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The Test of Time


Aaron Zagrodnick
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Aaron Zagrodnick

What's the oldest gear item on your hiking / backpacking list that still gets used with some regularity?

For me, it's a plastic Scout compass that's probably about 25 years old. The leather lanyard it used to have back in the day has self destructed over time and it of course looks its age but does the job. I have a box somewhere with perhaps even older items...mostly made of canvas and steel most likely but they're pretty out of date, so I consider those items retired.

What type of gear are you still using that has stood the test of time? Although gear discussion often revolves around new stuff, thought it might be interesting to hear about some of those items that don't wear out / get replaced / upgraded / etc. over the years.

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My 15 year old balaclava. Wear it in all four seasons.

It is versatile, warm and light.

I have used the same med-heavy weight polypro balaclava for years. It is the only hat I take for three season outdoor use. Since I’ve switched to a quilt as my mainstay for three-season and shoulder season backpacking, the balaclava has helped quite a bit with the sleeping system. The balaclava helps keep the heat in a bit as I strategically move the quilt over my head as I settle in for the night.

I paid less than $10 for it at Sierra Trading Post. Great investment!

<---- Look to the left. I am using it as scarf one -5F day!

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Our home brewed water bag made from a box wine bladder. We made it sometime in the mid 80's. About 5L capacity when full which allows filling for evening dinner and the subsequent breakfast.

17255791782_01ab7c4298_b.jpg

Everything else in the "kit" has been rolled over since then, some things multiple times.

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What's the oldest gear item on your hiking / backpacking list that still gets used with some regularity?

For me, it's a plastic Scout compass that's probably about 25 years old. The leather lanyard it used to have back in the day has self destructed over time and it of course looks its age but does the job. I have a box somewhere with perhaps even older items...mostly made of canvas and steel most likely but they're pretty out of date, so I consider those items retired.

What type of gear are you still using that has stood the test of time? Although gear discussion often revolves around new stuff, thought it might be interesting to hear about some of those items that don't wear out / get replaced / upgraded / etc. over the years.

Funny, I hadn't really thought about it before, but just about everything I use is probably less than 10 years old. That means I (like many others I would guess) have been upgrading clothing and equipment with regularity for years.

The only thing I can think of over 15 years old would be my sunglasses. They never go out of style and still do the job just fine.

Gary M

Olathe, Kansas

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With all the high tech electronics, modern fabrics, and super lightweight equipment, it's no wonder that almost all of our gear is new. Anything 7 to 10 years old seems ancient and hopelessly outdated.

So if you are using older gear, it's probably really good gear or has sentimental value. Just like my sunglasses!

Gary M

Olathe, Kansas

Edited by Gary M
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Aaron Zagrodnick

Wish I had your luck Gary, sunglasses always seem to be the first thing I break or lose!

15 years on a $10 balaclava and ~30 years on a repurposed box wine water bag...definitely impressive.

Other than my item most everything else I use is around 5 years old or newer, but I can see a few of the older items going another 5 years or more fairly easily...hat, down jacket, etc.

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Two items

1) MSR Whisperlite for group use

2) Outdoor Research Kitchen kit. The two person size which I bought at Campmor and now user it as my organization bag for everything small. I really like having every small item in one spot. The only original items from the kit are the tiny plastic storage vials which has ibuprofen, soap and a few waterproof matches.

Edited by rasty
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I brag about my 4-yr old NeoAir and 6-yr old folding bowl. Guess the only old gear I still use is a TNF Blue Kazoo down bag circa 1996. It's in great shape but only gets packed when I expect temps below freezing.

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  • 1 month later...
Sarah Jerky Cara Fleshman

While these weren't always mine, my first hiking experiences were in a pair of aviat horseback riding boots that were atleast 10 yrs old before I picked them up. These suckers were beast and never let me down!

I believe I ended up putting a good 300 miles into these boots when they already seen a lot of days horseback riding and mucking stalls. They would get wet and than dry quickly because of their little vent system on the bottom of the shoe.

i only lost them when I say them near a fire pit to dry quicker and they basically melted/caught on fire along with our socks. I am just lucky to be one of the few people that have tough feet and made it home 10-12 miles with $2 flip flops.

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Off the top of my head, it's not so much the 11 yrs that I've owned a Snow Peak Ti Mini Solo kit it's the number of meals I've cooked in the 28 fl oz(828 ml) pot and number of trail miles I've had it in my backpack. The pot and lid has been with me in the U.S. on backpacking adventures 25+k trail miles(yup, easy to calculate since the majority of those miles are thru-hikes of named trails with known mileage) and 100-220 bag nights/yr cooking dinner in it 95% of those nights and b'fast(mostly winter these days) an estimated 60% of those mornings. Has one small dent in it and a few light scratches. No other problems.

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