When you sit idly by
It should count against no one who yearns for adventure, when searching for the tools they'll bring with them, mistakes will happen. Being Left to one's own resourcefulness in any environment, is the essence of an adventure. Out-clevering a challenge, will inevitably come back to the tools you have, and those you bring. If you have the sweetest tool, but left it on your dresser, it may require more ingenuity, improvisation, or sadly more suffering. Bringing the wrong tool for the job can end the outing, mid-trip. We have all sorts of "recommendations" which betray the very essence of the utility we seek. Taking advice is tough, because when it comes to the great outdoors, there is a sliding scale; from persons who never check in, to those on the couch flicking the wire control valve of an MSR Iso stove, with no actual plans to use it outside -- Some will troll 300 blogs daily in hopes of gaining standing amongst the elite moderators, although they've never handled the gear. Wherever your virtual adventure takes you, when you do get someplace, it'll be best to have planned well. Let's be honest for a moment with ourselves and look through the top-down photo of anyone's "Gear list" and consider for a moment the Subjective nature of just such endeavor. What is good for one person, may be a burden to another... Some guy on the south island of New Zealand is heading to Rotorua, and splays everything on his bed to show you what he's packing, while another woman is packing for a trip to Namibia, and she sets each item from her pack on the floor to show you the essentials in her kit. What nets out amongst the spectrum, Truly... Is that one in six "Gear Lists", may not be heading anyplace at all. You know the guy, you have met her; She buys the Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser 4-door from an overseas broker, just to slight her ex-boyfriend who had a poster of it in his Adobe Home, before dumping her for being fake. That chick is not going anyplace, but she will chime in on the forum, under a Dude Psudonym, and berate the size and usefulness of your "Pocket-knife". Beware!
My sense is that the internet has a huge credibility issue, and the earnest adventure-bound cannot afford to allow the couch surfing trust-fund blue-blood to edge out perfectly useful tool advice, by an internet slight of hand. Influencers are typically: Hot, Made-up, and Full of shit.
Crap Man!!, If I'd followed the hype, I may never eat, except at a chain restaurant who pays to land in your search box. Have you read who is on Yelp? We all have a precious opinion, but most wont amount to shit when you need to cut your pinched arm loose from a rock. Sound extreme? Broad reach?, Perhaps, but if you are alone, or worse, you are with a few green-horns, then you have the added responsibility to keep them happy too. Don't bring cheap shit with you, and don't buy cheap shit, and your life will be longer and more fulfilling.
You know the TV show where the guy purports to be his one and only camera crew and then ventures into the tundra with a bag of Seal meat, and a Multi-tool? Well there is also another "Choose your own adventure" series a' la Wild Krats where our hero takes you to remote places but you know in your heart that his crew-van is 20ft. off-camera preparing him a barbeque lunch, just as he pretends to eat Bear poop to survive. This said, can we please agree that there is in fact a sliding scale of adventurers, from those who talk about it, all the way up to those who don't take the time to share, because they are "doing" something constantly. Yes? So anyway when you see a review in Esquire about cool adventure gear, and the latest pay to play North Face fashion, you may make time to tune out, and to hit a real reference library, before you push a pile of money across the table. It's OK if you bought a Panerai, or Bell and Ross, because you'd envisioned your next trip to 4 star hotels in Thailand to be "rugged". It may come as no surprise that Pilots don't actually check their Breitling at odd moments when they are turning-blue, and grabbing for the O2 Tank. So dig it, are we all levelled off now?. Someplace out there is a 16 year native kid who can smoke you on any mountain course, with gear a dime-to-dollar below what you so fashionably sport. Lets begin here. Edmund Hillary and Chouinard did it in wool sweaters, and cotton because that's what they had. Right?
So pick-out your own flipping multi-tool, and wear your 21-jewel watch, when you flip it open, to cork a bottle of Bordeaux... but don't whine when you are actually ill-equipped to enjoy and finish a trip. You can thank Men's Journal, and your myopia, when you need to phone a friend for an ex-fill, half way into a cool adventure. For the rest of us, let's talk tech. The multi-tool, what is it? I want to believe that Gerber, Leatherman, Sog, and Victorinox, all have people in the field giving them feedback, but that's not true for most brands. What is true is that the net material cost of "X", with the Marketing Cost of "Y", measured against the Sales Team's forecast for sell-through and returns numbers from the largest retailers, will net out the product that is built just for you. Getting the right tool is simple. Hold it, try a few, and ask some people who actually use them. What they carry daily, is likely functional.
Mine comes from Victrorinox, and I have literally kept one on my belt for two decades. For me, it works everywhere. For you, there is a tool perhaps like mine, and your use will vary, so will the brand. For me, there is no other tool. I have read about and held others. I have taken two or three into various places, and have yet to find a place where I'd wished that the manufacturer (I've chosen) had only been more thoughtful. I have filed screw heads flat to remove with the pliers, cut sections from a pole, stake, or metal post to create a make-shift part. I have cut through fences, Opened Walls, and Trimmed Copper Pipe. I have sawed lumber, splints, branches, and cut and fileted fish, beef, bison, elk, my own muscle, and changed the oil and plug on a vintage Vespa. My tool has built shelters, pruned Fruit trees, and re-tuned carbs and camp stoves. I have re-wired a small electric grid, cut my hair, nails, and diced garlic. We all mend sails, and splice line with our Multi-tool, right? There is a myriad more means to prove their salt, but we don't brag. It's just that you only have this one tool with you, and so you "make do". When you buy yours, you should consider the mechanics in your hand, the pivots, and hinges and how they will behave when strained, wet, salty, and clogged with sand. You need to know that when you open the blade, pliers, of file, that the mech wont break your last remaining thumb-nail just to get the awl out to sew your tire closed.
When you pick out your multi-tool, you should look around and listen to what others have to say about theirs, and remember what your multi-tool is for, and what it is not. It is not an Axe, and will never be one, so don't buy one with an axe handle, or hammer built in. Your multi-tool is not a Spoon, Spork, or spatula, although you could probably coax some food from a pan or fire with it. Your multi-tool is not a flint, compass, nor Time-piece, and it probably wont have 64 Gig of memory in the handle. Your Multitool is your best friend when you have it at the moment that it is useful. If you select well, your Multi-tool may save your life. When you find the right one for you, you will know it. Once you have one which works for you, you can go and buy all the things that your multi-tool is NOT, including an Axe, a Spoon, a Compass, and even that watch you think you need. What's funny about the watch thing, is that you will know your pace, Lunch-time, bed-time, and when you are tired, without the Rolex, or the knock-off crappy multi-tool. If you bother to adventure someplace, with a clever tool, (even if it's your friend's house, where they don't have a screwdriver or pliers), you can whip out your thing, and make it happen. l I can't endorse all models, and brands, and wont tell you that you will find my favorite tool as useful, as I do -- But I can say that you will not be disappointed with the dynamic duo or the Victorinox Spirit, in any version paired with the Gransfors Bruks, Belt axe. You can literally carry each on either side of your belt, and forget they are there. Both are perfect tools for me. You can get the Axe from WesSpur, and the Multi-tool from Victorinox
Leave a Reply.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.