Pushing your comfort zone in outdoor equipment
Posted on June 16 2018
Pushing your comfort zone can be liberating, allowing us to handle life better, as we discussed last time. However, in outdoor, there’s another great potential application for the fraise. That’s in the clothing and footwear you use.
I started, like most, with budget kit. We are going back 30 years now, and kit has changed dramatically since then! Back in the day, it was mostly army surplace stuff and some naff copies of military gear. When I started to get better kit, it was a revelation. The three outstanding things, that really extended my comfort zone, where my Thermarest mat, my first set of Scarpa boots and my first Paramo, (two of which, the thermarests and the Paramo I still own and use).
Having used military grade carry mats to sleep on for years, I had the opportunity to borrow a friends Thermarest. I had used a cheep self-inflating mat, but it went down and was heavy. The first night, I could not believe the difference. Warm and supportive. A great night’s sleep, so essential. I saved up my pennies and got one. That was over 20 years ago. I used the same mat this year for car camping. I have a lighter Thermarest Neo air for my backpacking. Still covered by the guarantee to!
Having used surplice and cheaper boots my first Scarpa’s really showed me what you are paying for with good boots. People get confused by fashion, thinking they are paying for the brand tag. In good outdoor, you are paying for the construction the badge stands for, not a fashion statement. They are long worn out now but they showed me the difference the right boot can make to walking. It was like stepping into a different world, where paths did not shred me feet and rock was not to be feared.
Before my first Paramo, I had owned, what I thought to be fairly reasonable jackets. A Lowe Apline Triple Point Ceramic no less. However, I though breathability was this mystic thing and you would get damp whatever the weather. Then, in 2001, as a graduation present to myself, I got a Paramo Aspira jacket. Wow, just wow. The difference was unbelievable. I was dry. It was a jacket I wanted to ware, not had to. Comfortable, low noise and above all not sweaty on a dry day! Its been washed and re-proofed countless time and it still works. In fact, I used it in March on our Cairngorm trip, which had some hard winter conditions (see the above picture). I now own a fair amount of Paramo, for different seasons and sports. But 17 years later, I am still using my first. Which is amazing, especially given our present disposable culture. (I could even get £50 off a new Paramo by trading it in for recycling, but I would happily pay £50 to keep it)!
So good gear, extends your comfort zone, and hence pushes it! Its also an investment. Cheep kit tends to give you a poor experience and breaks quickly. Quality kit does its job and lasts to give it true value. Good outdoor kit should be used and not noticed. You should be pushing your mental limits with your activity, not you comfort limits with naff kit.