image courtesy of lexicolatry.com
I was talking to my friend Ben this morning about lanyard setups and the costs involved in moving from simplistic, old-school setups, to more modern setups, involving micropulleys, biners, hitch cords, etc. I was sensing some hesitation on his part, mostly due to the cost of getting all of this extra kit. It brought to mind an idea that has come up so many times over the years regarding the price of gear – you need to remember that gear makes you money! Spending money on this stuff is not the same as spending it on video game systems, or a night at the bar with your buddies. It took me a long time to realize that difference, but once I did, it was a game changer.
Good gear is capital. Now I know that people use the word ‘capital’ these days interchangeably with the word ‘money’. But capital is not money. OK, here’s a super-mega nerd revelation – I collect old dictionaries. Now I know what you’re thinking – you can just look up the definitions of words on Google right? Yes, you can. You can learn the current definition of words on Google. But many definitions have changed over the years, and ‘capital’ is one of them. The historical definition was “anything used in the production or distribution of goods and services.” And I would argue, by extension, that anything that is used in the production or distribution of goods and services, is not a cost, but rather an investment. If it speeds up production, or adds a layer of safety, or makes your life easier, then it is an investment, it is capital, and it is worth every penny. And if you end up using it over the long haul, it is not only worth every penny, it is actually incredibly cheap!
I remember doing my very first side job. I borrowed my buddy’s spurs to do it, and then I took every penny from that job and went and bought my own set of spurs. They cost me $500, which at the time seemed insane. But you know what? I still use that same old pair of spurs, and they are still kicking ass. So what seemed super expensive to me at the time, was actually cheap as shit – think about all of the money those spurs have made me over the last 9 and a half years! It’s insane! So that is how I view gear and kit. If it makes you money and it is durable and long-lasting, then it is actually very inexpensive! Seriously. Most of this stuff didn’t even exist a few years ago! Do you realize how fortunate we are to be able to buy a 5000 lb, triple-action biner for $20-$30? Or a 24 strand, 6000 lb rope for a couple hundred dollars? We are literally living in the future! This stuff is amazing, it’s being produced on a massive scale, and we are so, super lucky to be able to get it through any one of dozens of suppliers. Gratitude, my friends. Seriously!
This is not to suggest that you throw your hard earned cash at every shiny piece of kit you see. Money is tight, trust me, I know. You need to carefully evaluate each purchase beforehand. It’s only expensive if you buy one of everything, all willy-nilly, because you will end up with a bunch of stuff that you don’t even end up using. This is why it pays to hang out with other people in the trade. Make friends with climbers from other companies. Go to industry get-togethers. Check out the tree climbing competitions. Watch trusted sources on Youtube. Be informed on the new gear. Evaluate as many options as you can, before making the purchase. The marketplace around this trade has exploded over the past 15 years, and I know it can be thoroughly overwhelming. Learn as much as you can, don’t just go out and buy kit. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this stuff is way overpriced. Because, quite simply, it isn’t.
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