Sometimes, you just can’t say goodbye to your best outdoor gear


The REI Half Dome, and Jetboil PCS, during a 2005 Grand Canyon trip

It’s hard keeping up with every new piece of gear that hits the outdoor market. The incessant reviews, although we love them, aim to make us forget everything currently stuffed in our Action Packers and jump headlamp first into the next great “fast and light” series of shells, packs and shelters. It never ends. But alas, to love the outdoors is to love gear.

On the heels of the Summer 2011 Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake, I thought it worthwhile to consider what in my garage do I currently have no interest in upgrading? What piece of gear has yet to fail to me or give me a reason to post on Craigslist? I have quite a few. Here’s five.

1. CRKT M-16 knife. Still sharp, still super light and damn dependable. Owned for at least five years. I know there’s some encrusted trout scales on there at least that old.

2. REI Half Dome 2 tent. It’s been recently upgraded with more vertical walls I guess. But hell, I’m trying to hang picture in it. After six years, the only tear came courtesy of Delta Airlines. It’s patched. Stick that in your turbine and smoke it Delta.

3. Gregory Z-55 pack. I have a 105 liter and a 30 liter. By packing right, I don’t need either of the extreme end packs. Owned since they launched the line. It’s also been updated but I have no need to follow suit.

4. Jetboil PCS. Also purchased upon product launch. I’m not sure where Jetboil is heading with their line-up today but frankly, I don’t care. The original is still the best thing going in canister stoves. Not one repair; not to the ignition mechanisms, not to the stove base. Damn thing won’t quit.

5. Patagonia Guide Jacket. I have no idea what iteration Chouinard and team are on to now with this line but again, I don’t care. I have had it for years and it is still my go-to personal shelter for all kinds of weather and temperature. The range of conditions on this thing is broad enough for me to bring this on every trip in every season. It’s a mid-layer when snowboarding and a first-grab on cool summer nights. It fits under anything and above plenty. It’s simply the best jacket I’ve ever owned.

So what about you? Any longtime favorites you just can’t get pry out of the weekend line-up?

Mile High Mountaineering is bringing some serious innovation to the backpack market

When it comes to packs, I tend to prefer big, simple bucket haulers. Keep everything inside with stuff sacks and the appropriate packing technique and hit the trail. The more bells and whistles, the more to eventually have to fix on the trail. In the rain.

But Mile High Mountaineering’s new line of packs could sway me in a whole new direction. The type of innovation their bringing to the market will without doubt create a scramble to emulate it from the likes of Gregory, Osprey and Deuter. While the video says it all, I’m a huge fan of the way their packs, in this case the Divide 55 liter, integrate features that to me, are critical. Specifically, the bottom stuff sack is freaking key, especially for people like me who are nuts about ensure the integrity of your down bag when on the trail.

There sure are a lot of buckles and straps and adjustable items which could jar loose or just present additional problems. However, that kind of flexibility is key as your load adjusts on the trail and your pack lightens as food and water disappear. There is little question that Mile High Mountaineering is led by guys who have spent a few weeks in the backcountry.

I’m seriously looking forward to the launch of this company next year. These guys, and their packs, should make a splash.