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You Tell Me...What is the Best Gear Ever???
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Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
My fav 3 on 08/23/2009 18:41:59 MDT Print View

As others have, I find it hard to limit to three, but I'll try, with the caveat that of course Doug is right about the power of the internet and the generosity of strangers in sharing their ideas.

(1) Golite shoes: not a favorite for everyone, but the wide toe box allows me to backpack (at least, without foot surgery)

(2) Andrew Skurka's video and related instructions for making a dead simple, light and effective cat food can alcohol stove; a fairly recent discovery for me, so maybe it won't hold up in my top 3 long term, but it's great to have something this effective that I can recommend to folks that had previously never heard of alcohol stoves.

(3) For #3 I guess I'll go with the whole freezer bag cooking thing too; I sure enjoy not having to clean pots, and the related process of easy-at-home, easy-on-trail, and lower price.

After I've done some trips with it, my new Gatewood Cape might well make it into the top 3; it seems like pretty genius design to me.

Then the usual praise for products, GG packs, aqua mira, Ursacks, Montbell thermawrap and sleeping pads, C.F. trekking poles, super-absorbant pack towels, ...

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: best gear ever on 08/23/2009 18:55:55 MDT Print View

For the same reason you love your Nimbus Ozone, I love my GG VT. Take it anywhere, it is my go-to pack for weights above 20 lbs or whenever I **need** to take a tent.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Since people have mentioned books... on 08/23/2009 22:28:23 MDT Print View

...and I haven't a favorite piece of gear, I'll mention some people that have definitely ushered me on my way:

Gary Gygax:
For teaching a kid the love of meticulously itemized gear lists. I've since traded my Robe of Eyes, Bracers of Defense +2, and Bag of Holding for a Petzl Tikka, bear spray, and Golite Jam.

Gary Snyder, Edward Abbey, Jack Kerouac, Hemingway, Homer, Melville, Han Shan, and all the rest:
For inspiring a teenager to go make some adventure, see the world, and get in some trouble.

Ray Jardine and Beyond Backpacking (as much of a kook as he can be!):
For making me realize (duh!) that you don't have to carry everything in the camping section (plus a backup) and wear big stupid boots to sleep in the woods.

This site and all the great people on it:
I've learned a ton of cool stuff here over the years.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: retro is as retro does on 08/24/2009 08:13:58 MDT Print View

Good one Larry!

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
FBC on 08/24/2009 08:17:00 MDT Print View

good call on that. that revolutionized how i eat

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: FBC on 08/24/2009 08:37:34 MDT Print View

Thank you to all who mentioned me. I can say that what I do would not be doable without the internet!

And in all honesty, most of what I buy as personal gear has been due to finding gear online - love finding things I would never have dreamed up - and in less than a week it is in my hands!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Favorite gear on 08/24/2009 08:58:57 MDT Print View

First of all, the concepts that have fostered the gear are the real change.

That aside, in no particular order:

Water bladders
Wicking clothing
Breathable (and ventilated) rain gear
Trekking poles
Synthetic fill
Closed cell foam
Ti pots
Hot little stoves
Digital cameras

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Top 3 Picks on 08/24/2009 14:09:12 MDT Print View

Just three.....hmmmm...for me in no particular order it would be:

Exped Down Mats......Near perfection after a very looooong search for the pad that I can sleep through the night on. No lightweight at 20oz for the short 7 and 30oz for the full length 7, but worth their weight in energy bars and dark chocolate. As an added bonus it allows me to carry a much lighter bag/quilt.

Trekking poles. As one of the early adopters in 1983, I could not have finished the PCT without them. At the time I used a pair of fixed length Kerma downhill ski poles that served me well up until 2004 when I got a pair of Leki Ti trekking poles. I just wish I could know how many of those that teased me back then are using them now!

Internet sites for lightweight backpacking. From a base of 35lbs (or more) down to 10.4lbs has been unbelievably liberating! Trail life is more comfortable, relaxing, and much more simplified and I owe it to the community of backpackers that the web has brought together from all over the globe sharing tips, tricks, and info on those that make the equipment.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
the power of the internet on 08/24/2009 14:45:19 MDT Print View

I would agree with Doug that possibly many of these early innovators might still be around via the internet, in particular Rivendell, Forrest,and some of the other more cottage industry makers. There is real pattern of the founders selling their creations to some parent company lacking the invention and zeal maybe even being absobed again and again by larger conglomerates. Moonstone is a good example of this.
There is a direct analogy to the bicycle industry at the time China flooded the market with inexpensive high end $4.00 frames almost completely destroying the cottage/boutique makers.
You can also see burnout and the desire to get out there in particular with the climbing community instead of making stuff.
We also have the addded problem with the stuff not wearing out, even cared for ultralight equipment holds up remakable well.[The only pack that I've "lost" was to porcupine who chewed the straps off it]So most of the time the gear dragon takes over forcing us to "need" something new.
We are blessed with diversity of products and a friendly competitive environment that has stayed mostly below major industries radar.
I remember a course in economics eons ago where the professor lectured us about how we vote with our dollar bills; you can vote for Coke or Pepsi, Honda or Ford, a locally owned store or a box store. We need to remember this and support these folks who keep the flow of way cool products coming our way.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Best Gear Ever on 08/25/2009 13:54:51 MDT Print View

> For the people who listed vibram fivefingers... how do you deal with trails that have been trod by horses? I found that the dust would go right through the mesh. Within minutes they felt like sandpaper against my skin... especially just above the heel.


Try the lightest Iniji socks. The will fit without going up a size in shoes. Also, the KSO model Vibram's are the best for hiking. I have more problems on rocky cross country travel because my little toe hits rocks occassionally. I have switch to cross country racing flats because they are lighter and address some of the Vibram's deficiencies. But I still use the Vibrams too.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Best Ever on 08/25/2009 13:59:31 MDT Print View

1. Closed foam pads

2. Hip belts

3. Lightweight Stoves (used to use campfires)

4. Poncho/Tarp

5. Platypus

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
You Tell Me...What is the Best Gear Ever???" on 08/25/2009 17:40:11 MDT Print View

#1 - I agree with Doug & others who have said the internet. Although not strictly gear, it has been more instrumental in helping me backpack than anything else - from researching and purchasing gear, to finding places to hike, to finding people to hike with.

#2 - Freezer Bag Cooking - simply awesome, & a near must for me. No worry about dishwashing, yucky dishwater to dispose of properly, or having to carry a lot of fuel and pots.

#3 - Almost anything with 800+ fillpower down - so warm and light.

Honorable mention - Hennessey Hammock

bj bretzke
(lilorphanbilly) - F

Locale: Montana, MT (Stealth Mode)
Best gear ever..... on 08/25/2009 18:05:04 MDT Print View

I never really think about it but I guess I'm becoming an old timer! When I started adventuring in scouts in the mid 70's we were still in canvas tents, CB radios were our only way to communicate, sometimes through several people and the mantra was (come on everybody say it with me) "Be Prepared!". So here goes:
1 synthetics
2 UCO candlelantern
3 cell phones
4 alky stoves (from this site)
5 BPL for the insight to make the best gear I've ever had.
5.5 MYOG

Hike hard, Hike often!

Never apologize, never explain. (Ed Abbey)

Edited by lilorphanbilly on 08/25/2009 20:25:28 MDT.

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: You Tell Me...What is the Best Gear Ever???" on 08/25/2009 22:02:29 MDT Print View

In chronological order, the following inspired me to go from 40lbs to <8lbs base weight...which made the trail experience just as good as the rest of the backcountry experience;

1) Lighten Up...blissfully simple philosophy of ul backpacking
2) BPL website...found this site when I googled lightweight backpacking with scouts (about two years know the article)
3) Trail Designs - first the Caldera Cone, then the Ti-Tri Caldera, and most recently the Ti-Tri Inferno...simple, unique, effective, perfect pieces of gear.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: You Tell Me...What is the Best Gear Ever???" on 08/26/2009 00:09:57 MDT Print View

Surprising enough, I'm not a big fan of any of my gear. I think that everything includes compromises. And therefore everything has downsides.

The only truly impactful piece of gear that I've ever had was the Golite Breeze. I bought it a few months after it was released. The first version of it (the one that I owned) was a flawed product. The shoulder straps wouldn't stay tight and the mesh was incredibly fragile. Still, I used it for years until it was full worn out. That pack was excellent. My next ultralight pack will likely go back to those roots, a pack without a hip belt.

Otherwise, I don't think that I have any other favorites. Though I could list goretex clothing up there. I've got four different hard shell sets. But it's the heavy, durable, very waterproof and very expensive stuff that makes the list. There is nothing like wearing that stuff when bad weather strikes and it's just me and my clothes.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
raingear and its fans on 08/26/2009 09:15:24 MDT Print View

I read somewhere that the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, can have his pick of any form of product made but prefers to just get wet. I think about that a lot when my piece wets through and the battle to hold the line against getting soaked is drawn.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: raingear and its fans on 08/26/2009 10:01:27 MDT Print View

I'd say that getting wet is what I do most of the time. It's not really an option as most rain gear doesn't really work. I'm looking at you Golite and Marmot lightweight stuff!

But if I'm swathed in my thousand dollar shell set, it works pretty well. And it puts a smile on my face, especially in multi-day winter storms. And the irony? The jacket is Patagonia.

Edited by Found on 08/26/2009 10:02:41 MDT.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Driducks on 08/26/2009 10:36:41 MDT Print View

It really works. Better than anything else I've tried, (though I've not shelled out the big bucks yet.)

A friend and I were out last weekend in a long downpour, me in my dri-ducks, he in his marmot gear, and he got wet, I didn't. So yah, Propore works great.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
ah the sad, sad promises of time on 08/27/2009 08:45:08 MDT Print View

It's not that I doubt your recent experience it's just if you rolled back the clock like Hollyweird does with calander pages leafing down to the floor you'll find this oft repeated promise.
Sure your buddies stuff worked in the conditions you faced but raise the temp, change the scenary,twist it up a bit and there you are, wet, disappointed, despondent.
Give me a five pound jar of Vaseline and a clothing optional trail and I'm set for rain. Cold and embarassed but the beads of precip pour off like Bridalveil Falls in Spring.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: ah the sad, sad promises of time on 08/27/2009 10:19:14 MDT Print View

Waxing poetry now, are we?