Saturday, October 6, 2007

Shopping for gear

Sigh. The ever-so-slight shiver that runs through one’s spine when new gear is wanted. Nay, necessary, even. And every kayaker needs a PFD. For a couple of years I’ve happily worn Patagonia’s Lotus, now discontinued. But I noticed the other day, after nearly losing a wee maglight torch and my ever-so-necessary stick of chapstick, that the bottom of the zip pocket had frayed away to near nothing.

Of course, we never get too sad about having to replace gear, because that means some happy hours spent researching just the right replacement. Which I did. When the wee one is asleep in his sling across my shoulders, I’ve devised a system where I can rest the laptop on top of a good-sized carton, and then that atop the dining room table. Thus standing I’m just the right height to ‘research’ and not disturb the sleeping babe, who, of course, will know how to Google just as soon as he can sit up and move a mouse all by himself.

I needed a few more pockets this time, and bigger ones too. I particularly wanted a pocket that would fit my McMurdo 406 PLB EPRIB, not the smallest in its field, thus not having to carry it in a bumbag around my waist. I also wanted another separate pocket for my VHF. And then another pocket for a few other goodies, such as a whistle, stick or two of chapstick and three or four small flares. I’ll still carry the bumbag, but that’s for snacks and a bit of this and that – that system worked really well in this year’s Everglades Challenge. And if the new PFD could be yellow, to match my boat (I’m a girl) and to stand out in a potential rescue situation, even better.

A few happy hours later, Kokatat’s MsFIT Tour PFD it was. All the pockets I wanted and one more to boot, and I also like the fact that you can have it clipped across your chest with the two chest straps and the zip undone, and apparently you’re still USCG-deemed safe – for those hot steamy days. And it comes in yellow – mango for the fruits among us.

Being an REI purchase, and having saved every receipt ever spent on all my kayaking-related gear over the last two and a bit years (just to shock myself one cold rainy winter day when I add it all up), I trotted off to our local REI and turned in the old PFD for the new one awaiting me – I’d previously ordered it on line (using last month’s members’ special 20% discount offer) and taken advantage of the free shipping. And I learned that I didn’t even need the receipt as every one of my purchases is stored away on REI’s system. Rather scary. But what I loved is the no questions asked – you’ve used the kit for over two years, it falls to pieces, and presto, you’ve a new – maybe even better – one.

Oh, and actually using it to paddle in? A dream. Hardly even knew I had it on.

Sigh. The smell of new gear.


Silbs said...

After trying on every pfd in the store, I eventually purchased the same MsFit. The told me it was for females. I told him it was the best one he had. Turns out, that pfd is the most popular one in a recent survey...including us guys.

DaveO said...

We need to chat about epirbs sometime. If you get bored, shoot an email to