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What is your favorite piece of gear from this year?

While we know you all love talking about gear all the time, with @TomIrvine's recent "State of Optimum Gear Possession" post, @Marshgarsh's Favorite Backpacking Gear thread being brought back to life, and the excitement coming in around Co-op Cycles, it seems like the topic might be even more top of mind than usual. 

We recently announced the REI Co-op Editors' Choice Awards winners, recognizing our picks for best-in-class gear from a wide range of activities. Now it's time for you to share yours with us!

It doesn't matter if it is used or new, updated or classic, bought or borrowed — we want to hear what your favorite piece of gear from this year has been. Maybe some of them will even match the items on our list!

featured_nov21_started-gear.jpg

 Share the gear and their stories & photos below!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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@AmyB I agree about those Kari Traa base layers! I love using those under a hard shell bib while skiing. A waistband that doesn't roll is one of those "features" you didn't know you needed until it's happening to you!

My favorite piece of new-to-me gear from 2021 are my Dynafit Speed Turn Bindings. I don't know what took me so long to get these on my skis! They have the attributes I'm looking for (reliable, fast, light) with no extra frills. These treated me well through the good, bad, and ugly days of the last ski season and I'm excited to put them to use again in a few weeks time!

bindings_2021.jpg

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@Dmitry@nathanu@KayakTony@Tim_DeBoer@Dad_Aint_Hip - You all have excitedly shared a few times about specific gear setups. Were there any big wins from this year for y'all?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Of things I acquired this year my favorite so far is the Wouxun KG-UV8H handheld ham transceiver.

The original model is 10 Watt, the US distributer asker the manufacturer to dial the power down to 8 Watt for the safety reasons. I measured mine, and found that it puts out 10 Watts in 2m and 8.5 Watt in 70 cm anyway. The only downside is that this model is fully part 15 compliant, that is it cannot transmit out-of-band, so I need to find out how to maintain communication with folks who don't have licenses.

On top of that I am salivating on Voile Hyper Manti skis, or the heavier regular version of these, but first need to find out whether I keep my existing skis (Dynastar Mythic 97, 184 cm, and Voile Hyper Vector, 177 cm; probably will keep Hypervectors as I do like these skis despite they are kind of shot for my build, but for long spring skiing missions in Sierras I guess they are good; I don't have enough experience with Mythic yet).

Really like my Dynafit TLT8 Carbonios, but not sure if they would be able to handle Mantis if I get myself to acquiring those.

 

 

Nice @Dmitry! I like hearing those details of making the radio fit your needs.

@nathanu, I remember your post reaching out to other ham radio enthusiasts. Do you have any suggestions to share on this question?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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I started with South Carolina State Parks and hiking some loop trails within the parks. I then went to passages of the Palmetto Trail. So for me, it is the Trail 25 back pack. Very versatile pack for day hikes and also has mounts for trekking poles.

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Oh wow, where to start? I bought so much gear this year and love almost all of it. Maybe my top three and I'll see if I can winnow it down to one:

  • Echo sun hoody from Outdoor Research - most comfortable hiking shirt I have ever worn. Period.
  • Trailhead pants from Coalatree - Same: incredibly comfortable and the fact that there are ties at the ankle help with tick abatement
  • Soto Windmaster stove - do I want to cook dinner or do I want to smelt iron? I can do both!

I think the Windmaster stove slightly ekes out the pants and shirt, but it was a hard call.

I was happy with my little BRS stove and I still have it. But the Windmaster just gives me many more options for making meals. I no longer need to rely on freeze-dried or dehydrated meals but can actually cook on trail. At a maximum energy output of 11,000 BTUs, 2 cups of water will boil in a couple minutes, and I can get a pan up to a searing temperature in VERY short order.

In fact, I just ran a little experiment a few minutes ago before I started writing this. I wanted to see how fast I could heat up a cast iron pan. So I pulled out my 8" Lodge fry pan and the surface temp was 72.1 degrees. I turned the stove on full, put my pan on it and started the stopwatch.

In 48.6 seconds, the surface of the pan was 474.3 degrees and the pan had started smoking at 39 seconds. Obviously the pan wasn't heated evenly after such a short time and I would use a much lower flame and bring it up to temp slower if this was a real-world situation, but the point is, this thing is efficient! 

Over the Winter I plan on adding the Soto Navigator cook set so I can increase my options for cooking but this stove is definitely a workhorse that will be the foundation of all my meals on trail.

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“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

First of all, my apologies for being basically absent in the community for the last couple of weeks.  My work tends to be feast or famine and lately my challenge has been keeping up.  A good thing, but a challenge nonetheless.

Regarding my favorite pieces of gear this year, there's a TON but a couple kindof stick out:
- I picked up a pair of Magellan Outdoors Back Country Zipoff pants that, once I fixed the belt (this is the pair that "fell off", if you read the earlier post), they've been awesome.  Super light weight and they do a good job of blocking wind.  I love them.

- Enlightened Equipment Convert - I have a Nemo 20F bag that's super warm and comfy that I've used for fall and "almost winter" outings but recently got this quilt.  It's half the weight of the Nemo and SUPER comfortable. 

Regarding the radio that @Dmitry mentioned and the FCC Part 15 compliance, I can only say that it's a good thing that the Chinese radio manufacturers are playing nice with the FCC.  The FRS and GMRS radios have some pretty significant requirements (fixed antenna, channelized versus VFO, lower power, etc.) for good reason.   The Anytone D878UV has been my go to for some time because (when I bought it) it was the only 100% field programmable radio that supported APRS out of the box.  I typically keep it tuned into my local repeater and FM Simplex and have it set to auto beacon APRS every 10 minutes.  I also accidentally discovered that it seems unencumbered by the limitations on FRS and GMRS 🙂

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi @nathanu and @REI-CarterC 

So far I didn't have a chance to test it fully in the outdoors. It is certainly a better executed device than the Radioddity GS-5B, although there are some caveats.

Radioddity GS-5B is the only HT I am aware of that can be recharged through the USB-interfaced powerbank; since USB is 5 Volt and the batteries for HT are 8 volts, this means that there is an upconverter integrated into the GS-5G battery. This is a huge winner for me as there is no need to mess around with the regular charger in the field. Also, GS-5B has a Bluetooth interface that will allow one to program it with the phone. I haven't tested that although it is reportedly operational. Both radios are rain-resistant (GS-5B is IP-56 and KG-UV8H is IP-66).

KG-UV8H is noticeably heavier than the GS-5B, I believe because of the battery (the former is 3200 mAh, and the latter is 2000 mAh). GS-5B is 284 gram and UV8H is 340 gram. To me it looks like what UV8H lacks in ergonomics it, at least partially, makes up with the battery capacity; quite possibly I won't need to bring the charger at all, unless venturing in a multiday expedition.

UV8H is packed with many options such as for example, a cross-band repeater and NOAA weather alerts, while GS-5B is relatively simple radio. One thing that Wouxun did right and Radioddity didn't is the display. GS-5B has dark background and white font (also, smallest of all the HTs I have), which renders it nearly unusable in the broad daylight is summer, and I suspect, in winter it will be even worse. In UV8H there are 4 color schemes you can choose from, including black-on-white, with large fonts.  

If I didn't have the necessity to occasionally talk to folks without ham licences over the MURS band (MURS is not nearly as popular as FRS/GMRS and 2m propagate slightly better in the backcountry), UV8H would be a clear winner. I have recently succeeded to get more of my friends into HAM, so may be I'll ditch MURS someday.

 

CTUG 45 Backpack.  Love the thing 😉 

 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.