve been waiting for, for so long – that new tent/ice axe/helmet/anything else. After months of reading, comparing, checking again, asking friends, going to the store to try and then doing it all again 3 times, you pick what you want. You order it and wait.
You know that the reason you buy new gear is not just for the sake of buying, or even for the sake of having that piece of kit – it is for what it represents, the potential it holds. A tent is nothing but the nights to be having in it, boots are about the places they will take you, skis are for powder. The whole point of gear is what it will be used for, the adventures and memories it will create and be part of. This is why I buy my gear, and I’m sure you too. In the days of less is more (not long ago we all agreed on this) it is clear that outdoors enthusiasts are buying gear to last and are reluctant to buy more, but we still get excited when we do buy.
Back to your package – it is here! You have signed for it and are running (really running) home to open it and have a look inside. Crisp fabric, polished metals, clear plastics – it is all there and just itching to be tried. You get rid of the wraps and plastic bags, checking every part, reading the instructions again (despite knowing it all from hours of research). But alas; you are a reasonable and responsible person and try it first – in the leaving room/garden/down the street.
The other day I had that same experience – I got a tent. I did my research, made my decision, scraped the money together and ordered it. It arrived a few days later – new and shiny with plastic wraps for each part: the carbon pole, the titanium pegs and the ultra light fabric. This is just too much! What great gear – I can already feel those nights inside, the wind howling outside, rain, sleet and snow pounding on the thin yet strong fabric. Just sitting and feeling all the parts takes me straight into those future nights and I love it, but how does my daughter know about them?
My daughter is 15 months old – she can comprehend most things, walk, lift things and have basic communication, but I doubt she can imagine an adventurous night in a flimsy tent that is there mainly for the illusion of safety. Despite that lack of ability to imagine those nights, she was so excited about the tent! I mean really excited. She sat down with me and checked all the parts (she didn’t even try to eat them), looked at the instructions, checked for holes and joined me to the park to erect the tent and try it out. This girl who can barely stay focused for 10 seconds on a book she loves is now an expert outdoors girl, examining some new gear that she never knew existed with all the seriousness that her father has.
Being a lifelong backpacker and hiker means I love tents, I appreciate them and have spent months at a time in them, so my enthusiasm is reasonable. A new tent means a new home on the go – a shelter and a castle in the great outdoors, but how can a 14 month old baby can grasp it, let alone get excited about it? There is no other obvious conclusion here but to accept that outdoor gear and the feelings that come with it are inherent. This is one of those situations in which nature is beating nurture and the tent is more exciting than the box it came in – so a 15 month old baby proved.