I have a confession. I like outdoor gear. Packs, tents, stoves, sleeping bags, knives, flashlights, water filters, etc. If you can use it hiking, backpacking, biking, and camping the odds are I either own it or have bought it and given it away. People in our circle of friends know if they want to go hiking or backpacking they don’t have to buy anything other than footwear since they can borrow everything else from us. The only thing I like more than outdoor gear is books. But that’s another story (and maybe another webpage.)
Suffice to say I’ve wasted a lot of money buying things I didn’t need, didn’t work, or just wasn’t worth the cost. At some point having too much stuff actually got in the way of getting out and having fun. Clutter can do that. There are however some pieces of equipment and clothing I use year in and year out, things I would buy again in a heartbeat, at least if said items were still being made.
This page is devoted to my gear recommendations. Everything listed here was purchased with my own money (unless it was a gift from a friend or family member), all links are for your convenience, I don’t receive any ‘click’ revenue, or even track that sort of thing, and the opinions are my own. Some of the recommendations may seem trivial, but I’ve included them because they serve a purpose.
To be clear, you can’t buy adventure by buying gear. Adventures require getting off the couch and heading out the door. That being said, certain equipment can make an adventure go a little more smoothly. Feel free to send me your comments and opinions.
(This page will be updated periodically when there is a desire to add new content.)
Early Winters® Convertible Nylon Pants
A good pair of lightweight convertible nylon pants is arguably the most versatile piece of clothing you can own. They dry fast, keep off bugs, and protect your legs from the sun. Remove the legs and you have shorts, and in a pinch, a swimsuit. I have a couple of pairs convertible pants made by Early Winters. Sadly, these pants are no longer made. The ones I own have passed the quarter century mark. During that time buttons have been reattached, several patches sewn on, and even the elastic in the waistband has been replaced. My wife has pointed out the fabric is wearing really thin and they won’t last forever. There’s a limit what you can do with patches, especially around the seat of the pants.
Why not replace them? Memories for one. These pants have accompanied me on more adventures than I can count. There are also practical reasons: the pockets are just the right size, the zippers on the leg are above the knee, the material is the right weight for Southern California. One day I’ll have to part with them, but for now, if you see me on the trail, the odds are you’ll see me in these pants.
Patagonia® Silkweight Capilene T-Shirt
My purple silkweight Patagonia t-shirt is over twenty years old, has been with me on hundreds of hikes, and still has no holes in it. It is my warm weather day hiking shirt of choice. Yes, there are newer shirts with better SPF Rating and better odor control (my t-shirt starts to smell after a day or two of hard hiking which is why I use lightweight merino wool on longer trips), but this shirt has stood the test of time. It is comfortable and functional, as well a gentle reminder I don’t need the “latest and greatest” materials or the newest style and colors. Plain, simple, and durable is what’s important.
Long Handle Titanium Spoon
A spoon? Are you kidding me? No, I’m not kidding. This spoon goes with me on all my overnight trips. At 8 1/2 inches long and only 0.4 ounces (~12 grams) it is perfect for eating meals right out of the pouch. Yes, out of the pouch. Most of my meals, especially on shorter trips, consist of pouring boiling water into a prepackaged food bag and eating right out of the bag. No dishes to clean, just the spoon. The long handle keeps my fingers clean while I dig into the deep recesses of the bag. BackpackingLight.com no longer sells this spoon, but similar items are available.
Sea-to-Summit® Aeros Pillow Ultra Light
It is impossible to overstate the value of a good nights sleep. The Sea-to-Summit Aeros Pillow Ultra Light is the best pillow I’ve ever used. I tuck the Aeros pillow into a piece of fleece or other fabric (using the fleece/fabric as a pillow case) and then it’s off to dreamland. A good night sleep for about the weight of a Clif Bar®.