This time of year is traditionally one of reflection and, like many other outdoor bloggers, here are my thoughts on some of the better decisions I made when choosing stuff that made my all-too short and infrequent forays into the mountains more enjoyable.
Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid shelter - Impeccable construction and design, Ron's reputation oozes from every stitch of this modern take on the pyramid tent. I know the Trailstar is everyone's 'on trend' shelter in the latter half of 2010 but I'll stick to my DuoMid. Two people or one? Bivy or InnerNet? Closed or open front? The DuoMid can do it all and despite what some people say this style of shelter can handle some pretty serious weather. And it makes me smile. The colour. The shape. The memories.
Bushbuddy Ultra wood stove - "Only dead fish follow the stream". I tried to resist. I attempted to go my own way. Against the grain (...). I tested several wood stoves this year in an effort to find an alternative to the ubiquitous and highly regarded Bushbuddy. But you wanna know why the Bushbuddy is ubiquitous and highly regarded? It's because it rocks! I finally gave in and brought one for myself. If I needed any convincing to it's sublime design and construction it was on mine and Steve's canoe trip in the summer where it rained for days leading up to the trip and for most of the time we were out too. Despite a fuel supply that was damp, at best, the Bushbuddy Ultra kept us supplied with plenty of hot water for drinks and cooking. It also provided us with a less quantifiable benefit - a focal point and task, tending a fire, that taps deep into basic human instincts.
Gossamer Gear Gorilla backpack- Strictly speaking I didn't spend my own hard earned cash on this 46 litre, 658g backpack. A slightly used test model was given to me as part of several Gossamer Gear test products for our Vålådalen trip in Sweden. I was dubious about using a pack that I hadn't tried beforehand but the Gorilla and me got on famously. Comfortable, light, versatile. The removable hip-belt, pockets, chest strap and aluminium stay means it can be stripped down to 428g for overnighters. The materials are light but durable. I like the back-pad system a lot. The mesh pockets are great too, the side ones being perfectly placed and sized for access along the trail. It sits in that magical 'invisible kit' category. It does it's job quietly and competently.
There were other gems: I finally sourced some quality mini dropper bottles and Dr Bronner's organic liquid soap which reduced my wash kit to miniscule proportions. Haglöfs Shield pants, with 100% recycled fabric, stopped me carrying softshell and rain pants in the summer months saving me a bunch of weight. Swapping my plastic or titanium mug and small Platypus bladder for a more traditional kuksa changed the way I stayed hydrated on the trail and enjoyed my morning coffee. Talking of coffee, Starbucks Via sachets ensured I could finally get a decent tasting hit of caffeine when I was miles from a coffee shop.
Well that's it for gear highlights in 2010. A whole bunch of winter-specific gear has been arriving lately and trips are planned to get out and enjoy the snow in the next few months. See you in 2011!