Choosing the right gear for your adventure

There are many choices out there, but what gear is right for you? Photo: Jason Heflin Photo

WASHINGTON D.C., May 17, 2013 — The massive pyramid of Cotopaxi rises above Ecuador’s beautiful capital city Quito. One glance at the 19,347 foot volcano and would-be climbers know it must be taken seriously.

The night before embarking on this technical expedition, I found myself discussing adventure travel gear at dinner with four strangers. We had chosen the comfortable climber’s hostel of Hosteria Papagayo as our base camp and had an obvious mutual bond, our love of climbing mountains. As the conversation meandered around the table it became clear that, when it came to gear, we all agreed on one point: never ever skimp.

Sierra Designs Puffy Down Jacket

When packing clothing for an active trip, most will concur there are two essential rules. First, always layer up. Wearing several layers of clothing creates the option to shed something quickly if the temperature rises, or add something if it drops.  Secondly, lean toward lightweight options. Hauling around 30 lbs of clothes for two weeks is no picnic.

When the Sierra Designs Dri Down Cloud Puffy Jacket is combined with their Cloud Airshell, it becomes the ideal armor against whatever mother nature dishes out.  The Puffy’s Dri Down technology is the first of its kind. Stuffed with down feathers, treated with a water resistant chemical, it stays toasty and dries quickly, even in the dampest of conditions.

Sierra Designs Airshell

Adding the Airshell creates an impenetrable waterproofing layer. Not to mention, it weighs less than two Clif Bars and packs down smaller than your fist.

For trips that involve active efforts like mountaineering, a backpack is more than what gets your stuff from the house to the trailhead. A pack can haul your gear up the trail, be your knapsack when hopping trains and buses and even your mobile office when duty calls.

Kelty Flyway

The Kelty Flyway is a chameleon. Part trail backpack, part carry-on and part workhorse. The ventilated back panel prevents a damp backside, the water bottle pockets are convenient for quick grabs, and the rainproof cover is a lifesaver during those unforeseen downpours. This pack has everything, from a padded laptop compartment to a loop that secures an ice axe.

Adventurous travelers often end up sleeping in precarious places. When we find ourselves in a bus terminal, on an old cot or even on a dirt floor, we need something to bear the brunt of the gross factor and help us catch as many Zs as possible.

The Klymit Inertia X Frame Sleeping Pad weighs in at less than 10 ounces, which makes it the lightest on the market. It uses a body map design that provides cushion in all the right places, such as the head, hips and shoulders. The minimalist design will not take up too much room in the pack either.

The new Sierra Design’s Dri Down technology goes beyond clothing and fits the bill for sleeping as well. These comfy cocoons use the same treated goose down that goes into their jackets. And since studies show that ladies typically sleep colder, Sierra Designs put extra insulation in their women’s sleeping bags.

One of the new truths of modern travel is that we love to share our experiences. Besides our smart phone and laptop, a quality camera can capture our memories in a brilliant digital format and you will look like a professional photographer to all your social media buddies.

The Fujifilm Finepix XP 150 is waterproof up to 20 feet, shock proof up to 5 feet, which means you can drop it. It is also freeze proof down to 14 degrees and roughly the size of a trail snack. Besides being tough and compact, it has a 5x optical zoom, 14.4 mega-pixel sensor and the ability to capture HD movies on land or underwater. And if that is not enough for the outdoor enthusiast, it also tracks your position with the onboard GPS for the most precise of bragging rights.

Skimping is simply not an option when your life depends on your travel gear. Taking the extra time to research the gear you choose will not only make for a more comfortable trip but it can also mean spending time enjoying nature instead of battling it.


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Jason Heflin

Jason spent his youth exploring the creeks, trails, and back roads of his home state, Kentucky. His final year in college he joined a study abroad trip to Ireland.  His time exploirng the hills and pubs of the Emerald Isle sparked his passion for  travel.  Since then, his journeys have landed him on five continents and in dozens of countries.

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