At this time of the year, many outdoor websites, magazines and personal blogs are doing their “top picks for outdoor gear”.
When I think of the gear I bought this year, it was more of a replacement for already existing gear rather than anything new and unique.
A puffy jacket is a still a puffy jacket.
New tent stakes are slightly different/better but they are still tent stakes.
And new packs I received/used are still backpacks.
I am kept warm, my shelter is held down securely, my supplies and clothing are carried.
Ever since I did my second Long Trail hike way back in 1999, my gear has not functionally changed all the much.
Sure, the kit may have become lighter, more efficient and/or swapped out depending on the trip. But really, how much has thermal underwear technology changed in fifteen years? 🙂
As I look over 2014, there is one item, however, I seem to have used multiple times and in multiple ways: scraps of blue foam pads.
Much like key chain rings, seems these scraps of blue foam appear out of nowhere. Old camping pads I kept for some odd reason. Scraps left over from other projects. Or they just magically appear out of the ether…
They are light. They are cheap. They are versatile and can be used for many different things.
And what can this miracle piece of gear be used for?
- A large scrap is perfect to keep in the car. Use it to change into ski boots instead of standing on the snow while at the trailhead. Reverse it for the end of the trip. Works well for muddy conditions, too. And if you have to get under the car in an emergency, you have something to lie down on vs the cold ground. And you use it as a sit pad, too.
- Dirt Bagger Stove platform. Winter backpack? A scrap of foam and an oven-roasting pan makes a great platform for your winter stove.
- Speaking of winter backpacking, a small foam pad is excellent for sitting around camp during group trips or kneeling in the snow when using the stove. For three-season backpacking, a small scrap is still nice if you find yourself in camp vs dragging an inflatable pad out.
- A pot cozy to keep your food warm and/or aid in re-hydration post-cooking\
- Bottle insulator also to use for winter backpacking. Similar idea to above.
…and I am sure there are other ideas.
So blue foam pad scraps..or even black ones: My choice for gear of the year!
And if you don’t have any scraps? $20 will buy two pads. And that should last a person for many projects!