Gear is a sentimental thing. It gets tied pretty easily to the big trips, events, and memories of our time outside. Whether it’s the camp stove you’ve had since your first backpacking trip, the boots you wore through on a big thru-hike, or the jacket that you had to patch after a fall during a hike, it’s hard to get rid of the gear attached to so many memories (even if, realistically, you probably should have thrown those boots out years ago).We asked goEast readers to to share the story behind the item they’ve had the longest for the chance to be featured and win an EMS gift card. Interested in sharing your story for next week? Submit it here! 

The author rejoicing at the appearance of the year’s first “frost flowers” on a chilly morning in the Arkansas Ozarks. | Courtesy: Marissa D.

Growing up in Hawaii, my idea of a “winter jacket” was a sweatshirt. When I arrived at Dartmouth as a student, I found myself missing out on the glory of the winter, not only because I didn’t have the right gear, but because I didn’t even know how to manage in the cold. I needed some quality gear! A New Hampshire local drove me to the EMS store in North Conway and I bought a puffy jacket. It’s name is long gone, but it had a well-fitting hood, wrist cuffs with velcro adjustments, a heavy-duty zipper, zippered under-arm vents and an elastic drawstring to tighten it around my hips. It changed my experience with the winter, and I discovered that there is no such thing as “too cold” if you have the right gear. I’ve worn my EMS puffy jacket for over 20 winters now! I’ve taken it to 36 countries and 21 states. I couldn’t possibly count the number of camping trips it has been on. These days, my jacket is a little less puffy and the elastic drawstring has stretched out somewhat. It has suffered a few spark burns from campfires over the years, and I’ve patched the holes with Tenacious Tape. The fabric has some perma-grime on the front and the cuffs, but I don’t mind and neither do the mountains or the trees. Thanks for the great jacket, EMS! Marissa D.

The author learning to ice skate on a frozen New Hampshire pond in her brand new jacket! | Courtesy: Marissa D.