Are you addicted to gear? I’m forming a support group. Read on…
Roughly a year into studying survival something occurred to me: I buy too much gear. The realization hit me after taking a few classes that taught survival skills. The lesson learned was that the more skills I acquired, the less gear I needed.
I was speaking with some friends recently about cameras–it’s an analogy a lot of us can relate to. Cameras have gotten pretty amazing these days. They can compensate for a lot of situations that would have ended in bad photos just a decade ago. However, the average person can pickup the best camera on the market today and they will still only capture an average picture. It may be exposed perfectly, but it’s still just going to be an average photo no one cares about but you and a couple of friends.
Mean while, a photographer with skill and understanding can take the worse camera on the market today and still take amazing photos. There’s even been entire music videos shot on an iPhone–just to give the concept some more credence.
When we buy gear we are essentially trying to make up for a skill deficiency. As modern consumers we’ve come to think that we can buy our way out of anything–almost. We place an emphasis on a gadget to fix something in our lives.
What gear is supposed to do is extend a skill or make something normally not possible, possible. It’s not a replacement for skill. You can have the greatest survival knife in the world, but if you don’t have the skill to use it, you might as well have bought a butter knife.
The other issue is: stuff breaks, gets lost, or otherwise fails.
Skills, on the other hand, give you the tools to make tools or use the tools you have more effectively. They also give you perspectives on problems allowing you to more efficiently navigate them.
Survival gear has it’s place. As I said before it can make the impossible possible. It can allow you to do tasks more efficiently. Skill, however, make the tool useful to begin with.
Strengthening your survival skills also lends itself to creative problem solving. If you understand the skill or even have a mastery of it, you can improvise in situations where task specific gear is not readily available.
I’m reminded of College English classes. Professors would often say, “You can’t break the rule till you understand the rule.” Understanding the rule is the skill. Breaking the rule is knowing the skill so well that you see the exceptions and ways around it. Thus allowing you to produce an outcome someone without the skill could not.
I admit gear is fun. It’s fun to talk about, read about, and write about. But the next time you’re trying to think of what cool piece of survival gear to buy next, stop and consider investing that time and energy into acquiring a skill instead. It could be the thing that saves your life!