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BACKPACKER's Favorite Old Gear

Every piece of gear starts off new and shiny. But then come the miles. And the rocks. And the sun and the rain and the marmots. The stuff that lasts becomes part of our trip memories, intertwined with the journey. We keep using these things because we love them—and we love bucking our throwaway culture. Guides, editors, and testers share some all-time favorites here, and we hope your shiny new gear will someday look the same.

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Owner Joe St. Onge, owner, Sun Valley Trekking

Backstory After my first year in these, I resoled them with sticky rubber on the toecap and under the forefoot to make them grippier for alpine climbing and scrambles. They’re the antithesis of a modern climbing shoe, but sure are comfy on the approach and the ascent. They’ve lasted four seasons—a long time for such a lightweight.

Why it lasts A super-thick EVA midsole, mostly leather upper, DIY sole improvement

For a similar shoe, check out the HOKA ONE ONE SKY Toa.

U-Dig-It Folding Shovel


Owner Dennis Lewon, BACKPACKER editor-in-chief

Backstory This was a parting gift from the art director at Arizona Adventure, the first magazine I worked at. The magazine folded in 1998, but its memory lives on every time nature calls.

Why it lasts Stainless steel—heavy compared to those cheap plastic shovels, but it won’t break when you hit a rock.

$10; 5.4 oz.

MSR WhisperLite International


Owner Hugh Gallagher, BACKPACKER reader and National Park Service Nordic ski patroller

Backstory Twenty-eight years ago, I bought this stove to augment my training kit in the Army, for when we were living in 10-man tents in Arctic conditions for weeks at a time. I’ve cooked with it in Alaska, the Sierra, the Cascades, and the desert. I once dented the fuel bottle while jumping out of a plane during training.

Why it lasts One-piece, stamped stainless-steel leg unit, and just about every single part is field cleanable and repairable.

$100; 11 oz.

Gregory Spire


Owner Cameron Martindell, adventure writer and guide

Backstory Over the course of 28 years, this pack has been with me to five continents and has served on hundreds of search-and-rescue missions. I’ve used it to summit Mts. Rainier and Kilimanjaro, trek all over Australia and New Zealand, climb a 19,000-foot peak in Peru, and more.

Why it lasts 500-denier high-tenacity nylon and 1,000-denier Cordura for high-abrasion areas, plus Gregory stitched it up and reinforced it a few years ago.

Current choice: Gregory Baltoro 65 / Deva 60; $300; 4 lbs. 13 oz. (m’s M); m’s S-L, w’s XS-M

Outdoor Research Modular Mitts


Owner Hugh Gallagher, BACKPACKER reader and National Park Service Nordic ski patroller

Backstory I bought these mittens in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1991. I’ve used them winter camping in the Cascades and snowboarding all over the West, and they’ve outlasted many newer models.

Why it lasts Bomber upper and synthetic leather palm; the current model uses a 70-denier nylon-polyester shell.

Current model: Mt. Baker Modular Mitts: $145; 10 oz. (L); S-L

Outdoor Research Micro Sweater


Owner John Bouchard, alpinist and BACKPACKER gear tester

Backstory Over the past eight years, I’ve used this puffy for some 300 days of just about everything. From climbing the Liberty Crack in the North Cascades to skiing off Mt. Hood to winter camping, it has kept me warm and comfy. I love the kangaroo pocket where I can stash my hat, a drink, and a sandwich.

Why it lasts Ripstop nylon for tear resistance, short zipper for fewer failure points

Current model: Transcendent Down Jacket; $199; 13.1 oz. (m’s L); m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-L;

Large, blue enamelware cup


Owner Casey Lyons, BACKPACKER deputy editor

Backstory My mom bought this for me in 1994 at the start of an Outward Bound trip that would help set the course of my life. I’ve used it as a cookpot over stove and fire and as a “bell” when spooked by bears. With a 24-ounce capacity, it’s always easy to get my share from the group pot.

Why it lasts Steel construction, coated in enamel for extra durability

Usually available in the impulse-buy area of your gear shop—also from GSI Outdoors: $5.50; 6.6 oz.

Crazy Creek Original Camp Chair


Owner Kristin Hostetter, former BACKPACKER gear editor

Backstory For more than 20 years, this chair has cradled my butt at campsites and in canoes across the country. It even served as my sleeping pad one miserable night during my first-ever winter camping trip in Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains (I think it saved my life).

Why it lasts Heavy-duty nylon, webbing, and stays; current model uses 420-denier ripstop nylon and carbon-fiber stays.

$56; 1 lb. 10 oz.

Garcia Bear Canister


Owner BACKPACKER editors

Backstory This everything-proof container has been bouncing around the office for two decades. It’s been with us from Alaska to Yosemite, and the only thing that changes is the graffiti.

Why it lasts ABS polymer and stainless-steel locks

$75; 2 lbs. 12 oz.



Owner Dan Nash, owner, Satori Adventures and Expeditions

Backstory I was wearing these at Cho Oyu advanced basecamp when an earthquake hit Nepal in 2015. We were forced to leave other equipment behind, but these boots helped me get home safely. They’re light enough to be comfortable on a dayhike, but heavy enough that I can carry a 50-pound pack in rough terrain.

Why it lasts Plenty of nubuck leather, rubber reinforcing on toe and heel

$325; 3 lbs. 7 oz. (9); m’s 7-16, medium and wide

Black Diamond Bullet


Owner Patrick Warren, YOSAR ranger

Backstory I use this pack on everything from rescue operations to climbing El Capitan to traveling. Over the last 15 years, it’s probably been in the field with me for more than 1,000 days. I think my favorite days with it are running around climbing as many routes as possible.

Why it lasts Abrasion-resistant nylon and chunky zippers; 420-denier and 1,260-denier nylon in current model

$60; 1 lb. 2 oz.; one size

MSR Alpine Pot


Owner Dennis Lewon, BACKPACKER editor-in-chief

Backstory I bought this pot 25 years ago to use while guiding teens on backpacking trips—no one’s harder on kitchen gear than a teenager who doesn’t know how to cook. Now I have teens of my own who have a chance to wreck it, but I think it’ll be fine.

Why it lasts Nothing but stainless steel

$50 (1.5L and 2L pot set); 1 lb. 10 oz.

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