PILLOW STUFF SACK
In an era when shedding every possible ounce from one’s pack is en vogue, there’s one item I refused to give up: my pillow stuff sack. Given the physical output required to trek for several days at high elevation in rugged terrain, sleep is critical to physical prowess. For me, the key to a sound snooze is a soft yet supportive pillow. Others might opt for an ultralight nylon compression-strap stuff-sack, but I carry a Moonstone fleece-lined one that came with a down sleeping bag I acquired in 2004, just before the brand disappeared. I stuff my down jacket into my cherished stuff sack, fleece-side out, put my head on my pillow and slide into deep slumber. The next day I awaken refreshed and ready for another 10-miler. (Note: Moonstone sleeping bags have been reintroduced by Columbia Sportswear, but without fleece-lined stuff sacks. Pillow stuff sacks are available from REI ($11.50) and Therm-a-Rest ($21.95). (Lisa Densmore)
GSI COFFEE PRESS Whether relishing a Blodgett Canyon sunrise from your portaledge or lounging late at a Forest Service lookout, no morning ritual provides more satisfaction than sharing a pot of full-bodied java with a friend. Sure, methods like cowboy coffee and single-serving filters weigh almost nothing and work in a pinch. But coffee lovers insisting on a premium backcountry brew to kick-start the crew can do no better than the simple and proven coffee press. Jetboil’s ingenious Flash Java Kit Personal Cooking System is the lightest available, but it can heat only water, not food. That’s why I prefer the Chad Harder
larger GSI press for both quality of brew and the some-for-everyone quantity it produces. My GSI is an older model made of Lexan (still available in the 50-ounce size from Amazon for $39.95), but if Lexan’s BPA issues freak you out, don’t worry. The newer GSI coffee presses are BPA-free and available in both 30-ounce ($29.95) and 50-ounce ($39.95) sizes. (Chad Harder)
EXOFFICIO BOXER BRIEFS My mom buys my underwear. Well, she did for the first three decades of my life, and that was a problem. Before anything from a trail run or a multi-week backpacking trip, I’d pull on the same Christmas-present cotton boxers and prepare for the worst—chafing, stank and swamp crotch were an inevitable part of my outdoor exertions. Now soggy loins are a thing of the past, thanks to space-age underpants. I switched to synthetic briefs on a whim, dropping an unprecedented (for me) $30 for a pair of ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs. After my first road trip to Moab, I would’ve spent double. The boxer briefs survived nine straight days and 175 miles of mountain biking through the desert Southwest. That’s one pair and gallons of groin sweat, and I still felt fresh as a daisy (a daisy crammed down my pants, but still). Now they’re all I wear, every single day. And the best part is when you’re wearing just your spandex-y underpants while standing arms akimbo, it’s hard not to feel like Superman. I bet his mom bought his underwear too. (Dave Reuss)
CHACO SANDALS After a long day on the trail under a heavy pack, nothing feels better than getting to camp, peeling off my sweat-soaked hiking boots and slipping into a pair of Chaco sandals. I can almost hear my feet breathe a (sour) sigh of relief as I wiggle my toes in the crisp mountain air while the life rushes back to them.
Cathrine L. Walters
Outdoor Adventure Under the Big Sky