Unplugged: Favorites From a Gearhead
This is a list of sweet gear, of course. This post was inspired by several things. Most of which were the awesome postings created by the Verge (e.g. "Verge Favorites", "Classics", "What's In Your Bag", etc.) But, also, I was inspired after reading Paul's Offline report from his experience in the woods. I really enjoy getting unplugged; no phone, no GPS, not even a digital watch -- just a map and your gear. I couldn't help but laugh when Paul wrote "It starts when you enter REI." I laughed, but, there is a lot of truth to that. If there is one thing I've learned from my backpacking/camping experiences is that if you don't have the right gear, the most beautiful place on Earth can be a let down if you're not prepared for the conditions. Of course, who here doesn't like buying sweet gizmos and gadgets?!
What I like about camping and hiking gear is that there is quite a bit of thought and engineering that goes into the design and function (much like gadgets seen on the Verge). It used to be that one would have to make sacrifices - the whole form vs. function argument. Typically there would have to be some compromises made in order to get what you want. A hot meal, for example. Nowadays, pots and pans are made out of super lightweight material and are even non-stick -- single burner liquid fuel stoves have become super efficient at conducting heat while being light weight. Often when I camp, I have a better, healthier meal than when I'm at home! But I digress. This is a post about some of my favorite outdoorsy gear and gadgets. And many items in the list I use in many circumstances other than camping/hiking.
Without further ado, here are several items i love.
Stoic Titanium Spork... The spork gets a bad reputation in many communities, but seriously, look at this thing. It's two utensils in one!! It's already super lightweight because it's made out of titanium, but they went a step further and hollowed out the handle so that there is even less material. This may be silly, but that's one less gram of weight in your pack that you don't have to carry on your hiking trip. I take this with me to work everyday when I pack my lunch as well. So versatile!
Thermarest NeoAir Sleeping Pad... This thing is amazing. It's almost more comfortable than my $1,000 Sealy bed at home (almost). It weighs a meek 1 lb 9 oz (710 g) and when it is deflated and packed up, it's less than the size of a Nalgene, and that is for the large size! It comes in 3 different sizes. I'm 6'4" and fit quite comfortably on this. And if you really want to splurge, get the fitted sheet designed specifically for this pad, it's like sleeping on a cloud. I even take this thing every time I fly, especially in the winter, you never know when you will be stranded at the airport, whip this bad boy out and good night!
Marmot Minimalist Rain Jacket... It rains a lot in Florida, where I live. And there's nothing worse than getting caught in a downpour when you're out on the trail and everything gets soaked. This is made out of the top-of-the-line GoreTex PacLite waterproof material. It is thin and light and has pit zips for when it's hot, yet, I have taken this thing to Lake Tahoe and Colorado to ski in mid-January when it's freezing cold (as long as you layer correctly underneath of course). I love a product that can be so versatile and used in so many different weather conditions.
Black Diamond Trail Shock Trekking Poles...You know, I used to think these things were for the old and weak (I'm 28 years old), and, frankly, thought people just looked ridiculous walking with these things. I decided to give them a try on my last hiking trip (New Zealand for 3 weeks!!) and wow I love them! If the proper technique is used, they actually make you faster, relieve pressure from your lower body, and can save you from a fall. These happen to be completely collapsible and even have a shock absorber just underneath the handle for a smoother ride! I won't hike without them ever again.
Zebra Gel Pen...I mentioned I like to get unplugged earlier when I venture out on these hiking trips. And don't get me wrong, I love technology. The Verge is absolutely my favorite most visited website, but getting unplugged helps me recharge my 'life' batteries, so to speak. I love nature and I love challenging myself, seeing how far I can push myself. It's all part of the experience for me (my wife may not agree entirely...). So, when I go completely unplugged I grab a journal and write with my all-time favorite pen; the Zebra stainless steel G-301 Gel. It writes buttery smooth, is lightweight, comfortable, and can take a beating which helps when you are travelling and on the trail. For some reason the Gel version of this pen is hard to find so I buy the ink replacements in bulk.
Thanks for reading. Any other gearheads out there? What are your favorite items? I love me some gear porn!