The Ultimate Gear Guide for the Weekend Warrior

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When it comes to kit management and refinement, I call myself a gear nut. With the amount of traveling I do and time I spend outdoors, it is key to find the best kit that works time and time again. I don’t know how many times I bought sub-par products that didn’t work – forcing me to buy the more expensive product in the end. What I have done with this list is include some of the critical items I take with me for virtually any experience – be it work or pleasure.


Leatherman Skeletool // $99

skeletool-cx1

The Leatherman Skeletool is my go-to multi-tool. It is sleek and fits nice in your hand. It is not too big and not full of tools I don’t need. It is stripped down to the basics. If comes with a standard blade, pliers and the basic screwdriver set. You do have to buy the additional ends separate but it does come with philips and flat head attachements. One of my favourite things about it is its weight. It feels solid but not something that weighs you down.

From the manufacturer: The sleek new Leatherman Skeletool CX gets you back to basics… very cool basics. The Skeletool CX has only the most necessary of multi-tool features, because sometimes that’s all you need. With a 154CM stainless steel blade, pliers, bit driver, pocket clip and carabiner/bottle opener, you’re set. Lightweight, low volume, perfect size.

This is the perfect base to your kit.

BUY $99

Black Diamond Moji Lights // $19

I stumbled upon these lights in Moab, Utah. I must say that these lights are an amazing bang for your buck. Personally, I own 10 of them and use them to light up objects for astro time-lapses as well as campsites. They give off a nice soft light and light up large areas. They work on 3 AAA batteries and last FOREVER. Left on, they will last a solid 16 hours minimum. A critical part of any kit.

From the manufacturer: Extremely simple and extremely bright, the Black Diamond Moji is a compact camp lantern featuring a durable construction and 100 lumens of power for no-frills illumination.

Bright, light and simple to use, the Moji is a fun, pocket-sized lantern ideal for campsites, vehicles and table-top illumination. A streamlined, single-piece design houses a frosted globe for even distribution of the Moji’s TriplePower LED, which emits 100 lumens at max setting. A dimming switch provides adjustable brightness, and a collapsible double-hook hang loop makes it easy to suspend in a tent, from a branch or strung together with additional units in a strand.

BUY $19

Helinox Chair One // $99

helinox
The Helinox Chair One was a find that I discovered at Bentgate Mountaineering in Golden Colorado. The engineering that went into this product is fascinating. Not only is it extremely small when it is folded up, it is also one of the most comfortable camp chairs I have ever sat in. Price point I think is perfect on this one. Seemed a bit pricey for a chair at first but when you balance size, comfort and weight, it matches up nicely. Highly recommend this one.

From the manufacturer: Weighing in at 1.9 pounds, the Helinox Chair One folds easily into backpack-friendly case. The Chair One one is slightly heavier and more expensive than the Flex Lite — but it’s tougher and more durable. Its frame is comprised of TH72M (an innovative titanium-aluminum alloy) poles, which link together via a self-locating shock cord technology. Finished with a breathable mesh canvas, this collapsible chair can support up to 320 pounds.

BUY $99

Helinox Table // $109

table

Similar to the chair, the Helinox Table One is a go-to for any camping experience. This is one of the few items in this post that doesn’t always make it in my kit but is a very useful tool for many situations.

From the manufacturer: The Helinox Table One is a must in any travel kit. Weighing in at 1.3lbs and 14.2 inches, the table works best when used with Helinox chairs, as it sits low to the ground. Upgrade your picnic game with this table that includes two inset cup holders and be the absolute envy of everyone else at the free summer concerts in your local park. Single shock corded pole structure and storage bag make this table simple to set up and take down.

BUY $109

VSSL Supplies // Outdoor Utility Tools // $99

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I found the VSSL Supplies kit through Gear Patrol. Having products that serve many purposes is a great addition, especially when trying to keep your kit slim. What I like about this kit is that it packages many things into one small container that also functions as a flashlight. When you are in a pinch, you never know when you might need a little support. VSSL also has other kits for such things as first aid, shelter and even flasks.

From the manufacturer: Whether you plan to be out for a few days or a few hours, having critical supplies in a compact weather-resistant case is an essential part of preparation. Each VSSL unit is 9″ long by 2″ diameter made from seamless extruded military specification anodized aluminum. These kits include a compass (oil filled), 4 hour pure Canadian beeswax candle, razor blade, 6 Aquatabs® water purification tablets, wire saw (high tensile, 60lb working strength with handle straps), aluminum beadless emergency whistle, waterproof matches, Tinder Quik® fire starters, Fishing Gear, Signalling Mirror, Marine grade rope (250lb breaking strength), Reflective trail markers, P38 military GI Type can opener, First aid suppliesand VSSL priorities of survival and instructions.

BUY $99

Ultimate Survival Fire Starter Kit // $15

Face it, you come back from a long day hiking in the rain and need to start a fire. All the wood is wet but you need to start a fire to warm yourself up and dry out. Who wants to fight to get a fire started when you can make the process easier? This kit works great to dry out your wood and start a fire.

From the manufacturer: Start a warm blaze with flint-based fire starter and tinder, all stored in a waterproof case. This kit’s waterproof case has an accessory biner and lanyard. It also includes WetFire™ Tinder lighting material (5 packages). The SparkForce™ Fire Starter is a dependable, flint-based starter.

BUY $15

Survive Outdoors Longer Bivy Sack // $52

Okay, don’t laugh at this one. It might weird to include a bivy and no sleeping bag but I can vouch for the importance of having this small, essential piece of kit if you plan to spend any time in the outdoors and want to stay dry and warm. I’ve been stuck in the past and having this with me was the difference between a good and bad experience in the wilderness. Further to this, this is also a great option if you are looking to keep your kit small and rough it a bit as it can act as a replacement for your sleeping bag in some situations. I prefer this over an emergency blanket as it serves dual purposes.

From the manufacturer: Highly water-resistant and breathable with waterproof taped seams, this emergency bivy sack helps you stay dry and warm through unplanned nights out. The material reflect up to 70% of radiated body heat, the hard-wearing fabric resists punctures and tears through heavy use and it is highly water-resistant and windproof. It also comes with a stuff sack.

BUY $52

Mr. Heater – Little Buddy Heater // $89

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 12.54.03 PMThis was a recent find by Kristina Frost. In need of a backup warming solution, she wanted to have something for her recent winter camping trip. This product runs off propane and has a auto-shutoff sensor when tipped. I have yet to try this but this is on the top of my purchase list as it never hurts to have a portable heating solution.

From the manufacturer: North America’s Most Popular Portable Propane Heater! This patented radiant 3,800 BTU Liquid Propane heater connects directly to a 1 lb. cylinder and is the perfect solution for heating small spaces up to 100 sq. ft. The included base takes up little space and the integrated handle makes this heater an easy one to transport. To light the unit, simply push and hold the ignition button and the integrated Piezo sparking mechanism will take care of the rest. With the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over safety shut-off, you can be sure that you will enjoy years of comfortable safe heat.

BUY $89

Stanley Flask // $25

Stanley FlaskThere is nothing like a nice drink for those cold winter trips. I received this as a gift from Nasa Koski last year and don’t go anywhere without it. Stanley is a well established business that knows how to build quality products.

From the manufacturer: From camping to celebrating, this retro flask’s slim profile, wide mouth, and rugged exterior make it a perfect accessory for any adventure, party, or night. Engrave it and give as a gift. 18/8 stainless steel won’t rust; naturally BPA-free. Wide mouth for easy filling and pouring. Integrated lanyard – never lose your cap. Leak proof and fully packable.

BUY $25

Smart Wool Socks // $19

SmartwoolAgain, don’t laugh. These are socks are not like those throw away socks you usually will get as stocking stuffers. These are a must have if you plan to do any exploring outdoors. Made of merino wool, these socks keep your feet warm, even when wet. This is one of my top picks on this list – yes, socks are one of my top picks ;).

From the manufacturer: Featuring a versatile, multi-sport design, our PhD® Outdoor Light Pattern Mid Crew includes ReliaWool™ technology for superior durability in high wear areas and the 4 Degree™ elite fit system to keep the sock in place. Now available in mid crew height. They have strategically placed mesh ventilation zones provide ventilation for temperature and moisture management, a flat knit durable toe seam and made of 61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon and 3% Elastane.

BUY $19

Hot Shots // 10 Pack for $11

When spending anytime outdoors in the winter – especially in Canada, having a few packs of hand warmers are a great addition. I will usually work with a pair of thing gloves and then a pair of heavier mitt style gloves. I then place one hand warmer in each and am then able to work with cold camera gear and not worry about freezing my hands. Another solution if you are taking pictures in the cold for longer periods of time, shooting such things as time-lapses, these are great to wrap around your lens to keep it clear of frost. You will want to make sure to keep them insulated from the wind though. I do this by placing thicker cloth around the outside of the lens / hand warmer combo attached with an elastic.

From the manufacturer: To use, simply open a packet; contents are air-activated, providing heat for up to seven hours. Works best in enclosed areas such as pockets or gloves, where oxygen is restricted. Heat packets maintain a temperature of 135 – 156° F, and can be wrapped in cloth if they feel too warm. Made with environmentally safe, nontoxic ingredients: iron, water, cellulose, vermiculite, activated carbon and salt. Not reusable; dispose Grabber hand warmers properly in trash after single use. External use only—heater is nontoxic, but avoid getting contents into mouth or eyes.

BUY $11

Black Diamond Trekking Poles // $99

Although these don’t come with me on every trip, trekking poles are a great addition for an hiking adventure. You will be surprised how much they help on longer trips.

From the manufacturer: A versatile four-season pole for skiing, hiking and hauling loads to advanced base camp, the Black Diamond Expedition 3 features dual FlickLocks for a full range of adjustability. This pole fits in your duffle when it’s time to lug your gear to the airport, and the extended foam grip lets you choke up on the pole when you’re booting up a remote couloir. The Expedition 3 comes with both powder baskets and trekking baskets, so you can switch them out to match the season and the trip. 100% aluminum: 18 mm (.71 in) upper, 16 mm (.63 in) mid, and 14 mm (.55 in) lower. 4-season extended foam grip with aggressive hooking point for manipulating bars and buckles. Adjustable 4-season strap for ergonomic comfort with or without gloves. Dual FlickLock adjustability. 100 mm (4 in) Powder Baskets.

BUY $99

MeFoto Tripod // $249

I have went through many small and portable tripods and right now my go to are the MeFoto tripods. With me traveling so much, I wanted a small and compact solution that held up to the elements. I have broken many CX tripods so have settled on the aluminum options even though they are a bit heavier — they just seem to last me a bit longer than the others. One tip when shooting in snow, when setting up the tripod, do not fold out the tripods to the end, keep them closed a bit and then push into the snow. If you spread the legs all the way and then push the tripod into the snow, you will likely break the legs. I have done this with multiple pairs.

From the manufacturer: The MeFoto Metallic Convertible Travel Tripod Kits from Benro feature an exceptional combination of materials, construction and features – plus a splash of colour! Only 15.4″ when folded yet 67.6″ extended, the Convertible Travel Tripod weighs 3.6 lb and can support up to 17.6 lb. This kit is the combination of an A1351T Transfunctional Travel Tripod with reverse folding Twist Lock Metallic Aluminum Legs and a Q1T Double Action Ballhead. Aluminum alloy is utilized extensively to take advantage of cast, forged and CNC machining techniques, all accentuated by an elegant series of robust surface treatments and a choice of five Metallic colour accents. Seriously stylish compact support for the latest generation of lightweight cameras and compact camera systems.

BUY $249

Bose Soundlink Mini Speaker // $199

I received the Bose Soundlink Mini Speaker from Eric Kessler and after hearing the quality of sound from the speaker from such a small design, I was blown away. I don’t leave the house without this small little gem.

From the manufacturer: Enjoy your music on the go, everywhere you go. The SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth speaker II delivers full, natural sound with dramatically deeper bass than you’d expect from an ultra-compact speaker that fits in the palm of your hand. It connects wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or otherBluetooth device, so you can listen to your music, videos or games anytime, anywhere. And the built-in speakerphone lets you take calls out loud, too.

BUY $199

Hydrapak Stash Collapsible Bottle 1L // $27

On a recent trip to Canmore, Alberta, I stumbled upon the Hydrapak Stash Collapsible Bottles. I first saw Nasa Koski using one on a recent trip but never had the opportunity to try one out. After using this on my last trip, I won’t travel without it because of how it collapses into itself. However, if you are a carbonated water drinker, this solution will not work for you. During this trip, I tried to store carbonated water in it but as it sat in the bottle, it expanded dramatically and lost all carbonation very quickly.

From the manufacturer: Because empty bottles are a waste of space. The Stash is there when you need it, barely there when you don’t. A firm top and bottom keep it upright when it’s full. When it’s empty, the soft TPU body packs down to nearly nothing and provides excellent puncture resistance. Perfect to keep in your gym bag or daypack.

BUY $27

Icebreaker Base Layers // $109 each

When working in colder climates, using layering systems are critical. I have settled on the Icebreaker line as my base layer. It helps in keeping you warm, especially in extreme cold weather conditions.

From the manufacturer: The men’s Oasis Leggings make cool weather sports better, day after day. Crafted from ultra soft, breathable 200gm merino jersey, they provide enough warmth under a pant for really cold days in winter sports, but breathe well enough for morning runs in the fall or hiking high in the mountains. Flatlock seams and a brushed waistband eliminate chaffing, and because merino resists odor naturally, they are ideal for multi-day adventures.

BUY $109

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 2.51.55 PMThe Men’s Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip is the ultimate do-everything baselayer. Built from our soft, luxurious 200gm merino jersey fabric, Oasis keeps you warm in cool weather and breathes well as you heat up. And you can open the half zip for instant cooling on the fly. To ensure comfort on the move, the Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip has offset shoulder seams, set-in sleeves and flatlock stitching throughout, plus a slightly longer bottom hem in back. It’s a good thing merino resists odor so well, because you’ll want to wear this shirt for every activity, day after day.

BUY $109

Sea to Summit Drylite Towel // $26

I got my first Drylite Towel before a trip to the Jackal Hut in Colorado. I wanted a small option to have with me when traveling and staying at AirBnB rentals. I ran into a situation where towels were not available and had to use a T-shirt to dry myself off after a shower. I travel everywhere with this as it can also be used to keep camera equipment dry and protected.

From the manufacturer: The DryLite Towel™ is the perfect travel towel: it’s soft, compact and quick drying. Available with an silver antibacterial treatment that impedes the growth of bacteria and other microbial life without the use of ‘nano’ particles. The result is a towel that doesn’t smell or transmit unwelcome germs. It stays fresher for longer, dries you off then dries itself quickly and packs down small and light.

BUY $19

Northface Runners 2 ETIP Gloves // $30

As mentioned above, I use a layering solution for keeping my hands warm. These gloves are my base layer when filming. They are small and compact and keep your hands protected from the wind. What I like about these is that you are still able to control touch screen devices with the gloves still on.

From the manufacturer: Tackle the problem of chronically cold hands during long runs with this midweight, weather-resistant fleece running glove that’s easy to layer for added versatility. Built-in touchscreen conductivity allows you to wear these fleece gloves while handling electronic devices. No single glove meets the needs of all runners and this lightweight glove is the warm mid-layer in our complete layering system that runners can choose to wear individually or together.

BUY $30

Travelling Light Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack // $33

I stumbled upon these bags in Moab, Utah. They are AMAZING day packs that, when stored, is the size of your keychain. I have ran into situations where bags were overweight at the airport and I was able to use the day pack to get the luggage underweight. The bag is very light weight so don’t expect to be able to pack your kitchen sink. However, I have carried multiple camera bodies and lenses when I was in a crunch.

From the manufacturer: Great as a summit pack, carrying groceries when on foot or on a bike or as an extra traveling tote. The tiny packed size fits easily onto your key ring, in a jacket pocket or a purse.

BUY $33

Grand Trunk Double Travel Hammock // $45

When paired with the bivy listed above, this is the perfect portable sleeping solution. I always travel with this and it has come in handy more than one time when out exploring and losing track of time.

Grand TrunkFrom the manufacturer: Throw this hammock in with your camp gear and you’ll always have a place to rest weary muscles. It weighs only 28 oz., and easily stuffs into a 4″ x 7″ pouch, but it’s huge on comfort. A metal S-hook at each end makes hanging easy, and the hammock extends to 10’6″ x 6’6″ to give you and a guest plenty of room to stretch out. The durable parachute nylon construction has a weight capacity of 400 lbs., dries in five minutes and resists mildew and rot. Triple stitched at all major stress points. Attached storage pouch.

BUY $45

GSI Pinnacle Soloist Cookset // $50

The Pinnacle Soloist is a small compact cookset that works great when you want to keep your kit small.

From the manufacturer: Featuring a versatile, multi-sport design, our PhD® Outdoor Light Pattern Mid Crew includes ReliaWool™ technology for superior durability in high wear areas and the 4 Degree™ elite fit system to keep the sock in place. Now available in mid crew height. They have strategically placed mesh ventilation zones provide ventilation for temperature and moisture management, a flat knit durable toe seam and made of 61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon and 3% Elastane.

BUY $50

Petzl Tikka Plus Headlamp // $46

Petzl Tikka Plus

Headlamps are absolutely critical for any trip, especially in the winter when days are extremely short. There are many solutions and I personally have at least five different solutions. Here is one of my favourite based on light quality and ease of use.

From the manufacturer: Compact headlamp for outdoor activities, with CONSTANT LIGHTING technology for guaranteed constant brightness over time. The TIKKA + headlamp offers 160 lumen brightness in Boost mode. It is ideal for outdoor activities that require rapid movement. Featuring CONSTANT LIGHTING technology to ensure constant brightness over time, and a mixed beam (wide, focused or red for discretion).

BUY $46

Northface Base Camp Duffle // Medium // $119

Northface Duffle

Okay, I must admit, I have somewhat of a bag obsession. I like to find options that best work for many situations. Although there is only one bag option listed in this post, this is for good reason. My go-to for virtually any trip is the Northface Duffle. It’s size, quality of material and design works for almost any situation. I used to travel all my camera gear in pelican cases but in a quest to lighten my load and keep it safe from theft, this has been the best solution I have found so far.

When traveling with pelican cases, I have had gear stolen and flagged also flagged by airlines as it just looks expensive. Not only are pelican cases heavy, they draw unneeded attention. I have found that when packed correctly, these can keep your gear just as safe and also rarely raises any flags when traveling with them.

From the manufacturer: It’s not your average duffel bag. Made from a durable laminate material, the Base Camp Duffel is a bomber of a bag. Amply resilient to be roughed around in-flight, or to be transported up a mountain via a yak, this is one burly duffel bag. 69-liter volume provides ideal storage for weekend, or extended weekend trips lasting three to four days. New design includes redesigned straps and a separate compartment to stash your shoes or dirty laundry.

BUY $119

 

Eagle Creek Pack-It Starter Kit // $44

Keeping things organized is very important, especially when you are traveling with multiple bags. I have found that by using travel bags, I am able to keep everything organized and easy to find. It is also great when trying to protect camera gear.

From the manufacturer: Relax and enjoy your trip with these lightweight packing organizers. The Pack-It™ Starter Set will help you organize and compress the contents of your travel bag. Finally, everything you need is right where you want it.

BUY $44

MSR MicroRocket Stove

msr microrocket

I have used many stoves over the years and one of my favourites is the MSR MicroRocket, which I just purchased on my last trip. It comes its own carrying case and starter. I like this stove because when it is paired with the GSI Soloist, you have a super compact cooking solution.

From the manufacturer: If you’re on a mission to reduce your load to the absolute minimum, this is your rocket. The MicroRocket stove is not just our smallest and lightest, it also delivers the best balance of weight, size, performance and price of any stove in its class. It fits easily inside an MSR® Insulated Mug, weighs a mere 2.6 oz. (73 g) and features outstanding stability. We also engineered the MicroRocket to maintain top-notch efficiency and power so the hard-earned weight savings aren’t lost carrying extra fuel.

BUY $59

Jetboil Genesis Cooking Stove // Wish List

Now, I couldn’t write a post without having two wish list items for things that I want to buy! The first is the Jetboil Genesis Cooking system. I have used Jetboil products in the past and love the design and functionality of these products. What I love about the new Genesis is that it collapses into itself in a small kit. It is set to be available in 2016. I will be followup post on my thoughts on it once it comes out.

From the manufacturer: You don’t compromise on your trail choice and now with the revolutionary Genesis base camp system you don’t have to compromise your dinner either. Our eco-friendly ceramic non-stick Fry Pan compliments the unparalleled simmer control to sizzle bacon and perfect eggs while our FluxRing®-equipped 5 Liter pot/lid is unmatched for quickly and efficiently boiling water for spaghetti and meatballs. The convenient nesting stove and cookware provide a compact cooking system capable of fueling the most demanding crew before and after your most rewarding adventures.

Find out more

MSR Zing Tarp // Wish List // $390

MSR Zing

 

The second product I want to try out is the MSR Zing tarp. I have gone through so many cheap tarps that I have gotten to a point that I want to invest in a more streamlined solution. What I like about this is that you are able to use it without being near any trees to set it up. I will make sure to do a follow up post on this once I have had a chance to try it out.

From the manufacturer: The Zing is big enough to cover the whole picnic table at basecamp, yet it’s light enough to carry into the alpine. It can shelter 6 to 12 people for dining and socializing. Use the 2 included poles, or leave them at home and hang it from trees to save weight. Nylon fabric is seam-sealed and Durashield coated for resistance to hydrolysis (melting from prolonged exposure to water or damp packing). Tapered poles (2) provide light, efficient strength. Inverted wing shape pitches taut to shed rain, increase stability, and decrease noise in wind.

Buy $390

Do you have any equipment that you can’t live without? I am always interested in hearing ways of improving my kit. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!