We have special affection for our gear. It takes us places, and helps us see things and do things. It carries our stuff, catches our sleepy heads and keeps us warm.
That’s why we pout a little when a zipper breaks on our favorite backpack, and we hold onto it hoping there might just be a magic cure some day. It’s why we choose to stitch a tear in a sleeping bag before buying new, and it’s why we wear that one pair of sneakers all the way out – like toe-popping-out out.
We even joke about our car, the pride we have in that overachieving four-cylinder that has taken us to some pretty ridiculous places. That dent from the deer? That missing under-flap from the beach? Just battle scars. Wounds of success. Souvenirs of exploration. That’s all.
There are a few things, though, we know we couldn’t live without. Of course, we could. But, we wouldn’t want to. So, here’s our love letter to our favorite gear.
The pillow. It’s tiny. It’s flannel. It’s a Teton pillow. And, we have one for every member of our adventuring crew (which means we have seven). We take them camping and cabin-ing, if that’s a word, and our little roadtrippers love them for the sleepiest parts of the drives. They have their own little stuff sack and, whether it’s the beach or the woods, they are better than sleeping on a crumpled up sweatshirt. Like, way better.
The mattress. Yes, we can sleep on the ground. With nothing under us. We’ve done it before. But, since we’ve slept on our Klymit mattresses, we don’t want to do it again. What’s to love about them? They are super easy to inflate – meaning, no pump is necessary. And, they’re just as easy to deflate, which is pretty critical. There’s nothing more annoying than working with gear that will not get back to the impossibly small size it started as. They’re compact and durable and they come in an extra long length, which is helpful for us and anyone over 5-10.
The kitchen. We are slightly obsessed with our Jetboil. And, so are the kids. They even ask to have Mountain House for dinner when we’re home, which is always funny. It has to be the easiest way to make anything, really, when you’re camping. We’ve even taken it to the beach, whipping up some mac & cheese and bringing the bag to the shore to power up for more bodysurfing. The tiny propane tanks last a long time, the burner is super easy to use and it stores away easily. We’d probably starve without it. That, or survive on pop tarts.
The water pack. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to dry all of our twist-open hydration packs (the kids each have one, too), and that is one of the reasons we love the Osprey hydration pack. It has a slide-off, big-mouth opening at the top, instead of the typical twist off opening. That wide mouth opening allows you to get a hand and paper towel in there to dry the bag when you’re done. And that’s totally clutch. Otherwise, if you’re like us, you have blue bladders, propped open with wooden spoons, sitting in different spots around the house as they dry. That system works, but the wide opening on the Osprey is pretty bomb.
The charge. We don’t use our phones while we’re out, except to take photos. But even that draws down your battery. And some of the places we’ve seen inspire a LOT of photos. That’s why we love the GoalZero solar charging pack we picked up. We snagged it before a trip to Channel Islands National Park, knowing we’d be without an outlet for several days, and it worked perfectly – on sunny days. It can charge on cloudy days, it just takes a lot longer, which is to be expected. Solar chargers need solar energy. We found it best to clip it to our packs and let it work as we hike.
What do we have our eyes on? A more advanced Jetboil cooking system, one that allows us to make bacon in camp. Because, bacon is life. And, a sleeping bag that compresses but isn’t a tapered mummy sack. We have claustrophobic feet, so, holler if you see something.