If you’re reading this, you probably care more than the average bear about being prepared. I am a planner by nature, and would be lying if I said that I didn’t occasionally enjoy basking in the warm glow of success that only comes when you have the proper tool for the job on your person. However, as I thought about what piece of gear I couldn’t live without, my ego and rationalization quickly eliminated each item one by one. Was there anything that I really couldn’t live without?
Knife? I have a factory blemished Ken Onion Leek folding knife that I got for $25 dollars, and I treat it as well as anyone would treat their new folding Benchmade.
I carry an iPhone that is perennially a few models behind whatever is being advertised, so I usually keep a lighting cable and occasionally a spare battery around.
When it comes to watches, I wear a Seiko 5 that was given to me as a groomsman gift over 10 years ago. I have come to love it, finding beauty in its self-winding action and utilitarian simplicity.
I have a worn out trucker hat from my alma mater that keeps the hair out of my face, the sun out of my eyes, and acts as a makeshift tray in airport security lines and when I need to my empty pockets.
My keys hang from a piece of old leather attached to a sail hank. It dangles from a belt loop and is always tucked into my rear left pocket, which it usually shares with a folded up handkerchief that mostly splits time between mopping up spills and serving as a field expedient koozie. The right pocket holds a leather bi-fold wallet with only a few cards and a $20 bill for emergencies like parking lots or cash-only BBQ joints.
Each of these items were essential to my daily routine, however I could imagine myself living without any of them. Cellphone? I’ve traveled internationally without access to my cellphone for two weeks, and was actually pleasantly relieved from the stresses it brought. Watch? I have a simple Timex Ironman that’s lived in my gym bag for timed lifting sessions, long hikes, and training runs.
I found myself orienting each item in its correct pocket as I went through this checklist, the mental equivalent of the pat-down I do every day before I leave the house. That’s when it hit me. My go-to piece of gear is my system and my preparation.
I am attached to each piece of my gear in so much that I know it and love it, though each item is replaceable, and certainly upgradable. However, if I leave the house without part of the system, I feel incomplete and unprepared. All of us have been in a situation where we found ourselves reaching for that one item you always carry, only to realize it’s in your bag or your other pair of jeans. You’re reminded of it throughout the day, constantly reaching for it like some lesser phantom limb. However, you make do. You improvise, you figure it out, and you make a promise to not put yourself in a situation like that again.
I care about preparation and readiness in my mindset, fitness, and my gear, in that order. My mindset is supported by my physical readiness, which is supplemented by my gear, which in turn helps to free my mindset. In a way, it’s a sort of subconscious feedback loop. My gear is good enough to get me through whatever I face in life, whether it’s a day at the office, setting up a campsite, or helping a friend move. I can leave home any day without one of my items and know that I will be okay, because I trust my system and my mindset.
– Jon Richardson