This will keep me safe

March 22, 2019

I’ve just finished watching another video about this awesome new gadget that has the promise of making my trips easier, and safer. Every Outside magazine, Paddler, or Bicycle issue endlessly promotes new gadgets. Have you noticed the same thing?


Sea kayakers are among the most gear oriented people I know. I touched on this topic in Don’t Pack Your Fears. We are always coveting new stuff, stuff that is supposed to make us safer.







A piece of gear I bought recently, guilty.



I’m sitting at breakfast talking about this with Rob and we both have exactly the same thought: it’s training that makes us safer, not gear. You know where we learned this? Among other life lessons, white water safety and rescue class. We read the manual, built our pin kits, and then showed up in class in our rescue vests.


Holy cow, there’s some problem solving there. How the heck do three smallish peeps haul a sunken canoe off the bottom of a creek? That pinned boat has 3500 pounds of water in it. Between the three of us I doubt we weigh in at 500 pounds. Without training the chances of us muddling our way through that unpinning goes way way down.


Ah, this is why I paddled past a sunken canoe the other day with not a soul in sight, right?


If a pile of gear makes us safe, all we have to do is fill our boats with stuff and not bother training? I believe, truly, this idea is a common cognitive pitfall.


In reference to the above example, the rescue line cutter: How useful is it really if I don’t take it out and use it in some scenarios? Or at least whip it out and cut some boats out of their bubble wrap? I have a rescue knife on my vest I’ve never used in a rescue. I suppose this is a good thing to have never needed it, but it’s a piece of gear that maybe I don’t need to carry, expense I didn’t need to incur?


Food for thought, my friends. Just food for thought.


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