Is Geeky Gear the Best Gear?

Sometimes the weirdest gear is also the most fun.

Oct 29, 2014
Outside Magazine

Because outdoorsy geeks are the best kind of geeks.    Photo: Enrique Zepeda Venegas/Flickr


Most of us reach a certain age when we stop caring about how others perceive us. For me, it happened when I turned 30. Within days of the birthday, I started training for long distance endurance races, running in fancy compression underwear and training with an ElliptiGo. (Okay, not yet, but I'm thinking about it.) When I stopped giving a damn about how I looked, I ended up having a lot more fun. You too can embrace your inner gear geek with these five items:


  Photo: Thinkstock

Growing up skating and surfing in Southern California, I’ve tossed my fair of snark at rollerbladers. But as an older, more reasonable man, I’d like to make a case for the blighted sport. It’s efficient, low-impact exercise that strengthens your glutes and makes you a much stronger, faster runner. Plus, it’s fun. There, I said it.

Sun Hat

  Photo: Alan Bruce/Flickr

You’re going to look silly in a big brimmed sun hat or a cap with flaps on the back. Period. But in addition to protecting you from skin cancer, a good sunhat will leave you with more energy after spending the day outside in the heat.


  Photo: Yaktrax

Goofy? Yes. Practical? Absolutely. I watched an octogenarian strut confidently around like the queen of Ashland, Oregon, after an ice storm left myself and other pedestrians slipping around our town’s sidewalks like newborn deer learning to walk. Her secret? Yaktrax. I don’t care if they look weird on a pair of hiking boots: that old woman looked a lot cooler than I did as she walked confidently to the market.

Compression Sleeves

  Photo: Zensah

Regardless of color and design, compression sleeves and tights look ridiculous. But they can prevent you from crawling home at the end of a race. Granted, the research still hasn’t convinced me that compression sleeves help recovery, but they won’t hurt anything except maybe your ego. Maybe it’s all psychological, but they seem to relieve my searing leg pain after a 50 miler. So, yes, I'll be dressing up like a compression-sleeve mummy from now on.

Recumbent Bike

  Photo: Man Vyi/Wikimedia

During a heated debate with a cyclist after I called his machine “damned goofy,” I learned that while recumbent bikes climb like overweight gorillas, they are amazing descenders. I had to concede that the longer and more balanced weight distribution and the prone, aero position is faster than a traditional bike—and easier on the rider’s body.

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