Pro camera equipment is generally up for the abuse. My first generation Canon 5D's are battered and bruised and have a proud war-ravaged patina. They still work fine. I checked into to trading them in, but Glazer's told me that they were basically worthless. I'd make more giving them away.
Audio gear--that's another story, as I found out on my recent four city assignment. By the end of the video portion of this gig I'd broken a microphone and destroyed a JuicedLink pre-amp. The microphone, mounted on the hot shoe, brushed up against a basalt cliff as I was rapelling down it. I repaired it the best I could with gaffer tape so I could get through the day. The pre-amp couldn't handle the constant collision of camera bodies dangling from my shoulder, and I lost the audio connection to the camera. The mini-pin connection sheared off internally and is now bouncing around inside the thing.
(I told JuicedLink about my problem, and they're shipping me a new DT454, which they say is more robustly built. We'll see. I guess I'm the person to try it out.)
Just like I bring more than one camera, I had brought multiple audio solutions. I have a second shotgun for the camera, it's just bigger and less convenient. I have wireless lav and wireless handheld microphones, and I have a Zoom H4N for off camera sound capture. I made it through the rest of the assignment, in merely a less tidy fashion.
Having two XLR inputs and a headphone setup is sweet and great quality, but when I'm interviewing on spontaneous impulse during what is also a still shoot, there's a lot to handle at once. I'm just at the edge of what I can handle solo. Provided the gear can hold up.
Separate audio capture is allegedly the gold standard for location audio, but the Zoom takes a long time to set up, and complicates the logistics beyond my ability to manage. You video production veterans will tell me, well duh, that's why you bring a sound guy. I'm not willing to go there, at least on these college shoots where I'm after spontaneous immediacy.
I feel like I'm in the joke about the Alaskan bush pilot, when asked why he didn't fly a plane with two engines. Wouldn't it be safer? "Na, just one more thing to go wrong," he laconically answers.
I also do projects that are slower paced, driven by formal interview footage that is well lit and has perfectly captured sound. This project is not one of those. In my quest for higher control and quality I may have sacrificed my ability to consistently capture what I need to. There is a limit to the kind of abuse location audio gear is built to withstand. I appear to have exceeded it.