Can you smell that? Yep, its Spring showers… and just around the corner are long Summer days filled with blue skies, gigantic white marshmallow clouds and really long daylight hours. All the more reason to stock up now with the latest recreational gear and gadgets.
A couple of years back, while I was living in Calgary Alberta Canada one of my favorite things to do in the city was going hiking along the Bow River or heading out West into Kananaskis Country to do some bouldering or mountain biking.
On most of my trips I was ill prepared with only a Nalgene bottle of water, a small first aid kit, a camera and some granola to snack on from time to time. After my sixth or ninth trip out, I knew I really needed to invest in a hydration system.
The following week, I went shopping at all the local outdoor shops for the perfect combination between versatile daypack and hydration system. During my shopping I stopped into Camper’s Village. Finding it to be good quality brands at an unbelievably high price. I ventured into everyone’s favourite local Canadian Tire shop but found it to be too general and way too much like Wal-Mart in the United States. Eventually, I stumbled upon an outdoor place called Mountain Equipment Coop, also known as MEC. As it turned out MEC is the mecca of outdoor gear in Canada. And had a similar feel to REI except without all the large name brand manufacturers.
They have everything an adventure seeking outdoors person could ever wish to have or want to purchase. MEC has books, trail guides, socks, hats, shoes, sandals, kayaks, skis, mountain bikes, parts, accessories, climbing bags, climbing gear, hydration bottles, ropes, knives, gps… and tents, bivys, nap sacks, hammocks, sunglasses, multi-tools, work stands, benches, canoes, dry bags, rental equipment, trail mix, food rations, cooking utensils and even more upstairs!
It was easy to see, MEC really did carry it ALL.
After a couple of trips back to MEC, to learn what they carried, I continued to try on various daypacks and read reviews on current hydration systems. Eventually, I settled on a lightweight, durable, dual pocket Black Diamond daypack and a 2-Liter CamelBak.
I gathered some other supplies on that first day including Cliff Bars, a foldable Gerber serrated knife, 7-feet of climbing rope, a couple carabiners, a mini first aid kit, sunglasses, sunscreen, Ben’s Mosquito repellent and a lightweight rain suit.
Less than a week later I went out to a local hiking hole to test out my new gear, find a half-day adventure and begin contemplating what gear I might need next? In the wake of the next 3-years, I accumulated enough gear from MEC to sustain myself for a full day hike in any terrain. Or so I thought, until we moved to Paju City in Gyeonggi Province about 45-minutes Northwest of Seoul, South Korea. This is when I learnt that not all gear is created equal. And sometimes what we have in North America does not suite your needs around the world. But will suffice in any environment as long as you stay true to your adventure seeking abilities and skills.
(c) 2010 JacksonCrabb Photography