Author: Robbie Priestley
You will likely collect a large amount of gear if you're seriously into the outdoors. You will probably stash it at home in a closet, basement or garage. If you're really serious like me, maybe collecting all the right gear will become borderline obsessive. You’ll read the reviews, magazines and all the latest blogs. You need to have the best you can afford – which sometimes isn’t cheap – but you’ll find a way.
I decided to get a job in the outdoor industry. Seven years have gone by and one day I realized that I have twenty backpacks; one for every occasion. First world problems, for sure, but my gear is not just for show. It's a demanding lifestyle and when you actually use the gear you learn what you like. You like the best.
So, what about the best of the best? That one piece of gear you consider to be your prize piece.
It’s always a little hard to decide which piece takes the prize. It could be the carbon fiber DPS Wailer skis that just float so damn awesome in the chest-deep Japanese powder. Perhaps it’s your solid little MSR WhisperLite stove that always sputters and roars to life even though it may be -10 °C on the windy glacier you’ve camped out on. Or maybe it’s the #1 BD Camalot you slammed into the last good placement, reminding you that running it out to the anchor chains isn't such a gut-wrenchingly good idea after all.
Time and time again, I come back to my Alpha SV jacket and can't avoid the fact that it's an icon. It's like a good friend you're always happy to see and have shared some of your best experiences with. When I pull it on it takes me back to that special moment when I rapped off a granite spire in a July thunder-blizzard or when it protected me from a torrential downpour in the deep backcountry as we pushed for base camp. It’s the piece I wore to summit my highest mountain peak ever and reminds me of how the sight of the glacier below literally took my breath away and left me gasping for air.
Your prize piece is the one you just can't live without. The one that says it all every time you use it. You'll know when you've found it.
Robbie Priestley is a climber, ski tourer, traveller and Software Developer Manager here at Arc'teryx.