'Top 10' Gear of 2010

From Nepal to Patagonia, Kathmandu to Chile’s Karukinka reserve, the past 12 months have been an epic trip! With expeditions to Mount Everest, Iceland, Chile, and the Alps, 2010 can officially go on record as the most dramatic year of my life so far. But without the right gear, the mountain climbs, adventure races, and wilderness treks would not have been possible. The gear below, our annual “Top 10 Gear” picks, are products that were crucial to the success, safety, speed, and relative comfort my teammates and I experienced outdoors and across the world during 2010. —Stephen Regenold

gear of the year 2010 - logo.jpg

1. Rab Xenon — Toasty warm yet unbelievably packable and small, this thin “puffy” jacket employs synthetic Primaloft One insulation to offer significant warmth in a miniscule package. It stuffs into its own chest pocket and weighs only 11 ounces. But unpack the Xenon and you have a layer with enough loft to trap body heat and maintain critical core temps to 30 degrees or less when worn alone with a single base layer. (Colder temps when used as a layer with a shell.) Bonus: The thin but tough Pertex face fabric never ripped, even during days of great abuse and bushwhacking for miles outdoors. Double Bonus: Because the jacket uses synthetic Primaloft insulation instead of down, it can keep you warm even when wet. $225, http://us.rab.uk.com. GearJunkie product review: www.gearjunkie.com/best-gear-2010 (2nd item on list).

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Rab Xenon jacket

2. Inov-8 Race Pro 30 — U.K.-based Inov-8 Ltd. makes our Top 10 list again! This backpack — made for endurance racing, climbing, and all-around use — has a lightweight, frameless design with a foam panel insert and a body-hugging fit. It works when you’re running or climbing fast. Its 30 liters of capacity, big hip-belt pockets, and streamlined design proved perfect on adventure races and long treks during 2010. I literally lived out of this pack for weeks both in Patagonia and in Nepal, and many nights in the wilderness I emptied it out and slept on the pack’s small foam panel as a pseudo sleeping pad when going ultra light. $100, www.inov-8.com. GearJunkie product review: www.gearjunkie.com/best-gear-2010.

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Inov-8 Race Pro 30

3. Icebug SPIRIT OLX From Sweden come these speed demons, complete with 14 fixed carbide spikes per shoe and a trail-oriented, racing-flat design. For serious runners, the Icebugs are adaptable and speedy shoes that tear into the trail for ultimate grip. I love them for orienteering, hill repeats, and trail sprints. Fast! $159, www.icebug.se. GearJunkie product review: www.gearjunkie.com/icebug-spike-shoe.

Icebug Spirit OLX Running Shoes

Icebug SPIRIT OLX

4. Garmin Forerunner 310XT — Accurate and useful GPS functionality plus all the fitness metrics an exerciser might need! That’s the 310XT, a flagship uber-watch from Garmin that can measure your heart rate, calories burned, distance covered, altitude gained, and real-time speed on a run. Its accurate GPS then lets you download a map of your route on a computer at home. For map and exercise junkies like me, this watch is a dream! $349, www.garmin.com. GearJunkie product review: www.gearjunkie.com/garmin-forerunner-310xt.

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Garmin Forerunner 310XT

5. Ibex Balance Boxer Shorts — Underwear as a Top 10 pick? Correct. The Balance Boxers are stretchy, breathable, and tight — perfect for activity. But the secret is the underpants’ merino fabric, a light, itch-less wool that breathes and does not stink — even after consecutive days of wear in the outback. $45, www.ibexwear.com. GearJunkie product review: www.gearjunkie.com/ibex-wool-boxer-shorts.

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Ibex Balance Boxer Shorts

6. Platypus SoftBottle — Lightweight, flexible plastic water bladders with screw-shut caps — that’s the simple, but highly usable product that is the Platypus SoftBottle. They hold a liter of liquid and roll up to almost nothing when not in use. My new water-toting container of choice. $13, www.cascadedesigns.com. GearJunkie product review: wwwgearjunkie.com/best-gear-2010 (5th item on list).

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Platypus Platy Bottle

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Posted by Trey Jackson - 11/22/2010 05:31 PM

Two sets of shoes and two watches? That’s a bit disappointing. Not that you need to have one product from every category, it just seemed a little odd to have two pairs of products that are basically the same (obviously different strengths in each).

Posted by Illimani94 - 11/23/2010 03:59 PM

So how does the Steripen work with the Platy bottle? And have you tried using the Steripen with water bladders, eg. Camelbak? I’m finally (slow learner) moving from classic water bottles to hydration, and water purification is the one thing I haven’t worked out.

Posted by Roger - 11/23/2010 04:17 PM

I, too, was somewhat disappointed to see two shoes and two watches. With all the different pieces of gear out there I would have expected to see 10 different items listed. But, anyway, thanks for the info.

Posted by willy - 11/23/2010 09:35 PM

you know what happens when you introduce air into water under UV light (of a certain wavelength)? You get ozone, which is even MORE effective at killing bacteria and protozoa than just UV light alone. Now why is it that none of these UV water purification companies can’t combine BOTH actions in a single product? I’m still waiting. The other problem is chemical contamination requires activated charcoal filtering.

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 11/23/2010 09:51 PM

Two shoes, two watches. . . yeah, I know. But these items were just too darn good! Seriously, though, the context for my ‘Top 10’ is not to be comprehensive to everything in the industry or to be concerned with categories, like Backpacker, Outside, etc. The Gear Junkie awards are just that. . . my personal opinions from hard use in the field on the best gear I have tested all year. These are the items that rose to the top. The shoes are completely different (one for road running, one for trails/in the woods). The watches are closer in performance, though the Suunto is a true expedition watch that you can wear for 365 days, while the Garmin is amazing for 20 hours or so until its charge runs out. The use scenarios were different enough. And both were more than worthy.

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 11/23/2010 09:54 PM

Re the “Steripen working with the Platy bottle”. . . no, I didn’t do that. Good point. An old-fashioned Nalgene 1-liter bottle is the vessel for purification with the Steripen.

Posted by Marianna - 11/24/2010 02:08 PM

Besides using the nalgene bottle for purification you can use it empty enroute to put small breakables in inside your pack.

Posted by Illimani94 - 11/24/2010 09:33 PM

The Steripen website FAQ indicates that the Steripen is not recommended for use with hydration bladders; water should be zapped in a separate vessel before addition to the bladder. But then I ran across this http://www.steripen.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/1/02ac755595468c5da0c8d224bef3c2db/misc/a_lbladderp248revised9408.pdf which indicates that a Steripen inserted directly into a 3L hydration bladder can indeed cook the microbes sufficiently to purify. Admittedly it takes a looong burn time to do it, and prefiltering of turbid water would be necessary to make sure the UV light can kill the organisms, but it could be made to work.

Posted by Tman - 11/25/2010 03:59 AM

Hi Stephen
I was at your wonderful presentation at the Outdoor Adventure Show on Sunday. I was the guy in the front row, way over to the right of you. You can check out my backpacking misadventures at
http://sites.google.com/site/isawtman/

I love those platypus bags, too, But I was backpacking in the Boundary Waters last May and I dropped a cap from one of them on the grassy shoreline of Lake Gogebic. I had a heck of a time finding that cap in the tall grass. Platypus needs to attach the lids like other bottle manufacturers do.

Posted by Stanley - 12/13/2010 01:56 PM

Stephen,

Noticeably absent from your top 10 list this year is The Original Buff. I realize you have to give other products some attention, but you could have at least made a footnote or something for the Buff (cuz I know it’s still your all-time favorite piece of gear).

Posted by Editor - 12/13/2010 05:46 PM

Stanley – The Buff won years ago. Check this out: http://gearjunkie.com/greatest-gear-of-5-years

Posted by Jerry - 12/31/2010 06:08 PM

Just picked up the Xenon… it seems fantastic, but I’ll weigh in with a real world report after use in the field.

Jerry

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