10. Vibram FiveFingers ($80) www.vibramfivefingers.com
I test-drove a pair of this funky footwear at Outdoor Retailer's Demo Days in August on a stand-up paddleboard. FiveFingers are basically gloves for your feet. I especially enjoyed the barefoot feel and dexterity with the added protection of a flexible rubber sole. There is a bit of a learning curve to pulling them onto your toes, but once on, the fit is great and the look is perfect for starting fun conversations.
9. Olympus Stylus SW Digital Camera ($250) www.olympusamerica.com
In college, I was a sports photographer for the school newspaper. In those days, I used to shoot Duke basketball games (when Coach K was a rookie and Michael Jordan was playing for our arch-rival, Carolina) and afterward, instead of celebrating with my fellow Blue Devils, I spent the rest of the night in the darkroom developing film and making prints. Nowadays, I toss my Olympus Stylus 770SW into a backpack or onto my kayak and shoot the photos for this column from skis, boats or surfboards. My model has 7.1 megapixels; they're now up to the 1030SW with 10.1 megapixels. The SW stands for shockproof and waterproof; it's also freeze-proof and crushproof. The proof is in the pudding- it takes great photos in the most extreme elements.
8. Sea to Summit Silk Sheet ($55) www.seatosummit.com
Technology still hasn't outdone the silkworm. Worth its weight in gold, my Sea to Summit 100 percent silk travel liner weighs 4.6 ounces, adds 10 degrees to my sleeping bag and eliminates that nasty draft on my backside. I hate mummy bags because I like to sleep in the shape of a pita sandwich, so I really want to try out a new Montbell Super Stretch sleeping bag with elastic stitching in the baffles. Maybe the Source will buy me one for a gear review!
7. Leki Ultralite Trekking Poles ($110) www.leki.com
Years ago, I thought trekking poles were for sissies. Go to Europe and witness 80 year olds hammering up the Alps with them and you'll change your mind. Now, I can't imagine life without them. I don't understand why Leki insists on making the barrel tightening mechanism on their adjustable poles smooth and difficult to grip; I think Black Diamond's FlickLock design is superior. I was impressed, however, by Leki's customer service when they promptly honored their lifetime warranty with a new set of poles. If poles could talk, the one I broke would have had some good stories to tell.
6. Marmot Venus Down Jacket ($150) www.marmot.com
I'd been jonesing for a lightweight, compressible down jacket for a couple of years and finally bought one at an REI sale last month. I like the Marmot jacket better than Patagonia's version because it is cuter, less expensive and comes in purple. As my friends will attest, I haven't been spotted wearing anything else since.
5. Giro Atmos Helmet ($150) www.giro.com
My Giro helmet saved my life when I was hit by a car on Labor Day. I don't remember exactly how I landed, but the helmet was cracked in two places. I replaced that helmet recently with a brand new, cool looking, great fitting, crystal blue and silver-colored Atmos with 26 vents. Why would anyone ride without one?
4. Spyroflex ($5) www.spyroflex.com
Spyroflex is my secret weapon. It can be hard to find and is sort of expensive, but this stuff is magic. At the beginning of an adventure race or a backpack trip, I prophylactically slap a pair of Spyroflex Skin Saver patches on my bony heels and voila! I never have to worry about blisters again. It will stay on for a week-long backpacking trip full of skinny dipping, but peel off easily when the adventure is over and you're enjoying a beer at the pub.
3. Duct Tape ($2.99)
Great stocking stuffer! I have duct tape wrapped around my trekking poles, around the seatpost of my mountain bike and around the shaft of my kayak paddle. Some purposes I've used it for: re-attaching a saddle with a broken rail to the seatpost in the middle of an adventure race, repairing a leaky tent while bicycle camping in New Zealand, and as a cheap version of Spyroflex for blister prevention. To get more ideas, or merely for entertainment, read The Duct Tape Book (www.ducttapeguys.com).
2. Gerry Lopez Longboard ($1200) www.gerrylopezsurfboards.com
I lust after a nine-footer with a custom paint job and a private lesson!
1. And a Partridge in a Pear Tree...