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What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why
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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/16/2014 23:21:15 MDT Print View

I generally just consider the gear as tools.


For those who are familiar....

Camp in Rockhouse

You gotta smile.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/17/2014 00:21:03 MDT Print View

At the moment my Montbell Tachyon does this without fail every time. Every time I don it, it impresses me again in a new situation.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/17/2014 01:32:43 MDT Print View

the mora

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/17/2014 02:50:07 MDT Print View

A bus ticket.
It may only be a tool, as Nick says, but I like what it does:)

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
You can't tell me what to do. on 03/17/2014 04:11:55 MDT Print View

Sorry, can't pick just one. Current top five off the top of my head:

My regional transportation card. Right now I work in a town that is 40 minutes away by train, so recently bought a train/bus card that is unlimited use any time of day/night for a month in the county I live in, which is slightly larger than the US state of NJ. A lot of the E1 trails pass through this county, and I am in the process of hiking them, so it's a win-win situation for me with work and play. Also, it weighs like 4g.

Zpacks Arc Blast backpack. It's just such a great pack, and can handle anything from winter weekend trips to longer section hikes. If/when I do a thru-hike, this would be the pack I would take.

Waterproof/resistant maps. Recently bought both Tyvek and Pertex treated maps, that are also the most updated (2013). I love looking at maps. When I am stressed out or feeling down, often I will break out one of my newest maps and read it for a while, daydreaming about future trips. That I don't have to waterproof my maps myself saves a lot of time and weight, and is like the icing on the cake. I also love finding things that are not marked on maps that are nice little surprises. Last weekend I did a section hike and found three different shelters, all of which were really nice, and none where on the map.

Borah gear down vest. So light yet so warm, and such a versatile piece of clothing. Great at night and in the morning when its colder, and great to sleep in, plus fits nice under or over other layers. It's a great upgrade to my sleeping system--it's like I upgraded my 5C Zpacks bag to a 0C bag. Very comfy, simple, elegant, easy to pack, 105g.

Camera. I am no photographer and just have a point and shoot little digital camera I got like 4 years ago. But over the past few years I have taken more and more pictures and family and friends have said that my skills are improving and that I have a better eye for a good picture. It's also great to capture some of the beauty that one encounters, and helps one to remember details from trips and of the area. Looking to upgrade in the near future, but cameras in general have earned a new place in my heart as a backpacker. I used to be one of those "memory is best" type people and didn't want to be bothered with taking the time to snap a bunch of pictures. Now I enjoy it, and found it takes very little time and is really worth it.

Wow, picking just 5 was hard enough. I don't know how a lot of you just picked one! I think most of my gear has made me smile at one point or another.

Patrick M.
re: What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/17/2014 11:08:13 MDT Print View

Coleman 550b stove.

Not nearly ultralight, and its pushing it to call it even light. However, this stove straight up works, and it works well. Priming not fully needed with white gas (pump up and ignite with cookware already onboard, and just leave it set to high)

Works great with white gas or petrol, and with the kerosene generator is capable of those fuels plus kerosene, diesel, and even lamp oil.

The lowest, stablest simmer I have ever achieved with a liquid fuel stove. I can properly prepare risotto on this stove. Pancakes will be tried in the future.

Fuss and fiddle free, you just pull it out, unfold the legs, turn on fuel and ignite (assuming you stored it with pressure from last cook). This is the easiest liquid fuel stove I have.

The only issue I have besides the robust weight, is that using a windshield allows for heating of the fuel vessel.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/17/2014 11:45:18 MDT Print View

Someone mentioned their Mora knife. I'd have to agree and even though I don't bring it on every trip, any time I have a chance to use it I feel a little bit manlier.

The two pieces of gear I've really bonded with are the Snow Peak 700ml mug and Leki Makalu Ultralite Ti poles. The mug isn't perfect, I just use some folded up aluminum foil for a lid and wish it was a little lighter, but I like it better than the half dozen other pots I've tried that are lighter or have "better" features. I've had it since I started hiking by myself in 2007, its the oldest piece of gear I still use. The poles are something I impulse purchased off Steep and Cheap also in 2007. Again, I wish they were lighter and that they had flip locks but they have been tougher than I ever hoped for. They've been with me on every backpacking trip I've ever taken, one section got bent and replaced by Leki, the baskets are all mangled, some animal has chewed on the handles on multiple occasions but they continue to support my vaults across creeks and flip branches and bushes out of the way.


Thomas Rayl
(trayl) - MLife

Locale: SE Tx
What one piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/17/2014 12:43:14 MDT Print View

My urinal bottle. Yup, <$10 at the local drug store, cheap blow-mold plastic, etc. At my age (65), I A-L-W-A-Y-S have to "dump by tank" at 0-dark-thirty in the morning. With this bottle, I stay in the warm nest, enjoy that wonderful relief of built-up pressure, and am still toasty when done. (Leave the full bottle in a safe place, though!)

Don A.
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Smiley Gear on 03/17/2014 13:03:36 MDT Print View

I'm with Thomas on this one. Old guys know what's important. My Nalgene 32oz. Wide-Mouth Cantene is my never hit the trail with out it piece of gear. Good for 2 pees in middle of the night. There is a learning curve. Make sure your awake enough to aim properly, be sure that the bottle is in a down slope position put the cap on tight. On cold nights it's a nice foot warmer providing you get the cap on tight.Nalgene Pee Bottle

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
What one piece of gear makes you smile and why on 03/17/2014 13:25:45 MDT Print View

My MSR Titan Kettle.

One of my first lightweight pieces of gear that I purchased when transitioning from traditional backpacking.

Shelters, clothing, and sleeping bags have all changed, but the Kettle remains.

At the end of a long day on the trail with hard miles, there is something very comforting about pulling out the Kettle to cook up my one hot meal of the day.

The enjoyable task of slowly cooking my food...hearing the boiling water or the sound of bubbling food as it simmers to a low boil.

Talking with friends while stirring food in the mug, recounting the days adventure....all of us looking forward to our meals.

Sitting out overlooking a lake or a high mountain valley cradling a hot mug of food that warms my hands and appreciating what I have seen and done that day just puts a smile on my face.


Rick Sutton
(rickcsutton) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re:"What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why" on 03/17/2014 13:53:33 MDT Print View

Just a quick note to say THANKS to everyone who has responded and a special THANKS to Todd for his willingness to share how a piece of his gear made him smile.

So often, I cherish this forum for all the data, wisdom, and techie info its members provide for me, AND it has been a real enjoyable and rewarding experience to hear (and feel) the emotion each of you have shared about gear that really makes you smile. It has been interesting to see how unique and personal all the responses have been. Hopefully, for all of us, and especially for me, this has been a very good reminder that while the data, charts, and digital scales all have a purpose, least we not forget the real reason we go to the woods - for a good time, and, hopefully, for a few good smiles.

Thanks again.

P.S. - To Cesar - It seems there always has to be at least one trouble maker in the group - smile LOL! Cool list, thanks for sharing!

Edited by rickcsutton on 03/17/2014 14:01:23 MDT.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
top several, can't pick just one on 03/17/2014 16:30:48 MDT Print View

Caldera Cone stove.

Mora knife

Western Mountaineering bag and down coat

Squal 2 tarptent

Neoair sleeping pad.

Edited by rshaver on 03/18/2014 09:22:36 MDT.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Re: Re:"What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why" on 03/17/2014 17:23:22 MDT Print View

My good 'ol Evernew Titanium 1L pot.

I've had it for many, many years (and it will last for many more, I hope), and it wasn't that expensive. It may not be the absolute lightest pot out there, but I love the lid and the fold-out stay-cool handles, and it's always the perfect size for two people (even when one of them is a morning coffee hog like me!). :^)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
REI Kimtah parka on 03/17/2014 18:07:56 MDT Print View

My REI Kimtah eVent parka is so good I smile when I use it for:

skiing of all sorts (on piste and backcountry)
wind protection (often instead of a windshirt)
rain and sleet protection

Plus I have the Kimtah eVent pants for all of the same reasons.

Rick Sutton
(rickcsutton) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re:"What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why" on 03/17/2014 19:10:47 MDT Print View

My wife wanted me to share her choice:

The Sani-Fem Freshette Feminine Urinary Director

She says this piece of gear makes her smile because it makes her feel liberated out on the trail. Personally, I think she smiles because now she can pee like a guy - smile.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re:"What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why" on 03/17/2014 19:59:17 MDT Print View

Not smiling yet, but soon.

Smiling because I've tried it on and know just how good this pack is.


Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re:"What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why" on 03/17/2014 20:07:14 MDT Print View

Okay, and this baby.
Who wouldn't smile at 7.9 ounces?

Edited by awsorensen on 03/17/2014 20:08:07 MDT.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Happy feet on 03/17/2014 20:25:36 MDT Print View

Vivobarefoot Breatho trail shoes because my feet get happy just at the thought of getting to play in them on the trail.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Smiley Gear on 03/17/2014 22:06:49 MDT Print View

I'm 29 and I already wake to pee in the night, every night...

I was just contemplating in my head some kind of downbootie/overshoe etc for getting up in the night in camp, but this could be a better idea...stay in the shelter in the quilt to stay warm and dry.

Ever contemplated using them for extra water storage on dry stretches...? ;-)

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re:"What ONE piece of gear makes you smile and why" on 03/17/2014 22:08:11 MDT Print View

I'm thinking this is a goer Aaron.

Any idea what the fabric is? Are those side compression straps easily removeable?