These are the years when you probably have more time than money. What you need is affordable gear that’s both versatile and tough—like this stuff.
Skis for the park, skis for the backcountry, skis for powder days. At some point you can have them all. Until then, Armada’s rockered JJs ($600) will both float you across the fresh stuff and, with wood stringers and a three-ply fiberglass laminate, provide plenty of edge control on hardpack. They probably aren’t the only skis you’ll ever want, but they might be the only ones you’ll ever need.
Scarpa Crux Light Hikers
With a sticky rubber rand wrapping the forefoot and a stiff Vibram sole, Scarpa’s 14-ounce Crux light hikers ($99) can handle everything from easy rock climbs to moderate hikes. With a suede upper that gives off a casual street vibe, they can also handle an evening at the pub.
NRS’s seven-pound PackRaft ($575) folds down to the size of a briefcase, making it the backpacker’s ideal craft for high alpine lakes. But this bobber isn’t confined to flat- water. Made from 70denier urethane, it’s resilient enough to take on Class II–III rapids, and with six tie-down points, it’ll keep your gear secure.
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody
Plenty of jackets can fend off wind and rain, but few are burlier or will last longer than the Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody soft shell ($250). The DWR-coated mix of nylon, polyester, and spandex on this uninsulated jacket was unscathed after a bushwhack through a thicket of devil’s club. Bonus: the hood fits over helmets.
Moleskin Volant Journal and Stanley Classic Flask
Believe it or not, many things happen in your twenties that shouldn’t be shared on Facebook. They should, however, be remembered. Write them down in
a 64-page Moleskine Volant journal (from $6), inspired by the handmade ones in travel writer Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines. A sturdy synthetic-leather-bound cover ensures it will maintain its shape.
Of course, what kind of writer would you be without a drink on hand at all times? Stanley’s eight-ounce, stainless-steel Classic flask ($28) is rustproof, it slides easily into the pocket of your cargo pants, and the wide-mouth opening obviates the need for a funnel when filling.
Panasonic Lumix TS25
You want a compact point-and-shoot that can survive a river trip, a summit push, and a muddy bike ride—possibly all in one day. Panasonic’s Lumix TS25 camera ($180) is the size of a deck of cards and captures brilliant 16.1-megapixel pictures and high-definition video. It’s also freezeproof down to 14 degrees and waterproof down to 23 feet, and it’ll shrug off drops from as high as five feet.
Leatherman Charge AL
You can treat yourself to that big Craftsman shed when you purchase a home. For now, Leatherman’s anodized-aluminum Charge AL ($90) puts 17 tools at your disposal, including two pliers, three screwdrivers, wire strippers, and a bottle opener. At four inches long and just eight ounces heavy, it goes wherever you go.
REI Half Dome 2
With a solid tent like REI’s two-person Half Dome 2 ($190; rei.com), the worst thing you’ll suffer in even the nastiest rainstorm is a mild case of cabin fever. Smartly color-coded aluminum poles make for easy setup, and the 32 square feet of floor space feels roomier with vestibules over both side doors. Zipper flaps and welded seams seal out drafts.
Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge’s 12-inch cast-iron skillet ($37) is the ultimate starter pan. Not only does it work on a stove top, in the oven, and over a campfire, but because the iron absorbs oils, the more you cook with it, the more nonstick it becomes. Even better? You can skip the soap and just rinse it clean.