Outdoor Gear ~ My 3 All Time Favorite Pieces

First of all, it’s a bit difficult to narrow down my favorite outdoor gear, but I’m trying.  I like things that are easy to use, have more than one use and are durable.  My main outdoor activities are hiking, camping, snowshoeing and paddling.  I also end up going ice fishing, mostly because in Maine, that is what we do in the winter to socialize.  Honestly, I don’t really fish, but I will snowshoe around, help with food prep and hang out with family and friends.

Multi-Tool

That brings me to my favorite piece of outdoor gear – my  Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit Multi-Tool.  It has taken care of me in so many different situations, I would feel lost without it.  Opening packages, tightening screws, cutting bandage tape, and so much more.  27 tools – what more could you ask for?  Besides the leather pouch that can be attached to a belt or strap?

Swiss Army Multitool
The Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit Multi-Tool

Here are the specifications from the website:

  • The various tools are manufactured from high-quality steel with precisely tuned features that are essential for the particular application.
  • The steel is tempered, annealed and polished to achieve the necessary hardness and provide optimum resistance to corrosion.
  • Each tool locks in place when opened; includes leather case
  • To close, simply slide the release button and fold the tool away
  • Made in Switzerland with a lifetime warranty; 4.25 x 1.5 x 0.5-inches thick closed.
  • Weighs only 7.4 ounces
The Swiss Army tool is easy to carry in a backpack, on a belt or in my purse, depending on where I am going.  A while ago, I was at the airport, ready to fly somewhere for work.  I had forgotten to take it out of my purse, and instead of giving it up at the security check in, I went back out and locked it in my car trunk.  I rather risk missing my flight, than losing the tool.  For once, a delayed flight worked in my favor.  I did pack it when I went to Iceland.  We camped along the southern border, and stopped at grocery stores for food supplies.  We ate a lot of cheese – the Swiss Army tool came in handy opening packaging.  I could do another review just on the fabulous cheese we had!
I will say, my tool is about 9 years old, and it still is like new.  No rust even though it has been dropped in water, and spent many days and nights in my damp backpack.  All the tools open, close and work properly.  The small scissors are still strong enough to cut tape or gauze easily.  The only part that shows any real wear is the leather carry case.  A few scuff marks and its worn like a good pair of leather boots.

Socks

One of my favorite items both related to outdoor activities, and just day to day wear, is socks.  I am not picky about a lot of things, but I am about socks.  I don’t want to think about them once I have them on my feet.  I want them to be smooth, without feeling seams or the top of the sock squeezing my calf.  I want them to wick away moisture and keep my feet warm, but not hot.  I’m not too picky, am I?

Injinji Hiker Socks
Injinji Hiker Socks

My all time favorite hiking socks are… the Injinji Women’s Hikers.  I reviewed them a few years back, and still wear them.  When I first received them I wore them with liners, but rarely do any more.  The liners were great while hiking in Iceland though.  I took a few pairs of liners, and could just change them every day, while wearing the hikers for a few days.  Now, if I am going on a longer hike I will still wear liners.  For casual hikes or when I am pretty sure my feet won’t need the extra dampness protection I don’t bother.

What I love about these socks?  After over 2 years, the loft is still there.  I can wear them, wash in cold water and air dry, and they still feel good on my feet.  The heels do show some wear, but not to the point where they are uncomfortable or very noticeable.  I try not to walk around the house without shoes on while wearing them, to cut down on wear.

You could easily say these socks fit two out of three of my criteria – easy to use, and durable.  I’m not sure they have multiple uses, but the rest makes up for it.  Another positive, after two years of regular use, they still serve their intended purpose.

If you’d like to read what I wrote a couple years ago, you can find it HERE.

Stove

And last, but definitely not least, the piece of outdoor gear that has had the most use, and in more ways than I expected.  That would be the Coleman EVEN-TEMP™ PROPANE STOVE.  It resembles the old style Coleman stoves some of us remember from years ago.  It is just as reliable and useful too.  The stove ‘looks’ shiny and new unlike its ancestors.  My Even-Temp Propane Stove has been to so many family cookouts, camping trips and tailgating events everyone I know recognizes it.  If they don’t see it someone is sure to ask if I forgot it.  This stove is about the only thing I never forget.

Coleman Propane Stove
Coleman Propane Stove

The stove has had lots of use in a way I didn’t expect.  During power outages, which happen frequently where I live, I have used the Coleman stove so many times.  I take it out into the garage, and cook up our meals, and anything I’m worried will spoil before the power comes back on.  My adult kids come over, and sometimes friends will stop by, and it ends up being a good time.  That’s what happens when we lose power and it’s not a raging blizzard or hurricane.  When the weather is really nasty, we still use the stove, but no one comes for a visit.

A while back I had 2, 3 and 4 year old little boys visiting when the power went out due to high winds.  We made pancakes in the garage.  They still say those were the best pancakes EVER, and ask to make them in the garage again.  Of course, I have because who can resist cute kids who compliment your cooking?    I’ve also made hot cereal, pasta, burgers, lamb and beef steaks, chicken and fish.  The burners lite quickly and burn very cleanly.  The ignitor lights the burners with one or two clicks.  The griddle works great, and is non-stick, which makes clean up so easy.

The Coleman EVEN-TEMP™ PROPANE STOVE shows minimal wear on the outside, and only discoloration caused by the flames around the burners on the inside.  It is easy to clean, especially since the drip pan catches any drips from the griddle.  I’m very thankful that I can make a quick cup of coffee using the stove and a french press.  Somehow coffee tastes better when things aren’t going as they normally do.

There are so many more pieces of outdoor gear I could talk about, but I said I’d limit myself to three for now and I do believe these three items have been the easiest to use, most useful, dependable and durable.  What piece of outdoor gear do you love? We’d to hear your top three pieces of outdoor gear!  Leave a comment or find us on Facebook or Twitter to share your thoughts!

Initial Update: Swiftwick Flite XT Five Socks

Swiftwicks before a run.

I’ve put these socks through the ringer. Over the past month, I’ve worn the Flite XT Five socks while training for a 50k, Crossfit workouts, and even on a backpacking trip. I haven’t found them to perform exactly as advertised, but they are still my favorite pair of socks at the moment. Click here to see my initial review on the socks.

Kaleb R.

Initial thoughts on the Swiftwick Aspire Twelve Socks

Swiftwick Aspire Twelve
Swiftwick Aspire Twelve Socks – photo courtesy of the Swiftwick website

It seems like everyone makes compression socks today. However a nagging Achilles injury and perpetually tight calves means my physical therapist and doctors recommend that I wear compression while exercising. Enter Swiftwick – they make the Aspire 12, an above the calf performance compression sock.  I will be reviewing these socks over the next few months to see how they hold up with the heat and sweat of summer in the South.  Click HERE for my initial thoughts.

Final Update – Injinji Compression Socks

Injinji Ultra Compression
Injinji Ultra Compression Socks – Clark Shelf, Juneau Alaska

I have put almost another 100 miles on the Injinji Ultra Compression socks while running 2 marathons and trail 50k.  The socks have remained comfortable both on short and long runs.  Meanwhile durability has been good with a few pulls in the socks, but nothing that hurt their performance at this point.  Read on for my final update.