07-24-21 OUTDOORS solitude trail 3web.jpg

A section of the Solitude Trail that runs through Cloud Peak Wilderness in the Bighorn Mountains shows boulders, water and vegetation.

The evolution of outdoor gear has changed the way people interact in the wilderness and with each other. Having the right gear can make or break an outdoor adventure, but it can be overwhelming to decide what to get. My outdoor gear closet ranges from things I love to items that have seen better days. These are a few of my favorite, most dependable outdoor gear items.

Cooking in the wilderness can be challenging to plan. If out for a day hike or an extended backcountry trip, packing a stove and fuel can seem burdensome. 

The Jetboil Zip cooking system has been an essential component in my gear collection for many years. It’s light, easy to use and very dependable. Whether on a multi-day backcountry trip or on an afternoon cross-country ski session, it’s a great component to make hot food or a hot beverage.

There are some clothing items that seem to be the favorite in a variety of conditions or social settings. 

For me that is the Patagonia Nano Puff Bivy pullover. I like this jacket because it is functional in many outdoor settings, whether as a layer on the ski hill or sitting by the fire. 

Though Patagonia tends to be a little spendy, I’ve been able to send this jacket in to the company for free repair when I’ve broken the zipper or have done other damage, which has been a great incentive.

Finding a pair of shoes that fit right, are durable and waterproof, and are comfortable over varying distances and terrain can be difficult. I’ve covered a lot of miles through running, hiking and backpacking. I’ve used different shoes for each activity, making the decision to purchase based on gear reviews and trial and error. The past few years I’ve relied on the Hoka Speedgoat. I’ve worn them on backcountry trips, trail runs and day hikes, and they have been the most dependable and comfortable footwear I have come across.

I have a love/hate relationship with GPS watches. They are great when the miles are going by easy. They can also be super annoying when you feel terrible and the last thing you want to see is how slow you are moving. 

For distance runners, often Saturday or Sunday mornings are exclusively reserved for long runs. My biggest pet peeve for the longest time was hearing my running partner’s GPS watch beep at every mile on those early mornings.

Those things being said, I have grown to like the Fitbit Sense smart watch. It doesn’t have a giant watch face, is easy to use and uploads data to the Strava App if you wish. It’s also a watch you can wear on a daily basis and tracks steps, sleep and heart rate, among other things. As a person who wore the same style of Timex Ironman 30-lap watch for over 10 years, I have been pleasantly surprised by the Fitbit Sense.

I am far from being a professional guide and certainly do not have endorsement contracts with any of the product companies discussed in this column. These are just gear items that I have found dependable in a variety of settings. 

You don’t need the most expensive or up-to-date gear on the market to enjoy the outdoors. Find what works for you and motivates you to get out the door.

Seth Ulvestad is executive director of Sheridan Recreation District. 

Recommended for you