Whether you're getting set to build something in your garage or working your way towards a week in the woods, having the right stuff ready to go is a big part of making your project a success.
But how do you know what the right stuff really is? And perhaps more importantly, in a world where you can buy pretty much anything you want and have it delivered to your door the next day, how do you know what the right stuff isn't?
Here's a quick checklist to get your checklist pared down to the gear you actually need, without leaving anything essential out.
Get Specific About Your Gear's Purpose
Before you get your gear together, you need to know exactly what you want your gear for. This might seem obvious, but it gets overlooked plenty.
Do you really plan on doing any marlin fishing, or are you bringing three spools of thousand-pound-test line just in case? What are you planning on suspending from that aircraft cable? Are you packing 550 paracord because it's actually the best cord for the traps you're rigging, or is it just the stuff you're used to using?
For every task you want to do, there are probably dozens of options when it comes to tools and materials, and only one or two that are actually perfect for the job. Sometimes "good enough" is the best way to go, especially when you're not sure what you'll encounter and need something versatile enough to fill twenty different needs without weighing down your pack; other times, substituting anything less than the perfect product is just asking for extra hassle.
Decide exactly what you're going to do—or define the unpredictables—before you start gathering gear, and the process will go a whole lot faster.
Check in With Your Gear-Carrying Capabilities
If you're heading out on a backpacking trip or any other adventure where you'll need to lug your gear around, take that into consideration when you're deciding how much to take along.
Again, this might sound like all-too-obvious advice for the more experienced among you, but even the best of us can overestimate our carrying capabilities in our enthusiasm to hit the trail. This is where choosing multi-use tools, even if they're slightly less than perfect for the several tasks you have planned, comes in handy. Rather than packing along the decoy line, the fishing line, the tarred twine, and the tie-downs, and the emergency kindling, some jute-laced fire-starting paracord might be just the ticket.
Even if you have all the room in the world and don't need to carry around your gear yourself, limiting the amount of stuff you have on hand will make it easier and faster to find things when you need.
Figure out how to accomplish everything you want with the least amount of gear, but without cutting corners that could stop your trip or your project from becoming successful.
Don't Goof Up with Gadgetry
A final word of gear warning: don't get pulled in by the latest and greatest gadgets. Tried and true often beats the latest fad, and while innovation is important if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Don't build your gear checklist—or your gear stockpile—based on what's available. Figure out what gear you actually have to have, and then you just need a reliable place to get it.
That's what we're here for.