what was your best/most satisfactory new gear this last season?

intuitive cat

Jurassic Dust in my Bones
Mar 9, 2012
I figured it might be worthwhile to start a general thread of reviews and opinions of the best new gear we have found & used over the last season & how we used it.
highlights, shortfalls, disappointments etc.

i'll let someone else start & I'll chime in when I've given it a bit more thought on my end.
things i got the most use of:
- Teva Zilch barefoot sandals. i wouldn't want to pay full price, but at a little less than half price they proved to be awesome, though the neoprene footbed tends to wear under the pressure points due to sand abrasion. i went through 2 pair, though they are both still usable. at 29 bucks a pop, not bad.
these were my daily wear 'shoes' (what can i say, Boulder, Utah is outdoor casual. so much so that when we 'go to town', even our nice clothes look well worn :rolleyes: )

-Prana Sutra pants. LOVE THEM! wearing them feels like I am nearly naked or wearing pajamas.
extremely sturdy for how lightweight they are, though i wouldn't recommend them for intense canyoneering or any hiking that includes chimneying, etc. though I found myself crawling on hands & knees on occasion and it didn't phase them. i bought two pair and somehow only managed to use one during the whole season. matter of fact, i am wearing them right now and wore them religiously since buying them. they dry fast too. I've been hard on them and only have one small rip on the back pocket from catching them on something along the way. gusseted crotch makes for total freedom of movement.

-Klymit Static V - i've only used it a few times, but so far so good, though i've found that my shoulder weight tends to want to push the middle section up into my lower back. maybe just a problem with how much or how little i inflate it?
Managed to be able to buy this wholesale through work, saving me quite a bit of $

Teva Gnarkosi watershoes- best thing I've found for myself in terms of keeping the rocks & sands out while wandering around the creeks & rivers on dayhikes. haven't put them to a test in terms of longer trekking.

Jetboil - love it. plus i got the kit that has the utensils, frying pan & stabilizing stand with locking pot support made for it.

#1 utilitarian piece i got this year: CRKT Folts Minimalist neck knife with a Tanto blade. used daily for both work & play.
makes a great box cutter for use during delivery day at the store.
in terms of a heavier duty knife, I am impressed with my SOG Jungle Primitive, which looks absolutely crazy, but has proved to be a great tool with its two sawing options, hammer handle base, and machete like long blade. handle wrapped in buckskin thong has come in useful on a few occasions when i needed a small piece of cordage. it also fulfills that early teen boy desire for a cool looking over the top kind of knife & reminds me of those days when i could buy butterfly knives and survival knives at the county fair without parental permission (oh how those days are long gone!)

i'm also impressed with my Mountain Hardwear 40 degree ultralite bag that i managed to get on clearance early this year for less than half retail. (can't remember the model name but it was on closeout - but much like the Lamina)
i've managed to get a setup in which my sleeping pad, stove & sleeping bag are all each about the size of a nalgene bottle. and weigh in around 2 lbs each.

I've also been very happy with my Pentax Optio WG1 rugged camera. takes some pretty good shots for a rugged point & shoot & i never have to worry about sand, dust, water, etc. Light & small & easily tucked into a pocket. plus it accepts 44mm filters via a threaded clip on macro stand. downfall - it does not mount well on a tripod due to the contoured body.
My top three pieces of new gear in 2012:

1. Clik Elite Access Chest Pack
I picked this up in March of this year during the short period of time that I upgraded to a 5d Mk II. I decided not to keep the camera but I loved the chest pack. Surprising as I've been pretty unimpressed with most of what I've seen from Clik in the past. I owned a Clik Hiker for a while and one of their other chest packs, both of which left much to be desired. The Access meanwhile provided almost all of the protection of a regular chest pack but keeps things so much more low profile on my chest and is so much more comfortable to wear. With the regular chest pack I would get a sore neck from trying to see around it when negotiating rough terrain, with the Access on I feel great on the trail, rappelling and even minor wading.

2. Osprey Stratos 36 Backpack
While this pack is technically in the daypack category, it has been an incredible all-around pack for me throughout the year. Almost every day hike, canyoneering descent and backpacking trip I've done this year has utilized it. Everything from a few hours out to 7 days worth of gear. Granted, that was squeezing it a little tight, but totally doable with the right gear. It has been a good canyon pack as well although it doesn't hold up to sandstone like a dedicated canyoneering pack might and it is now practically falling apart. After this last weekend it will be retired and I'll start off next year with a new Stratos 36 and I'll probably add in an Atmos 50 for longer alpine trips where I end up carrying more bulky items. I'll be posting a full review of the Stratos sometimes this winter.

3. Thermarest Neoair XLite
Still the best pad I've ever slept on for backpacking. I probably slept close to half of my 54 bag nights on the Neoair this year and it's still in great shape with no leaks. It's also proved to be warm enough that I was able to use my sleeping bag in quilt mode throughout the year, even with my new 32 degree down bag in near freezing conditions. My only complaint is that it has the tapered edges and not the full rectangular shape of the original Neoair Xlite. I'd happily pay 2 oz to have those back.
Nikon D5100. Finally upgraded to an DSLR and I am loving all the features/capabilities that an SLR has over the compacts. On a side note, I shouldn't have looked up the link for it because I noticed that it's selling for $200 less than what I paid for it only 8 months ago!

Osprey Stratos 24 Daypack. I LOVE this pack! It's so light and holds everything I need. It was easily modded so I could attach my Clik camera chest pack on the front!

I bought more (tent, sleeping bag, etc.), but these are my two favorite items from the past year!
Sierra Designs Down Moccasin - Picked these up from STP and have used them quite a few times when car camping. Only used them once while backpacking. They have kept my feet nice and warm in some really cold situations.

Mountain Hardware Cima Alta Daypack - Probably my favorite piece of gear this year. This daypack is roomy(25L/1500cu), lightweight(14oz) and folds into it's own pocket to store nicely in a larger backpack. Most of my backpacking is done base-camp style. This daypack is perfect for that. It is now also my go-to backpack when I am fishing. My initial review.

Klymit Static V - This is the most comfortable pad I have used and I own a couple Exped and Big Agnes pads. Klymit did a great job designing this pad. Pair that with weighing only 16oz and compacting down to the size of a soda can and you have a winner. I think my favorite feature of this pad is the fact that it is 23" wide instead of the standard 20". Those 3" make a huge difference. My initial review.

Canon 55-250mm lens - I picked up this lens because I was wanting a telephoto lens that I could take backpacking. This lens is the perfect lens for that IMO. Lightweight, compact for a telephoto, and it can be had for under $150 so you're not out a lot if something happens to it. The image quality is incredible for a lens in this price range. For sample images see my Flickr stream. My review.
i should add that i've gotten great use out of the backcountryost mountain gear daypack that i won in the facebook photo contest earlier this year. :twothumbs:
Two more items that just crossed my mind for this thread....first off is my Feisol/Acratech tripod that I posed about here: http://www.myxj.net/blog/building-my-perfect-backcountry-tripod/

Also, I really love my F-Stop Gear Tilopa backpack. I use it on all my photography trips and day hikes...it's one of the most comfortable backpacks I've every used and it's definitely designed for the outdoor photographer. (Way better than my old Clik Elite Hiker)
My surly pugs. I'm obsessed with riding her and already looking at fatter rims for better traction riding up the mountain.ImageUploadedByTapatalk1353473419.150524.jpg recently bought turquoise rim tape. She's getting decorated!
I have to say mine would be my Platypus GravityWorks grav water filter. That thing has been hydrating me since march of this year and still hasn't had any flow issues. Great buy considering I only spent 45 bucks on it
I gotta say... I'm not usually motivated to ride my bike, but those surly's look awesome!
Fat tire riding all the way!!! It's just that the bikes are ugly, clown like and the SUV if the biking world. You can roll over anything making it super fun.
I have to say mine would be my Platypus GravityWorks grav water filter. That thing has been hydrating me since march of this year and still hasn't had any flow issues. Great buy considering I only spent 45 bucks on it

I used one that belonged to NateGeesaman all summer, now I bought one. I love it. Beats any pump system IMO.

My favorite purchase was definitely my Kelty 44 redwing, perfect for one, or two nighters.
I'm going to go with the two new items that have seen the most use. That would be my JetBoil Sol Ti stove and my Patagonia Houdini wind shirt. Both items have been used and abused for most of the year and have come out the other end with two thumbs up from me.

my Marmot Grid 2 tent which I bought on a sale.
It's like a bomb shelter and I had no problems in extreme stormy conditions with it(60+mph wind)
Because it's a 4 season tent it lacks a mesh inlay and I missed it sometimes. And it's heavy with 5 pounds and definitely nothing for desert backpacking trips. But it offers me a lot of chances for winter and mountaineering trips in the future. :)


Then my Thermarest Neoair Trekker.
I simply love this mattress and sleep much better since I have it. My older Prolite Plus wasn't warm enough and too thin. I usually woke up totally sore. That disappeared immediately with my the Neoair Trekker and the extra insulation. It also packs very small and inflates easily. The only thing that really sucks is the noise it makes when you turn around at night. It wakes me up each time

And definitely my Nikon D7000 camera.
Definitely the best camera investment I did for my needs with a lot of features.
And even after my first camera was a total loss I bought a D7000 again.
I got a Deuter Act Lite 65+10 pack to replace my Gregory Palisade 80 that I bought before I learned the lesson that everything you carry weighs something. Yikes!

The Deuter alone dropped 3 lbs off of my carry weight. The Deuter worked exceptionally well—it fit great, had enough volume and was easy to pack.
...backpack Deuter Aircontact 55 + 10 and wading boots 5.10. Both was a great for my backpacking trip from Wire Pass Pass to Lee's Ferry. :)

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