Like you, I’m doing everything I can to flatten the curve. I’m working from home and limiting my trips outside, and I won’t be backcountry skiing anytime soon. But I’m also staying active, because otherwise I’ll go crazy. I’ve bitten off a bunch of home improvement projects, walked around my city’s open spaces more than ever, and played hard with my kids at the park. This kit of trusted gear has helped me build a routine and stay productive.
Teva Highside ’84 Shoes ($95)
I like to lace up one pair of shoes in the morning and forget about them for the rest of the day. My favorite all-arounders at the moment are the Highsides from Teva. Thanks to a cushy foam midsole and wide toe box, they’re comfortable for washing dishes or standing at my desk, but they also have an aggressively lugged sole and lightweight build, so I can wear them for an afternoon hike or to play soccer with the kids. They have the vibe of old-school low-cut hikers from the ’80s, and the ripstop and suede uppers have put up with months of abuse.
Proof Rover Pants ($98)
A few nights ago, I was up late clearing out my garage and weeding my front lawn. I wore these pants because they’re made from a thick canvas that stands up to yard and housework. The next morning, I wore them while I sprinted down the street to make sure my kids didn’t bomb down the nearby hill too fast on their scooters. Running was a cinch thanks to built-in Lycra that adds stretch. I’m wearing them now as I write because they’re comfortable for sitting, unlike other work pants that feel like you’re wearing cardboard instead of cotton. Even with daily use during the quarantine and almost a year of putting them through the wringer previously, they still look like new.
Apple Watch Series 5 GPS 44mm ($414)
Before COVID-19, I wasn’t a fan of Apple’s fitness data rings that track your health and activity: you set a goal, and the software bugs you to finish it, which closes the ring. I was an active person who bike-commuted to work and didn’t need a watch telling me to move around. And then life shut down, and those fitness rings became my close and reliable friends. While I’m stuck at the house, the watch nudges me to get outside and close the movement ring. When we were all sitting too long on the weekend watching Netflix, it reminded me, my partner, and my kids to stand and move around for a while. And when I was feeling too depressed to ride my bike, the exercise ring reminded me that I needed to get off my ass and breathe hard for at least 30 minutes. After just a few weeks, I’m hooked.
Patagonia Nano-Air Hoodie ($209)
We gushed over the Nano-Air when it first came out, and I’m still in love. Patagonia’s FullRange insulation makes this jacket surprisingly warm on those still-cold spring mornings when I want to get out and clear my head on a solo hike. Surrounding that insulation is an air-permeable outer fabric that breathes incredibly well, so the jacket stays on until late morning, even when temps reach the 50s and I’m hanging with the kids at the park. Like the pants and shoes mentioned above, the Nano-Air is versatile enough to be the one jacket I’ve grabbed over and over again in the past month. And when things get better, it will still be the jacket I turn to most often for everything from backpacking to backcountry skiing.
Smith Lowdown 2 Chromapop Sunglasses ($90)
Over the past five years I’ve been fortunate to test a lot of sunglasses. But in the spirit of simplification, the Lowdown 2 has been my daily pair since the lockdown. They’re great for activities because they have rubber grippers on the nose that keep them in place when I’m hiking or running (socially distanced, of course). Smith’s proprietary Chromapop lenses add clarity and detail on the trail or in the car, and they look good on almost any face, including mine, which is currently covered in an unruly quarantine beard.
Benchmade Griptilian 551 Knife ($106)
One good outcome during the pandemic: I’ve finally had time for those long-delayed home improvement projects. This knife is the tool I’ve used most to get things done. It has opened boxes, cut rope, trimmed weeds, and performed any other number of odd jobs. I chose the Griptilian 551 as my workhorse because it has a CPM-S30V stainless-steel blade that’s big and strong enough for slicing through tougher materials, plus a textured nylon handle that prevents the knife from slipping out of my hand. It gets bonus points for the reasonable price point compared to similar models from other brands.