As you may know if you're reading this, I became the Gear Coop's first ambassador earlier this year by winning their extremely sweet Live That Vanlife contest - hey, you even may have voted for me :) if so, thanks!!
It's been a few months since I got to claim my prize of gear worth $10k (and gas money too), and I've been enjoying all the awesome new toys that I got from the contest sponsors. One of my favorite parts has been discovering new gear that before the contest I would not have thought about buying for myself but that ended being amazing additions to my toolkit.
Take a look at my favorites from each sponsor below; some I would consider part of my typical kit - because really, show me the climber who wouldn't want to add a couple brand-spanking-new Maxim ropes to the gear closet - while others are totally out of left field for me: who would've thought how much better #vanlife could get through the addition of a cast iron skillet, a beach chair or a pair of ultra comfy sheepskin boots!
Big Agnes & Helinox
The lightweight and ultra-packable Helinox beach chair. Talk about out of left field! This chair is so comfortable and all around awesome that I've been carrying it around on overnight skitours with me. Seriously.
The ACT Lite 75+10 - a pack big enough for even the burliest carries up and down El Cap, and comfortable enough even to use it as a carrying system for an unwieldly portaledge.
The Hakea Hi boots have become my new camp slipper alternative - they are incredibly cute and wonderfully comfortable barefoot boots, no matter if for cold winter nights or during crisp summer mornings. Way better than Uggs, and also the softest boot I've ever owned.
I've been using Granite Gear compressions stuff sacks and drybags to organize my stuff for years but the contest introduced me to a new product line that I've come to love, the portage packs. I've been using a Traditional Food Bag for a variety of purposes, first as my main packing system for an 8-day solo paddling tour of Lake Powell and then to optimize storage and organization in Eddie the Van. Super useful!
I may be a bit late to the party, but thanks to Jetboil I now finally own a lightweight pan that heats evenly and can be used for efficient simmering; the 8" Fluxring Fry Pan is one of those kitchen accessories that I should have bought years ago.
It's hard to pick a favorite among the Maxim contributions, as they are all tremendously useful for my climbing - out of the three ropes that Maxim sponsored, the one that's gotten the most use so far is the dry-treated Apex 9.9 70M which handles very nicely and has already been successfully broken in as a new workhorse rope.
Here's another left-field item that I didn't know I wanted and needed until I owned it - Poler's cast iron squillet. I've been hooked ever since cooking eggs and bacon on it the morning after the Poler box arrived in the mail, and by now it's become my most-used piece of kitchenware in the van.
Another fun byproduct of being the #livethatvanlife winner was that I got to pick up some new experiences and skills; like, say, fly fishing. Redington set me up with a full fly fishing kit including the Willow River Wader, wading boots, rod, reel and the works. Since I had never fly fished before, they also sponsored a private half-day of instruction out in Mammoth, which was a wonderful experience. Thank you Redington!
The North Face
The North Face was incredibly generous and sponsored not just heavy-duty mountaineering gear and my attendance at Red Rock Rendezvous, but also $1500 worth of attire that has greatly enhanced my active wardrobe. The item that I am most excited about though is the Assault 3 tent expedition tent which I will be putting to the test on Aconcagua with an all-female team this winter.
My favorite item from Yeti is the Hopper 40. I already had a cooler in the van before the Hopper, but this portable and high-performance cooler has made #vanlife - particularly in the desert - a whole lot more comfortable and easier.
As you can see, lots of great stuff... and all of the above is only a small sample of the gear that the sponsors contributed. Here's the cool part: the Gear Coop is already working on #livethatvanlife2 - tune in to Instagram to keep up with contest updates, and if you think you could use a ton of free gear... go put your name in the hat!