Breathtaking landscapes, howling wolves, plunging waterfalls, deep gorges, rushing streams, moose tracks, star gazing, birch forests... The Sawtooth mountain's rocky ridgelines and hiking trails are my ritual escape. The need to fill our lungs with fresh air and the smell of tree bark remains hardwired in us. A lucky few manage to fulfill this need - escape the daily drum and explore the hidden from sight.
Exploring the wilderness with nothing more than a backpack is an adventure in itself, but it needs careful planning and the best gear. What constitutes 'best gear'? We're about to find out. Hint: It's not the price as we found out. To compile the list of finalists for the Best Gear 2021, we tested hundreds of gadgets and gear, packed and overpacked for scores of trips, flew thousands of miles, spent nights in the deep wilderness and scorching deserts, worked remotely without internet (and sometimes with), went from nomad to digital nomad... Everything we love doing. At, the end of the year we looked back at all the year, we turned back and looked at all the gear that helped us survive off the grid. Here are a few gadgets and accessories that made the adventure painless and more enjoyable.
ZOLEO Satellite Communicator
One of the first things I reach for when backpacking in cellphone dead zones is a satellite communicator. This is no longer considered a pro outdoor tool. In fact, this is one of the first gadgets one should get as an amateur outdoor enthusiast. The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator is an outstanding product. The construction is battle-tank solid and is perfect for outdoor living. It allows you to pair your phone to send and receive messages over the Iridium satellite network. It also switches over to the phone's cell network once it's available, saving you cost. The Zoleo communicator can still work and send messages when the phone battery is dead. That right there, is a lifesaver.
Tekto Knives Fixed Blade Knife
Whether you're out in the Savannah dancing with wolves or drifting walleye jigs over a sunken island in the middle of lake Vermillion - you're going to need a dependable knife. Camping in the wild for any amount of time calls for a razor-sharp knife that can help you hunt, gather and defend. Tekto's TEKINA is an unbeatable fixed blade knife for both pro and amateur outdoor campers. The knife boasts a steel-solid construction with a razor-sharp edge that slashes through the most stubborn materials. This mini katana is a perfect companion to hunters and a must-have gear for survival enthusiasts. It's the best fixed blade knife in its category.
When you're out in the wild over half the year, you're going to need something more than just a backpack. This is why we're obsessed with dry bags. In fact, we use them even when we don't need to. It's easy to get used to and fall in love with the over-the-top protection they offer. The dry bag that tops our list is the Ortlieb Attack. Unlike other backpacks, it has a zip on the backside that opens it up like a duffel bag. No more rummaging and turning your bag inside out to find a toothbrush. It's the backpack that we grabbed the most last year, and we're probably going to stick to it this year too.