Five Ten Canyoneer ($96):
From the company that cut its teeth on climbing, the Canyoneer has the distinction of being the first shoe designed specifically for canyoneering. This inventive creation comes in a striking black and yellow motif with a synthetic leather and breathable mesh upper, just the stuff for shedding water (and looking sharp doing it). The self-bailing polyurethane midsole, plumbed with drain ports, purges water while still protecting feet from sharp nasties. And with the burly double-layer neoprene ankle collar, your feet have a stalwart barrier against sand, pebbles, and other devious forms of detritus that can stop you in your tracks. What about closures? Glad you asked, because the Canyoneer shies away from Velcro and lace systems that fall apart when the going gets rough in muck and water, and instead comes with a buckle system that will not budge once it's adjusted. Finally, Five Ten's vaunted Stealth S1 soles round out the package with what many climbers and their canyoneering counterparts feel is the stickiest, cushiest material ever invented for feet. Contact 909-798-4222, www.fiveten.com.
SOG PowerLock S60 ($85):
We won't dredge the depths of bad taste by offering up a recent, well-known example of a certain solo canyoneer whose most important emergency item was a multitool (and a cheap one at that) that factored heavily in his escape from certain death. But the moral of the story still stands: a multitool is indispensable in the backcountry, and there is no finer example than the PowerLock S60. This folding tool isn't new, a fact that speaks to its highly regarded Compound Leverage mechanism that generates twice the pressure and gripping power of lesser tools. To wit: this thing is the Jaws of multitools. Beyond strength, you'll love the pivoting handle covers that really do improve comfort and dexterity. All the essential tools are intricately positioned for deployment, including a quarter-inch drive socket, spring-loaded scissors, half-serrated knife blade, saw, several screwdrivers and Phillips-style model, wire cutters, file... and on and on. And for you showoffs out there, the PowerLock's ability to open with a quick flick of the wrist is undeniably cool. Contact 888-704-2378, www.sogknives.com.
Wavesport Proteus PFD ($89):
A personal flotation device for canyoneering? In the desert? Don't laugh, because more than a few poor souls caught off-guard could have used a PFD rather than those cheap drugstore rafts that once upon a time found their way into the sport. It's not so much for flashflood-prone canyons—you wanna avoid that scenario at ALL costs. No, what we're talking about is a buoyancy item like the Proteus for those what-ifs, where pools, meandering streams, and big ol' potholes can nix forward progress. This svelte floater is tuned for kayakers who count on mobility as much as essential flotation, the reason this PFD is rated at 15.5 pounds of flotation—not what an adult would want at sea, but just enough in canyon country. The simple, low-profile design is perfect for freedom of movement, and the overhead entry design allows for easy on-and-off. Another plus is the InterLoc design, a system of Velcro laminate neoprene patches on key areas that prevents the PFD from riding up on your face. Contact 800-311-7245, www.wavesport.com.
Salomon Pro Amphib 300 Pack ($99):
A labyrinth of rock and water, swilling with vertical mass and liquid energy, define the mix-it-up world of canyoneering. A demanding environment like this calls for equally adept gear, such as the Pro Amphib 300, a pack that's all about water-resistance and water discharge. This 2,136-cubic-inch hauler sports large mesh panels and bottom eyelets that drain water instantly and completely—good behavior when things go submersible. Of course you've got adjustable straps and waist belt, a small removable waterproof pouch for keys and wallet, and carabineer loops. But the real piece de resistance is Salomon's own answer to modern drybag technology. Inside, a removable, full-size fabric roll-top bag can hold enough goodies for a weekend in Canyon Country. Stuff it, seal it, burp the air valve to get maximum compactness, and the water world is yours. Contact 877-272-5666, www.salomonsports.com.
AMK Pocket Survival Pak ($27.50):
Sure, you can build your own survival kit from scratch, but for less than thirty bucks survival guru Doug Ritter has you covered—most likely better, lighter, and cheaper than you could muster. Ritter, you see, is a celeb in the arcane world of survival gear, having evaluated such items for all sorts of respected organizations and outdoor adventurers. His creation, the Pocket Survival Pak, puts the essentials together in a tiny pack that's just 3.9 ounces—a weight so miniscule that even the most retentive gram-o-phobe would have few qualms packing it. What you get is what you need, including a signal mirror with a reflective aimer, waterproof fire starter, waterproof tinder, a special Rescue Howler survival whistle, weatherized survival instructions, a compass, scalpel blade, fishing kit—you get the picture. For good karma considerations, a portion of the sales proceeds go to support the non-profit Equipped to Survive Foundation. Contact 800-809-4956, www.adventuremedicalkits.com.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication