Continuing the countdown, Genesis Pharmaceutical Hydropel body lube and Rail Riders Weatherpants come in respectively at Nos. 6 and 5 on my list. . .
#5 Rail Riders Weatherpants
These amazingly tough nylon trousers have put up with hundreds of miles of bushwhacking, canyoneering, mountain climbing, and general outdoors tomfoolery, and they still look nice enough to wear out to dinner. Nothing I’ve ever put on my legs has been this tough, eschewing thick thorns—and even an occasional run-in with barbed wire—without ever ripping. Weatherpants dry quickly once wet. Knee patches add extra reinforcement. They have an integrated belt to keep snug on the waist. Plus, they fit well and are comfortable for days on the go. (Weatherpants, $79; www.railriders.com)
#6 Genesis Pharmaceutical Hydropel
Among all the confounding forces competing to make ill of your outdoor adventure, blisters rank close to the top of the list. For me, a foot lubricant called Hydropel has all but eliminated the issue, letting me hike for 20 miles or more on a single application of this magical jelly. I use it backpacking, climbing, adventure racing, and during marathons. It repels water and lasts longer than Vaseline and the other greasy, gooey salves I’ve tried. Hydropel is manufactured by Genesis Pharmaceutical Inc.; outdoors web sites like www.mandatorygear.com and www.argear.com sell it for $12.95 a bottle. (Hydropel, $12.95; www.genesispharm.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 IV