Gear Junkie: Five Innovations In Gear

Face it. We all love new outdoor gear, and it seems that the manufacturers are always coming up with new things to lure us into buying yet another pack, tent, or jacket. The gear we use continues to get lighter, warmer/cooler, more environmentally friendly and more useful through the use of new technologies and better design.

No one knows gear better than the Gear Junkie, and on this Daily Dose Blog today he has posted his picks for the five best innovations in gear over the past five years. Those five items include, in order:

1. Merino Wool Base Layers
2. Bare-foot Style Running Shoes
3. Energy Food That Tastes Good
4. Single-Speed Bikes
5. Hip Pockets on Backpacks

Looking over that list, there are certainly plenty of things I can get behind. I’m always appreciative of hip pockets on my backpacks, especially when I DON’T have them! I’m also thankful for the fact that energy bars have made giant strides in the area of taste. They can still be improved mind you, but they are miles better than they once were. And anyone who has used wool base layers can attest to how warm and comfortable they are.

I have yet to try the bare-foot style running shoes however. I’m an avid runner, run nearly every day, and go through shoes like mad, but for some reason I haven’t tried these yet. Is anyone out there a proponent of these shoes? What’s your favorite brand? Am I missing the boat?

I do get the attraction of single speed bikes, although I don’t happen to own one. They certainly change the nature of a ride and probably offer a more pure experience, but I’m in the market for a new mountain bike, and I know I definitely need my gears in that department. 😉

What would be on your list of innovations over the past few years? Personally, I enjoy the fact that everything seems to be getting smaller and lighter, making it easier to carry our gear. It is amazing to see how small and light normal items like tents and sleeping bags have become. I’d also have to say that the use of technology has improved greatly too, with SPOT trackers and other emergency locator beacons making it safer than ever to head into the backcountry.

What has become indispensable to you?

Kraig Becker

8 thoughts on “Gear Junkie: Five Innovations In Gear”

  1. I won't even consider a pack today with the hip pockets. Too much convenience. I have not transitioned to the single speed realm but it is probably just a matter of time.

  2. water sterilizing pens and energy bars that taste good. Clif bars have been around awhile, but I love the chocolate chip ones.

  3. Agreed Clay. Love my packs with the hip pockets!

    And Adayak, after the trip to Nepal, a Steripen is a must. Love it too.

  4. Merino, "new?" Nah. Only thing new is the marketing. High-end synthetics still outperform for high output activities.

    Barefoot running. The fad du jour. Will be all but gone in 5 years. Here's a good analysis:

    EF that tastes good. What is this thing of which you speak? Still tastes like crap to me. Well selected real food still outperforms and costs less. EF just has convenient packaging.

    SS bikes. Fun no doubt. I have 2 that are a lot older than 5 years. But gears still rule–and 29ers are where it's at for mtb.

    Hip Pockets. Love em. Been using them for decades. New? Puhleez.

    New innovations? Within the past 5 years, there hasn't been much (tubeless tires for road bikes, micro 4/3 cameras, nanosteel crampons, NTN bindings). Ultralight gear is decades old, just minor increments in recent years. ELBs make adventure more dangerous because of the false sense of security. The biggest change in recent years is the ten-fold increase in PR firms pushing "innovations" that aren't.

  5. Although they have been around for quite a while now, and so are not entirely new technology, but hydration packs are something that I wouldn't want to do without. So much less hassle than faffing around with a water bottle.

  6. Hi,

    How could you miss out innovation in women's backpacks.

    Women have narrower backs and shoulders and wider hips. Traditional backpack design does not take this into account.

    Backpacks like the Gregory Deva 85 take the female body shape into account and have transformed the backpacking experience for many of us females!

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