Despite the cold and wet winter water program, the author only recently considered a $350 flotation jacket as a better means of protection than a simple $40 life jacket. (Jeff Lund | For the Juneau Empire)

Despite the cold and wet winter water program, the author only recently considered a $350 flotation jacket as a better means of protection than a simple $40 life jacket. (Jeff Lund | For the Juneau Empire)

The daily struggles of a gearhead

How to justify purchasing those new waders.

An hour after I looked around my living room and declared that I had pretty much anything I could need for the outdoors, I was back on Amazon.

You know how it goes. You get to a place in your gear ownership that feels just right, but the porridge eventually cools.

This is when perceived deficiencies drip into the consciousness.

“I could _______ if I had ________.”

It’s easy to justify purchases when you add safety and comfort to the equation.

“These waders kinda leak and water can cause hypothermia, so better get new ones.”

Sure some Aquaseal is $6.99, but how can you turn down an excuse for new waders?

[‘The sticker guy’: Stick to something, or fall for nothing]

In addition to unreasonable justification for gear and such, projection is another sneaky motivator. You buy the thing that represents the lifestyle you want to live, or the thing you want to do, but don’t. You project attributes of a life you wish you had.

After talking to a couple buddies on my podcast about backcountry skiing, I thought it would be cool if, I too, was touring around the slopes on skis affixed with skins. (Yeah, I’m happy about my new vocabulary words.)

But, would I really get out the door and up a mountain with enough frequency to validate the cost? I’m not passionate about skiing because I haven’t done it much and being a novice is often frustrating and painful — some of the best excuses to quit.

There’s a weird self-doubt quality here. There’s being honest with yourself and there’s limiting yourself. If you say you weren’t meant to do something, that could be a lie. You might just use that as a warm cuddly excuse to not push yourself through the novice period. I didn’t hunt until I was in my 30s. Now I’m practicing my bow daily for a bow-only moose hunt in August. I really took to hunting and now do it as much as I fish. Could skiing fit in there too? Maybe.

[Video: How to get out after falling through the ice]

Or maybe it’s not reasonable to think I would be able to devote time to skiing given the lack of daylight hours, the potential lack of snow and the fact it overlaps with steelhead season.

So, the reason I was on Amazon was because I was looking for a Mustang suit. I thought about how easily I’d validated comfort purchases yet a flotation suit escaped my consumer impulse.

I wondered how at least a flotation jacket hadn’t been one of my first purchases when I bought the 1985 Boston Whaler four years ago. I assessed how conservative I am when it comes to running my skiff to where I fish. During none of those trips was the water anything more than sporty. But sporty can turn dangerous quickly. Everyone buys life jackets hoping they will never be needed, which is why they aren’t always used. At least the jacket could be functional and provide better safety in cold water.

However, I reasoned that I could save myself the money and instead continue to be diligent with checking the weather, never pushing the limits and wearing my life jacket.

I left Amazon for a different website and bought a T-shirt with a picture of a moose that read: “Organic” because I am a sucker and a fool.

The next day I was trying on jackets at the local marine store.

• Jeff Lund is a writer and teacher based in Ketchikan. “I Went To The Woods,” a reference to Henry David Thoreau, appears in Outdoors twice a month.

More in News

Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Ron Ekis (wearing red) and Dakota Brown order from Devils Hideaway at the new Vintage Food Truck Park as Marty McKeown, owner of the property, shows seating facilities still under construction to other local media members on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
New Vintage Food Truck Park makes year-round debut

Two of planned five food trucks now open, with covered seating and other offerings in the works.

Steve Bradford (left) and Mark Kissel, both vice presidents of the Riverside Condominiums Homeowners Association, discuss repairs to two of the complex’s buildings on Aug. 9 as a bulldozer places rock fill under a corner of one building exposed by erosion during record flooding of the Mendenhall River on Aug. 5. Repairs to both buildings ultimately were successful. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau Community Foundation offering pool of $28,300 in relief funds to Suicide Basin flood victims

Deadline to apply is Dec. 31, funds will be divided among applicants.

Key Bank was one of the banks victimized by a Juneau man who was sentenced Tuesday to two-and-a-half years in prison for stealing nearly $580,000 multiple banks and credit unions between 2020 and 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Former Juneau armored guard sentenced to 2½ years for stealing from banks, credit unions

Austin Nolan Dwight Rutherford, 29, convicted of stealing nearly $580,000 between 2020 and 2022.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, Dec. 4, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Juneau School District is entangled in a dispute with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development about supplemental funds the city provides for what the district calls non-instructional purposes such as after-school programs and pupil transportation. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire file photo)
State seeks to change rules for ‘local contribution’ funds to school districts beyond the ‘cap’

Education department abandons challenge under existing state law to Juneau, other districts.

A chart shows the proposed plans for each of the Alaska Marine Highway System’s nine ferries next summer under a schedule open for public comment until Dec. 19. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
Proposed ferry schedule for next summer looks a lot like this year’s — with one possible big exception

Cross-Gulf sailings will resume if enough crew hired; AMHS begins two-week public comment period.

Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe, located at the south end of the Mendenhall Mall, is closing at the end of the day Wednesday, leaving Juneau with one remaining independent pharmacy. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Closure of Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe reflects nationwide battle over prescription drug prices

Policymakers: “Middlemen” between drugmakers and retailers pocket profits to detriment of consumers.

Most Read