In the latest edition of Staff Favorites, we turn to one of Gear Patrol’s longest standing contributors, Mr. Jon Gaffney. The New England native was always a shoe in for the team thanks to his eye for craftsmanship, an obsession for photography and a hunger for physical challenge that at times made us question his sanity (in a loving, concerned way, of course). Luckily, he still knows how to properly relax, typically on a dock somewhere in Maine between waterskiing runs, which also happens to be his default answer to “where he’d rather be”. But you didn’t really need to read this to know any of these things. His favorites tell the story far more eloquently than we ever will.
Seiko is an oft-overlooked and under-appreciated player in horology. While my current grail watch is a Seiko Marine Master 300, my daily wearer is a 6105-0009. The 6105 was one of Seiko’s first dive watches and has a rich history with U.S. service members. I snagged mine last year after lusting for quite a while. It fits my lifestyle perfectly: as it already has the bumps and bruises of a few more years spent bumming around than me, I don’t feel a need to baby it. After 40 years of life it’s now in need of a servicing, but I’ve yet to take it in — I don’t want to let it go long enough to have it done.
Randolph Engineering Aviators
Matte Gray frames and gray polarized lenses. Wherever I go, they go too. Randolph’s Aviators fit into any possible situation I’ve happened upon in the last five years: weddings, road trips, pool party, driving, etc. I’m on my fourth pair, as I’m none to easy on my shades; even so, the metal frames are also incredibly resilient. After my 300-pound roommate sat on and brutally flattened a pair, for example, the nice people at Randolph bent them back into shape as good as new. Personally, I like to sanitize mine and remove the logo from the lenses by taking a nice penny and gently scratching it off.
I carry a pocket knife all day every day (when I’m not flying). It’s super convenient (and very annoying when I forget it at home). The Presidio is one of Benchmade’s Black Class knives and is made to exacting standards, primarily for military and law enforcement usage: it’s more than up to my desk monkey day-to-day. One caveat — the scales (aka grip) are very abrasive and have mauled the back pocket of a number of my pants now. Admittedly, it’s a small price to pay to have such an awesome letter opener…
Rotring Trio Pen
Short of a Montblanc, this perfectly weighted brass beast is the best pen for an analog geek like myself. It has two pens and a pencil inside of it to cover all my writing situations. Sadly, they’ve been discontinued for quite a while (why is it the best stuff goes away?) and eBay prices continue a steady upward trend.
Rainbow Sandals Flip Flops
I am not one of those guys who stick their noses up at flip-flops. If the temperature crests 60 degrees, the betting odds are on my wearing a pair of beat-to-death tan (now functions as brown) premium leather Rainbows. The double thick foam version is the only way to go. I’m in the process of breaking in my fourth pair in the last 11 years; the process takes some time, but once they’ve formed to my feet they’re the perfect footwear.
Being that I hate the winter, I take full advantage of the fleeting summer to be in, on, or around water as much as possible. Quiksilver’s Diamond Dobby shorts fit me perfectly, dry quickly, and their four-way stretch fabric means they won’t blow out no matter what ridiculousness I’m attempting.
I stumbled on GORUCK’s products almost three years ago after training for a Tough Mudder got me signed up for a GORUCK Challenge. I fell down the rabbit hole with their gear. If you read Gear Patrol regularly you’re aware of the brand by now: started by a former Green Beret, they make thought-out gear to the highest quality possible with a lifetime guarantee. The GR1 is the original GORUCK product, designed on the back of a napkin and honed through a myriad of prototypes. It’s simple and to the point. GORUCK’s founder, Jason McCarthy, can give you the rundown here. The bottom line for me: the GR1 is my daily companion, occasional camera bag, gym bag, and often my weekender. It’s customizable for whatever situation arises (check out my rig here). As badly as I’ve beaten it, it keeps coming back for more.
Tipton & Co. Card Case
There was a time that I had a Costanza Wallet. A while ago I made the switch to a card case, and haven’t looked back. Hand-cut and stitched by Bryan Bowie in VA, this case is about as minimalist as you can get. The vegetable-tanned leather is even developing a nice patina. The cases are saddle stitched as well, so if it ever starts loosening up it won’t come undone (unlike machine lock stitches).
I love beer and I’ll try almost any type. I have seasonal preferences (Saison for the summer), but Guinness is the stalwart. A pan fried steak and a pint of the black stuff might be my favorite meal. While the company’s history is undeniable, what makes Guinness really stand the test of time is its tastiness. Should you ever get the chance, drink a few pints in a Doolin pub while taking in the nightly traditional Irish music… it’s a memory you’ll never forget.
I shoot a lot of digital and a decent amount of film, but there’s something really fun about Polaroid (a.k.a. Fujifilm). The 360 has a Zeiss rangefinder viewfinder and glass lens elements unlike some of the other land cameras. If you want to get smiles at a party, break one of these out and rip off a few pull-and-peel frames. People will actually forget about their smartphones for a few minutes. It’s astounding. The instant prints that the Fuji pull and peel film can produce are also really impressive, and make a fun takeaway for friends and family.
The Grail: Sportsmobile Ultimate Adventure Vehicle
It’s a 4×4 apartment on wheels that can take me to any adventure I want with a place to crash come nighttime and a place to fry bacon and eggs come morning. I dream of waking up to some new and exciting place every day. Sportsmobiles aren’t cheap by any standard, but I’d much rather have one than a sports car. Till I hit it big on Powerball I’ll be searching for a Westfalia.