Product Reviews

My Ten Year Gear: 2023 Edition

The goal of this blog post is to celebrate possessions I’ve had in my service for at least ten years. I believe that reflecting on these items will help me learn a few things about reducing waste, being efficient with my money and designing good products. These are all valuable to me.

For something to last ten years in my service in needs to have a few important attributes. It needs to:

  • be useful or beautiful – otherwise I would have gotten to a point where I didn’t need it and donated, sold or tossed it
  • be durable and/or repairable – otherwise it would likely be broken and discarded (unless I didn’t use it, in which case, see above)
  • I must have not outgrown it – the item would likely be passed on if I changed my preferences, body size, skill level, or hobbies away from its use case
  • not have been disrupted – otherwise I would likely have replaced it with a newer and better item that serves a similar purpose but is better in every way, or at least the most important way
  • not have been lost or stolen – otherwise, even if it fit the above, I wouldn’t have it anymore

Class of 2023:

Now that we’ve completed 2023, I’ll look back on items that entered my service in 2013.

Doing this isn’t super easy, but by checking my order history in a few online stores, plus through some photos from the time, I was able to figure out a few things.

1. Hooded Wetsuit Vest

This is a neoprene wetsuit hood that is attached to a vest. The main purpose is to add it to a wetsuit that doesn’t have a hood as a way to add a bit more warmth in the core, neck and head region. I’ve used it whenever I surf in cold water, including winters in San Francisco, when I surfed Mavericks and most of the time up here in the Pacific North West. A very simple and very useful item that I’ve taken good care of, so it has lasted a while and shows no signs of letting up.

2. GoPro case and mounts

In 2012 I got a GoPro camera and so in 2013 I got a bunch of accessories including a carrying case and some mounts to attach it in different situations. The camera has since been replaced with a newer model, but the mounting specs are the same, so I still have all of those attachments. I’ve used this less than I would have thought, but it is the source of some of my favorite pictures, so I appreciate having the option of a small, waterproof, durable camera, for various activities.

3. Green Longboard

On the drive back up the 101 in 2023 I picked up a new Longboard. I used to break a longboard every few years but this one has lasted a decade, mainly because the amount I surf has dropped quite significantly. Today it lives in San Diego and I grab it a few times a year for a small wave La Jolla Shores session when I’m visiting.

4.Hoverboard Surfboard

I mentioned above that I usually broke a longboard periodically, this surfboard was a result of that. I took the front half of a surfboard and re-shaped it into a small board. Unlike the longboard above, this one isn’t terribly well used. For one, it is extremely difficult to do anything with given the very small size. But I made it and I like and I’ve kept it for now.

5. Ultrastar Frisbee and Wilson Football

I’m going to group these two. The former is a classic Ultimate Frisbee disc that I see I bought on Amazon in 2013 and the latter is a standard NFL size football. Both of these are classic sporting items that I might only use a few times a year, but am always glad I have when those two days come up. They don’t wear out, the technology hasn’t really changed much and my muscle memory picks right back up where I left it.

7. Running Knee Straps

After a few years off of running I started to pick it back up in 2013 and my knees were giving me some issues, so I grabbed a few straps. Over time I found I was able to run without these and I put them away. Then, if I ever took some time off, my legs would need the extra support. So now I keep these as a ‘get back into it’ assistant. Though I haven’t really taken much time off of running since 2013.

8. Running Shorts

I was amazed to see this particular pair of running shorts on my 2013 purchase list given I had just worn them this week for a run. They are on their last leg, but still holding on. I took a break from running after college and when I started back up in 2013, I  realized that my hyper-short shorts of previous eras weren’t going to be appropriate to wear as I walked out of the office for a mid-day run. These shorts are a bit more casual, they have pockets on the side and a front pouch pocket for a key. Because of that, I’ve ended up using them more than my old school simple shorts with no pockets. It turns out the extra gram of weight to include a pocket is well worth it on runs of 2+ hours when carrying a few things becomes a necessity.

Recently I’ve gotten a few new pair of new shorts I really like that have even more built in pockets and zippers, and this old pair is getting stretched out, with the elastic nearly failing, so they might not last all that much longer, but I’m impressed they lasted this long.

9. USB-A Video Game Controller

I grabbed this to play a video game on my PC in 2013 and I’ve kept it around, despite not using it much, because periodically it becomes useful. It turns out video game controllers haven’t changed much in the last decade, other than going wireless, so this ends up being fine any time I want to use it to play an online game that accepts a controller.

10. Crabbing Gear

I started to explore crabbing as a food source and hobby in 2013 after learning a bit about how easy it was to drop a cage and get fresh crabs. It turns out I could drop a cage while I went surfing and kill two birds with one stone. After a few adventures I moved to Seattle and I’ve kept it, mainly because there is also crabbing up here, though I haven’t gotten back into it. I suspect as the kids get older I might explore it more and so I keep it around in a box because of that.

Almost Made It:

1. Falcons Jersey and Hat

I started rooting for the Falcons in 2010 when I ran online marketing for Tony Gonzales’ protein shake company. I helped get him set up on Twitter and told him that was going to take off – cool to see he now has 250k followers. I originally watched the games so I could post about the results online, but eventually got sucked into rooting for the team – especially players like Tony, Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, and eventually dozens of others.

In 2013 I decided to get some gear to show my team pride . I really enjoyed watching them through ~2018, even after the big Super Bowl loss, but recently I’ve lost interest in the sport. Most of that is because my favorite players retired, and I never really got attached to new ones. Some of it came from moral opposition to a player the organization pursued one offseason.


Here I’ll spend a few minutes using these items to try and draw out principles.

1) Certain Items Are Worth Keeping Around

There are some parts of the minimalism movement that argue you shouldn’t keep things that you don’t use, but I always debate the frequency required to clear that line (let alone if I want to follow it). For example Christmas decorations are something you don’t use for 11 months of the year, but that it seems well worth keeping lest you have to buy some again. I guess the cost of procurement, likeliness of future use and cost of storage should play into some mental math.

I notice a few things I have that don’t get used often, but that do eventually get used and which I’m always glad I have when it comes time. My football fits that scenario perfectly. I probably end up playing football once a year or so, but keeping around a nice ball for those days is low effort and low cost.

2) Objects Closer to a Core Need are More Likely To Last Longer

Humanity doesn’t change all that fast. Our culture, language and technology sometimes does, but our core needs are relatively stable. The closer an object is to serving a core need, the more likely it is to remain useful for a very long time. Cups from ancient civilizations come to mind – they are as useful today as they were thousands of years ago. Perhaps fragility ruined then or new technology disrupted the old, but you could pick up a metal or stone cup that Pharaoh drank wine from and use it for the same thing today.