By Elliot Thomas
Special to Outdoor Enthusiast Lifestyle Magazine
When I was younger, my Grandfather was always trying to impart his knowledge on me. From fishing to hunting, firearms and pocket knives, and in general what we would now qualify as “life hacks.” By the time I was able to ride a bike, my grandparents were already retired, so he had a lot to share. While I am now 40 years old with a son of my own, he is a very healthy and active 92 year old and he still does his best to share knowledge that he has acquired whenever I see him.
One of the “life hacks” I learned from him but did not appreciate until I was older was to always buy a backup. When I was a kid, his sentiment was based on the fact that by the time you wore out a good jacket or pair of boots or hat, you wouldn’t be able to find the exact same one again, because either they don’t make it anymore or they’ve changed it. Grandpa actually recommended leaving these backups in their box or bag, and storing them until absolutely necessary. He didn’t really consider it a “backup” if you were simply rotating two similar jackets whenever one was dirty. Through my teenage years I really didn’t pay much attention to this advice, I sort of thought it was just a goofy thing my Grandfather did.
The first time this advice really hit home was in college when my girlfriend gave me a pair of flip-flops. These were above and beyond better than anything I had worn before, and I wore them everywhere. When I finally wore them out and attempted to purchase another pair, the company had changed the design just enough that they were no longer the incredibly comfortable design I wanted. Through a little bit of Internet searching (circa 2004 when Amazon wasn’t really a thing) I was able to track down a store with a couple more pairs of the older version. Ever since then, I’ve been a firm believer in this policy, though I have modified it slightly as I’ve gotten older.
Today my advice to you would be to always have a backup and consider how important a particular item is to you. Sometimes you should consider the purchase of a second, third, or even a fourth backup. As an example, in my lure building business 247 Lures, there are a handful of tools that are absolutely necessary to get my job done. Strong wire cutters, split ring pliers, certain sizes of drill bits, round nose pliers, as well as a few more. If any one of those tools happened to break while I was working on a batch of lures, I’d be stopped dead in my tracks until I got a replacement. So for each of those tools I make sure that I always have at least one backup, in a few cases I have two or three extras.
Similarly when fishing, things like pliers, headlamps and life jackets, are absolutely essential to what I do. If I drove an hour to my favorite boat launch and could not find either my headlamp or life jacket, I’d likely be turning around and going home. So again with all of those important items I have at least one extra/backup on me at all times.
Admittedly I don’t follow this advice when it comes to clothing as much as my Grandfather would recommend. At my age, clothing size (and my weight) can fluctuate quite a bit. Buying a second jacket or pair of pants isn’t the smart idea like it was in my early twenties. That said, the last time I found a pair of gloves that I really liked I did some searching around online, found an outlet store selling them quite cheap and purchased a half a dozen pairs of simple winter gloves. They will stay new in packaging until I wear out or lose my current pair. I just hope that by the time I need them I can remember where they are stored in my house.
So with the full intention of sounding like my Grandfather, I would like to pass on this same advice to all of you. When you find something that you really, really like, such as a pocket knife, a hat, a pair of boots or even a coffee mug, consider purchasing a backup so that you’ve got a new one ready to go when the time comes.