New isn't better if you don't know how to use it!

author image

August 18, 2008

Everyone likes to get new things, new campers, new clothes, new generators, new equipment in general. And most of the time, those new items are great improvements, for example the boots that they have now days are fantastic. I now have winter boots that keep my feet warm and that I can walk in without feeling like I am in snowshoes, or worry about water, and they weigh less than a five pound sack of sugar each.

But the down-side of new equipment often isn’t talked about! What down-side can there be to new equipment? Well, I am sure most you, if you think about it, have had some new piece of equipment that you thought would just be wonderful only to find that it didn’t work as well as advertised or was made shoddily. I am going to tell the tale of two pieces of equipment that have gone wrong and the mistakes made, and most of all how to learn from some painful errors! So, please continue to read on.

The First piece of equipment that I am going to tell the tale of is a canopy. Everyone has seen the pop-up square canopy they are making these days. They are easy set up and come down quickly and easily. Some friends we camp with had an E-Z UP ® Canopy . Another couple in the group had seen how well it worked, how quick and easy it was to operate, and decided that they needed one, too. However, they couldn’t find an E-Z Up Canopy and, being rushed for time, found a cheap knock-off at a local grocery store. The first time they decided to use it they got to set it up right beside the other couples’ original canopy. While setting it up, we noticed that some of the inner workings of the "Brand X" seemed to be thinner and lighter weight. Of course, that night we had a storm come through the campsite. Everyone began tightening things down for the storm and putting away awnings and the like. Everyone thought that they were ready and then the storm hit, with 60 mile an hour winds and hard and heavy rain. Now, both canopies were side by side and broad side to the wind for a fair and equal test! We did have to lower the E-Z Up canopy, to keep it from blowing away. The "Brand X" canopy didn’t need to be lowered, the first gust of wind broke several of the side supports and ruined the canopy.

The second story is one of mine. This past weekend we decided with some friends to float down the Clarion River. Now, we had done this before in our canoe and we enjoy it immensely. Lately the water has been low and we thought maybe a inflatable raft would make things easier and would drag less. While we went to drop the pick up vehicle off down stream, Pam got the brand new inflatable boat out of the box and began filling it up! By the time I was back, she had it ready. I looked at it and thought it looked a little small for 4 people, but I also thought it only has to hold myself and Pam since the other couple was taking their canoe like we usually do. We started to get in and had forgotten how pumping up a boat laying out in the sun and then put in cold water makes it under inflated, strike one. Pulled back in and pumped it up in the water, much fuller now. Got back in and started down the river. Couldn’t get anywhere near comfortable in the back, Strike two. Pulled over and traded places (Pam being much smaller than I). I still couldn’t sit comfortably in the front section and ended up sprawled out in the front. We started out again for the third time. We had gotten just far enough down stream that we couldn’t go back when we found out that having to be in only one position gets to be uncomfortable. You can’t paddle sprawled out very well, and guiding a inflatable boat (rubber raft type) is like trying to HERD chickens (you know lots of noise, and movement but very little success!), Strike Three! While the first Hour was Ok, the next three were an exercise in determination and pain (I even got a sunburn!).

Ok, so what is the moral of these stories? Well, first off we both had brand new equipment in both cases right out of the box! We had only a general idea how to use them and had never used them in the conditions that were coming. There is a reason people often camp out in Camp Driveway (at home for those of you not used to the expression), for their first "camp out"; you get to use your new camper and find out what you need and what you have forgotten and practice with all the features it has. It is taking the time to LEARN! So, take that new equipment out at home or somewhere close and use it, find out its features and limitations, and, most of all, don’t be afraid to admit you have made a mistake and you need something different for your use!

In the first case, if our friends had opened the box up and looked at it before taking it along, they would have noticed the undersized construction and cheap materials. They could have taken it back and looked longer for a better built item. In our case, we would have know it was undersized and not going to be comfortable for the use we intended! Both caused wasted time and money and loss of enjoyment. In other cases, mistakes like this could cause dangerous problems and possibly injuries, so don’t let it happen to you.

Your Obedient Servant,

Gary Smith, Jr.

Leave a Reply


  1. Pingback: my homepage

  2. high formaldehyde levels in the new travel trailers . no not just the fema ones, the ones you pick up at your RV dealer then in time your pets take ill and die three of ours before we found out why,THEN MAYBE YOUR KIDS AND YOUR MOM AND DAD THEN ARE YOU SICK FROM THE TOXIC STUFF TO more info is a toxic trailer .co

  3. Marshall Holybee

    I agree with you 100%.I do wish there was a way to compare R.V.s like you can cars on line.It seems the r.v.industry will dollar you to death.


  4. Marshall Holybee

    I agree with you 100%.I do wish there was a way to compare R.V.s like you can cars on line.It seems the r.v.industry will dollar you to death.


  5. Jim Norman

    Camp Driveway. Our first night in our brand new Itasca last fall was spent in our driveway at the insistence of our daughter. We owe her! We spent one night sleeping on the stock mattress, we tossed that immediately and bought a memory foam mattress. So far most other items have been close to 100% largely I think due to 10 years of living on our sailboat. We had a lot fewer surprises.

  6. Hi Gary, great article. We deal with this from time to time in our GARMIN GPS business. Some people will find a cheap brand of GPS and then wonder why it doesn’t work as well as their friends GARMIN GPS. Sometimes the same thing happens even when they buy a less expensive GARMIN model.