Best of the Best

Kicking off the 2010 gear season with the annual list of my current favorite gear, along with some special awards:

1. Gear of the Year: SMD Gatewood Cape

Winner: best overall; best mulitpurpose; best shelter

As was the case last year, Six Moon Design’s Gatewood Cape earns my distinction as the best single kit addition to any gear collection. Ultralight, versatile, feature-rich and simply my favorite shelter, ever. Combine with chaps and a bivy sack and be prepared for 3 seasons of weather both on and off trail. Other shelters/raingear in the collection replaced/superceded by the Gatewood Cape:

Works well with:

Rest of the best:

2. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad. Fantastically light, stowable and consistently comfortable; one of the few things in life that live up to the hype.

3. Tech4o TraiLeader 2 watch: I love this thing probably more than I should. Accelerometer provides mostly accurate distances. Mostly. Needs semiregular calibration to known distances and altitudes for best performance. Delivers everything else you could possibly want in a non-GPS wrist device including an excellent digital compass, altimeter, speed, calories, etc.

4. White Box Stove. Expertly designed to deliver the best (alcohol) fuel efficiency this stove collector has yet to find.

5. BPL Stix. Simply awesome ultralight trekking poles; you’ll forget that you thought yours needed to be telescoping. If you can find them.

6. SteriPEN Adventurer. For me it’s the only way to hydrate; safe, effective, reliable, light, easy, QUICK. Ace that pump/gravity/chemical thing you’re using today – this thing really works. You can count on it. Bring a few iodine/Aquamira anyway.

7. TiGoat Ptarmigan Bivy. Favorite of the 5 bivy sacks McLovin has owned. Incomparable size to weight ratio; couple with tarp or Gatewood Cape for maximum 3 season versatility.

8. BPL Pro 90 Quilt. When combined with outerwear such as Mont Bell down jacket and pants provides an incredibly light and versatile sleeping blanket/bag with a good sized footbox and foot-to-shoulder covering.

9. Petzl e+LITE headlamp. 1 ounce. Red and white bulbs. Comfortable, simple and efficient.

10. GoLite Jam2 Pack. Moving down the list as I’ve needed to add 3 belt and shoulder strap bags to increase the 2008 model’s usefulness; 2010 model includes these features but at a more punitive weight expense than those I’ve incorporated. Carries up to 30 lbs. framelessly; durable, simple, roomy and affordable. Ploss will see this list plummeting as a sure sign I’m going Cuben fiber this year.

Honorable Mention:

GoLite Virga jacket. Discontinued but awesome light weather shell. Comfortable and breathable, excellent rain wear. Runner up: Dutch Key. Perfect tightening tool. Miss Congeniality: Simblissity Unslack Pack. Keep your Dutch Key, camera etc. close at hand. (I wear mine on the left hand side).

FAIL of the Year:

Repeat FAIL champion Aquamira Frontier Pro filter. This thing still sucks. Need backup? Carry up to 72 Aquamira Tablets instead! Runner up: nylon/spandex knee brace. Nearly constricted the quad right off McLovin near Panhandle Gap. Miss Fortune: a last place tie between dry oatmeal and Pro Bars. Because I can find enough ways to fill my grill with dust on the trail for free. Will be employing the Ploss Fruit Pie method.

Top of the Wish List:

BushBuddy Stove. What can I say, I have a serious stove jones. Runner up: BPL Stealth NANO UL Backpacking Tarp. Why, you might rightly ask, would I need this if my favorite gear ever is the Gatewood Cape? Gear harlotry is a sick, sick disease. And, it’s only 5 ounces. Kali Ma! Miss Take: the as yet to be released 2010 MLD Revelation pack. Like I wasn’t going to get a Cuben fiber pack. Der?!

About McLovin

Author: MCLOVIN. Age: 41. Disposition: Gimpy. Resident: Itinerary Obsessive. Ancestry: Dutch. Politically: Left/Side. Nutshell: Magellan, P.I. Philosophy: Kali Ma!
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