The Gear Closet

The gear addiction is real...
We share our opinion on the things we use to make adventure happen

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
A good headlamp is a must when it comes to starting a fire, running or skiing in the dark, or simply opening a bottle of wine under the stars. It was important for us to balance functionality (especially when it came to physical exercise at night/early morning) with price point since you can easily spend an arm and a leg on the latest technology.
What we like about it:
The Black Diamond Storm was attractive based on the fact that it's designed with 350 lumens to light up the night on the trail. Honestly, because it is battery operated, it also seemes more reliable than the recharable modles that are out there. You can also "lock it" so it doesn't turn on in your bag and burn through all of the batteries. There are several lighting variations including red and green light, which are great for early morning skinning, and dimness moderation with a quick touch to the button on the side of the headlamp so you don't blind your fellow campers.
What could be better:
Like most single strap head lamps, it does tend to bob up and down during agressive movement like running. It can also be a little bit touchy to get your light color to switch between options if you want to do so quickly during activity or if you forget the button patterns for each color like we often do. 

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Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad
Having the right crash pad can make or break a night of camping. We had originally tried another model from Big Agnes which wasn't quite as durable, however they replaced ours with the Air Core Ultra and they've been holding air (and tired bodies) since.
What they like about them:
Big Agnes is based in Steamboat, Colorado and we love buying local. The crash pads are very durable and extreamly comfortable. The mouth piece valve makes them easy to blow up and lock quickly to seal in air.
What could be better:
Since we now have the model with more durable fabric, they are a bit heavy and bulky for the purposes backpack camping (which we do less of anyways). 

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Photo credit: Big Agnes

MSR Reactor Stove System
If nothing else, coffee is a must on a camping trip! However we also use our Reactor Stove System to boil water for drinking, soup, oatmeal, hot toddies and more. We can't imaging eating or drinking in the outdoors without it.

What we like about it:
The Reactor boils water like a boss, heating .5 litres of water in just 1.5 minutes! We also have a bigger pot that can sit on top of the burner that comes in handy for larger meals as well as a french press topper for making coffee.
What could be better:
If you cook food in the Reactor pot, it can be hard to clean out on a minimalist trip and can taint the flavor of whatever you make next. Also be carful warming your hands over it with gloves on - it can melt them (yeah, that happened...).   

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Photo credit: MSR

When spending several days in backcountry and maintaining a high level of activity, hydration is critical. Our SteriPEN has been a light weight, effective and quick solution for water purification by using UV light rays to kill bacteria.
What we like about it:
SteriPEN is very easy to use and can purify up to a liter of water at a time. It only takes roughly 60-90 seconds and clearly indicates whether the purification was successful. The pen itself is small and convenient to travel with - even in a running or biking pack.
What could be better:
The instruction manual notes that SteriPEN can purify up to 50 gallons of water, however this can become variable depending on the length of time the batteries have been in the device. If you haven't used the pen in a while, don't go into the backcountry expecting to get max purification; always travel with backup AA's. Also make sure you have a container that allows you to fully submerge the 'pen' portion of SteriPEN into the water for proper funcationality.

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