This article was reprinted from the Men's Journal, Gear of the Year issue.
While we were assembling our annual Gear of the Year package, we also reached out to some of the most plugged-in guys we know and asked them about the things they couldn’t have made it through the year without. From the seat covers that helped menswear designer Aaron Levine turn his Toyota Land Cruiser into a more comfortable ride to the solar power charger that helps keep chef José Andrés’ devices fully charged, here’s the gear that some of the world’s coolest guys rely on.
“I take photos and videos, post on Twitter and Instagram, and look at the news, but it means my phone’s battery always runs out. So I just got a rugged Goal Zero Venture 30 Recharger and used it all the time while in Puerto Rico with World Central Kitchen. It uses both solar power and normal electricity to recharge my iPhone 8.”
– José Andrés, chef, author, and TV personality
My Shinola watch is part of a long love affair with nice watches. My father got me hooked with his collection at a young age. Shinola is an American made brand from Detroit! I rep the style and red white and blue patriotism.
– Hunter McIntyre, professional Spartan racer and winner of the Broken Skull Challenge
I run a lot of trails really early in the morning, and the Night Runner 270° Shoe Lights changed my life,” says the host of the afternoon business program heard on public radio stations across the country. “They let me spot every rock and root and ankle-breaker on trails in and around Angeles National Forest.
– Kai Ryssdal, radio host, Marketplace
$50; Available at nighttechgear.com
The Inboard M1 Electric Skateboard has become my surf-check board at Pleasure Point. I keep it at my shop and use it to cruise the point and make sure I’m not missing any good waves. In fact, I was just cruising the boardwalk through Newport Beach—I had a smile on my face the entire time.
– Peter Mel, owner of Freeline Surf Shop in Santa Cruz, CA
“Earlier this year, I bought a 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser. The goal was to turn it into a den. I cut up old rugs and made them into floor mats. I bought super fluffy sheepskin seat covers from ShearComfort, a manufacturer in Vancouver. I had to have them custom made as the car is 32 years old. Whenever I drive it anywhere, I put on Tom Petty and I immediately feel more calm. My daughters, on the other hand, call it BSBN, for big slow brown noodle. They say if I were I car, I would be this car, because I, too, am slow and smell bad.”
– Aaron Levine, SVP of design at Abercrombie & Fitch
The GoPro and Karma Grip is perfect for doing follows, and it’s easy to use. Some of the most epic shots we’ve captured have been with the Karma. In the past, we’ve mounted it to a painter pole for more stabilization.
– Bobby Brown, freeskier
The Chopper One splitting axe is the best fucking tool on the planet. I can’t tell you how many rounds I’ve cut with this thing, but I couldn’t imagine my life without it. And the Fuji XT1 is bitchin’ because it’s compact, but not too small. It fits well in my hand, which is super important to me. It allows for different lenses, which is important, so as not to be a slave to one focal length. Fuji cameras in general have killer color profiles, as well.
– Adrian Marcoux, mountain bike photographer who lives off the grid in Squamish, British Columbia
We’ve been using chalk bags for nearly 40 years, but until the Arc’teryx Aperture every single one had the same basic flaw: Chalk always spilled out in your bag. I travel a lot, often with just a carry-on, and the Aperture is the first chalk bag that doesn’t poof half its chalk out all over my other gear (or dress shirts in my carry on) every time it gets squished a bit.
– Will Gadd, ice climber, paraglider, and host of the documentary series Fearless Planet
The Garmin InReach Explorer+ allows my family and friends to track me. I took it to the top of the Seven Summits and to the North and South poles on my way to two world records. There was a lot of excitement as people watched in real time as I climbed Everest and the blue dot on Google Maps slowly got closer to the tallest point on earth.
– Colin O’Brady, mountain climber and Explorers Grand Slam speed record holder
I place more value on a quality rain jacket than any other article of clothing, so I am consistently amused that the $50 Uniqlo BlockTech Rain Jacket has bested anything I’ve worn from the dedicated outdoor brands, which often surpass a $300 price tag. Combining a perfect fit, lightweight, flawless stitching/taping/zippers, and impressively high build-quality, this jacket hasn’t left my side in almost two years.
– Morgan Maasen, ocean and surf photographer
I don’t like to emerge from my room before I’ve had a great cup of coffee. I always bring paper filters and the Kuke Reusable Silicone Coffee Dripper when I travel. It’s compact and easy to clean.
– Ned Overend, six-time national cross-country champion and member of the mountain bike Hall of Fame
My favorite piece of gear at the moment are Salomon ME:sh shoes. These are personalized, individual shoes made at your local running store. I like ME:sh because it brings the customized service that Salomon has delivered to the athletes to anyone that wants to buy a pair of shoes. I also like the fact that it brings a new perspective: the shoes are made locally, so you promote the local economy and costs are less high. It is like a small revolution!
– Killian Jornet, long-distance runner and mountaineer. In 2017, he ascended Everest twice in one week
My favorite piece of clothing these days is the new Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody. The reason: warmth-to-weight ratio. It is incredibly lightweight and compressible for how much warmth it offers. Normally this is only achieved with super high-level down jackets, which are always a liability in wet climates. This jacket essentially has the warmth-to-weight ratio of down, but with the reliability of synthetic insulation, should things get wet out there.
– Colin Haley, a climber with numerous first ascents to his credit
There are hundreds of amazing Munro peaks around where I live in Glasgow, Scotland. I love nothing more than throwing everything in the back of my car and driving to one I haven’t climbed yet. I don’t want to let the winter stop me, so I got Grivel G12 New-Matic crampons, which are really easy to put on.
– Sam Heughan, Actor, Outlander
My favorite piece of gear from 2017 would have to be my Buff Polar Thermal Hoodie. I use it to layer up and keep extra warm on super cold days, for example, competing at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge in December where it is notoriously frigid. I often use it walking around town when it’s really snowy and cold as well. I’ll even throw it on on the plane from time to time and cinch it up instead of using those uncomfortable night shades they give you. The Polar Thermal Hoodie is great on and off the hill, it’s stylish, and best of all, it’s super comfy!
– McRae Williams, World Cup champion and XGames medallist freestyle skier
My favorite gadget right now is the Amazon Kindle. It’s really convenient for traveling. I used to travel with 10+ books at a time and that tends to take up quite a bit of room. The battery also lasts quite a while, another travel plus.
– John John Florence, professional surfer
With the launch of the Pursuit Series this past year, we spent multiple weeks camping on-site before, during, and after each event. While I love camping as much as the next guy, sleeping isn’t always the most comfortable experience. The Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad was a game changer. It’s four inches thick, self-inflates, and rivals the comfort of my bed at home. It’s definitely a luxury and won’t ever be confused with a lightweight backpacking pad, but if you’re car camping or spending a lot of time in basecamp, you can’t go wrong. Your back can thank me later.
– Brian Heifferon, CEO of The Outbound Collective
My iPhone is basically my everything when I’m traveling overseas! It keeps my days organized, checks me in for my flights, it wakes me up and keeps me on time for events, it entertains me with all the new dope music and social media, it allows me to make music on the road with garage band, it helps me stay in touch with everyone back home, it keeps me up to date with everything going on in the world, and I can even keep my fans up to date with my crazy life by documenting my days and sharing it with the world through social media.
– Will Claye, Olympic Triple Jumper
My favorite piece of gear from 2017 was the Google Pixel on Project Fi, which allows me to stay connected and share stories, no matter where I am in the world (with a couple of exceptions – including Antarctica) thanks to its no-BS worldwide data roaming, at no extra charge. It also features unlimited, lifetime, full-resolution backups of photos and 4K video, ensuring that everything I shoot is automatically saved to the cloud.
– Chris Brinlee Jr., climber and adventure writer
I can’t do without my JetBoil and my Core Pack. Morning coffee is essential, and my pack carries everything from my skis and avy kit (other essentials) to my gear for traveling. As an ex-firefighter, I like to always be prepared and with the combo of the Pack and JetBoil, my travels are a guaranteed success.
– Mike Waesche, CEO at Rocky Mountain Underground (RMU)
Caterpillar Compact 277D Front Loader
I use the Caterpillar Compact 277D Front Loader to build jumps on the 170 acres I bought recently. The jumps are seven to 14 feet tall and up to 45 feet long.
– Cam Zink, professional freeride mountain biker
[Price varies; cat.com]
Z Packs Down Sleeping Bags are totally customizable, super warm, lightweight, and packable. They are definitely our go-to for camping!
– Renee Hahnel and Matthew Hahnel are visiting all 59 U.S. national parks and creating visitor guides for each destination.
My favorite gear is my dirt bike – a KTM 450 SIX DAYS racing enduro bike. Between the frame, engine system and bodywork, it allows me to have as much movement as possible while maintaining total control. I love that it does everything that I want and need it to do. My favorite pastime is taking it up into the mountains to just ride and escape reality for a while.
– Frank Grillo, actor appearing in Wheelman, Captain America, The Purge, and Kingdom