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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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