Well, a philosophy or something like that.
In my last post I spoke about my plans to go walking for a few days these holidays and alluded to the fact that it has been a while since I did much in the way of overnight walking. There was a time when every weekend was an orgy of bushwalking, caving, rock-climbing and canyoning. When I loaded up my pack with food and whatever equipment was needed for my particular task.
In fact (for those librarians reading this) Snail and I were chatting online about canyoning years before we met as librarians.
But that is taking us away from my unifly theory of jingly jangly. My theory, theory the first by me Anne Elk...
You can tell a lot about someone by the equipment they use in their outdoor pursuit.
Perhaps this is true in other areas of life, do we assess other librarians by their use of open source software (for example).
But outdoors it is so much more noticeable.
I first became aware of this fact as a teenager wandering through Bluegum Forest with friends. I carried my mother's old Karrimor pack (a gift from her father in 1979, I believe) and wore a pair of KT 26 (the high top hiking style they made briefly). All my gear (and the gear of my friends) was old, beaten up and cheep. Our raincoats were $2 ponchos and any gear we couldn't borrow had been bought from disposal stores. We cooked over hexie stoves in aluminium dixies, we drank out of army canteens.
I loved it out in the bush, but I did start to notice that there were increasing numbers of people out there who had different equipment to us. Their packs were in wonderful pastel colours (well, it was the 80s). Their raincoats had hoods and zips, their boots (oh how I coveted their boots) were leather and had fancy Italian names written on them.
Still, as we moved into our final years of high school we were still happy with our clapped out gear. We had begun caving and rock climbing by this stage. We had taught ourselves from books and trialled our skills by buying ourselves some rope, some carabiners and some 2 inch webbing to tie into harnesses. When caving we wore old overalls, bought for the most part from op-shops and wore hardhats scavenged from building sites.
Then we hit Uni, we began to join the Spelio society trips, we met the people who owned more gear than we could imagine. Their overalls were waterproof (rather than water absorbent) but the cavers were a practical bunch. Their fancy gear was well used, I looked at rappel racks where 50% of the aluminium had been worn away by the constant passage of a rope covered in rough cave mud.
It was the rock climbers who put the icing on my cake of jingly jangly theory. They walked around in fancy French harnesses, wearing fitted climbing slippers. They had huge quantities of ironmongery attached to their gear loops. And, their gear was new, oh so new. Always new, always shiny, always expensive.
So, it turns out I have no real theory. Just vague observations and lots of recollections of the purity of being outdoors with the bare minimum of gear needed to do the job. With luck I can instil the idea into my kids that there is something fantastic in spending a few days with just the gear on your back. With not carrying anything unnecessary, with not buying a $230 bedroll, when a $20 will work.
So, perhaps I do have a theory.
My theory is that, people who have all the latest new gear are not my kind of people. I like the latest new gear, but as I sat last night putting seam seal over tears in my rucksack (a nice pastel blue and pink one, just like the ones I coveted in the 80s and eventually bought) I realised, I like new gear for what it will one day become and for the memories I will one day have as I sit replacing buckles, repairing holes and working out if it will survive one more trip before I need to replace it.
When you have noting but new gear, you have missed out on something and (sadly) are probably unaware off what you have missed out on and of why that group of 14 year olds camping under a tarp held together with duct tape are having much more fun than you are.
(oh, and jingly jangly became our name for gear, because of the jingly jangly noise our climbing gear made as it banged together when we walked)