Monday, November 27, 2006

Favorite gear and gadgets - Functional items

I don't think of myself as gear-obsessed and even though I work in a high tech field I don't have all the high tech gadgets available. I don't even have a GPS or Ipod. But there is some gear I really appreciate, gear that I didn't have when I started hiking but that I use most of the time now.

I have an older Leki hiking staff that I use for most hikes, it is adjustable and has a removable snowbasket. I had used old ski poles or wood staffs before but the Leki is much nicer. The carbide tip grips better in ice and mud, I change length depending on conditions, and I can attach it to my pack if I don't need it. Besides, I broke and bent the ski poles and the wood staff was heavy and clumsy. Every couple of years I forget the staff and go on my hike anyway, I regret it if there is much downhill or very uneven ground. My knees tell me I need the staff. At some point I may need 2 poles but for now I'm happy with the single staff.

I started using a hydration reservoir a few years ago when I noticed that I was getting headaches on longer, warmer hikes. I don't use it in winter but like it the rest of the year. I only put water in my reservoir and carry a bottle of sports drink separately. I could just use bottles but found I did not drink enough in warm weather when I had to stop hiking to get the bottle and replace it.

I would still hike without either of these items but both make hiking more comfortable and safer. Of course I have updated a lot of gear from when I first started hiking seriously in the late 60's. My daypack with back stays and suspension system is much nicer than the "bag with straps" rucksack I used then. Updates in clothing and otherwear is an entire post. I am fairly slow to update to new items; I have to be convinced there is a real advantage rather than a fad or just a neat toy.

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