As the year is close to ending, despite the fact that we may not want to be thinking about a new year, it is important to reflect. Part of my reflection is on what I have used on a day to day basis to facilitate adventure and, even, daily life. Today we are going to applaud the gear that has risen above the rest this year. Gear that allows me to optimally turn idea into reality and move across the land as purely as possible. It is about efficiency, simplicity, and functionality. Before we get started I do want to say three things. (1) This is all gear that I have gotten this year, so not necessarily items that are new this year or released this year. (2) These are my favorites, so this isn't a review with pro's and con's, instead it is simply showing you how incredible these products are. (3) Finally, I am not doing this for any company, I am not being paid, nor are these affiliate links. These are simply products that facilitate awesomeness!

For an even more in depth and story driven version, you can listen to me talk about this gear on this week's episode (Ep. 102) of the podcast here, enjoy!


Cannondale Slate


Over the summer my dad was interested in dipping his toe back into cycling. So he began to look for ultralight, carbon mountain bikes or road bikes. He couldn't quite make a decision or find one he wanted, so he began to research building one. That idea eventually slipped to the wayside, but a few weeks after I went to college, on one of our usual calls, he told me about this bike he found online and bought. In his renewed research he found the Slate, was fascinated, bought it, and...fell in love. On his first ride, a ride that would have stumped only a mountain bike and only a road bike, the Slate handled beautifully. I too fell in love and, with money I have saved, purchased my own on sale at REI. This bike truly allows the rider to cover virtually any terrain. It allows you to look at a place, say 'I want to go there,' and go there. That is what I want, I want the tools I use to allow me to forget about them, but I can trust that they are doing their job excellently, and the Slate does just that.

Quick Specs:

  • 22 lbs. (2017 Cannondale Slate 105, which is the one I own)
  • Lefty fork
  • Shimano 105 componentry
  • Geometry is a unique blend of road and mountain bike geometry


Bedrock Cairns


There is nothing quite like the Bedrock Cairns and I am going to start right off by saying that they are the best sandals out there, without a doubt. The company originated from backpackers, but these sandals are more than capable of carrying a runner for miles. Their REGOLITH outsole is one of a kind and can skillfully tackle any terrain. I also love that the sandal has three adjustment points which allow for you to find the perfect fit. In addition, because the straps are held up by wings they are removed from the ground preventing wear and tear on the straps and preventing the heel strap from falling down. I can put these sandals on and forget that they're there. Which is exactly what I did at the muddy Sean O'Brien 100k in February and the Bryce Canyon 100 in June. Bryce's terrain covered everything from sand and creek bed silt to jagged rocks and extremely technical terrain, the Cairn's handled perfectly through anything I threw at them.

Quick Specs:

  • 7.8 oz. (per size 9 sandal)
  • 14mm stack height
  • made in the US

Altra Superiors

These are my go to shoes to change things up or give my feet a break. They are durable and I love the tread, which allows me to tackle any terrain. They fit wonderfully on my foot and I love when I slip into these shoes (personally I own the Superior 2.0's).

Quick Specs:

  • 9.2 oz
  • zero drop
  • 21 mm stack height
  • wide toe box
Bedrock Cairns (top), La Sportiva Tarantulace (middle), Altra Superiors (bottom).

Bedrock Cairns (top), La Sportiva Tarantulace (middle), Altra Superiors (bottom).


La Sportiva Tarantulace

Let's be honest, I am still very much a beginner climber, but as a beginner these shoes are a great affordable beginner shoe. The laces allow for a precise fit and the rubber finds a perfect balance between stickiness and durability. I have not faced a situation yet where these shoes didn't excel and they are my friends on the rock.

Quick Specs:

  • neutral climbing shoe
  • FriXion RS rubber

Petzl Corax Kit


Another great affordable beginner product, this harness setup sets you up to climb! Thanks to Petzl for helping me get this product that truly has everything you need (in terms of the harness setup) to get up on the rock. The harness is comfortable, lightweight, and minimal.

Quick Specs:

  • contains:
    • Corax harness
    • Am'd carabiner
    • Verso belay/rappel device
    • Bandi chalkbag
    • Power Ball chalk ball


Elftear X2T Wireless Earbuds


These earbuds have no wires, at all, running between them. That's incredible! They allow you to listen to anything and not ever think about how you are listening to it. There is no annoying cord or wire to get tangled in hair or clothing. I also love the functionality of the fact that you are going to store them in a case, so why wouldn't it be a battery? These earbuds are perfect for everyone.

Quick Specs:

  • battery case included
  • 6 hour battery life with two earbuds
  • 12 hour battery life with one earbud

Oisle Mini Power Bank


This battery sits flush against the phone, which is fascinating! It plugs right into the lightning port and sits right against the back of your phone. This battery isn't a case and it isn't an external battery with a cord running to your phone, it is something wholly unique. This battery allows me to charge my phone without even thinking and is minimal, lightweight, and sleek in its design. I own the smallest version which practically doubles the capacity of my phone (recharges it fully almost).

Quick Specs:

  • three versions: 2,200, 2,800, or 4,500 mAh (milliamp hours, which denotes how powerful the battery is)
  • lightning cord rechargeable


Stanley Adventure Cooler


I own the 16 quart version and Stanley says that the cooler keeps cool for 36 hours. That is completely true. I went on a weekend dirtbag trip to Santa Barbara recently and 48 hours after I loaded the cooler, the food and ice packs were still a little chilly. It most definitely kept cool for 36 hours and is perfect for a weekend trip, longer if you refill on ice or ice packs. It is extremely durable, you can beat it up, sit on it, stand on it, and it is even functional on the outside with external tie downs. The latches are rugged and the big handle can handle (haha, see what I did there) any weight.

Quick Specs:

  • keeps cool for 36 hours
  • functional:
    • durable latches
    • tough construction
    • leak resistant gasket
    • tie downs on top allow for external storage

GSI Pinnacle Soloist

I prize efficiency and functionality, as such the fact that this cook set is lightweight, stores within itself, uses the stuff sack as a sink, and has so many features built in let's me easily say this is my favorite cook set I've ever come across. I'm not cooking anything fancy and it allows me to be efficient with what I am making when I am camping or dirtbagging it out of my Honda Element. Every part of the cook set has multiple features built in, which is what I prize in the products I utilize.


Quick Specs:

  • 10.9 oz
  • Includes:
    • 1.1 L Pot
    • Strainer/Sip-It lid
    • 14 fl. oz. insulated mug/bowl
    • Telescoping spork
    • Stove Bag
    • Welded Sink

I hope that my recommendations for what I loved from 2017 will help you facilitate your very own daily adventure!


Jarod Contreras



Donate to Touching the Trail