Backpacking Gear: Being thankful for what you have
I've got a great kit that works together well, so it's hard to pick any one standout item. Notables that haven't changed in years include a Patagonia Houdini, cocoon pullover, BPL vapr bivy, MLD burn pack, Javan Dempsey quilt, firelite 550 pot, and some cutdown foam. In truth though, any of these could be easily interchanged with a similar item and my experience would be just as good. I think the search for the perfect gear sometimes detracts from just enjoying the experience.
Outdoor Gear: An alternate mode of transportation
Be it packraft, skis, snowshoes, or bike, it's nice to see parts of the wilderness that may not be accessible by foot.
Lifestyle: Lake Superior
I never planned on living in the Midwest, but the Lake Superior shoreline has made it worthwhile, transforming Michigan from being just another Midwestern state into a premier backpacking destination. I've spent the last 3 years exploring it, and feel like I've only scratched the surface. The ice formations, caves, and cliffs have to be seen to be believed.
Wishing you all a happy holiday season. Thank you for the 2013 inspirations. Here's to 2014!