Continuing the countdown, the Pacsafe TravelSafe 100 and Montrail’s Susitna XCR shoes come in respectively at Nos. 8 and 7 on my list. . .
#7 Montrail Susitna XCR
They look like normal trail-runners, but these Gore-Tex-wrapped shoes come with small rubber gaiters and are waterproof. I even climbed Washington’s Mount Rainier a couple years back in them, attaching a pair of lightweight crampons for traction. Unfortunately, Montrail discontinued this particular Susitna iteration, but some retailers may still have them in stock. The new version, the Susitna II XCR, are nice shoes, too, though they do not come with gaiters. (Montrail Susitna XCR, $120; www.montrail.com)
#8 Pacsafe TravelSafe 100
Call me paranoid, but I flinch at the thought of leaving my passport and money unprotected in a sketchy hotel room. The simple added security of the TravelSafe 100—a lockable nylon pouch reinforced with steel cable netting—has given me huge peace of mind while traveling in recent years. Beyond money and travel documents, small cameras and phones can fit inside. I’ve even locked this little fellow to palm trees while snorkeling, letting me bob in the waves without worrying about who’s eyeing my gear on the beach. (TravelSafe 100, $40; www.pac-safe.com)
Background on this list: Five years ago this month, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I penned the first Gear Junkie column, which covered an innovative backpacking stove from Mountain Safety Research. Since that time, The Gear Junkie has expanded to nine additional syndicate newspapers around the country, and every week for the past five years I’ve tested at least one new piece of gear, from canoes and backpacks, to items of esoterica like personal oxygen bottles, inflatable tents, and reflexology footwear.
Indeed, gear testing has taken me around the planet, from the summit of Mount Rainier to Sweden’s Baltic Sea, to caves deep in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Through it all, the right equipment has kept me—most times—warm, dry, safe, and often quite comfortable, while on the go in the great outdoors.
This list—my Greatest Gear of 5 Years—includes ten top products that stood above the fray. These best of the best gear items have over the years earned my stamp of approval—and then some.
Next in line : Greatest Gear Of 5 Years – Part III