This time of year lots of people are posting about their latest bling or new gear that’s coming up for sale next year. I love new stuff as much as the next person, but rampant consumerism can get tiring especially when it seems like that’s most of what’s being served for online content at this time of year. So in the spirit of be the change you seek here is a list of 10 items of gear I love that are at least 5 years old and that I plan to keep using for many many more years.
#1 – Ortlieb Velocity Backpack
This bag is over 10 years old and sits by my desk for easy access. It’s a rare week that it’s not used at all and frequently it gets used multiple times a day every day during a week. It’s comfortable, durable, waterproof and a useful size. As far as backpacks go definitely the best money I ever spent. It’s showing a little wear, but I suspect I’ll have this pack in regular use 10 years from now.
#2 – Prana Pants & MEC Wool Tops
Kind of a cheat with two different products, but they often get worn together and since I don’t have the physique of a God the good people of Victoria prefer if I wear tops with my pants. The Prana pants are lightweight, durable, have useful pockets, come in 34″ inseam, breathe well, bike well and don’t shrink after a decade of repeated wash/dry cycles. The adjustable waistband means I’m good in chunky monkey winter mode and lean-mean summer mode. I have many pairs of these pants. The oldest is definitely over 15 years old and I’ll still be wearing one of the newer pairs 10 years from now.
I’m not a wool for everything all the time guy, but I do like it for winter in the PNWet. All my wool tops are from MEC. They happen to be a store I shop at. Have designs that fit my body well and prices that are reasonable. Some of the more frequently worn tops are starting to show some wear and tear after more than 10 years of use, but I just rotate those items into my under layer or back country categories and keep trucking. I have no doubt I’ll still be wearing some of these pieces in 5 years and the least worn out will still be going in another 10 years.
#3 – B&M Ixon Bike Light
This fine battery powered urban bike light started off life as Sharon’s commuter light until she got the dyno powered version and then I took it off her hands and use it as my city bike light. The best feature is that it has a vertical cut off so it doesn’t blind oncoming riders, pedestrians or drivers. Second best feature is that the mount is easy to swap between different bikes and secure even on crazy rough wooden bridges. It uses common AA rechargeables so I always have some batteries ready to go. This light is 9 years old. I expect it will still be in use in 5 years. If I were to get a much smaller version with much longer battery life I could see replacing it, but for my current needs it’s just fine.
#4 – Continental Trail King Tires
This one is also a bit of a cheat. I don’t have any actual Trail Kings that are 5 years old, but I have been running this tire model almost non-stop for at least 6 years. So I figured that counted. I do replace individual tires after about 6-12 months of use depending on front/rear and winter/summer applications. They are big volume for their stated size unlike most tires. They roll fast and grip well. They work great in the PNWet from loose and dry to slick and wet. They work great on my desert road trips. They are durable and even wearing. The price is not exorbitant. Sadly they changed my favourite 2.4″ width model and made it skinnier. I don’t want skinnier….ever. **sigh** OTOH they are promising to make a 2.6″ version. I haven’t seen those yet, but It’s possible I can get over the disappointment of the change to the 2.4″ width and fall in love even harder with the 2.6″ width. Time will tell.
#5 – Patagonia Puffy Jacket
This puffer has been with me for at least 6 years and has been on every single back country bikepacking trip I’ve been on. It’s dirty, faded and damaged in a few spots. It’s warm, light and packs well. It’s synthetic and deals with moist conditions decently. I can wear it riding, in camp and often I’ve worn it to bed. I never regret I bought this jacket or that I packed it on a trip. It’s warm enough to make a real difference to my comfort levels, but not so warm I can only wear it when it’s crazy cold out. The only reason I might stop using it in the next 10 years is if I get too chubby for its relatively slim fit. Hopefully not!
#6 – Surly Krampus Bike
This bike is 5 years old. It’s the first bikepacking rig I loved. I’ve taken it on all, but one of my epic bikepacking tours. I love the lively steel frame and the huge 29+ wheels. This bike is stupid fast giving roadies fits and very comfortable. I’ve run it with an Alfine 8, Rohloff and now as a SS. It’s had two suspension forks and now it’s back to the stock rigid steel fork. My only complaint is I’d like the frame to be longer so I may swap my medium for a large if a used one comes my way and I can do so for minimal $$. This bike has become my go to urban assault ride and I keep grabbing it over my more appropriate road oriented bikes [Straggler & LHT]. I expect I’ll still be riding this bike in 5 years although it might be a large at that point.
#7 – Porcelain Rocket Frame Bag
Like my Krampus this bag used to be a staple for my bikepacking adventures and then I’d take it off when I got home, but one day I had the epiphany that being able to carry shit without having to attach a rack and find a pannier and put it on the bike was pretty rad. So for the last couple years I’ve rocked my PR frame bag all year round. Scott at PR has come out with newer designs that look super cool, but 5 years in I am not even close to wearing this bag out so I’ll keep using it another 5 years. The fit is adjustable enough that even if I got a large Krampus this bag would just get moved to that frame.
#8 – Santa Cruz Nomad Mountain Bike
So technically I don’t own this 11 year old bike anymore, but I sold it to a good friend cheap to get him riding again. So it hasn’t really gone all that far and it’s still making good times happen in my life. This bike did everything well and you never had to worry that something around the corner would be too gnarly for this bike. You might be too weak to ride a section, but the Nomad was not. At least anything this side of an actual DH track. Not only was it fun to ride, pedaled well for a 160mm design, but it required very minimal maintenance. It’s still got the original headset, fork and shock. I think the VPP suspension has been overhauled 2.5 times and that includes many PNWet winters of use. I loved that bike and I am glad that after a decade of use I still get to see it and have fun with it even if it’s under a new owner. I bet this bike will be around another 5 years easy.
#9 – Bern Bike Helmet
After 10 years of use this helmet is still going strong. It’s my go to urban riding helmet. Mostly because it’s got a nice low profile look that doesn’t scream “I have a mushroom on my head!” The visor is subtle, but does work well in low angle light and in the rain to protect my eyes. It fits me well and has lasted a long time without any funky degradation like other older helmets I’ve owned. Baring a crash or losing it somehow I expect it will stay in use another 5 years at least. I would say 10 years, but the padding has been repaired a few times already and I suppose at some point it won’t be repairable. I’d love to keep using this helmet another 10 years. I love it a lot!
#10 REI Boxers
Perhaps you don’t want to hear about my underpants, but too bad. I have had these boxers at least 15 years. They’ve lasted like no other underpants I’ve ever owned. They are also super comfortable and work great for biking even on really long all day rides. I own a dozen or more pairs, but they are wearing out and I am having to throw them away. I expect I’ll have at least one pair still going in 5 years, but not much longer. I have been looking for a worthy replacement and found a potential candidate at MEC, but of course I won’t know for 5 – 10 years if they new ones are as good as the old ones.
I’m happy to say I have a lot more gear I could write about that’s 5 years old and a decent number that are 10 years old. Shiny new gear has its place, but gear you have used for years that has stood the test of time and is 100% dependable is better. Not least because it’s paid for! I’ll try and make this celebration of well worn gear an annual Christmas tradition on this blog. It’s well worth celebrating these items. If you have gear you love and have used a long time feel free to post about it in the comments. It’s cool to hear what stuff has worked well for others and made them smile for a long time. 🙂
3 thoughts on “Thank you Gear Gods~!”
Great entry. Love the mindset behind it! I have also been using an Etrex 20 since 2014 and it is still going strong even though it got kind of flooded during a tropical rainstorm and had to endure a desert sandstorm. Such a great piece of kit!
It sure pays to buy once & buy right!
I’m on the paranoid side when it comes to helmets, so I replace mine every 3 years, crashed or not. I figure my helmets go through a fair amount of bumping around trails, car trunks and bags, and though it’s unlikely they would get cracked from daily handling, I want to be 100% sure on that issue. Also have heard (unsubstantiated) that the foam can get brittle over time.
The foam doesn’t change with time. As long as the helmet has not been crashed/damaged and none of the fitting mechanisms are damaged [straps, buckles, etc..] the old helmet will protect you as well as a new helmet of the same brand/model. Since it’s not deteriorating internally any significant impacts/damage will be visible to an external inspection.
OTOH if you feel better with a new helmet every 3 years there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve stopped wearing old helmets I didn’t love. I just gave them away to folks who might not buy their own helmets. Helmets are one of those gear items that I would not bother trying to use something I didn’t enjoy wearing.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve never hit my head hard enough to kill a helmet in action.
I’ve just been poking around the Bern helmet site and it looks like we can still get parts for our helmet models. Some of the padding/visors are getting really worn/beat up. So it would be nice to get some new parts and refresh the lids. I suspect by the time a new liner has worn out some of the straps and other non-replaceable parts of those helmets will be worn enough to retire the helmet.