Saturday, January 10, 2015

10 Items for the Prepared Minimalist

I am pretty much a minimalist (as well as a gear geek).  In no particular order, these are some of the things I pretty much can't live without:

  1. Good shoes.  I tend to walk a lot so one of the most important items I own is a good pair of shoes (or three, or four).  Lousy shoes can ruin your whole day so make sure the shoes you choose fit properly, are comfortable, are durable, and work well for your circumstances (ie: your Vibram Five Fingers might be acceptable on the trail but a bit out of place at a business meeting).  I tend to favor Merrill, Keen, and New Balance.  Brooks are OK.  Most other brands don't work well for me.
  2. A pocketknife.  I've had the same pocketknife (a Swiss Army Tinker) for decades and use it quite often.  I would be lost without this little item.
  3. A good pen.  Again, I am fairly particular in regards to items I use everyday so for pens, I favor the Pilot Precise v7 (they DON'T fly well) as well as the Zebra F 402.
  4. A good day pack.  I've tried fanny packs, I've tried messenger bags, I've carried briefcases and satchels.  Nothing compares to the usefulness of a good day pack.  I can toss in what I need and be set for the day or even for a month of travel.  I favor Gregory packs (and have quite the assortment to show for this) and use my day pack for everything from traveling around town (not usual to see in a tourist area like Las Vegas), to frequent hikes in the local mountains, to infrequent trips on a plane (I never check luggage so my day pack is quite convenient for carry-on travel).
  5. A cell phone.  Again, if I am purchasing an item to use everyday, it needs to be exceptional and not at all annoying.  My Galaxy Note 4 (I'm a huge Android fan) works perfectly all the time.  I don't even carry a camera with me any more as this phone takes great pictures.  Apps work great, and I love the big form factor (I can even read and edit documents on it in a pinch).
  6. A firearm.  While I have a collection of firearms and wouldn't want to part with any of them, a go-to firearm (IMHO) is a necessity.  In my case, it is a Sig Sauer P239 9mm.  I've had this particular pistol for so long that I've grown quite attached to it.  Other friends favor their Glocks or H & Ks, but for me, this is the one pistol I would happily carry into TEOTWAWKI.
  7. A thumb drive.  If my laptop were to be stolen or smashed to pieces, I am secure in the fact that my obsessive habit of backing up my files on a thumb drive kept on my key chain would allow me to walk into Best Buy, purchase a new device, and be back in business in a matter of minutes.  A thumb drive is one of life's necessities.
  8. Earbuds/headphones.  Unfortunately I have yet to discover the best earbuds/headphones but I am forever on the lookout for such an item.  I carry an adequate set of Skullcandy earbuds with me for the impromptu Skype conversation/Netflix movie on my cell phone while in public situations.  With prices for these items reaching the stratosphere, I don't want THE BEST that I can find but I would like a set that are: super small and portable, noise cancelling, not in-ear but possibly on-ear, and with exceptional sound.  
  9. The clothes you wear.  I guess I've met too many refugees and others who have fled literally "with only the clothes on their backs."  So when determining what to wear on a daily basis, my thoughts wander to "would I be able to fit into the situations I will encounter today/bug out/survive with only what I am wearing?".  Obviously people can survive with flip flops and Goodwill cast-offs, but being a minimalists, I like to have each item I own be superior in its own right.  This includes clothes as well.  Some examples: socks (Darn Tough), underwear (ExOfficio), pants (Outlier), shirts (Icebreaker), and jackets (Marmot).
  10. A laptop.  Again, I am still on the lookout for the *perfect* laptop.  Since this is an item I use for (literally) hours each day, I am quite picky as to what I use.  My current set up is a 14" HP i5 laptop which is portable enough but not really.  In addition (and after trying 10" netbooks and a random number of tablets) I also have an Asus Transformer T-100 laptop/tablet.  The Asus is a tiny 10"-er which is great for traveling (it can be both a tablet and a laptop) but the screen is way too small.  Since I am not an Apple fan, Macbook Airs aren't even under consideration although I know plenty of people who swear by them.  My current quest is to find a laptop with a 13" screen that is ultralight yet has a really good keyboard, an i7 processor, and can survive the daily rigors of being carted around in a day pack. 

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