Gear Geek: Products That Go to 11

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Gear Geek: Products That Go to 11

Traveling on the edge introduces a fair degree of discomfort—bad smells, harsh climates, broken equipment, and the occasional stomach illness. And more often than not, quality gear helps weather those hassles. These products suited the other 1% of travelers, namely those who need (or, think they need) headlamps that shine bright enough to stop mammals in their tracks, coolers that can keep food fresh for a week, and tire pumps that can cost more than an entry-level bicycle. Oh, and one sweet, classic sub-$20 pocket knife that should be in everyone’s go bag.

1. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Sleeping Bag, $1,000; 2. LED Lenser XEO 19R Headlamp, $300; 3. ThermaCell ProFLEX Heavy Duty Heated Insoles, $200; 4. Silca Superpista Ultimate Custom Artist Edition – Richard Sachs, $600; 5. Yeti Tundra 350, $1,300; 6. Leatherman Tread, $220; 7. Opinel No 6 Knife, $19.

Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Sleeping Bag

With a temp rating of -40 degrees, this 800-fill down sleeping bag is likely the warmest camp-ready bag in existence, with a fully waterproof construction, welded seams, and hidden baffle construction to increase loft. The hood boasts six chambers to keep insulation around your head at all times, warmth that's amped even further thanks to a two-piece ergonomic collar that stops the warm air inside the bag from escaping.
Mountain Hardwear

LED Lenser XEO 19R Headlamp

The demo that LED Lenser held for this headlamp at Summer Outdoor Retailer included a VR film of a few ridiculously talented mountain bikers weaving through singletrack and braving wood features in complete darkness—save for the light cast by the XEO 19R mounted on their bikes and helmets. Built for skiers, hikers, train runners, cyclists, and any other high-octane dark-of-night sport fanatic, the fully customizable headlamp casts up to 2,000 lumens of light, with a max range of 300 meters. Naturally you can dial down the light emitted, shifting into short-duration boosts, a blink mode, or a lower-power light to retain the battery charge. It comes with a host of mounting options for all sorts of activities and configurations, and is almost impervious to dirt, dust, and water.
LED Lenser

ThermaCell ProFLEX Heavy Duty Heated Insoles

This one qualifies as an idea that seems ridiculous until you're standing in some godforsaken frozen tundra and can't feel your feet anymore. These heated insoles are controlled by a smart device-friendly app that syncs via Bluetooth, letting you shift between high, medium, and low temp settings (which max out at 115 degrees). The insoles run off a rechargeable battery that can last for 8.5 hours on low.

Silca Superpista Ultimate Custom Artist Edition – Richard Sachs

Essential? Hardly. But this pump from boutique bicycle toolmaker's Silca and bike frame-maker Richard Sachs sure is pretty. Beyond the swank graphics, you also get a pump with rosewood handles complete with ergonomics that are equivalent to high-end culinary knives, a vacuum-cast zinc base, a stainless steel brake line for the hose handles, and a magnetic dock to display the thing when not in use. If $600 is too much to drop for a tire pump, Silca's other hand-crafted floor pumps start a comparatively reasonable $250. Oh, and if you want to consider ordering a hand-made Sachs bike, sign up now—the list is ten years long.

Yeti Tundra 350

This is the biggest, baddest ice chest in Yeti's joyously over-engineered Tundra line, with 19,000 cubic inches of storage—space enough to hold 82.4 gallons. The case is crafted from one piece of rotomolded polyethylene, with two-inch-thick walls of insulation, pressure-injected commercial-grade poly foam inside the walls and lid, self-stopping hinges, and heavy-duty rubber latches for days of ice-cold storage.

Leatherman Tread

At first blush, it looks like some sort of industrial bracelet. But in the right hands, it's a massive arsenal—29 tools in all, with everything from Allen wrenches to screwdrivers to a carbide glass breaker. You can customize the links to sync with the tools you need most, or just go all-in and shame Batman's silly excuse of a multi-belt.

Opinel No 6 Knife

The one thing missing from the Tread is arguably the most useful tool of all: a simple, sharp knife. For that, go simple and classic like the olive wood handle version of the Opinel No. 6, which has a blade length of just under three inches, and a total length of 6.5 inches. To lock the blade in place, simply rotate the silver pommel at the top of the handle and get to cutting. Opinel knives have been crafted in the Savoie region of France at the foot of the Alps since the 1890s, but its aesthetic is timeless. A faithful, inexpensive tool favorited by the likes of Picasso, Jean-Louis Etienne, and…likely…you.