Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year's, everyone. I'm in the mountains with the woman, enjoying the snow and the company. It's a skiing town, and I've been looking around. The first thing I noticed was how many people are dressed inappropriately. No headgear, no gloves even on the slopes. Sure, it's not terribly cold yet, but it is brisk, and night's coming. Honestly, I'm just baffled. There's snow coming down, the blowers are going full tilt to try and get a good layer on before the next warm snap (global warming is killing this town). When it's winter, do you walk around without headgear and a set of gloves in your pocket, people? I sure as hell don't. But that's the way I think. I've been out without both for long periods, and I know how stupid that is. I've done frostbite, and it sucks the big one.

The next big thing I noticed is all the purpose-driven, high end civvie gear. A fair amount of people are wearing a high-end North Face or Columbia jackets, pants, and have neoprene gloves on. Well, not neoprene, but nice gloves at any rate. My experience with civvie kit is that while nice, it tends not to hold up well to prolonged abuse. Innovative, yes. Effective for its purpose, yes. But wearing a ski jacket hiking is not the best idea. Sure, it'll be comfortable and regulate your temperature well, it will be lightweight...but should you catch a thorn or branch the wrong way, it can rip. Likewise, the North Face backpack my girlfriend loaned me for the day is well designed and quite comfortable, but I wouldn't fill it with rocks and AR mags and take it for a spin. One of my main kit requirements is its ability to be abused- I may not need it all the time, but when I do need it, I need it in the absolute worst way. For instance, my hydration bag has a drag handle, and it stood up to my buddy using it on me during a simulation in the summer. Awesome. Would I drag someone using a civvie bag's straps? No, that's asking for trouble.

And I just saw someone walking through two inches of snow in flip flops. The stupidity of others never fails to amaze me.

Anyways, the point of all this is to bring the subject up for civvie kit. I'd like to hear some opinions. I'm definitely picking up a smartwool underlayer, and I've scored an MSR Reactor.

It's not that I don't have love for the canteen cup, but sometimes it just isn't suited to he task at hand. Now, of course, you're asking yourselves, why have such a big kit? Well, one of the thing I've been thinking about more and more is the idea of 'strays'. People who, while good, didn't prepare. Now, some of you are probably thinking to yourselves 'Fuck 'em, and everyone who looks like 'em'. I say you're dead wrong. Are you gonna turn away some kid? Friends? Family members? Might as well build some give into your preparedness plans for unexpected, because you never know who's going to show up. That's another post, of course, but it's still one of those things I feel everyone should prepare for. Well, unless you're some variety of hermetic, friendless orphan born of orphans.

Not that I hold that against you.