25 Gear Essentials
There's the gear you want, and there's the gear you need. After much internal debate, we present the 25 products every guy should own.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel
The North Face Base Camp DuffelThe North Face Base Camp Duffel
It's not that we have anything against wheeled luggage. It's just that we like to go places where there's no pavement. That's why we're such big fans of The North Face's Base Camp Duffel. It's water-resistant and nearly indestructible. It has surprisingly comfortable backpack straps and daisy chains for strapping it to the top of a bus or truck. And the largest of its four sizes fits some 155 liters of gear, or the equivalent of two expedition backpacks. From $110; thenorthface.com
First Ascent Igniter Jacket
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: First Ascent's Igniter jacket.
First Ascent Igniter JacketFirst Ascent Igniter jacket
We love down as much as the next guy. But nothing beats the versatility of synthetics—which don't crap out once they get wet. We're especially fond of First Ascent's warmer-than-it-looks, PrimaLoft-filled Igniter, which is svelte enough to wear under a hard shell. $199; firstascent.com
Black Diamond’s Spot Headlamp
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Black Diamond's Spot headlamp.
Black Diamond's Spot HeadlampBlack Diamond's Spot Headlamp
You only need a few light settings, the brightest of which should be powerful enough for night hikes. And the smaller the better, like Black Diamond's Spot. $40; blackdiamondequipment.com
K2 SideStash Skis
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: K2's SideStash skis.
K2 SideStash SkisK2 SideStash Skis
No, one ski can't do everything. But last year's Gear of the Year–winning K2 SideStash comes pretty close. A rockered tip and 108mm waist help lift you out of soft snow—while its flat and square-tapered tail lets you lay them over with confidence on hardpack. $950; k2skis.com
REI’s Half Dome 2 Plus
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: REI's Half Dome 2 Plus.
REI Half Dome 2 PlusREI's Half Dome 2 Plus
Room for two people and a dog. Light enough for backpacking. Plenty of mesh. Two doors and two vestibules. The best-designed tents these days, like REI's 5.4-pound Half Dome 2 Plus, no longer sacrifice comfort for weight. $199; rei.com
Merrell’s Whiteout 8 Waterproof Boots
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Merrell's Whiteout 8 Waterproof boots.
Merrell Whiteout 8 Waterproof BootsMerrell's Whiteout 8 Waterproof Boots
Whether you're snowshoeing or snow shoveling, you need a pair of sturdy, insulated boots. Merrell's Whiteout 8 Waterproof boots are packed with thick synthetic insulation and can handle temps well below zero. $130; merrell.com
DeLorme’s PN-60 GPS
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: DeLorme's PN-60 GPS.
DeLorme PN-60 GPSDeLorme's PN-60 GPS
We don't care how good your sense of direction is. Everybody gets turned around once in a while. Invest in a good GPS, like DeLorme's PN-60—easy to use, blazing fast, and it can be loaded with high-res maps and aerial photos. $400; delorme.com
La Sportiva Wildcat GTX Trail Shoes
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: La Sportiva’s Wildcat GTX trail shoes.
Because they like to run, hike, and scramble, a pair of waterproof trail runners—like La Sportiva's burly, 13.7-ounce Wildcat GTXs—gets our nod for ultimate utility footwear. $125; sportiva.com
Smith Optics Hideouts Sunglasses
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Smith Optics' Hideouts sunglasses.
If they have brown-tinted (a.k.a. amber or copper) lenses, big-time coverage, and a secure fit, even when things get bumpy (look for hydrophilic rubber pads at the temples and nose), like Smith Optics' Hideouts, then you can wear them for just about everything. $179; smithoptics.com
Louis Garneau Vector UX Trek 824 Snowshoes
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Louis Garneau's Vector UX Trek 824 snowshoes.
Louis Garneau Vector UX Trek 824 SnowshoesLouis Garneau Vector UX Trek 824 Snowshoes
A multipurpose, midsize snowshoe like Louis Garneau's Vector UX Trek 824 can handle all conditions, from steep and icy hard-packed trails to blankets of fresh powder on frozen lakes. $165; louisgarneau.com
Westcomb’s Recon Cargo Pants
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Westcomb's Recon Cargo Pants.
Westcomb's Recon Cargo PantsWestcomb’s Recon Cargo Pants
They breathe well. They're tough enough to bushwhack in. They're highly water-resistant. And the best of them, like Westcomb's stretchy Recon Cargo Pants, are low-key enough that you can wear them around town. $200; westcomb.com
Leatherman Wave Multitool
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Leatherman's Wave multitool.
Leatherman Wave MultitoolLeatherman Wave Multitool
Our office is littered with multitools. But the one we rely the most on? Leatherman's Wave. It's compact, comprehensive (17 tools), and basically indestructible. $99; leatherman.com
Keen Newport H2 Sandals
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Keen's Newport H2 sandals.
Keen Newport H2 SandalsKeen Newport H2 Sandals
Lots of sandals will stay on your foot even if you end up swimming a rapid. But we prefer Keen's Newport H2's for one reason: the added protection that the toe bumper and beefy sidewalls provide. $95; keenfootwear.com
Sierra Designs Trade Wind Sleeping Bag
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Sierra Designs' Trade Wind sleeping bag.
Sierra Designs Trade Wind Sleeping BagSierra Designs Trade Wind Sleeping Bag
Just warm enough for cold fall nights, but not too hot for summer. And we prefer down to synthetic (more compressible and comfy), especially if it's wrapped in highly water-resistant fabric, like Sierra Designs' Trade Wind is. $270; sierradesigns.com
Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Arc'teryx's Beta AR jacket.
Arc'teryx Beta AR JacketArc’teryx Beta AR Jacket
This is one item worth splurging on. And few waterproof-breathable jackets fit as well, are as durable, or are constructed with as much attention to detail as Arc'teryx's Beta AR, a lightweight (15.3-ounce), do-it-all alpine shell made of Pro Shell, Gore-Tex's best stuff. $425; arcteryx.com
Yakima and Thule Roof Boxes
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Yakima and Thule roof boxes.
Roof boxes like Yakima's RocketBox (from $279; yakima.com) or Thule's Frontier ($330; thule.com) are pricey, but because you can just throw all your gear in, lock it up, and forget it, they're actually worth the dough.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 Camera
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can’t live without: Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-ZS7 camera.
It needs to be ultra-slim and take HD video. Beyond that, it's personal preference, and we love that Panasonic's Lumix DMC-ZS7 tags your (impressively sharp) photos with GPS coordinates and sports a whopping 12x zoom—the equivalent of a 300mm telephoto. $400; panasonic.net
Marmot Vars Half Zip Jacket
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Marmot's Vars Half Zip jacket.
Marmot Vars Half Zip JacketMarmot Vars Half Zip Jacket
Of all the jackets we own, nothing sees as much action as a stretchy, midweight microfleece layer like Marmot's Vars Half Zip. $140; marmot.com
Gordini Approach Gloves
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can’t live without: Gordini’s Approach gloves.
Gordini Approach GlovesGordini Approach Gloves
With leather fingers and waterproof soft-shell panels, Gordini's Approach gloves are the kind of tough, affordable gloves that work for just about anything when there's a chill. $50; gordini.com
New Balance 1226 Running Shoes
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can’t live without: New Balance’s 1226 running shoes.
New Balance 1226 Running ShoesNew Balance 1226 Running Shoes
For most runners, New Balance's 1226 hits the sweet spot: plenty of cushioning for long runs on pavement and just enough stability for mild overpronators—and all at a weight (12.7 ounces) that never feels like a drag. $140; newbalance.com
Timex Ironman Race Trainer Watch
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Timex's Ironman Race Trainer watch.
Timex Ironman Race TrainerTimex Ironman Race Trainer
The quickest way to take your fitness to the next level is simply to start keeping track. The tool: a stopwatch with a basic heart-rate monitor, like Timex's Ironman Race Trainer. $150; timex.com
Osprey Aether Backpack
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can’t live without: Osprey’s Aether backpack.
Osprey Aether BackpackOsprey Aether Backpack
One thing all our gear testers agree on: Osprey consistently makes the best packs. And if we're heading into the backcountry, chances are we're filling up Osprey's 60-liter Aether. At five pounds, it's light enough for overnights, but just big and stable enough to cram with a multi-day load. $229; ospreypacks.com
Big Agnes Sleeping Pad
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Big Agnes's Diversion Insulated Air Core Recycled sleeping pad.
Big Agnes Diversion Insulated Air Core Recycled sleeping padBig Agnes Diversion Insulated Air Core Recycled sleeping pad
One thing to never skimp on: the sleeping pad. Big Agnes's Diversion Insulated Air Core Recycled is a luxurious 2.5 inches thick but packs down to the size of a bread loaf. From $90; bigagnes.com
Old Town Penobscot Canoe
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Old Town's Penobscot canoe.
Old Town Penobscot CanoeOld Town Penobscot Canoe
If we could have only one boat, it'd have to be a Royalex canoe, like Old Town's Penobscot (from $1,389; oldtowncanoe.com), which is indestructible, fast, and agile enough for mellow whitewater.
Specialized Epic Comp 29 Mountain Bike
On our 2010 Life List of gear we can't live without: Specialized Epic Comp 29 mountain bike.
We're officially smitten with 29ers—mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels. Jump on a big-wheeled full-suspension rig like Specialized's Epic Comp 29 and you'll see why. $2,800; specialized.com