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Test Gear

Rock Star Adventure Series — Bargain Hunting for Gear

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Test Gear
Test Gear

No epic rock star story starts out, “My mom bought me this great Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe Electric Guitar ($1400) and I knew right away I was born to rock.”  Jimi Hendrix’s first guitar was a broom which he carried around relentlessly until at the age of fifteen he bought his first guitar from a family friend for five dollars. That is how an epic rock star story starts out, and the same is true for becoming an rock star adventurer. Start with what you have or can get your hands on for cheap — for Jimi that was a broom and look how that story ends.

When I started to learn to fish a couple of years ago. I took my boys out and we bought some basic fishing gear. Trout poles, spinner baits, floats, and hooks. Nothing special, probably twenty dollars worth of gear. Next thing I knew I was looking at $100 bait-casting rods and  reels for salmon fishing and all kinds of gear that might land me in divorce court. Considering I really didn’t know what I was doing anyway, I just started talking with people about fishing and pretty soon I landed a spey rod and reel free from a friend who only fly fishes now. Then as I was swapping stories with an avid fly fisherman, and he produced a 9′ and 14′ fly rod that he didn’t use any more. He gifted them to me as long as I stopped by to tell him stories about my catches every once in awhile.

Tip: Talk to people who know the adventure; they have both gear and advice to share.

What if you’re an introvert?

OK, I get introverts. Say you don’t have any adventurous friends, and your extended family is no help either, but you still want to adventure. What then?

Tip: Get up early on Saturday and hit the yard sales.

Used adventure gear goes for really cheap at these sales. Note: If you are buying life-saving equipment like climbing or bull riding rope, you better know what you are doing. If these two tips don’t produce any usable gear you can try online gear trading sites, seasonal gear trades, gun shows, and Craigslist. I have gotten so that I enjoy bargain hunting for gear and adventures. It literally pains me to pay full price for gear.

I consider the gear I receive from friends and family “test adventure gear.” With gear that I get into for little cost, I get to test the sport and see if it’s a fit for me. So really I’m not testing the gear, I’m testing the adventure. I want to make sure that it’s something I want to add to my lifestyle instead of assuming that I will.

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In addition to Man Makes Fire buying gear for reviews and guides, gear manufacturers occasionally ship review units to Man Makes Fire. If we like it, we spend some quality time with the gear and review it, noting if it was provided to Man Makes Fire. After the review, we return it, give it away, or work on longer-term review follow-ups when applicable to reader interest.

We do not accept any gear in exchange for coverage. If we do not truly appreciate the gear, we don't write about it at all -- bad gear will fade into obscurity on its own if everyone ignores it. In addition, we focus on gear from reputable companies, reputable brands, and reputable retailers we trust.

The gear links on Man Makes Fire are focused on what we are willing to recommend to our own family and friends. Many of our specific gear links connect to industry-standard affiliate advertising programs. When you buy something using the retail links in our guides and reviews, we may earn a small affiliate commission that helps pay for our work.

Basically, we deliver the advice and insight you need, you get the gear you want, and then everyone wins. Pretty straightforward.

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