“Umm, do you have some spare batteries? I need 4 AA for my water purifier.”
We had just reached our first campsite. My friend had unpacked his gear, and was about to go replenish his water bottle at a nearby stream. He had opened the packaging of his brand-new UV water purifier. Reading the directions, he’d learned that the device required batteries. Spare batteries that neither of us had in our packs.
“Wait a minute.”, he said, “I can use the ones from my flashlight.” With that, his momentary crisis was averted. But, as it turned out, he had the wrong size bottle for the device. For the rest of the trip, he had to make due with an ill fitting connection.
Having the Right Gear
Having the right gear is important. It makes life so much easier. It’s like a craftsman trying to build nice cabinetry with a limited set of tools. It can be done. But the finished product won’t be as nice and the journey to get there will be more difficult.
The same holds true for survival. The resourceful, creative, and adapting survivor can make do with what he has available. Those are good and important traits to be sure. Still, having the right gear to work with helps make the job much easier.
My friend could have adapted. He could have rationed his supply, boiled his water, or simply asked to borrow mine. But those would’ve been far less convenient on this three day backpacking trip. Fortunately, it worked out. He did not have to resort to that effort.
Know Your Gear
My friend had found himself in an unusual situation. He is typically much more prepared then he was for this trip. But pressures and busyness at home and work had robbed him of the chance to experiment with his new gear before the trip.
Fortunately that only cost him a bit of embarrassment and earned him a little good-natured ribbing from me.
But the lesson is clear and poignant: Know Your Gear.
Don’t get caught in a situation where you must depend on gear that you’ve never used.
Getting Familiar with Your Gear
So, how can you become more familiar with the gear that you’ve purchased? Actually, it’s easy. Use it.
Make the soap that you’ve read about and even bought the supplies to make, but just haven’t yet. Use the grain mill that you purchased last year but haven’t gotten out of the box. Make a fire in the backyard using only the ferro rod that you got for your birthday. As the Nike ads say “Just do it!”
Sounds simple, right. But in practice I know that it can be tough to do. How do you find the time to go camping or make pickles?
It’s tough. But if it’s truly important to you, you’ve got to find the time to experiment with your equipment. I’d much rather learn it’s quirks and intricacies now when my well-being isn’t dependent on it than in a time of crisis.
So, what are you waiting for?