Hey All, a few things that have made me go "wow" that I have bought in 2012.
The Sawyer Squeeze Filter has pretty much revolutionized water filtering for me. They have finally found that sweet-spot between providing a 1.0 Absolute Micron filter, in a light weight form factor. Not the lightest option out there for filtering water, tablets or liquids will always be, but at the speed that this can filter water and being able to do so down to an Absolute 1.0 micron level, it will probably be awhile before the Squeeze is no longer the go-to filter for me. Yes, we all know that the bags themselves suuuuck, so just throw those stupid sawyer bags away and order up some evernew bags and the world will be all right again. (my full review of the sawyer squeeze)
The ZPacks Waterproof Breathable Rain Jacket has changed my approach to what clothing I take with me on trips now. I never figured a single clothing item could impress me the way that this has. Though I do have to say that my Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants are still in use on a near daily basis and that is impressive from a whole other level. Anyway, the ZPacks WPB Jacket has replaced both my standard rain jacket and my montbell tachyon wind jacket. I use it over my down jacket, I use it when there is a cold wind, I use it around town, I even sleep in it within my sleeping bag. All around highly impressive piece of clothing. (my full review of the zpacks wpb jacket)
The Trail Designs Sidewinder has also changed how I go about cooking. I know I am waaaay late to the game on this one, but now that I own one, I see why everybody loves these suckers. I got one for both my Evernew 900ml pot and the Evernew 600ml pot. I am having a really hard time trying to decide which will go with me on my 2013 long distance hikes. One will give me a bit of extra room to do cooking in, the other is about 3 ounces lighter.
The new Inov-8 Trailroc 245 shoes have blown me away! As a long time user of the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 shoes, I had little hope when I ordered the 245's, but wowzer have I been amazed. The larger toe box of these Trailroc 245's have totally surprised me. Truly fallen in love with the 245's even though they weigh more - I even sold all of my X-Talons. I will say that I still prefer the lugs on the X-Talon shoes, the best lugs I have ever used for long distance hiking.
In the shelter department, I would say that of the little over two dozen shelters I tried in 2012, the Six Moon Designs Skyscape X has been the clear winner for me. I gave it a full review back in April and and I am still using it. Pretty sure this is the longest I have used a single shelter in a very long time.
I also bought one of the ACR ResQLink 406 PLB and have a pending order for the Iridium Extreme, which both will be going with me in the 2013 hiking season as I will be doing some remote backwoods trail development.
Lastly would be Gurney Goo which has been the replacement for Hydropel since their parent company got bought out and the decision to no longer make it was announced. I still think Hydropel was better in wet conditions for feet but the Gurney Goo is the best alternative I have found so far. Only one company in the USA that seems to have it at this point.
Anyway, those are the biggest highlights of my 2012 hiking gear I suppose. Coming in after those, would be the Kavu Chillba Hat which has been an awesome alternative to using the GoLite Chrome Umbrella so my hands are free. The Black Rock Gear Down Vest is my first vest so while I am impressed with it, I have nothing else to relate it too. I finally ditched the Black Rock Gear hat and switched over to a North Face Windstopper High Point Hat so I could have some ear protection. I also went "stupid light" and started using the Ruta Locura Carbon Fiber Stakes for most of my hikes. I still think that the L-stakes that Six Moon Designs sells are the best all around stakes I have come across though. Oh, I also switched from using Patagonia Capilene 3 baselayers over to using Icebreaker baselayers. I held off doing so because of their crazy prices, but now I see why they are so expensive as I am loving these Icebreaker baselayers!!
ps: I really love these posts once or twice a year - they give me a great insight into what gear to check out for the next hiking season!!
(updated: used 2012 once when I meant 2013)