Editors' Choice: 24-20

Feb 14, 2010
Outside Magazine

Postcard from China   

Surly Big Dummy

Surly's Big Dummy

24. Tofino, Vancouver Island
The best surf town in North America is in Canada. Who knew?

23. Postcards
from places very far away. The one above is from contributing editor Patrick Symmes while on assignment in deepest China.

22. Utilitarian Bikes
Like Surly's Big Dummy. This steel beauty, designed specifically for the Xtracycle cargo extension, will take you and, say, a couple of kids on a long haul to the park and still have plenty of room to pick up a load of groceries on the way home. Imagine the possibilities. $2,000; surlybikes.com

21. McCann's
Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. Add hazelnuts, walnuts, dried cherries, raisins, and maple syrup and get out there. No, they don't do instant, but you won't be hungry again anytime soon. $7; mccanns.ie

20. P-Cord
It's easy to imagine an expedition without paracord. I just picture a world falling apart at the seams, with nothing to tie it back together: My tent has come untethered and blown away, my food sack has tumbled from a tree and been consumed by bears, half my gear has come loose from my pack, and my boots are unlaced and falling off. To say that I rely too heavily on paracord—otherwise known as parachute cord, p-cord, or 550 cord—is to trivialize an item used to keep WWII Airborne troopers attached to their parachutes. Soldiers on the ground were quick to recognize the versatility of string thinner than most shoelaces but rated to 550 pounds, so they scavenged lengths of it from discarded 'chutes. It became the general-purpose cord of choice for a generation of men who learned that the difference between good gear and bad gear can be the difference between life and death. My old man was a forward observer in WWII, working ahead of the front lines, and he continued to carry paracord until his death, six decades later. As far as I can remember, he never once embarked on a camping or fishing trip without a couple of 25-foot rolls. Today, I buy the same Type III paracord through army surplus. It has an almost sentimental value to me; it's the one piece of gear that has remained nearly unchanged from my father's time to mine. Not only does it span the years; if used properly, it can keep them wrapped up, tethered, and lashed down.
--Steven Rinella