Saturday, December 10, 2011

facing the gear shed

I'm willing to bet most of you have one too...a closet, a garage, or a shed stuffed with outdoor gear, one third of which you used to use, one third of which you never use and one third that you actually do use. Because I live in the House of No Closets, my outdoor gear lives in a small shed along with the lawnmower and paint. I admit it: over time and due to last minute trips (the contractor calls and needs help finding a trail, like tomorrow) the shed has become a black hole from which you may never emerge.

It was fairly warm yesterday and I finally felt ready to tackle the Shed of Despair. Let me say this: I did a huge purge before I moved here so I really don't have that much stuff. But it had become a miasma of seething gear that needed to be dealt with.

I approached with trepidation. There were numerous milk crates that I had (ahem) liberated years and decades ago from XXX business on Mackinac Island, full of mysterious rope, parts of first aid kits, sporks and the like. There were Rubbermaid containers of the same. It was a big, huge mess.

Once I started sorting, though, it became enjoyable. Here was a linear history of gear development! Here were the older thermarests, first generation, fluffy and heavy, and in another historical layer, the incredibly lightweight NeoAir. Tents in various mutations from an early North Face lightweight prototype to a two pound Big Agnes. Running fanny packs from the bulky back sloshers to the Nathan one I love without reservation. It was a gear archeological dig!

I found incredible gems. My silk sleeping bag liner, long since thought lost. A pair of sweet pink flip flops. A UDig it and a candle lantern that I had resentfully thought that the ex harbored. A collapsible bucket. It was like shopping without spending money.

Now my shed is a thing of beauty. All the backpacking items, in one Rubbermaid. Minus the thermarests, in their own box, and the tents, in theirs. Stuff tossed that I no longer use or cannot identify. The one item I wavered over was my first adult tent. A North Face tadpole, all mesh. I bought this tent about 1990 and it accompanied me on many Sierra trips. I hauled it out three years ago without setting it up, only to arrive at the lake to find it was missing (broken?) its front pole. Disaster. My boyfriend at the time sighed. This was only another omission in a long line of camping disasters, including forgetting a camping stove. We broke up soon after. Coincedence?

I threw the tent in the garbage but later fished it out. It's still a good tent. I can maybe get a pole from North Face. I couldn't bear the thought of it going into the landfill.

I'm ready for another season. We'll see how long this organization lasts. For now I love creeping up to the shed and flinging open the door to gaze fondly on the clear floor and the stacked Rubbermaids. Order is a wonderful thing.


  1. My parents have a shed like yours. When I was in school and asked for something, they said to shop "House of Mom" before hitting the store. They usually have what I need. My dad's specialty is in providing tools. The man has sooooo much, it's a shame we don't live closer and I can borrow them all!

    PS- Like your tent, I haven't been able to get rid of my first adult bike (that I bought myself) for sentimental reasons.

  2. Wanna come over now and organize my stuff ;-) I've been procrastinating hoping all my camping equipment will magically arrange itself but no such luck. Maybe after Christmas, no wait, after New Year, or...

  3. Just wanted to drop a note that anyone looking for a great place to donate gear you don't need anymore - please consider the Buffalo Field Campaign in Yellowstone.


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