Wind, waves, rushing rivers, deep snow, vast woods, and towering mountain peaks -- these were but a few of the obstacles encountered on my adventures around the world in 2010. Indeed, with trips and expeditions to Nepal, Iceland, Patagonia, and the Alps, the past 12 months can go on record as the most epic of my life so far.
Without the right gear, the mountain climbs, bike races, and wilderness treks would not have been possible. The gear below, a "Top 10" list, are products that were crucial to the success, safety, speed, and relative comfort my teammates and I experienced outdoors and across the world during 2010.
1. Rab Xenon
This thin "puffy" jacket employs synthetic Primaloft One insulation to offer significant warmth in a small package. It stuffs into its own chest pocket and weighs only 11 ounces. But unpack the Xenon and you have a layer with enough loft to trap body heat and maintain critical core temps. Bonus: The thin but tough Pertex face fabric never ripped, even during days of abuse outdoors. $225, http://us.rab.uk.com
2. Inov-8 Race Pro 30
A backpack made for endurance racing, climbing, and all-around use, the Race Pro has a lightweight, frameless design and a body-hugging fit. It works when youíre running or climbing fast. Its 30 liters of capacity, big hip-belt pockets, and indestructible design proved perfect on adventure races and long treks during 2010. $100, www.inov-8.com
3. Icebug SPIRITOLX
From Sweden come these speed demons, complete with 14 fixed carbide spikes per shoe and a trail-oriented, racing-flat design. For serious runners, the Icebugs are adaptable and speedy shoes that tear into the trail for ultimate grip. $159, www.icebug.se
4. Garmin Forerunner 310XT
Accurate and useful GPS functionality plus all the fitness metrics an exerciser might need! That's the 310XT, a flagship uber-watch from Garmin that can measure your heart rate, calories burned, distance covered, altitude gained, and real-time speed on a run. Its accurate GPS then lets you download a map of your route on a computer at home. $349, www.garmin.com
5. Ibex Balance Boxer Shorts
Underwear as a Top 10 pick? Correct. The Balance Boxers are stretchy, breathable, and tight -- perfect for activity. But the secret is the underpants' merino fabric, a light, itch-less wool that breathes and does not stink, even after consecutive days of wear in the outback. $45, www.ibexwear.com
6. Platypus Platy Bottle
Lightweight, flexible plastic water bladders with screw-shut caps. That's the simple, but highly usable product that is the Platy Bottle. They hold a liter of liquid and roll up to almost nothing when not in use. $13, www.cascadedesigns.com/platypus
7. SteriPEN AdventurerOpti
This water purifier pen zaps viruses, bacteria and protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium with ultra-violet light. Press the button, dip the lamp into your drink, and wait 90 seconds to purify. $99, www.steripen.com
8. Suunto Vector HR
On my wrist all year long, the Vector HR provides altitude, barometer, clock, compass, and heart-rate monitor functions without a blink. Bomber construction. Reliable functionality. A crucial tool in the outdoors. One caveat: Its alarm is too quiet, and you might oversleep! $329, www.suunto.com
9. Saucony ProGrid Kinvara
For training days and road running, the light, fast and fun Kinvara shoes have risen to the top in my closet. The "barefoot"-style shoe has mesh uppers and a unique outsole that's skimmed down to just the essentials, including an exposed mold of EVA foam dotted with triangles of durable rubber. $90, www.saucony.com
10. Giro Prolight
A Tour de France favorite, the Prolight lives up to its name: The helmet weighs a mere 6.8 ounces! Fit is low-profile and tight. Airways and 25 vents keep the head cool as you ride. $200, www.giro.com
--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.