People get very passionate about equipment. Glenn Reynolds has a long discussion (by Glenn Reynolds standards) on the best knives -- kitchen knives that is. The Survival Blog, playing to slightly different concerns, talks about shotguns. The article begins with introduction guaranteed to start an opinion thread running.
I own a gun shop and I get -many- people looking to buy their first shotgun. The first question I ask them (and probably a good question to ask ones self before making any purchase) is: “What do you intend to use it for?”. Different guns for different purposes. When they tell me they want an all around do everything shotgun (which is how the shy and low-key convey that they want a defensive shotgun), the choice usually come down to the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870. Both are great shotguns. Both are used by the US military and both are found in law enforcement. Both have a fair bit of aftermarket parts and accessories (not all of them useful) available. When customers ask me to choose between the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870, I go with the Remington.
Since it would be unsporting to leave the subject of gear without throwing a few logs on to the fire, and I feel unqualified to comment on either knives or shotguns, let me bring up the subject of sunglasses, which are actually pretty useful everyday objects. I am going to make a fool of myself and assert a constant astonishment at the ways in sunglasses are not used or used for the (to me at least) wrong reasons.
My interest in sunglasses began in the past. One way to travel through the countryside a long time ago in Mindanao was to hitch rides atop cargo trucks, dumpsters and commuter buses. You'd clamber up top, where the spare tires, jacks, and miscellaneous equipment were kept and brace yourself against an angle in the cargo. Even where you could afford to buy an actual bus ticket it was often preferable to ride up on the roof, or clinging to some part of the framework of the vehicle the better to jump off and roll into a ditch if it were ambushed by rebels, who would sometimes finish off all the survivors in the vehicle itself and fail to pursue those who ran off in every direction.
Riding "top load" on a dusty, jolting road for ten hours under a blazing tropical sun or traveling by outrigger over a blazingly incandescent sea soon convinced me of the practical utility of a good set of shades. Without them you simply burned out your retinas, when they weren't being clogged up with dirt or taking one insect strike after the other. Sunglasses were tools, like a kitchen knife or a pump action shotgun. Tools to be carefully selected and maintained.
I soon realized, however, that many -- and maybe most -- people didn't think of sunglasses in the same way. For them, they were simply a way to look cool or keep glare out of their eyes while driving their cars. For that limited purpose two types of sunglasses work reasonably well: the ten dollar kind you can purchase at a gas station shop and the thousand dollar designer model available at a Famous Brand Name establishment. Neither of these types would be remotely suitable for tramping around for hours in a logged-over forest or bare hills; nor would they likely survive a "top load" on a truck or a long, slamming ride in a fast outrigger.
I have two basic pairs of shades, which I consider the best in the world for their purpose. The first is a pair of 11 gram Maui Jim Kapaluas in the rose lens. That's less than half an ounce of optical equipment, including the weight of lens in an amazing titanium frame. The second is a pair of Specialized Optics in a plastic, photochromic and ballistically resistant lens that's designed for mountain bikers. Although both have wonderful, optically correct lenses, the Mauis are far better for walking around in midday. The quality of the lens is to die for. But in the early morning or late afternoon, or in any situation where you are likely to be under intermittent shade, such as in a forest, the Specialized Optics are the better choice. They have truly incredible photochromic lenses which can adjust between 78% and 22% light transmission that make them useable to within a half hour of sunrise and a half hour to sunset. The Specialized Optics are also designed to deflect bug strikes, twigs and thrown up gravel better than the Mauis, with lenses made, they claim, of the same material used to armor the windshields of Apache helicopters.
Styling, I suppose, must be given its due. Clearly if one plans on wearing a suit or dress clothing, the Mauis are to be preferred to the "Xtreme" design of the Specialized Optics. But if you're hiking around and don't care how you look, the biking goggle look stops being a disadvantage.
I realize that many people don't about knives or pump action shotguns or sunglasses much. They just get on with the daily lives or maybe care about something else, like the appearance of their cell phones or the patterning on their ties. But this is the trivia that makes up life. Have a good weekend.