Below you will find some notes on gear that I have found to be bombproof or to be luxury worth strapping to your back on the trail. Sure, you can go scan some glossy magazine’s once yearly gear edition for a review or go to a retailer’s website, but most of those reviews are crappy. Those sites or the reviewers either need or hope to make a living off their writing or be given more free gear for further positive feedback of flawed equipment. As a result, some people pull punches. I don’t. Since, addicted is a noncommercial site and I don’t make a dime off of it (100% unsponsored!), I can say what ever I want about a tent that kept me warm or a pair of snowshoes that suck ass. Everything shown below or linked, I bought with my own hard earned cash. I USE the gear, real hard, before I write a word about it. Some of it I have even broken while using it in a way that would void a warranty and was impressed with the amount of abuse that it withstood.
I got turned on to the magic of an in-car GPS when my buddy Matthew had one installed in his Outback that we all road tripped in. I looked into having a factory unit installed in our car when I bought it, but it carried a price tag of $3000, so I opted for an aftermarket model. Laurel and I picked up a Garmin nüvi 770 at Best Buy ($300) on the first day of our cross country road trip/move. It was the SHIZNIT on the road and I only had to crack an atlas once in 2904 miles! Once we got to our new home, it was fantastic for getting to local shops, addresses, and trailheads that we would have never found with just a map and phone book. It made the transition to our new place really smooth. The 720 is a model that talks to you as you drive telling you where to turn. Funny side note: the recorded voice is that of Marian Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry and the voice of the USS Enterprise computer in the original show, all the films, and all the next generation shows. It is comforting in a nerd-p0rn way to be directed by the same soothing tone that took Kirk and Picard across the known universe.
My favorite cycling buddy, Grampy Ron, introduced me to Speed Play X2s when I started complaining about my knee hurting after long out of the saddle climbs in the Californian hills. These babies weren’t cheap - $120ish, but my knees have never been happier. With 0 – 15 degrees of possible float, my foot moves just enough when clipped in to prevent common cycling torsion injuries. These pedals are for road use only and I still use SPDs for my mountain bike – for now. Also, take your cycling shoes off in the parking lot as the base plates wear out fast when walking around on them and are pricey to replace. Stay away from dirt and sand as well. Even though they hate gunk, these are the best road peddles that I have EVER used and I am sold on them forever.
I use the Shimano PD-M324 (and the Wellgo knock-off) on my single speed and on my folding bike. If I plan to make a trip to the coffee shop I use this pedal with street shoes and if it is a more serious ride to work or across town I flip it over and use my SPD cleated mountain bike shoes. This baby is not lightweight or aerodynamic, but it does do everything pretty well and is a nice choice for city riding. I am lobbing Speedplay to make a commuter version on their Frog peddle.
|I loaned my REI HalfDome out and it came back moldy and leaking… While it didn’t make me exactly happy, it did afford me the opportunity, on someone else’s dollar, to look for a new two man tent. I again went with REI and this time around I went with the QuarterDome UL. I just couldn’t find a lighter, better designed tent for the money. At 4lbs. 4 oz., it is a really light two-man setup. We have spent a bunch of nights in it and it's plenty roomy, the vestibules are generous and the duel side doors are a key feature – no crawling over someone when you have to pee at 2AM. I would like a gear hammock, but one is not offered for it. I will eventually breakdown and sew one myself out of netting. Or ask my lovely wife to help...|
|The North Face Canyonlands ($179.00) is 3 lbs. 14 oz. with the footprint rolled in with it. The overall size is 98” x 42” with a ridge height of 38”. The vestibule area is 9 square feet (thin and long) but you can lift it up like an awning to cook if it isn’t absolutely pouring. This one-man tent is not the lightest out there, but it is bombproof in the wind and rain! The interior has plenty of room for one. The big door is nice as well.|
Winter base camp super tent - the North Face VE25
Review coming soon...
|The Arc'Teryx Bora 65 ($265) is my baby! I have loaded this thing with 95+ pounds of gear and hiked way too far and this pack took it without killing me. It holds 4030 - 4640 cu. in. and has lash points everywhere so you can hang gear off the sides and back. The shoulder straps, hip belt, and back piece are crazy comfy. The only negative is that it weighs 5 lbs. 14 oz. empty, but the added weight is SO worth it. I’ll hike with this thing until it falls apart!|
|I have had my Oakley’s for 5+ years. They been a welcome addition to every adventure, trail, and trip that I have had during that time. This is actually the second set of frames because I broke the first ones in a mountain bike crash that also obliterated a helmet and was followed by blood loss and stitches – 100% my fault. Oakley replaced them no questions asked.|
|My Burton Snowboard boots cost $90 on sale four years ago and have NEVER given me a blister, offer great support, still look great; season after season of abuse. I once hiked off a 11,000’+ mountain in them with forty pounds of gear on my back after we boarded too low for snow cover and were hurrying to get off before sunset. I will never buy another brand of board boot.|
|These Ride snowboard bindings were cheap and have held up to some nasty abuse. I snapped a buckle in half after contact with a tree three years ago. I put a nail where the buckle axle was and have never got around to making a “permanent” repair. They are still rocking and I have never had a boot come out even on some horrendous, collarbone-snapping crashes.|
|The MSR DragonFly Stove ($99.95) weighs 1lb. 1 oz. and burns white gas/kerosene/diesel/unleaded auto gas. The boil time with white gas is 3.52 minutes and it is a killer stove for a group of climbers/hikers. It’s not easy to operate with gloves on, but once going it is THE stove to have in nasty weather. Works GREAT in the cold. Buy and take a repair kit in case you tear or lose an o-ring.|
I finally broke down and picked up a JetBoil stove. Man, this thing gets the H2O rolling FAST! As long as you keep the canister semi-warm it will run at any altitude you can throw at it - Brauning and I made coffee on the summit of Whitney in about three minutes. I love the utility of it and the one pot system. My only complaint is that it can be tippy and you need a very flat, stable place to rest it on. EXTREME care should be taken if you are forced to use it in a tent or portaledge because of driving snow or rain. Unzip and vent as much as possible and watch the thing like a hawk as one tip and you could soon be enveloped by melting nylon. A metal folding tripod base is available and I use a base/cutting board combo that I made and it works great. I have seen a system to suspend the stove, but I haven’t tried it out yet.
1 lb. 10 oz MSR Alpine Classic Cook Set ($33.95), is not for solo camping,
but is hard to beat when there is either a group in the woods or you are
car camping. The stainless steel cleans up easily to boot.
|I picked up the SnowPeak Mini-Solo Cook Set from mountiangear.com for $39.99. It is made of titanium and weighs almost nothing. Two fuel canisters fit inside the large pot, which nests in the cup. The metal doesn’t impart any funky tastes on my food and I love hiking with this little kit because of the weight and the storability. Since I have started using the JetBoil, I only take the pot when there are three of more people and we are trying to move fast and light. I machined a 1cm slot in the lid next to the rim so that the pot now functions as a strainer and kettle. I have also replaced the plastic JetBoil cup with the SnowPeak titanium one.|
|My steel cup is the SHIT! A Nalgene bottle will nest in it as will fuel canisters. I robbed the idea of a cup and spork only kitchen set from a guy I met in Wyoming. He has spent thousands of days in the mountains and he realized that with dehydrated/freeze dried foods, a cup of boiled water is all you need. He was so right! Thanks Doug.|
|The Snow Peak Titanium Spork ($10.95) does not leave a metallic smell or taste, will not rust, melt or break and only weighs 0.6 oz. So much better than a plastic fork and spoon. I like sporks so much that I use one that I was given as a gift for dinner when Laurel is away and I carry one my man-bag because disposable silverware at take-out places is such a waste|
|Nalgene Lexan wide mouth bottles are wonderful! A touch heavy if you are going ultra light, but I think they are worth it - since I have six I must be a fan... They have a lifetime leakage guarantee (includes dropping and breaking). If one should fail to perform properly, return it for a replacement to: NALGENE Warranty Replacements, 75 Panorama Creek Dr., Rochester, NY 14625|
|What did any of us do before the CamelBak? I do everything with my little one (except road bike. It would be frowned upon by other roadies) and the CamelBak Peak Bagger is fantastic to climb with, to use on long Mountain Bike rides and to day/speed hike with.|
|When I bought the Katadyn Hiker Filter ($59.95), it was called the PUR hiker. It removes down to 0.3 microns and removes Cryptosporidia, giardia and most bacteria. It will output 1.5 litre/minute and it only weighs 11.7 ounces. The filter will handle up to 200-gallons of water without clogging (new filter $29.25). I have used and used this filter and I have never had a problem with getting sick from my water. Local food, yes, but no getting the runs from my water. If the temperature drops below freezing remember to pump all the water out after use so the thing doesn’t split in half while you sleep.|
|Beef Jerky is a great trail food (small, light, plenty of nutrition), but is can be really tough and rubbery. Pecos Bill’s in soft and tender and has a sweet flavor. It’s the best that you can buy out of a supermarket.|
|AlpineAire ($7.00+) meals cost a little more than other backpacking meals, but they taste so much better. You get what you pay for. It can be prepared in its own pouch; just add boiling water. Through in some Freeze dried corn or mushrooms and a little extra seasoning to make them just that much better. On a cold night, let it rehydrate in your jacket and it will help keep you warm.|
|None of us are body builders, but according to a recent study most active adults should increase the protein intake somewhat to speed in muscle recovery. GENiSOY makes the best tasting protein shake that I’ve tried. It has 14grms of soy protein per serving. Add 12 ounces of soymilk and you’ll have 20grms total. It you look at Weiders or Met-RX, they have 3 times the protein but they also have 3 times the serving size. They also don’t blend well and taste like sawdust. I really like the vanilla flavor, but the chocolate also tastes good, especially when blended with 2 or 3 plump strawberries!|
|Not only do I think that Clif Shot gel tastes better than most, it also has a litter-leash so that you don’t leave little pieces of the wrapper everywhere. A big plus for someone who is all green and crunchy.|
|Jumar Ascenders ($100.00) Classic gear and very, very safe. Right- and left-handed specific; use in pairs or singly. Thanks Grover!|
|Colorado Custom Hardware Aliens Cams ($52.50 - $57.50) are so bomber! I have placed them in sick little cracks and they have held nasty falls. When placed right, you don’t ever have to worry about your gear failing.|
|Camp Tri-Cams ($32.60 - $44.50) are such sweet pieces of gear to have. Once set, they are bomber placements, especially the pink and the red one. Anything above white walks pretty badly, so don’t go too big. There babies are worth their weight in gold at the 'Gunks!|
|I have the five largest Metolius Curve Hexes ($15.00 - $20.00) and they have been great passive protection pieces, especially in off-width chimneys.|
||I carry two screw-links on the back loop of my harness for ditch gear if I can’t get past a crux on a route and can’t or don’t want to aid threw it. They are also very handy in setting up rap stations and in repairing anchors and chains at the tops of routes. $1.50-$3.00 and worth every penny and every ounce.|
|I will not hike without SmartWool Expedition Trekking/Hiking Socks ($14.95 - 16.95) ever again. They are made of 90% super-soft Merino wool for no-itch comfort and warmth and 10% nylon for durability and stretch. Huge blisters have become a thing of the past. GREAT socks! I use silk liner socks when I’m toting a really heavy pack or if it is cold out.|
|I picked up the On-Guard super chain lock on a trip to Seattle in 2008. I use it in conjunction with my regular u-lock when I have to leave a bike locked up for more than just a few minutes. While no lock is unbeatable, the combination of this chain and a second lock makes a prospective thief think twice – there are easier targets right next to mine…|
|I paid $60 for my Abus Granit (no “e” on the end) U-lock after WATCHING a guy shim and pop a cheap U-lock off my single-speed bike in about 5 seconds. I chased him before he got the bike, but the scene scared me. I immediately went to a bike shop and bought this beast. It is tougher than a coffin nail and takes about 5 minutes to cut through with a power saw. I feel much safer locking my bikes up at the coffee shop of gym now.|
|The Petzl Tikka LED Headlamp ($24.95) was Backpacker Magazine's Editors' choice for 2001. It weighs 2.4 ounces and lasts 25.48 hours at 70 degrees F. At 0degrees F, it will last for three. The light from this little baby has lit many a path, climbing/belay route and it has never failed me!|
|The original Crazy Creek Camp Chair in a necessity for me when I am out in the woods! It is a crazy-comfy chair, extra padding when I sleep, I carry firewood with it, it pads my pack from all the sharp & pokey climbing gear and I have used it to shade the sun from my eyes during mid-day naps. If you look hard on the net, one can be snagged for $25.|
|Cold Steel made this “Special Forces” shovel and advertised that it was incredibly useful. I bought one to stow in my truck to dig my tire out if I happened to get stuck. Well, it is all that it was advertised to be and then some! I have dug my truck out, other people’s trucks, dug many a cathole, hacked dead limbs into smaller pieces for a fire, split wood, dispatched a vile nasty snake, etc… I paid $20 or $25 and don’t regret it one bit. The thing is not light and NOT suitable for backpacking unless a llama or a goat is toting your gear.|
CO2-powered inflator ($25 @ REI) has saved my ass going to work and out
on deserted highways more than once. No more pumping. Now a tire change
takes about 3minutes instead of 10. It has an "intelligent head"
and will inflate both Presta and Schrader valves. It also precisely controls
the rate of inflation using a small trigger. The thing will take any 3/8"
size CO2 cartridges--both threaded and unthreaded--as well as the new economy-size
16g non-threaded CO2 cartridge. You get one tire fill-up per cartridge,
so carry two in your seat bag.
|People will put stupid little bags and tools all over their bike. This is NOT one of them! It sits on your top tube, out of the wind, and holds 2 Clif Bars, my cell phone, 4 Clif Shots and a couple of Jolly Ranchers. There is no fishing around in your pockets for food. It is right there where it needs to be and can be reached safely with one hand. I don’t use it for commuting. It is primarily for really long rides or overnight trips. A++|
|After losing a digital at a Denny’s at 4:00 in the morning (long story…) I begrudgingly went shopping for a new digital. I was looking for a well rounded point and shoot not a portrait pro-quality Hasselblad. I chose the Canon PowerShot A630 because I love Canon optics, I am very familiar with their operation and function, the price was great (<$280), the 4X optical zoom is great for such a small camera and it takes AA batteries. My only complaint with the Canon S500 and S-Series in general is the specialized Lithium-Ion battery they use. I have been in the mountains so many times and run out of juice with absolutely no way to recharge. It is frustrating. With AAs I can use rechargeable batteries and pack fresh spares in case I am going to be out a while. I need to note though that the camera has been running for four months on the same original four and I take pictures like a Japanese tourist.|
|My Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters ($60) have kept my feet dry and the backs of my legs snow/slush free during multiple snowshoe outings. They also excel at keeping dirt, debris, cactus thorns and bugs out of my boots during long dusty hikes in the California’s Sierra Mountains. Nice features are: 2-in. wide Velcro front closure and pack cloth in the lower section with Waterproof three-ply Gore-Tex fabric in upper. I have had them patched twice – crampon puncture – and they work the same today as the first day I put them on. I bought my father-in-law his first pair and now he won’t hike with out them.|
|Dr. Grover Shipman turned me onto Moleskines a few years ago and life hasn’t been the same since. The pocket notebooks are just so damn handy! I can make trip, route, and photo notes as I walk on trail, while jammed on a sunny ledge 1000’ up a granite wall, or while riding the train to work. They are absolutely the perfect size to stow in a jacket pocket or in a backpack. I have used the grid, lined, and plain notebooks and while I really like the freedom of the plain paper and they are nice for sketching, there are fewer pages and I make mostly notes and lists so I stick primarily to the lined notebooks.|
|Gear that I have left at home & shouldn't have...|