10 of my favorite gear items

With time I hope to build up this section with some more gear suggestions and reviews for different activities, (i.e. Backpacking, Mountaineering, Climbing, Trail Running.. etc.), but for now I will list my top 10 favorite pieces of gear to use in the outdoors. These are all items I use regularly, and highly recommend to my friends when they are looking to buy new outdoor gear.

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1) Trekking Poles: I love these black diamond trail pro shock trekking poles. Michael and I both have these. They have a set for women and men. I've owned a pair of cheaper trekking poles in the past and they break fairly easily. These are almost indestructible. I've been using the same pair for almost 5 years now, and still going strong.

You can see me and my friend Ashima modeling both the female (blue) and male (red) versions of these poles to the right (she was borrowing Michael's pole for one of our backpacking trips)

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2) MSR Reactor Stove System: I bought this after my Jet Boil broke down, and I like it a lot more. It works great at high altitude and takes only about 30 seconds to bring water to a boil.

The picture below is of my friend Jake using the MSR Reactor Stove to boil water near the summit of Mount Rainier.


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3) Sleeping Pad (Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm): I've gone through a lot of sleeping pads in my day, and this one is by far my favorite. It meets all of my criteria. It's light weight and easy to pack. Its super comfortable (no body parts touch the ground), and its warm! When camping in the cold, this sleeping pad does great to keep you warm. It is a touch noisy, but that doesn't really bother me. After a long day I'm ready to pass out on this thing.

Ok, so i don't have a great picture of my sleeping pad (but I'll work on getting one!), but you can imagine how comfortable I am on it in the picture to the right. Here I am with Ashima on a backpacking trip through Rae's Lake Loop.


4) SteriPen: When I go backpacking I usually have 1-2 forms of filtering water. I like to have a pump filter (like Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter) and I like to have a SteriPen. I chose to list the SteriPen here because it's a good option if you want something lightweight and quick to filter water with. It works nicely too for snow camping or mountaineering when you have to melt snow and there is nothing there to pump filter. Also, we found the steripen handy to carry with us when we traveled to South Africa. We weren't sure how the tap water was in the Rocklands, so we ended up using a SteriPen just for backup. Again, I don't have a great photo for this yet.


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5) Garmin GPS: This might not be essential for everyone, but I'm a nerd and I love data. I pretty much bring this thing on all of my backpacking trips. I love to pre-load gpx files into it and record our hikes as we go. It's definitely come in handy to help me navigate when I wasn't sure where I was. The first solo hike I did, it helped me navigate through a big tallus field back to the main trail when I got off route. I've even built my own gpx file on google earth and downloaded it to this GPS so we could follow a less traveled route on one of our day hikes (see post about Bastard's Ridge).

Heres me sporting the gps on my backpack. I typically have it right near my shoulder for easy access. Sometimes I think people mistake me for a park ranger with this thing on... but that's OK with me.


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6) Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch: This is a relatively new purchase. I bought it last year when I started running more, but I've been attached to it ever since. I wear it pretty much everyday. I was looking for a good athletic, heart rate watch with GPS that didn't look 100% manly. Some of the models out there are super cool, but they are huge. This was the perfect mix of good technology and slimmer profile. I love this thing now.

Here is a picture of me holding the watch after one of my first longer runs. Don't judge me, I'm still a slow runner.


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7) La Sportiva Solutions Climbing Shoe: I've tried quite a few different climbing shoes, but these are my favorite so far for an agressive bouldering climbing shoe. These are my go-to's for Bishop Season, and I wore them the whole time in South Africa. Now, I don't wear these for long sport routes, because they aren't comfortable for longer routes, but they are great for bouldering. I've also almost had the same pair for 2 years now. I've had them re-soled once, but they hold up great! Once this re-sole wears out, I will be buying another pair of these. They also come in mens yellow, though I've seen women wear the yellow ones and men wear the pink ones... so whatever your preference is. 

Here's a picture of me wearing them in Hueco Tanks, Texas on a bouldering trip.


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8) Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center: Love this hangboard. Has some great options, and may I love it even more because we built this sweet corner build out to go with it, complete with pulley system to take some weight off of harder finger holds.

Here I am using the pinch on the rock prodigy training center in our gear room.


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9) Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee: I started using this stuff this year and I love it. I don't really drink coffee much anymore, but I rotate through packets of this mushroom coffee and the mushroom hot cacao. The mushrooms in these products are adaptogens and give your body what they need without taking away from your system. I probably use this more day to day, but I also take them on outdoors trips with us.


10) Good To-Go Dehydrated Dinners: I don't really like many dehydrated meals, I've gotten sick off of a few brands, so I tend to shy away from them. I often just take ramen with me when I backpack. These meals, however, are the exception. The ingredients are great, and they are super delicious. My favorites are the Thai Curry and the Herbed Mushroom Risotto!