Outside Explores The Goofiest Gear to Go Mainstream

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Outside magazine has put together a fun little online story in which they asked four extreme athletes and adventurers what was the goofiest piece of gear they first scoffed at, but it eventually went mainstream. The answers are all pretty surprising, and are pieces of equipment that many of us probably either own, or have used at some point.

The panelists for this article include ultrarunner Mike Foote, pro snowboarder Hana Beaman, expedition kayaker Ben Marr, and polar explorer Eric Larsen. Each shares tales of how they came across some piece of gear that the completely under estimated, only to later find that that product became huge, or that they were even using it themselves. Take for example Larsen, who is quoted in the story as saying that he thought “the Buff was silly. I mean really silly.” He is pictured here on one of his numerous expeditions to the cold places of our planet. Around his neck is a Buff.

The other choices for odd gear that these adventurers came back on include bear spray, which Foote thought was unnecessary when he moved to Missoula, Montana from Ohio. But after a few encounters with the ursine population near his home, he quickly changed his tune. For his part, Marr felt that nose plugs were unsightly and uncomfortable, but later discovered that they helped prevent sinus infections. Now, as he paddles places like the Congo River and the Salween in China, he knows that the plugs are helping him to stay healthy.

Perhaps the biggest underestimation of the entire article comes from Beaman however. She had the opportunity to use a GoPro camera before they were released to the general public, and didn’t quite understand why anyone would want to wear one. Of course, we all know that the company is now huge, and just about everyone is carries the rugged little cameras with them everywhere. That includes Beaman herself, who says she never goes anywhere without a GoPro now.

Do you have a piece of gear that you thought was odd when you first saw it, but it eventually it caught on? For me, I’d have to say it was probably the stand-up paddleboard. While I wouldn’t say that I necessarily thought it was all that odd, I just never would have predicted that the sport would blow-up in the way that it has either. The first time I went to Outdoor Retailer, there were a few SUP booths tucked away in an out of the way section of the show. A year later, the category was booming, and it had taken over a sizable section of the exhibit hall. That presence remains quite large now.

Post a comment about what gear items surprised you. I’d love to hear your stories.

Kraig Becker