Confession: I'm a hoarder, always have been. Back when I was a toddler, it was stuffed animals. As a teen, I moved on to video games (including, at that time, all five editions of Mario Kart). Now it's outdoor gear. All my collecting has shamefully exhausted my wife's near boundless patience, forcing her to enforce a one-in, one-out rule. (It just isn't fair!) Lately, though, I've begun reforming my pack-rat ways. Part of the reason I accumulated so much stuff is that I couldn't bear to wear anything out—afraid that it would lose that new-car smell, so to speak. Stains or scratches destroyed the excitement. But since joining the Outside team a few years ago, I've come to realize that this perspective, while acceptable when it comes to Beanie Babies, is the wrong way to think about the tools and toys of adventure. If you're not beating the crap out of your trail runners or waterproof jacket, you're missing the point. The purpose of gear is to get you out there–in the wild and, yes, dirty places. Experiences are what count, not the stuff.

Obsessed with Gear?

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