Top Gear Picks Under $50 for Adventurists

GEAROGRAPHER3Looking for some new gear to kickstart your next adventure or as a gift for the hiker, backpacker, backcountry skier or adventurist on your list? Here’s our list of sure-to-please affordable picks.

SnowPeak GigaPower Stove $39.95
This ultra lightweight, compact, powerful and reliable backpacking stove is unparalleled in form, function and performance. Weighing a mere 3.2 ounces (for the manual, most reliable version), it keeps you fueled (isobutane fuel canisters not included) and tucks into even the smallest of pots with foldable pan supports. It boils a liter of water sub 5 minutes (capacity: 110 gram fuel canister will last 50 minutes on high, a 250 g canister lasts 85 minutes on high). It’s also durable and rustproof.

GSI Haulite 2L Pot $35.95
Fans of titanium swear by its pros, but GSI’s proprietary hard-anodized aluminum still leads by a long shot for all but the most extreme ultralight backpackers. After a decade plus using various iterations of GSI’s Haulite (aluminum core with anodize surface), I can attest to its’ pros: non-reactive, exceptionally even-heating (the best thermal efficiency I’ve seen), blast and fuss proof (impervious to scratching and abrasion…and scorching). This 2L blends all these features in a size that covers a full scope of cooking needs on the trail. The two locking silicone coated handles and two silicone thumb pads on the lid ease handling and straining (there’s a nifty integrated strainer in it). Best of all, the spiral turned base provides added stability on a stove’s folding pan supports.

YakTrax $49.99
Expand hiking opportunities with these must-haves for winter or shoulder season outings—XTR traction footwear. These durable lightweight add-ons keep hikers and backpackers moving on steep and/or icy trails. The toe and heel anchor plates are sturdy and yet flexible to keep snow from caking, and adapt to most footwear. Welded chain components resist rust and abrasion. Pack when not in use in the included heavy-duty nylon mesh storage bag.


Balega Socks
Think warm multi-purpose (from hiking to telemark) and fitting: Balega’s Mohrino v-tech enduro crew, built with a combination of superfine merino and mohair fibers blended with synthetic yarn for moisture management and friction resistance. You also get hand-linked toe seams, integrated arch support, circulation- enhancing rib exterior and extra deep heel pockets for optimum fit and comfort. Integrated mesh channels move moisture to keep your feet dry, while medium volume construction offers a no-bulk feel, added comfort and impact resisting cushioning.

Keen Socks $12 to $17 per pair
Like many sock makers, Keen offers different weight options targeting specific cushioning needs, and their yarns included moisture wicking synthetics and wool-synthetic blends, in low, no show, crew cut, and knee high. But what sets them above others is their left and right foot specific fit (yes! it’s brilliant), and counter-clockwise knitting that provides seamless, blister-resistant and bunch-free comfort.


Outdoor Research Gaiters $33.50
Whether hiking through desert cat-claw scrub or snowplowing in the backcountry, OR’s Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters™ offer protection from trail debris and brush, and creeping snow. Built with bulk-free 420 denier packcloth, they feature hook and loop front closures, elasticized hems, a study lace hook and a Hypalon® Instep Strap. But what really sets these a part from other gaiters: they’re durable, breathable and snag proof, but still light enough (4.2 ounces) to pack away when you don’t need them.

Therm-a-Rest Universal Sheet $29.95 to $39.95
This is a must-have for tentmates using Therm-A-Rest mattresses. You can finally get some will sleep minus the inevitable slipping or sliding, or creaking or crunching noises that come with inflatable pads. The soft polyester fabric makes it easier to sleep directly on your pad with your bag draped over you for improved mobility and breathability. This may be the best 3.7 ounces you add to your pack.


DryGuy Warm N’ Charge Hand Warmer/Power Bank
Cold weather and low phone battery? One simple solution. Powered by a lithium-ion battery (7 to 8 hour charge time at 4400mAh capacity with discharge protection, and DC output to a mobile phone) and offering 300 minutes of run time on low setting and 180 on high, the palm-sized (3.5″ x 1.5″ x 0.59,” 4.7 ounces) hand warmer maintains a surface temp of 110 °F on low and 120 °F on high.

Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow
Completely versatile, use the top shell pillow with the down stuffed insert for extra comfort, or save weight on ultralight trips, and leave the insert behind (stuff with your DriDown jacket or spare clothing instead. Measuring 13 in. x 9 in., the liner is constructed of polyester taffeta for silky comfort while the shell is made of poly ripstop for durability. Best of all? It’s stuffed with 600 fill DriDown.


Shower Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Merino Wool Socks $39
These may have been designed for cycling, but they’ll rock the world of wet weather backpackers and slot canyon hikers. It’s essentially a wool sock that protects like a rain bootie. They’re built with 3-layers: a wear-resistant knit exterior (which makes it feels like a regular sock); Artex (a waterproof breathable membrane); and finally, a Merino-wool moisture wicking anti-bacteria lining. It’s also naturally odor resistant. Plus, they’re built with an anatomical design, extra-flat toe seam and padded toes, heels and balls of feet, providing unbelievable fit, comfort, pressure point relief and durability.

SofSol $2.50 to $6.95
Nearly everyone knows this is the go-to brand for shoe inserts, but they also offer some kicking great shoelaces. Two to check out: No Tie and Non-Slip, ideal for hikers and backpackers. No more tripping over laces or tying your shoes again with No Tie laces. Laces never come undone. They keep your shoes snug but make on and off a snap. They’re ideal for anyone who has difficulty tying laces or just can’t bothered. The 27 in. spiral polyester cords straighten to 45 in. The Non-Slip laces solve the age-old annoying problem of laces undoing themselves. Constructed of a durable polyester material these laces grip eyelets and stay put. Both 45 in. No-Tie or Non-Slip can be used on either 7- or 8-eyelet footwear for maximum coverage. Think stocking stuffer!

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Jo Ostgarden

Jo Ostgarden is a freelance journalist who has traveled around the world by plane, train, thumb, bicycle and automobile. She bicycled across Canada, the Pacific Coast Highway from Oregon to British Columbia and throughout 14 countries abroad. Additionally, she's an enthusiastic longtime backpacker who calls the Grand Canyon her own personal energy spot. She's also expert on travel in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and Ireland. She edited and re-wrote the final edition of Best Places Northwest Travel Guide, and has written about travel, health, nutrition and endurance sports gear for dozens of magazines and newspapers, including Bicycling Magazine.

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