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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gear casualty report from the field-Patagonia Shorts

My Grandfather was a farmer from Mississippi and grew up in a time when you couldn't just hop in the car and run to Home Depot, or Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and "get a new one".  I take after my Grandfather enough that when I find a piece of gear that works really well, I will use it to the end of it's life. 

All gear and clothing eventually breaks down, stops working, gets worn out or otherwise becomes unusable. It's inevitable.  Sometimes when it happens, it's a minor nuisance.  When a headlamp breaks, or a bike tire wears out, it's not a big deal.  Other times, it's a bit more emotional.  When the blade of a new kayak paddle breaks, or my wife informs me that it's time to stop wearing my favorite Outer Banks Boarding Company T-shirt cause there are too many holes in it, it kinda feels like your not yourself for a day or two, but pretty soon you get another one and you move on.

Other times, a piece of gear or clothing becomes such a part of your life, that when it breaks, your just not sure what to do.  That day has come for me.

I acquired a pair of Patagonia shorts circa 1996.  I traded a friend for them.  They were the wrong size for him so I swapped him for a pair of Quicksilver board shorts that I didn't like. At the time I didn't realize what a great trade that was. I quickly realized that Patagonia had created a near perfect pair of "do everything" shorts.  They were a little shorter than regular board shorts, but not so much that I couldn't surf in them.  They were a little longer than running shorts, but not so much that I couldn't run long distances comfortably in them.  Just a basic, simple little pair of black nylon Patagonia shorts with 3 metal grommet holes and a sewn in piece of nylon cord in leau of a buckle or snaps to close the waistband. I started doing most everything outdoors in them and haven't stopped since, and I haven't been easy on them.  In fact, I have absolutely abused these shorts, to the best of my ability in more time zones, continents, AO's, altitudes, beachbreaks and over more miles of road, trails and singletrack than I can possibly recall. However, here is a list, to the best of my memory (and maintaining opsec) of where these shorts have been and what they have been thru:

  • 2 summers in Glacier National Park; climbing, long hikes, long bikes and many runs; many "training climb/runs" up Divide Mtn
  • 2 surf trips to Costa Rica
  • Whitewater Kayak trips on: Chattooga River (GA/SC), Ocoee River (TN), French Broad/Big Laurel (NC), Nolichucky (TN), New River Gorge (WV), Upper Gauley (WV), Arkansas: Numbers, Browns (CO), Bailey's Creek (CO), Clear Creek (CO)
  • At least 4 half marathons and the majority of my training runs since circa 1997; total mileage unknown but conservatively estimated at 4000 miles
  • The majority of my workouts since 1997 
  • At least one military static line jump
  • Too many runs and rucks to count while training for Special Forces Selection
  • 7 month deployment to Afghanistan (2003)
  • Survived a danger close rocket explosion (Iraq 2004)
  • Too many "official high threat tactical adventure trips" to count (2004-present)
  • 3 Sprint Adventure Races
  • Numerous Mountain Bike trails in (GA, NC, VA, FL, MS, CO, MT)
  • 2 Runs across Golden Gate Bridge
  • Numerous trail runs with Huskies
  • 1 tractor ride with Grandad in MS before he passed away
  • Too many great afternoons on the beach with my family to count
After nearly 15 years and all of the above, this afternoon while doing crossfit in a gym a long ways from home, and halfway through my first set of thrusters, I hear the horrible sound of stitches ripping and I knew that the dreaded day had arrived.  I was so distracted that I couldn't even finish my workout, but solemnly walked back to my room to assess the damage.  Sure enough, the triple stiches along the rear of the shorts had torn over about 4 inches. Amazingly though they didn't tear all the way thru, it's almost as if these shorts are defiant in the face of old age and refuse to go down without a fight. I can't bear to lose them, (especially until I get home) and thankfully I have my survival sewing kit with me on this trip.  So I'm gonna sit here and see if I still remember how to sew by hand, finish watching a movie about the first climb/ski descent of Mt. St Elias, patch up my ultimate adventure shorts from Patagonia and try to get just a few more weeks out of them before I say goodbye.

Thanks Patagonia!