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Essential Gear for Living a Life Worth Living

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I LOVE GEAR! I love hobbies that involve gear, gear and books. For me, cool toys are  part of living a life worth living. Gear is required for adventure and exploration. With that in mind, if you read my initial post you’ll know that I barely have two coins to rub together. Both my wife and I live frugally and have jobs with very high emotional rewards, but relatively low financial ones. I am a teacher, and she is a social worker. We help people for a living. We make the world a better place  with our work, and that is unlikely to change. Still though, I REALLY like gear. This means I need to either save up to get the things I want, or want things that are comparatively inexpensive. Other posts will cover how to get your finances into a healthy place, but for now lets talk toys.

I’ve split my life into a couple of different areas I’ve targeted for self improvement. I need to be in better physical condition. My finances need to be as healthy as my body. I need to be in a better mental place, and I need to have a more positive outlook on life. All of these goals revolve around my ability to have adventures. My main goal is to do things, exciting things, things worth writing about. I want to walk the paths men seldom tread. I want my kids to tell their friends stories when they’ve left home. Stories of amazing adventures that they think are just “what people do”. These concepts of adventure, of exploration, and excitement are the purpose of my personal journey. Without the adventure, no one will be interested in the story. Without the Adventure, it is impossible to Live a Life Worth Living.

Gear for Self-Improvement: Brain Health.

 

For me this section has to start and end with books. I am a huge reading nut. Prior to the days of kindle, if I went somewhere for a weekend I used to have to take a minimum of 5 books. There are hundreds of books that I have, need, and want, but for our purposes I’ll limit the sections to 5 because that’s what I’d take with me for a weekend away..

Level Up Your Life, by Steve Kamb

This is the cornerstone book. This book was the inspiration to kick my journey up a notch and focus on adventure. In it Steve talks about Nerd Fitness, and how by gamifying your life you can find success. Like most other self-improvement books the main focus here is setting goals, and working towards them. The difference is the author’s approach to doing so. I am an unrepentant and life long geek, I will always play D&D, read Fantasy Novels, and dress up in foolish costumes and pretend to be a viking. Playing video games is fun, I’ll always do that too. I am not ashamed of my life, but I do think I can improve. Steve speaks my language, and likely speaks yours as well.

Ranger’s Apprentice Book Series, by John Flanagan

This is entertainment pure and simple. I don’t have a ton of time to read fiction these days, but when I do it needs to be good, and easy to read. This series is both while also being amazingly entertaining. I love narrative structure, the hero’s journey, and (almost) anything Medieval Fantasy. The story here is an excellent example of all of these things, and can either be consumed in large chunks or small. Definitely my first choice for fiction at the moment.

Living The Martial Way, by Forrest E. Morgan

This is a book about philosophy, sort of. It is a manual about how warriors think, behave, and live their lives. Being a warrior is part of what makes me get up in the morning. I like fighting the good fight, like being the hero in my own story, and I like protecting and supporting others. This book has some mental tools, that helped me gain perspective on the world around me, and help me along my mental/emotional journey to warriorhood. It is particularly helpful if you are actively studying martial arts, as it goes into some of the philosophy of the warrior mind.

All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition, by Mel Bartholomew

This book goes into great detail about the most efficient method of gardening yet discovered. Though I grew up in farm country, and my dad tried to educate me in the finer points of growing things, I never had any interest. It seemed like a lot of work for minimal payoff, and I didn’t enjoy crawling around in the dirt, on my knees pulling weeds in the hot sun for hours at a time. When I read Mel’s book and started learning to garden this way, my life changed. It is by no means an end all, be all guide. It covers the basics. The rest you’ll need to learn by trial and error, but the easiest way to begin living a self sufficient, self sustaining lifestyle no matter where you happen to be located starts here.

Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training: 4th Edition, by Thomas Kurz

Regardless of the amount, frequency, difficulty, or method of exercise you partake in you will never have functional fitness without flexibility. This book discusses flexibility in a whole different manner. Prior to reading it, I really had no concept of how to train for flexibility. The author goes over the science behind how to gain flexibility in a healthy, low impact way. This book is absolutely mandatory for anyone interested in martial arts training. It is certainly “text book” style, meaning dry, but is quick and easy to add to you strength training workouts.

Gear For Life: Every Day Carry.

 

Most of us go through life in a bit of a haze. We go from home to work, and back again 5 days (or more) per week. We do something on the weekends that takes us away from our homes for most of the time, and we leave the house for all manner of things. This is a good thing. Getting out and doing stuff is what Living a Life Worth Living is all about after all. That said, what do we do when some kind of bump in the road hits us when we are away from home? What do we have on us at all times to help us problem solve? How do we get from here to there secure in the fact that if everything stopped working we could get back home?

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a “prepper”.  I don’t think the world is going to end next week. I do think that throughout the course of any given human life there will be a handful of times when your level of preparedness can make a difference. Below is my list of stuff I always have with me.

Leatherman Multi-Tool

This is the single greatest invention for personal preparedness in the history of the world. I don’t know how many times this little beauty, or one of its many relations has saved my bacon. As my life has changed, so has my multi-tool. They are sort of specialized so, take your time picking one out. Think about what you do, or could do at some point in your day, and make certain your multi-tool has a tool to aid you.

GoRuck GR1 Backpack –

A good backpack will take you further than any other single piece of equipment. It holds most of your EDC stuff, and can be quickly re purposed to serve you in just about any circumstance. Unfortunately they don’t make backpacks like mine anymore. Well, technically they still make the Maxpedition Rucksack (Tiburon is the closest to my particular model), but I can’t speak to it’s quality.

I got my pack over 10 years ago, and since then Maxpedition has gone from a Niche, high quality product to something that gets sold at Walmart. I have no idea how this has effected the quality of their non Walmart line, but I don’t really trust it. That said, if the good folks at Maxpedition read this, and want to send me one I’ll try it out, grey please.

Fear not, fair reader, as I would never “leave you hangin”. The pack linked above is absolutely the pack I would buy if I bought a pack. I do not own it. That said, my personal gearu (Gear Guru – see what I did there) recommends this bag, and his word on gear is absolutely gospel. If my Max died tomorrow, I would bury it with honor and sell my blood in order to get his bag.

I will sum up.

What you should put in the backpack, as well as what else you need for EDC (Every Day Carry) is exceptionally personal. I will have additional advice on what to bring with you, when in later posts, but for now you have the basics. Think about your life, your commute, your travel, and what could go wrong. View it as a problem, and solve for success.  Even the exercise of considering the potential challenges that could crop up can be helpful (don’t OVER think it though). Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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