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Killmaiden's Compendium
Gear & Stuff
field_notes.jpgField Notes
Everyone should have Field Notes. I’ve got dozens of them. You should have six of them. At least. Maybe sixteen. They’re the perfect size for taking notes, drawing sketches or jotting down ideas. Just looking at them makes you want to go out and have an adventure so you would have something worthy to put into your Field Notes. I keep one in the drawer of my night-table in case I wake up with any inspiring ideas, which by the way, is how I came up with the idea for Killmaiden’s Compendium of Uncommon Occurrences. True story. I also keep one in the briefcase I bring to work, although I seldom have super-creative ideas there. Go figure.


binoculars.jpgThese are some seriously vintage Binolux binoculars. I got them as a present on my 13th birthday, so I’ve been lugging them around for a while. But, in all that time, they’ve never broken and never scratched. They’re on the heavy side, unlike a lot of newer (and much more expensive) binoculars, but that just makes them feel tougher in the hand. I’m off to go backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in a few weeks, and these are definitely coming with me.


indy_boots.jpgIndy Boots
Indy Boots are made by Alden, an old New England shoemaker (yes, American made, thank God). Alden also does a special version for J. Crew, which is where I got this pair. They say these are the kind of boots Indiana Jones wore (hence “Indy” boots), but I haven’t tried to confirm that. I can say that like their namesake, I’ve worn them in mud puddles and meetings with government officials, and they hold up pretty well in either. In fact, the more you beat them up, the better they look and feel. They’re kind of expensive, but a worthy splurge that will last for decades. If I’m ever willing to part with mine, I’m giving them to my son.


Desert Boots
desert_boots.jpgIn Killmaiden’s Compendium, the Explorers and Scouts all wear desert boots. When I think of desert boots, I think of Clarks. I’ve got a pair that’s not the original style, but a slight variation, with a little more rugged heel because I wear out heels pretty quickly. They’re so comfortable you could hike all day in them, and then keep them on when you sleep. There are certainly newer, fancier and more tech-savvy hiking boots on the market. But who wants those when you can still get the original? You Can Find Them Here: Sorry, I’m not sure where you can find them, because they may not make this model anymore. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look.It’s the journey, right?

llbean_duffle.jpgL.L. Bean Duffle
Explorers in my book use backpacks, but because I’m just some guy (who often travels by car), I usually use duffle bags. For the money, you’re not going to do better than the classic L.L. Bean duffle. It comes in a couple of sizes, and any color you want so long as you want some shade of drab or khaki. It’s sturdy enough that even the airlines have never been able to damage one of my Bean duffles. You can also jam a lot of stuff into it if you’re an over-packer like I am. Seriously, these things are like clown cars; you can just keep putting more things into them. I love them. I’ve got three.


The Watch
watch.jpgThis is a Glashutte Original Senator Calendar that I bought last year. I wear it everywhere both because it goes with casual or dressy stuff, and because I want to get my money’s worth. It’s got Day, Date, Month and Moon Phase (which my 3 ½ year old thinks is fascinating). It’s solid without being gigantic, precise without being precious, and generally pretty cool looking. It has display casing on the back, so you can see the mechanicals inside the watch. It’s good underwater down to 5 atmospheres, although I haven’t tested it at that depth (I’ve only tested it about 10 feet in the not-very-rough water off the Turks & Caicos islands). Despite the band not necessarily being completely waterproof, it’s never been a problem for me, as it probably wasn’t for the Louisiana alligator when he was wearing it himself. There’s really only one way to describe it, and although none of the kids reading this will get the reference from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, maybe their parents will: “If you have the means, I highly recommend it.  It’s so choice.”


gregory_Z55_backpack.jpgGregory Z 55 Backpack
The Explorers and Scouts of Killmaiden’s Compendium rely heavily on their backpacks, so much so, that we put one on the cover of the book. For me, the backpack symbolizes the adventure and exploration at the heart of Killmaiden’s, and it’s also at the heart of any hike you take. If you’re carrying your whole life on your back, the thing you stuff your life into better work. It needs to fit comfortably, and for me, the way the Gregory shifts the weight into the lower back and hips was perfect. It also needs to be right-sized. I’m an overpacker by nature, so I will completely fill the pack whatever size it is. To compensate, I got a slightly smaller 55L pack so I wouldn’t be lugging a refrigerator up the mountain. This was the perfect size for a two or three day hike. It’s also pretty light (maybe 3 ½ pounds), but still has good pockets and access to the stuff you need on a regular basis. The only downside is that it’s kind of hard to reach your water bottles on your own while it’s on your back. But, if you’re hiking with people who won’t help you out with your water bottles every so often, then you’re hiking with the wrong people anyway. So, all-in-all, I’m very happy with the pack, and if you want a reliable, comfortable, well-balanced pack, you might want to check this out.


Patagonia Merino Mid-Weight Socks
patagonia_socks.jpgI’m not sure I ever thought I’d be writing about socks, but, well, these are reaaally good socks. And, as every soldier knows, you’ve got to take care of your feet. These Patagonia socks are light, warm, great at wicking moisture, not at all itchy even though they’re wool, and they don’t even smell. Perfect, right? I’ve gotten them totally submerged in river crossings, and simply wrung them out, tucked them onto the straps outside my pack, and they were dry by the time we made camp. Importantly, like all the Patagonia products I’ve ever used, and there have been many, they’re well made and built to last. The fact that the company is a really good company and cares about being a steward of the earth, and not just making a buck, is a great bonus. I’d be a spokesman for Patagonia in a heartbeat, but their athletes and testers are way too good for me.


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Take a Look at James' Favorite Gear & Stuff

Whether you’re going on an adventure,
or just a family vacation, you need stuff. Here’s what I bring…