- Buyer's Guide
Staff Picks: Gear We’re Loving Right Now
There’s always a curiosity about what our Carryology team carries, being that we play with so much awesome product. And so this month, we’re sharing the gear we’re loving right now, from watches to packs to performance apparel fit for travel. Enjoy!
The only time the Pioneer 12 has left my side (fanny packs are back, kids!) is when it moves to my bike’s handlebars before bombing down some gravel roads. Seriously versatile. There’s enough pocketing for my EDC, enough straps to secure firmly to my bike/body, and the black X-Pac fabric is cool enough to roll around town in. A classic from the folks at North St.
What do you do when countless brands copy you, in the categories you helped pioneer? You raise the bar. Again. And again. Straight up – these are not cheap. The price will push them out of many people’s consideration. But since buying these, I haven’t worn any other pair of pants. You can wear these with a shirt and tie. Or a sweaty gym top. Or a technical jacket. Or a tweed blazer with elbow patches. You can do yoga in them, dance in them, go for a job interview or travel the world in them. Outlier have hidden serious technical chops (29% nylon, 7% elastane) in amongst a traditional cotton (65%). They have structure and body, snappy stretch, and yet feel light and free. There are not many gear categories where you can buy the best thing available for this price. With pants, it turns out you can.
Steinhart Ocean Titanium 500 with leather Nato strap
This might be controversial to many watch enthusiasts because many consider Steinhart to be a homage watch company with no particular heritage. But I like this watch quite a lot because it is still very well made and looks good imho. This is the Steinhart Ocean 500 Titanium on a leather Nato strap. I bought it a couple of years ago to reward myself for my film editor anniversary. In a time in which everything is made out of tech and requires a battery, having an automatic and mechanical item that consists of so many small parts on your wrist is pretty incredible. I also own a Seiko, which is the more common choice in the EDC world.
I finally get it. I’ve switched over to merino wool. There’s a strong newcomer to this performance wool game who has been making all the right waves with incredible execution; Unbound Merino. Specifically speaking, their simply named “Black Merino Crew T-Shirt” has been enjoyable for my everyday and my adventures. The best part? Unlike all my black cotton t-shirts, Unbound’s shirt stays black and somehow doesn’t fade. It stays black magically. Which I simply don’t understand, but I love. The shirt regulates temperature and air dries super quickly (so on your epic two-plus weeks of travel you only need two or three shirts instead of 10 or more). They’re also anti-wrinkle, antibacterial, moisture-wicking, and my favorite part… they quote Dieter Rams “less, but better” on the product’s page. Win.
I am flying back home tomorrow, but I’ve just spent the past week in Portland for my bachelor week. Unexpectedly, my trip coincided with a heatwave, with the highest temperatures of the year being recorded. I knew I wanted to pack light, but with versatility in mind so the Oliver Passage Pant went straight in my packing cube. The pants have been on constant rotation back home and it was my go to pair even when the mercury shot well past 90 degrees Fahrenheit, here in the Pacific Northwest. The Cordura 4-way stretch fabric is lighter than your typical denim jeans but with more substance and support than certain summer chinos. The stretch means a good fit in the waist, and despite the legs being too long for me, I opted to roll cuff them instead of tailoring. The friends I am staying with have a one year old dog and she loves to lick and give kisses. Despite not being advertised as DWR coated, I suspect there is some treatment going on because I was able to wipe off puppy slobber with ease. Honestly, this might be the pant of the summer and fall for me.
Whenever I’m out in the wild I carry some sort of EDC knife with me (usually a small fixed blade). Using sharp tools in the backcountry is always some sort of a risk, so I’m always carrying a first-aid kit including a tourniquet for a worst-case scenario. Recently I’ve added one more essential item to my kit, the ITS TourniQuick pouch, which makes tourniquet carry easier, more accessible and much quicker to deploy with one hand (kind of tear-off auto-deploy). The first series was black only, so I got a black one, and recently also added a multicam variant for better blending with my camo equipment. Of course that pouch can also be used as a regular IFAK pouch if you prefer, and the multimount nature makes it easy to carry on a pack, belt, chest rig etc. Now I ALWAYS have one on me in the wild.
My Suunto Ambit3 Peak has been my go-to adventure watch for the past few years. Although I love analog watches, they just don’t track the parameters that are important to me out in the field. It can be used to measure stats such as mileage, altitude gained, horizontal distance, and heart rate, everything you would expect a “fitness watch” to track. On top of that, you have the option of downloading and uploading routes, tracking waypoints, and backtracking via a breadcrumb trail should you get lost in a whiteout storm, or as a backup to a topographic map and compass. I use this watch every day and it is one of the constants of every adventure I have taken.
I’m often switching bags and packs daily. Whether it’s using a camera pack or laptop brief for work or some form of luggage for travel or even various bags for review – there’s a few essentials that I bring with me every day including a pen, battery pack, lightning cable, micro USB cable, USB charger, or even Jason Markk wipes to keep the kicks clean. The Incase Nylon Accessory Organizer makes it easy and efficient to bring it all with me no matter what form of carry I have. It has plenty of storage and organizational compartments. It’s also lightweight and packs pretty flat. To top it off it comes in my favorite olive green.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ll reach for a hoodie over a crewneck 8/10 times. Notch that to 10/10 when I’m traveling to colder climates – that extra ‘hood’ always comes in handy when those icy winds bite or when you’re catching some Zs on a bus or train. So I’m always on the hunt for the perfect hoodie… and I think I’ve found it with Mission Workshop’s Grandmaster. I’m three months in and loving it!
Why? Let me rattle off the hit list of all hit lists. It’s made from soft and thick Polartec® Power Stretch Pro® (a blend of 52% Polyester 38% Nylon 10% Spandex). As an outer layer or midlayer, it trounces all over your average fleece with a higher warmth-to-weight ratio. It breathes better. Wicks moisture. Dries like a dream. Has solid abrasion resistance (thanks to its nylon top layer). And pairs taped interior seams with a DWR surface coating to win serious water-resistant points (and to bead off those accidental spills).
Comfort-wise? This is the most comfortable hood I’ve ever worn, period. Largely thanks to the spandex and extreme 4-way stretch. And when you need to dress it up, its tailored fit and zip position lends well to a shirt. Build-wise? It’s made in the USA and backed by MWs ‘Guaranteed Forever’ warranty, so it’s built tough to last serious miles. The rub? It’s expensive. At $US255 you’d want this to be the last hoodie you buy… And you know what, it just might be.
People of the world who want to get organized, meet the Power Packer. Started as a Kickstarter campaign, this guy quickly won the hearts of the travel community. It’s built for organizing travel essentials like cables, power banks, Leathermans, pens, chargers, etc. It’s not waterproof but you can stow away toothbrushes, small bottles of shampoo, nail clippers and the like as well. I use it primarily to organize stuff I bring to work. So why does it rock? First off the outside of the Power Packer stretches so you can push stuff in and still be able to close the zipper. It’s well built and it does the job of getting organized really well: I know exactly where to grab what accessory. Having said that, it brings another 240 grams and a boxy shape of 26x9x4 cm or 10.2×3.5×1.6 inches to your kit.