The gear we've been testing for half a decade

As equipment editor, it is our job to test brand new products and then tell you what we think about them. We do this with the full range of outdoor gear – from Hoka's latest running shoes to the latest advances in ski bindings. But sometimes our equipment is not the newest or most striking. We go for the articles that work best and to have was scraped off and spilled after being used over and over again. In short, our most trusted gear looks like it saw some shit. Our emotional connection to these things is not so much about the price or the technical data, but rather that they have persisted over the years and have accompanied us on many adventures. We asked six editors what equipment they've been testing for half a decade or more and why they don't want to upgrade soon.

Osprey Exos 58 Pack ($ 220)

(Photo: Courtesy of Will Taylor)

Ten years ago I was an intern at Outside and had practically no money in my bank account, but I wanted to be outdoors as much as possible. I had just started climbing and was looking for a climbing backpack when I came across the Exos 58 at a REI sale of used equipment. It was in like new condition and cost (for me) a very high $ 74. Since the lust for equipment is what it is, I bought it and thought I could use it for both climbing adventures and backpacking. And that's exactly what happened. That pack that was Made for ultra-light backpacking trips, made countless trips to Joshua Tree and Idyllwild to help me climb rocks. It accompanied me and my wife on our honeymoon with the backpack in Yosemite. Squirrels gnawed at it in the Pacific Northwest, tape gloves adorned it in Indian Creek, and sunscreen, bug spray, and trash occasionally stained it too many to count. There's not a lot of bells and whistles: it's a simple top loader with a brain compartment and hip belt pockets, but the suspension system is highly adjustable and always feels good on my back, although there is minimal padding. And although it is made of mesh and relatively thin fabric, it can withstand up to ten years of stone abrasion, hard drops after long hikes and knots. I now have better backpacks in my closet, but this is still spinning for weekend adventures, even though the zippers are crunchy and there are lots of cracks in the net. There's just too much nostalgia here. – Will Taylor, gang director

Camp Chef Everest Herd ($ 148)

ariella-camp-stove_h.jpg(Photo: Courtesy of Ariella Gintzler)

Until I went to college, the only camping stove I used was my parents' MSR WhisperLite from the 1980s. Even if we were just autocamping, we cooked all of our meals on this single burner. When I bought my friend's Everest twin burner for Christmas five years ago, I felt I was investing in the external equivalent of a luxurious stainless steel kitchen stove. Now I can't imagine how we ever lived without it. There are two places to cook A complete game changer when it comes to the simple and efficient preparation of meals. Everest in particular offers an impressive 20,000 BTUs, which is enough to boil water in just a few minutes and prepare breakfast burritos for a crowd. It has weathered desert storms and bacon fat for years and looks no worse for wear. – Ariella Gintzler, co-editor

Arc’teryx Atom LT hoodie jacket ($ 60)

emily-arcteryx-jacke_h.jpg(Photo: Courtesy of Emily Reed)

Six years ago I discovered a shiny atomic jacket on the used rack in the famous Moab Gear Trader store – and that was only $ 60. Sure, it was one size too big, in a boring black color and fit me like a loose old sock, but the jacket still offers me versatile warmth to this day. It was with me all over the world and remains my contact person if I am not sure about the forecast. It is easy to pack and offers enough space for Stratification The zips slide underneath as smoothly as the day I brought them home. I will ride this horse until the day the zips fall off. And then I'm happy to pay Arc’teryx to fix the problem. – Emily Reed, video producer

Herschel Supply Pop Quiz 22L backpack ($ 60)

claire-herschel-backpack_h.jpg(Photo: Courtesy of Claire Hyman)

The Pop Quiz has been my daily carrier for almost seven years. It carried my most important things on flights to four continents, dragged my textbooks through high school and college and accompanied me on camping trips. The simple design of this backpack is one of the reasons why I don't intend to upgrade. There are no stains other than a padded laptop bag in the main subject for things to get lost in. The front pocket is easily accessible and has pockets for organizing the essentials. The other reason I'm loyal to this package is its durability. The zippers never got stuck or detached from the rails. And although the fabric has become more supple over the years, it has never torn. The leather bottom doesn't look as new as in 2014, but I prefer to think of the wear as patina, which gives the backpack its character. – Claire Hyman, editorial assistant

Nike Dri Fit tennis hat ($ 125)

jeremy-federer-hat_h_0.jpg(Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Rellosa)

In 2011 I went on a trip to Switzerland with my family – the home country of my favorite tennis player Roger Federer. As a high school obsessed with this sport, this trip felt like a Mecca. I bought this hat as a tribute to Federer in a sports shop in Geneva and as a lucky charm for every game I played afterwards. I carried it on in college years later, but it became my point of contact for the years I was on a sailing team at William & Mary College in Virginia. When we practiced it was on my head. I also capsized in it for the first time. But his supposed luck turned out to be true: I got my first ball (first place in a regatta) while doing sports. You can see that it was submerged in the James River Dozens of times due to its yellowish tint (it used to be white) and its subtle funk. It took so long because of its cotton-polyester blend that dries quickly and because of the sturdy Velcro that keeps it on my dome in the middle of surprise gusts. Now I always wear it when Federer plays in a controversial quarter-finals or when I'm in a situation that requires a bit more luck. – Jeremy Rellosa, editor of the reviews

Mysterious Patagonia Capilene Quarter-Zip Long Sleeve

maren-patagonia-shirt_h.jpg(Photo: Courtesy of Maren Larsen)

Sometime around 2009 my father gave me this Patagonia zipper. The label is so bleached during washing that It can only be identified as an early iteration of the Capilene line from Patagonia. This shirt came into my life before I had braces or could drive. It has outlasted every romantic Relationship and questionable haircut. Over the years, it has been my backcountry safety blanket – the perfect weight to put on as a midlayer when the air gets cold, but thin enough to support as a base layer. I borrowed it – and then wrestled back– –lots of friends dressed up. Despite more than a decade of heavy use, it's good enough to carry after a hike or piste to the bar – apart from a quarter inch hole near the hem, it looks almost new. The tell-tale baby blue of this layer can be seen on most photos of my happiest memories of the past 11 years – backcountry skiing, camping and backpacking with friends and family, and climbing in epic locations. When I'm ready for my next adventure, it's on my packing list first. – Karen Larsen, editorial assistant

Our mission to inspire readers to go outside has never been so critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported breakthrough research linking nature to improving mental and physical health, and we've kept you informed of the unprecedented threats to America's public land. Our rigorous reporting helps spark key debates about wellness, travel, and adventure, and provides readers with an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is important – and we can help you make the most of it. It only takes a few minutes to make a financial contribution to Outside Online and ensures that we can continue to deliver the groundbreaking, informative journalism that readers like you rely on. We hope that you will support us. Thank you.

Post outside

Main photo: Courtesy of Maren Larsen, Will Taylor and Jeremy Rellosa

If you buy something through the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Outside does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our policies.

You are now subscribed to The Gear Fix

We will not share your email with third parties for any reason.

You can find more newsletters on our newsletter registration page.

Related Articles