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My Favorite Gear of 2021

Whether I was camping, hiking, or working on projects, these ten items have brought so much joy and comfort to my life throughout the past year!

By: Kalli Hawkins + Save to a List

As we wrap up the year, I've been reflecting on my favorite gear throughout 2021. All ten of these items have become an integral part of my experiences, whether while camping, hiking, on an adventurous road trip, or simply working on a project. Having trusted equipment in the field can mean all the difference. These ten items have worked for me and my lifestyle and contributed to some memorable moments outdoors. So, are you looking to add some quality gear to your life? Well, here are my ten favorite items that I've put to the test this past year.

My Ten Favorite’s

1.  Peregrine Sleeping Pad

After two repair patches, an elusive third tear appeared on my tried and true Therm-a-rest ProLite Plus sleeping pad. I tried multiple leak tests with no luck. I had become so attached to this sleeping bag that despite the mysterious leak, I still brought it with me on multiple camping trips, only to wake up in the middle of the night, feeling every rock and stick underneath my deflated pad. Finally, one afternoon, I called it. I drove to my favorite local gear shop and found myself standing in front of my soon-to-be new sleeping pad. I was looking for a thicker sleeping pad for cold weather camping, so I was more interested in R-values and insulation than I was in a compact size. With a 4.6 R-value rating, I fell in love on my first camping trip with this Peregrine Sleeping Pad. It is the comfiest, warmest, most durable pad I think I have ever had. It's easy to inflate and despite its 2 lbs. 4-ounce stature, it still compacts down to a manageable size. 

2. Wilderdog Doggie Bag

These dog food bags make my life so much easier. Whether headed out for a quick overnight trip or a 7-day camping road trip, I can fit enough dog food in each bag with room to spare. The bags are incredibly durable and can be tightly rolled down to keep the food dry and protected. Both Remy & Riley have their own bag, making feeding time a smooth process while traveling in the car or at camp.

3. MPOWERD Luci Pro Solar Lantern & Charger

I probably have four or five MPOWERD solar lights. Along with my MPOWERD purchases, I've also acquired a few as gifts or in my Get Cairn subscription monthly box. However, one, in particular, takes the cake. What's better than an inflatable solar-powered light to use while camping? One with a USB attachment. While backpacking The Colorado Trail, the Luci Pro Solar Lantern & Charger was a treat on the trail, as I could charge my phone and stay connected with my friend who was picking me up five days and 40 miles later.

4. Duluth Trading Firehose Pants

Finally, a company that makes a quality pair of pants for women. I have been searching for a durable pair of pants that I could wear while working in the garage on projects, offroading & camping, and even gardening. I wanted something that could get dirty, that would hold up in the cold to moderate temperatures, and that wasn't made of flimsy "I look like I'm outdoorsy" material. The best part? The Curvesetter waistband fits on my butt and body like a glove. As much as I'm praising the Firehose Pants right now, I will add that it consists of 95% cotton material. However, the durable Duluth Flex material surprisingly has held up in some minor wet conditions, but I would still like to test it out a bit more. In the meantime, it's the best durable outerwear pant that I have found.

5. onX Offroad Subscription

If you don't know already, I love exploring backroads. I could spend all day driving forest service roads, searching for adventure. After two years of using handheld offroading books and topographic maps, I made the switch to the onX offroad app. The detailed books I had been using were only for Colorado. As I continued to adventure into Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, I lacked a trusted, detailed resource to find what I wanted. I use the app at least once or twice a week now, and I have maps, key features, trail difficulty, property line boundaries, lookout tower locations, and the ability to drop pins along my path. Let's just say I'm obsessed.

6. Eddie Bauer Flannel Microfleece

Everyone has their favorite flannel, and this one has quickly become a must-grab when packing for a camping trip. It's the perfect thickness for sitting around a campfire on a summer night and is comfortable and warm enough to spend an entire fall day in.

7. Lowa Renegade GTX Boots

After nine years with my first pair of trusty Lowa boots, I decided it was time to upgrade. The years and thousands of miles we had shared were finally starting to show. I reluctantly started the research process for a new pair of hiking boots. As big-name brands topped the must-have lists, I kept circling back to Lowa. I had spent nine years using their product, and I was a loyal fan. I settled on the Renegade Boot, it was rated #1 by REI staff, a winner of the 2014 OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice award, and the pages and pages of reviews I sifted through proved to confirm that. I've had the boots for nearly a year now, and while they are a slightly different style than my previous boot, I have to say, I'm impressed.

8. Ruffwear Quencher Packable Bowl

Another staple in the dog's gear items is the Ruffwear Packable Dog Bowl. I take this thing with me nearly everywhere. It's lightweight, compactable, and has proved very beneficial when traveling on long-distance road trips. I can grab it, fill it with water halfway, and have easy water access for the dogs without worrying about water spilling everywhere. It's also great when heading to a friend or family's house, and I can bring a packable dog bowl along with me, instead of using one of the Tupperware from the cupboard!

9. Eagle Creek Packing Cubes

I try my best to keep my gear organized. After constantly struggling to find small items in the bottom of my vehicle's gearbox, I made the switch to an organized system using packing cubes. I can separate by category - cooking, emergency, extra warm clothes, etc. It's been incredibly beneficial to my outdoor lifestyle, and I can now grab and go with ease.

10. Therm-a-rest Blanket

This Therm-a-rest comfy blanket has served many purposes for me throughout the last year. One of them being a hammock blanket. There's nothing better than cozying up with a good book, beer, and a blanket in a hammock on a sunny afternoon. The second purpose it often serves is as a camping blanket for myself and the dogs. With a waterproof-resistant synthetic material, it's meant to keep you cozy and warm on any camping trip. A bonus of the ingenious design is that it doubles as a camping pillow when packed.

    If you're looking to replace an old piece of gear or add something new to your collection, these ten gear items might do the trick for you too. Each of these has served a functional purpose in my outdoor life while simultaneously bringing me joy and comfort along the way. I only hope they do the same to you.

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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