Gear is one of those things we outdoorsy, adventure nuts can’t seem to shut up about. We research for hours. We talk to friends. We chat up strangers in the woods, just to ask them about how those hiking poles are working out, or how that Big Agnes ground pad is treating you. If we stop to talk on the trail, I’m probably not checking out your beautiful hiking legs. I wanna know if your Smartwool socks are holding up, or whether you made the jump to Darn Tough.

As a guide, I want the best gear for me, and my clients. Every spring I spend time with the folks at L.L. Bean, Eastern Mountain Sports, and REI chatting about gear. A few enthusiastic store reps even take the time to give me full on tours of what’s new. These visits tend to get a little geeky, sometimes more than I’d like to admit, but I walk away with quality equipment, and usually an empty wallet.

While my philosophy on entering the outdoors is about traveling light, and keeping things minimal, I also believe that the difference between “good” gear, and “great” gear is the difference between a good night’s sleep, or one where I’m cold, and possibly damp. It’s the difference between nursing blisters or being able to tackle those few extra miles.  I can tell you, having spent full weeks in cold, wet, stretches of wilderness, as well as enduring -40 degree temps with high wind gusts in the White Mountains, you learn real quick what will hold up, and what will fall apart under severe conditions, when everything isn’t sunny and 70 degrees.

So, what’s in my pack? Well, let’s shake it down.