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The 2014 Gear Post

For those of you who were linked here, or who are new to my blog this year, every year I write a gear post which contains every single item I travel with. Despite being minimal, the set of gear is fully functional, allowing me to be comfortable and productive everywhere from the tropical beaches of the Caribbean to the ski mountains of Tahoe.

This year I thought I'd start off by sharing some of the principles behind my gear selection. You can use these principles to guide your own gear search, or simply to evaluate whether my choices match your own needs.

The overriding priority in my search is functionality. I will always choose function over form, even if the difference in form is large and the difference in function is minor. I've simply found that my productivity is not improved when a device I use is prettier, and that my enjoyment of travel is not affected by the style of my clothing. This is why my clothes tend not to be from mainstream brands and why Apple products very rarely make it to my gear list.

Functionality may be my overriding priority, but size and weight are close. Unlike fashion, I have found that having a lighter pack allows me more flexibility and enjoyment. There's a huge difference between having to check in to a hotel to drop off luggage and being able to go straight from a train to a mountain to climb. I also really like stretching out layovers to be a half or full day instead of two hours, so having a light pack allows me to do whatever I want without having to find somewhere to leave my luggage.

Wear Wool

On Meditations

Choosing to wear wool has a multitude of benefits. From an environmental standpoint, it is far more sustainable for the earth. Wool is a plentiful resource that is extremely easy to produce. It is also much better for wearing for a number of reasons. It repels odor, dries fast, is warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. In addition, wool naturally has flame retardant properties, which means that it doesn’t have to get sprayed down with carcinogenic flame retardant petrochemicals.

When looking at using wool and other animal products, many people will cite the cruelty to animals that is usually practiced by multinational corporations like Cargill or Tyson. I completely agree that these practices are abhorrent and deserve no place in our society. Yet there are ways of farming that are humane for the animals, like letting them out to pasture, eating grass, and getting to be outside. And even when killing the animals, local farmers tend to make it as quick and painless as possible. Moving on from that, I feel like using wool is one of the easiest ways to produce quality materials. You basically can just shave off the wool of the sheep each spring. We get the wool to use for clothing, and they get to stay cool for the summer, while growing back their coat for the winter.

A number of problems are bypassed. No big machinery is needed for farming like you need with cotton. There is no threat of having to deal with GMO’s fibers that carry their own toxic load. Raising the sheep on pastures is renewable because their waste fertilizes the ground, and nature grows their food with ease. It also bypasses the whole synthetic clothing industry that is derived from petrochemicals. These products don’t usually last as long as natural ones, and are environmentally damaging to create, and have possible hazards of wearing them against your skin all day.

The natural properties of wool are so awesome, I don’t know why anybody would choose to wear anything else. You can wear wool clothing for up to two weeks in between washes and not have to worry about your clothing smelling bad. This reduces the amount the amount of time and money we spend washing our clothes, and increases the lifespan of the clothing item. The next benefit is that wool dries way faster than cotton does and works to repel water, instead of absorb it all in. This makes it really easy to air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer, and also means that if you get caught in the rain, it will take less time for your clothes to dry out. I can’t say I know how it does this, but wool keeps you warm in the winter, and relatively cool in the summer. Synthetic materials as well as cotton clothes don’t really do this.

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