Golite BL2 Crewneck Baselayer: This baselayer has been with me since the start and has never let me down. It’s a great baselayer that weights only 5 oz and fits snug next to my body, keeping me warm at night. Wicking moisture away quickly is key to keeping dry and it also stays relatively odor-free, even after 7 days of constant use. Its also my town shirt that I can wear to restaurants and bars without being that smelly looking homeless guy.
New Balance Leadville 100’s 1210’s: People always talk about the big 3 (pack, shelter and sleeping bag) but I think it needs to be the big 4, including your shoes. Lets face it, if your feet are all blistered up or in pain you aren’t going anywhere. These shoes feature a Vibram sole which grips the dirt and mud with ease and only weigh 10.4 oz, which is light. The synthetic/mesh upper keeps my feet dry. When I do have to ford a river they drain quickly and don’t wear out, retaining their form. My last pair were on my feet for 800 miles, so these shoes are built to last. Foot wear is SO important, and I’m lucky I found a pair that work so well. * I wear a size 13 4E for reference
Suunto M3 IN Compass: Having a compass is essential to being outdoors and this compass has not disappointed me. The features that make this compass so great are: Specifically balanced for the northern hemisphere, adjustable declination, magnifiying lens, ruler and luminous markings to help me us it at night. It’s lightweight and fits easily into my pocket. Even with all the dust and sand its encountered the bezel ring has yet to let in debris that would stop it from rotating and giving me the right direction. I will have this compass for life and highly recommend it. Now, just buying it won’t guarantee you don’t get lost but, thats a whole different blog post.
Otter Box Defender Phone Cover: This protective case for my phone (Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD) has kept it working after 2,500 brutal miles on trail. I have dropped it on concrete and rocks, seen it roll down a mountain and submerged it in water with no problems to my phone. The 3 layer protection of screen protector, polycarbon and silicone outer layer protect the screen and body from damage. I can’t recommened Otter box more enough, its saved my phone from utter destruction
Suunto Core Watch: I was so excited and researched this watch like crazy before I purchased it. At $299, it’s not a cheap watch but it’s feature rich with alti/barometer, compass, storm warning indication, elevation profiles, alarm and a host of other features. What makes this watch only good is that its not an easy watch to learn how to use and after 2,000 miles I still don’t know how to work 50% of the watch features. The storm indicator goes off at random times even when the skies are clear and a count down timer turns on for some reason. As with all Altimeter watches, you need to update your elevation frequently to keep it accurate. With storms coming and going, it can give you false readings as well. This is a good watch, but in order to learn all of its features, I feel like you need a degree to use it and then spend more time fiddling with it then actual hiking.
REI Sahara pants: These have been my pants of choice for many years and I love these pants, but there has been a recent redesign that has changed the fit and feel of the pants. The material does not last as long, and my right leg pocket is starting to rip right in the center, making it useless for most anything other then my large folded map. The zip-off pants do come off easily and the side zip feature helps me get my rain pants on quickly. The belt that comes with the pants does ‘unbuckle’ easily so if your adding a pocket to the hip belt make sure you don’t lose it when the belt becomes loose. Overall, I do like these pants but feel the new cut and material used have made it of lesser quality than previous generations.
Starter boxer briefs: Can’t believe I’m actually talking about my underwear but, these pair have lasted me the entire trail. I bought them at the Walmart in Deming, NM and surprisingly they have worked the entire way, beating out more expensive pairs I tried out. They are tight to my skin, help prevent chaffing and comfortable for all day wear. They also don’t collect much odor after miles and days of use and are an easy wash in a gas station rest room and dry very quickly. I don’t know what exceptional underwear feels like so they got put into the good category. I’m sure they would also be good for regular wear or other sporting activities.
Sliding Zip lock bags: These bags are completely useless in my experience and should not be used for protection from the elements. The sliding mechanism works only for a short amount of time and rarely keeps a tight enough seal to keep out water, dust and dirt. Stick to your regular freezer bag quart size zip lock bags as they feature the double seal and are much more durable then any other type.
Pop-Tarts: Some people might not agree with me but Pop-Tarts have never worked for me on the trail. Other hikers love them for their very high calorie content but for me they would just crumble into tiny saw dust pieces that made them very difficult to eat. Hikers have explained that you need to get the kind with a cream or sticky filling so they bind more but, I guess I gave up too soon.