In honor of the reopening of our Used Gear site, we got to thinking about some of the gear we have been privileged to help add some extra life and time on the trail. While it can be exciting to purchase the latest and greatest gear, there is something about holding a piece of equipment that has journeyed beyond your experience, and then to make it part of your own story in the outdoors.
In that spirit we ask: what is a piece of gear or apparel that was handed down to you or that you have handed down to another? Does it have a story? Why is it meaningful to you?
Bonus points for photos!
For me, it is this vintage FRITSCH & Co ice axe given to me by a dear friend, Jim. He passed away a few years ago, but I will never forget the amazing conversations we had about his travels and adventures in the mountains. His eyes lit up when he talked about his time spent climbing and skiing in the cascade mountains of Washington. He spoke about this ice axe with the familiarity of an old friend. I often ponder if this axe was ordered for REI by our founder, Lloyd Anderson in a letter similar to this one. It would certainly be a striking coincidence! I was shocked and humbled when he gifted it to me. While it is more sentimental than practical at this point, every time I look at it I am reminded of how inspirational a life lived outdoors can be. It is a piece of gear I will treasure always, and someday I will pass it on to someone else who will be inspired by its stories.
I know we've got some used gear aficionados out there (@Rob6 and @TomIrvine I'm looking at you!). I also seem to recall a certain backpack that was given to @bryndsharp that has an awesome backstory. We'd love to hear about it!
Swiss Army Knife. Like your ice axe, made in Switzerland to last a lifetime (or more.)
I used to take this with me everywhere but in the past couple of decades I've had to be very careful where I take it and where I pack it lest it get captured by the airport security net.
@Wanderer Thanks for sharing!
I have a knife that I purchased that I am looking forward to handing down to one of my kids one day. It's gotten me out of a lot of jams!
I can't say that I have much outdoor gear that was handed down to me. As I mentioned in a previous thread, when I was a kid, there wasn't much "gear" involved in my outdoor activities. I do have a sleeping bag suitable for car camping and a filet knife, both of which I inherited from my grandfather.
However, a few pieces that I have handed down to my kids, and that have great sentimental value, are a day pack and some insulated jackets that my mom sewed from Frostline kits in the '70's. For those unfamiliar, Frostline was an outdoor gear company that sold their products in DIY kit form; fabric, packages of down, a pattern, and other sundries (buttons, zippers, etc) and you sewed it yourself. This also allowed for customization. My mom is an avid hobbyist seamstress, so that served a couple purposes. She indulged in her hobby, and we had warm jackets. Jackets which I have outgrown, and so have gifted them to my kids.
@REI-JohnJ thanks for tagging me in this! And I love the story you shared with us about the ice ax. And would you just look at its beauty! It's hard to find axes like that anymore.
Now, for a piece of gear that was handed down to me:
As you mentioned, a backpack. Both my mother and father are huge outdoors people, something that they have passed down to me. While he was in college, my father went on an exchange program to Germany, and he bought this backpack for his travels throughout Germany and Europe. He was there while the Berlin wall was still in use, and this backpack (and he) had countless adventures as a result of the social and political stress that was occurring while he was traveling.
Three years ago, my father handed this nearly 40-year-old Lowe backpack down to me for my own exchange student experience in Chile. It was my best companion on all of my travels and adventures in South America, and has continued to stand by me back in the U.S. Although I have a "newer" backpack as well, I tend to gravitate towards the "old timer" backpack (as I'm going to call it), because every time I have it with me on the trail, it's as if my father is there with me.
Thank you for sharing, what an incredible legacy you have from your dad and a cool way to include him on your adventures!