Author: Adam Bratton
Read Time: 4 mins
We’re on the doorsteps of the holiday gift giving season which means different things to different people. I’m stereotyping, but adults perpetually cringe at getting another uninspiring pair of undies or a regifted candle while kids absolutely lose their marbles to tear open whatever new toy or gizmo has recently hit the market.
I freshly celebrated my 40th BDay so I’m squarely in the camp of “I don’t want any more chintzy crap for Christmas this year”. What I do want, is more gear … and I want lots of it. I want more bikes for paved tarmac, fresh gravel, and tacky singletrack. I want more boats to paddle flatwater and rapid laced rivers. I want the latest running shoes for casual neighborhood jogs, long-distance trail sessions, and scrambling up peaked ridgelines.
2022 was a banner year for me when it comes to adding more outdoor gear to my arsenal. I feel like a footie-pajama wearing, snot nosed kid, on Christmas morning and I can't wait to show and tell.
That’s the amazing part of new gear. It makes us feel like a kid again. It rejuvenates the youthful passion. It inspires us to get out and earn that first scuff mark … on gear or body.
New gear not only gives us a jolt of excitement from our typical lives, but it also acts as a crucial tool in our adventurous journeys towards a more active and healthier lifestyle. Below are a few of the many pieces of gear that I’ve been fortunate to snag throughout a gear-filled 2022 that keep me feeling young.
Trek Top Fuel 9.8 GX – I’ve been deeply entrenched in the Mtn Bike scene since for years and finally decided to upgrade my well-loved 2018 Specialized Camber. I’ve only had this beautiful piece of dirt surfing machinery for a few weeks now, and I can’t help but to interject it into random conversation oftentimes and even if “gear dork” chatter isn’t relevant.
With more slack in the geometry, it's more fun to ride on a variety of trails since I’m not overly worried about racing or speed. I can see this being a long and loving relationship for sure. Maybe I’ll even participate in the Rocky River Shiver on this bad boy one of these years!
Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Tent and The Junction – I was fortunate to pick up a few Hyperlite pieces leading into a recent 100+ miles packrafting trip through the Alaskan Arctic and can’t say enough good things about what I’ve seen. Minimal, practical, durable, and straight to the point. I’ve found that I don’t need all the bells and whistles that many brands and products try to push in their marketing. I look for functional, reliable, and battled tested gear. These pieces lived up to the wind and water beating that ensued throughout a week in the backcountry of Alaska.
Although I didn’t end up using the tent during my ride from NC to PA due to hurricane conditions, the total minimal weight of 2.5 lbs strapped entirely on my front forks (by the also newly acquired Titan Straps) was barely noticeable.
Salomon Index.01 Running Shoe – I’m no stranger to running shoes over my years of trail traversing and pavement pounding (remember THIS journal about running a half marathon in every state?). I’ve tested and run in literally hundreds of different styles and brands of shoes. I’ll even have the opportunity to check out the latest in running innovation at The Running Event in Austin, TX next week.
You should also know by now that I have an unapologetic soft spot in my heart for brands and products that take their environmental impact into account. I was thrilled when Salomon sent me a pair of their new, and fully recyclable, running shoes to check out. I’ve recently started hammering through some short and middle distance runs on these eco-friendly pieces and the concept of a recyclable running shoe is something that has gotten my attention and vote already.
Pau Hana 11” EZ Big Hawaiian SUP – Being a gear hoarding dork can be expensive so I’m always on the lookout for pro-deals, demos, and sales. In the beginning of this year, I was fortunate to find a brand-new Standup Paddleboard that has some slight sidewall damage while in transit to the local REI. A few rounds of epoxy, sanding, and painting and we were like new and launching from my various local put in.
This rehabbed SUP has quickly become a go-to piece of gear since I can include my two sons in the action. They love sitting on the bow (front) and scouting for icebergs, alligators, monsters or whatever else their creativity minds can conjure up while we get away from the screens and out into nature.
Aquaglide Cirrus Ultralight Kayak (Releasing Spring of 2023) – Aquaglide has been expanding their product lines for a few years now and when plans began to launch their brand-new inflatable ultralight kayak named after the Cirrus clouds, they reached out to Human Powered Movement to help tell their story.
The variety of uses that this kayak offers is super exciting for someone like me. Midweek self-shuttled multisport sessions, afterschool leisure paddles with the little homies, or an all-day adventure chasing sunsets and waterfalls in an alpine lake. You guessed it, nothing wrong with another tool in the toolbelt to get active. Keep your eyes peeled for some HPM x Aquaglide action in the Spring of ’23.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation is a $862 billion industry that supports over 4.5 million jobs per year. This is big business that accounts for a significant portion of the United States’ GDP and an industry that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both personally and professionally over 15+ years.
Truth be told, the product innovation that is happening in the outdoor space is downright impressive. We even discussed this innovation and progression on Recover’s “Be The Impact Podcast” episode HERE). Present day gear is stronger, lighter, and more packable than ever (THIS is how I packed for a weeklong river trip in the Alaskan Arctic). Materials are made to be more versatile, durable, and sustainable (Anyone remember THIS bikepacking adventure that required durable gear?).
As someone that has spent all those years working and adventuring in the outdoors, I’ve admittedly become a gear snob that appreciates and supports where the industry is going. Our gear allows us to reach new heights, find what’s around that next bend, and push ourselves both physically and mentally.
The joys and benefits that new gear provides is hard to truly calculate. I feel like I’m vicariously living through Ralphie Parker of The Christmas Story and perpetually looking for my next version of his Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB Gun. I just hope I don’t poke an eye out.
Journal - Like a Kid on Christmas Morning, New Gear Always Excites
Human Powered Journal
Writings and musings of an active lifestyle
Adam Bratton is the Founder and Head Enabler at Human Powered Movement.
Guest Contributors are more compelling in written word and life in general.