Pro Tip: Focus on Using the Gear You Have Rather Than Buying More Gear You Want

Sooner or later, the batteries in your magic mirror die. That’s the morning you realize it’s not your father — or grandfather — staring back at you in that mirror. It’s you…just not the you you see. If there’s any doubt, your regular daily routine of medications, stretches, coffee, and essentials to get your motor started — much less running smoothly — should remove them.

Speaking of that coffee. It’s better these days black, absent cream, sugar or a set of barista ingredients that look more like a formula copied off the blackboard in Oppenheimer.

Later that morning, you’ll start looking at your “stuff” and realize that no amount of toys will change the fact you’re not a kid anymore.

Packing for a trip last week, I spent too much time looking at too much camera gear and debating what I really needed to take. For a real photo trip, I routinely hump a 40-pound backpack full of camera bodies, lenses, batteries and photo gear. Last week, I opted to go “light” with a 32-pound pack (I weighed it on the airline’s scale) that contained one small camera, three equally small lenses, two batteries a wi-fi card, iPad with keyboard, and 19 additional pounds of…something.

6.3 megs is plenty if photography is what you enjoy.

I didn’t take my smallest camera, just the smallest with interchangeable lenses. That’s one with a relatively small (by today’s standards) 16.3 megapixel APS-C sensor. And it was totally fine.

But that calls into question why multiple 60-meg full-frame cameras are sitting idle in my camera cabinet. I’m no longer shooting magazine covers, billboards or fashion. My pro cameras are the photographic equivalent of using a 338 Lapua rifle to shoot paper targets on a 50-yard range.

Impressive. But unnecessary.

Today, major projects have been shot on considerably smaller resolution cameras or, like this image, an iPhone.

Today, many of my friends and some of our writers only carry a smartphone. They produce stills and video that are perfectly fine for the tiny screens where most of us get the majority of our info.

Before you tune out, this is not an essay on cameras. It’s a thought, maybe two, about “stuff.”

As Americans, we don’t think much about needs we’re much more focused on wants.

In its essence, photography — taking pictures — is what I enjoy. That’s not dependent on the camera I’m using. Chasing the next big sensor or feature set loses the essence of what drew me to photography…using creativity to capture compelling images. By focusing (pun intended) on gear I want, I’m roadblocking being creative with what gear I actually have.

It’s the same story with guns, camping equipment, cars, boats, motorcycles, airplanes, and all the other “toys” we find ourselves accumulating. So I’m in a process I dread — winnowing down my stuff. One reason is simple; reducing the amount of stuff is recognition of the fact I won’t be around forever. A sobering thought.

But that’s not the reason for winnowing down my gear. It’s to make me more creative while I’m doing something positive for my family for when I really won’t be around.

Minimizing stuff is an inconvenience. But not doing it while you’re healthy places an unnecessary burden on loved ones. In the last year, I’ve seen what a toll that takes on grieving survivors. And I’m doing this differently from the Marie Kondo/Zen cleansing thing and only keeping things that “speak” to me. Apparently I hear a lot of conversations others don’t.

I’m actually starting with a financial analysis of what things cost to keep compared with what I would save if I got rid of them.

The Ryker in the garage is not an investment, it’s a depreciating asset when not used. Someone else will love it more than I will. (CanAm-BRP image)

For example, there’s the 2021 Can-Am Ryker sitting in my garage on a trickle charger. It’s a fun ride, but like all vehicles, unless you’re a collector (I’m an accumulator), it’s a depreciating asset.

Comparable bikes on Cycle Trader range from $7,000 to $9,900. Rykers lose around $500 per year in depreciation. And there’s the $472 annual (mandatory) insurance. Add that up and a thousand bucks simply disappears every year.

That speaks to me more loudly than the memory of carefree motorcycling as a teen. Those memories, paired with today’s reflexes are how and why guys my age wind up in the ER. Or worse.

Does a guy who went fishing only once last year need enough gear to outfit a professional angler? Probably not. But I have it. And I’m sure someone would love to have it.

Ditto the shooting gear that fills two commercial shelves in my garage. After all, I’m not training up for the NRA’s World Shooting Championship next month (April 3-6) at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Indiana (a relief, I’m sure, to the shooters who will be competing). That’s not because I don’t want to compete. It’s because I’m no longer competitive.

In the meantime, really good gear is sitting unused in my garage. By my way of thinking, that’s selfish.

Today, the face in my mirror confirms the road left to travel is shorter than the road in my rear view mirror. Making preparations to make the rest of the trip easier for everyone sounds pretty good to me. Instead of concentrating on new gear, I’m going to spend some time with the gear I already know how to use and have some fun while I’m doing it.

Does that mean I won’t “augment” or review gear? Absolutely not. And this isn’t some veiled message that I’m in poor health. The message is that I’m going to do more of the things I enjoy doing and sharing those stories.

And honestly, I can no more ignore cool gear than an eight-year-old can ignore a stray puppy.

We’ll keep you posted.

7 Responses

  1. I already hit that point…looked in the mirror through bleary eyes early one morning and thought I saw my father looking back at me.

    I don’t need any more guns or gear. Nowadays it’s simply ammo and continued training.

    1. “I already hit that point…looked in the mirror through bleary eyes early one morning and thought I saw my father looking back at me.”

      Depression – That point in life growing up when you notice your farts smell like his… 🙂

  2. Nah…I want more gear…better sights for a couple of my pistols…a 10mm carbine…supressors…body armor.
    But we also need some new windows, a new floor in the kitchen, and to re- upholster the living room sofa. Oh…and a new floor for the indoor back porch.
    So gears gonna wait.
    16k rounds of ammo, so as long as I replace what I shoot, that should be OK

    1. can’t speak to the company selling it (never dealt with them for armor) but these are one of the better RF2 (308 as well as ball and green tip 5.56) for price to weight to build quality I have seen if you are going for hard rifle armor and not needing full AP. With that said finding myself between you and Has where I have most of everything I want aside from night vision, higher end thermals, and impractical overpowered rifles but the more I get into reloading the more I seem to focus on 308 and 45-70 with pistols being a mix of whatever works with the season.

        1. Of course, I can’t really make any recommendations for pistol armor as it has been too long since I kept up but figuring out plates is easy enough once threat level, weight, and budget are established.

  3. It’s un-American to not constantly purchase future garbage and walk willingly into years or decades of indentured servitude debt.

    Our keeping up with the Jones’ is what keeps the Jones’ rich.

    Perpetual debt and sending your children to war. ‘Murica!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *