Sometimes in life, as well as in the outdoors, it’s the small things that count. These six items below, all inexpensive, common products, have helped me endure and work through bad breaks, gear malfunctions and pain. Equipment can break. Your body can wear down. My advice: Keep these items always at the ready and in your outdoors kit.
Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant—My lube of choice for bike components and other gear with moving parts, Tri-Flow is a strong-smelling oil that greases moving metal pieces like little else. The mixture also contains solvents made to soften and remove dirt—a noticeable bonus. Tri-Flow comes in various formulations. I prefer the two-ounce Superior Lubricant drip bottle, which screws shut and does not leak in a pack or a bike bag. $5.99, www.triflowlubricants.com
Amazing GOOP—”One of the strongest, most flexible, all-purpose adhesives ever created.” That’s the company claim for Amazing GOOP, and I believe. For years, fixing kayak paddles, ski boots, and skateboard decks, the caustic smell of GOOP has signaled a superior adhesive and an ultimate ability to repair. Squeeze it on, let it dry, and you’re good to go. About $5, www.amazinggoop.com
Duct Tape—No surprise here. The old standby silver tape, now made by various companies, has been used a million and one ways the world over since WWII. I’ve employed duct tape for everything from fixing ski poles to taping wounds. A few feet of duct tape wrapped around a wooden matchstick is a must-have in my pack for nearly any activity outdoors.
Hydropel—For lubing feet and other body parts that can blister or chafe, this greasy, gooey salve made by Genesis Pharmaceutical Inc. has been my top choice for years. It lubes like nothing else. Bonus: In cases where your feet may get wet, Hydropel (as its names implies) repels water to keep your skin drier and less prone to blisters. The stuff is pricey, at nearly $20 a tube on retailers like ZombieRunner or GearZone.com, but applied to feet in the outdoors it prevents blisters with a vengeance and lasts for hours before another application is needed.
Leukotape—Made by BSN Medical, Leukotape is a cloth-like tape with zinc-oxide adhesive and a Rayon back. It is thin and soft, and when applied to a hot spot or blister on the foot the tape acts like a second skin. In addition to blister control, it doubles as medical tape to be used in a pinch to stabilize an injured ankle or arm. Cost is about $10 a roll at various retailers online.
Bag Balm—Can you say “soothe”? Made in Vermont for more than 100 years, and developed originally for cow udders, Bag Balm is a must-have healing salve great for chapped lips and skin. I have used it in my bike shorts as a chamois butter substitute. Another use: In harsh winter winds, rub some on the cheeks for a thin layer of protection against the cold. The sticky concoction is a petroleum-jelly product with a lanolin base. It comes in classic green tins. But for use outside, I transfer a dose of Bag Balm to a plastic tube with a screw-shut top. 10-ounce tin is about $6, www.bagbalm.com
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.