Editor’s Note: It’s pretty clear that our staff is passionate about gear, and as we strive to bring you the best of the best, we also want to take the time to share our own personal favorites. These are the goods we personally own: our essentials. Over the next few months, we’ll bring you each of our writers’ 10 personal favorites. By the look of things, the selection will run a wide gamut, from heirloom pieces to the most practical of gear that can be easily procured — a gear fingerprint, of sorts. Last but not least, each will share one “holy grail” item that still remains the stuff of dreams, out of reach, but hopefully only temporarily so.
Our inaugural Staff Favorites features Mr. Jason Heaton. Fittingly so. As one of GP’s most seasoned writers and a consummate adventurer, Jason’s assignments have flung him across the world: diving in Bonaire, cycling across Sri Lanka and an upcoming ascent of the stratovolcano, Mt. Rainier, to name just a few. Combined with his enduring love of men’s watches, vintage goods and all things Americana — not to mention a quietly proficient hand at both fiction and technical writing — Jason has managed to claim our unspoken nomination for “American most likely to replace Bond” here at HQ. Always curious for more gear, the daunting Minneapolis native helms our Timekeeping section, but his work also graces the pages of HODINKEE and Revolution, amongst others. Below (and above in clickable imagery form) are Mr. Heaton’s favorites.
This watch, the now discontinued reference 14060M, was a 40th birthday gift from my wife, and I plan to wear it on my 80th. The Sub will no doubt be in better shape than I will be at that age. The new, improved Submariner is a superior timepiece on paper, but I prefer the old school version.
Francis Francis X5 Espresso Machine
Italian-made with brass plumbing, a heavy portafilter and strong pump, this machine has pulled perfect shots for over a decade. You can’t buy an X5 new anymore, but the X1 is arguably more beautiful.
REI Mistral Pants
I’ve worn these technical pants for ten years, for everything from skiing to backpacking to adventure racing, in temperatures from subzero to Saharan. At a hundred bucks, they’re a bargain.
Force Fins Tan Delta
American-made, Navy SEAL-approved, iconoclastic dive fins that are easy to don and doff and provide incredible power without leg cramps. These have been with me since my first open water dive and on every one since. Mine are the Kermit green color.
Primus Alpine Mini Camp Stove
Got this minimalist stove 15 years ago on closeout at REI, and it’s boiled water faithfully ever since, from sea level to 12,000 feet, without fail. Everything you need, nothing you don’t. Primus has been used by explorers since Amundsen’s day, and for good reason.
SIDI Road Cycling shoes
I’ve ridden thousands of miles since 1998 with these Italian classics. They’re starting to wear out, but nothing else I’ve tried is as comfortable, so I’ll wear ‘em til they disintegrate. The modern versions are light-years ahead in technology but don’t have that “broken-in”
Alfa Romeo Spider Graduate
Roll-up windows, vinyl seats and a leaky roof be damned. This car gets more smiles per mile and waves from passersby than any other car I’ve driven. There’s nothing like driving top-down in an Italian roadster on a cool summer evening.
Braun Reflex Control Travel Alarm Clock
This design classic is low on frills and easy to use. Red and green buttons are intuitive; it includes a built-in flashlight, and all the time zones are displayed on the flip-down cover. Yeah, I use my iPhone more often for travel, but the old Braun now lives out retirement as my desk clock.
Outdoor Research Gripper Gloves
Fleece Windstopper gloves with just the right amount of warmth and grip, these serve as my bike/ski/shovel/shop/driving gloves from November through March.
Laphroaig 10-year Old Scotch Whisky
My adventure whisky. Nothing caps a day of wreck diving, peak bagging or winter camping like a flask of smoky Scotch — and this one is smokiest.
The Grail: Rolex “MilSub” Issued Military Submariner
Subtly different (fixed strap bars, different hands and bezel and a circled T on the dial) than the millions of standard ones out there, the Submariner Her Majesty issued to Navy divers is a horological icon. Authentic ones are hard to find, and even if you do, they’ll set you back six figures.