The gear we can't live without

Staff Picks: Michael Finn, Outdoors and Fitness Writer


November 7, 2017 Buying Guides By Photo by Chase Pellerin
Editor’s Note: As a collective, the Gear Patrol staff is a wealth of knowledge about products. This series is our way of showcasing and sharing our insights and endorsements. Our hope is that you enjoy it all — and perhaps discover something new you’ll love too.

Like many millennials, I think consumer is a dirty word — sort of like corporation, or savings account. It provokes resentment. I guess part of that is because I know I’m a consumer like everyone else, and aside from becoming a homesteader, there’s not much I can do about it. One thing I can do, though, is buy products only from brands whose ethics I endorse, and be absolutely certain that I’m buying a product not out of desire, but sheer necessity.

Levi’s Authorized Vintage 501 Jeans

Moments after walking out of the Levi’s store, overwhelmed by guilt, I texted my friends: “Guys… I just spent $200 on used jeans.” They’ve been poking fun at me and my garbage jeans ever since. They’re stained, torn to smithereens, and breathtakingly overpriced. But I’ll be damned if they don’t look and feel better than any new pair I’ve ever worn.

‘Siddhartha’ by Hermann Hesse

The meaning of life is somewhere within these 160 pages.

Madden Equipment Daylite

Finding the perfect backpack is a bit like dating. You meet, fool around for awhile, maybe teeter over into the realm of — *gulp* — loving relationship, then part ways. I’ve ghosted so many backpacks. But the Daylite and I have been going strong for around six months now. I’m beginning to think she’s the one.

‘Live in San Francisco’ by Thee Oh Sees

Thee Oh Sees are a four-man band based in San Francisco. Their music is hard to define, but I guess you might call it psychedelic garage punk. I prefer to call it “music for doing two-hundred miles per hour through a desert while chewing amphetamines.” Don’t know what I mean? Listen to “Contraption.”

Jungmaven Baja Short Sleeve Pocket Tee 10 Ounce

I have a thing for t-shirts. My dresser drawer barely closes. This one is hands-down my favorite. Made with a ridiculously soft organic hemp and cotton blend, it drapes like no ordinary cotton shirt can. I could use about 10 more of ‘em.

‘Lonesome Dove’ by Larry McMurtry

I’ve recommended this book so many times — to friends, to coworkers, to strangers who don’t even speak English. It’s strange, because I’ve never been into the whole cowboys-and-Indians-and-prostitutes thing. I’m mostly a sci-fi guy. But there’s just something about this goddamn book. I honestly believe it’s one of the greatest stories ever told.

Black Diamond Aspect Climbing Shoes

An odd choice for a gym climber, I admit, but after wearing these on a few trad pitches at the Shawangunks in Upstate New York, I am unconditionally stoked. They fit my oddly shaped feet wonderfully (very rare for a climbing shoe), edge like a mountain goat’s hooves and don’t look obnoxious.

‘A Deeper Understanding’ by The War On Drugs

The guitar-solo finale in “Pain” makes me feel like I’m soaring naked above the Earth. I could say that about many of The War On Drug’s songs, actually. Adam Granduciel’s sound is big, loud, and inexplicably spiritual. The music critics seem to agree.

‘The Mountain of My Fear’ by David Roberts

Jon Krakauer, the protégé of David Roberts, once had this to say about his mentor: “Over the two centuries that men and women have been writing about climbing, only a handful of authors have created work that can honestly be called great, work that can stand on its own as literature beyond the forgiving confines of the mountaineering genre… There is one person, however, who has made a significant mark both as a climber and as a writer, that man being David Roberts.” If you are at all interested in mountaineering or spectacular tales of human endurance, this book is essential.

The Grail

A One-Way Ticket to Mars

This godforsaken planet has seen better days. I want out.

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