In 2017 I really stepped my gear game up! I’m at a point in my life where I 1. Can afford to purchase higher end gear 2. Really care about the company my product comes from and what they stand for 3. Want to own fewer things; spending more for better quality that will last longer or has multiple uses is really important to me.
This post might seem a tad long so I will break it down for you. The companies that have made my 2017 year of adventure even better are in alphabetical order: Chaco, Cotopaxi, Darn Tough Vermont, ENO, Fozzil, Goal Zero, Gregory Packs, Hydroflask, and Salomon.
Chaco: Ahhhhh, I couldn’t speak more highly of my Cloud Z x2 sandal OR my nicer, yet still rugged, leather MAYA sandals. I can hike less rugged trails in my Cloud Z x2 camp sandal in all-day comfort and/or use them to splash around water or relax at camp. The MAYA can be dressed up for a night on the town or worn locally, day to day, off the trail. Created in 1989 by a Colorado Rafting guide seeking comfort and durability, the Gecko has held strong and is a prefered sandal for many outdoor enthusiasts.
Chaco’s Michigan-based manufacturing facility is home to the warranty and repairs department as well as the My Chacos Designs. Yea, that’s right! You can custom design your own pair of Chacos! Fit for adventure, this footwear company believes that life is enriched through outdoor adventure, travel and community.
Cotopaxi: I have really fallen in love with this fairtrade certified company this year. Their bright, creative styles, innovative ways of shaking things up and positive impact make Cotopaxi my FAVORITE brand of 2017. Their fair, sustainable working conditions are changing the supply chain and industry standards; support companies that create empowering relationships with their employees.
Cotopaxi does not only make gear for good, such as my favorite Teca Windbreaker, Roca Duffel, and my TARAK 20L, they also host amazing events. Questival is a 24-hour adventure race that takes place in cities across the continent. I am STOKED for Questival 2018 in Burlington, Vermont! I can’t wait to have a blast, while doing good, with some of my closest friends and a lot of like-minded strangers
Darn Tough Vermont: Made in the USA (North East representin’, Vermont!) and easily the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever come across… I won’t buy a different kind of hiking sock again (okay, maybe Cotopaxi’s llama fiber socks!. Made from Merino Wool and tested for some of the most unforgiving weather in the lower 48, Darn Tough Socks go on a journey before yours begins. Guaranteed for life and guaranteed to make your feet sing in my personal opinion.
ENO: Eagle Nest Outfitters, the pioneer company of camping hammocks, designs innovative products as an invested member of the local and global community by supporting organizations that are preserving and protecting our public lands. These high-quality relaxation products are my favorite way to backpack; my hammock setup is light (even though it is not their ultra light design), versatile and incredibly comfortable. I currently own a double nest, ProFly Rain tarp, the Atlas Suspension System, the Guardian Bug Net and the Ember UnderQuilt. These items fit and carry effortlessly in my pack and camp set up is quick and easy, rain or shine, no matter the terrain (as long as there are trees of course).
Fozzil: Fozzil makes innovative, space-saving products for the indoor and outdoor life. They’re simple, practical, and fun; and for backpacking purposes, they’re a real life and space saver. You can squeeze these into any space in your pack with easy. They’re also incredibly easy to clean seeing as they unfold to be completely flat with no corners or crevices to worry about.
Goal Zero: Easy to use portable solar power! I use the Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit and have no complaints. As one of the most rugged, durable, weatherproof phone and tablet rechargers on the market, this beauty really keeps up with my everyday life as well as my adventurous endeavors. With an IPX6 weatherproof rating and 7800mAh, the Venture is sure to keep everything running smoothly. Goal Zero believes in their potential to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere and in doing so, they empower people and encourage personal growth through putting reliable power in the hands of every human being, based on a mantra of Zero Apathy, Zero Boundaries, and Zero Regrets. An unfortunate event but great example of this fulfilling this mission comes into play in the March 2011 Tsunami in Japan; Goal Zero donated hundreds of lighting kits and solar panels to families in Japan who were without power as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. This is only a small portion of the good they do for those in need both in the United States and Out. Check out their website for more information on programs like Share the Sun, their collaboration with NRG and their disaster relief efforts.
Gregory Packs: In a desperate search for multi-day backpacking bags with some comfortability, some research helped us to decide on Gregory Packs and what a great decision it was! Our packs have proven to be durable, comfortable and able to carry everything we need for an extended overnight trip in the great outdoors. Gregory packs is noted for their innovative design, ergonomic and comfortable fit, and their obsession with quality, comfort and durability. Founded by boy scout, Wayne Gregory, this backpack company was the first to build backpacks in different frame, harness and waist belt sizes; the first (and still only) pack manufacturer to develop a waist belt system that adjusts to fit different hip angles, instantly improving load transfer; and the first to develop the center-locking bar tack, a stitch that ends and locks off on the center of a seam instead of the side for increased strength at major stress points which helps Gregory stand up to its well-known standard of durability.
Hydro Flask: We completely fell in love with Hydro Flasks this year! Being Nalgene people for the last few years, we’ve certainly sacrificed cool water for lighter packing but since purchasing a few Hydroflasks we have been converted. Although I think I’d still prefer using strictly Nalgenes for an extended backpacking trip due to how much lighter they are, I’ve been bringing one Hydroflask and one Nalgene on all day hikes since I purchased them. My Hydro Flask will keep my water ice cold for 12+ hours, but chilled for upwards of 20 hours, and my warm beverages will stay hot for at least 8 hours but usually closer to 10. I love their bright colors, numerous styles, and array of lids so that you can mix and match to find what’s best for you!
Salomon: Thanks to a lovely gentleman at High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid, we fell in love with a pair of Salomon Hiking Boots. Thanks to this brand, mountain walking enthusiasts (AKA Hikers) will discover a selection of hiking footwear to meet all of their needs: comfort, protection, lightness, and more. Their footwear will take you as far as you wish to go, and further still! Also known for their epic trail running sneakers and apparel, Salomon has styles covering a wide variety of ‘mountain walking’; everything from winter hiking, to mountaineering, to recovery and more! We absolutely love our Quest 4D GTX’s; they keep our feet dry, our ankles safe and give us only the best traction over rock.
The adventures of 2017 could and would not have been as amazing as they were without the discovery, and utilization of the above names brands!