The Right Stuff 

What you’ll need if you’re staying awhile

Recent transplants to Missoula regularly note our fair city’s transience. The constant flow of students, firefighters and other seasonal laborers and recreationalists who stick around just long enough to get that degree, hit the spring runoff, or make a buck reeling in the annual flames (and the morels that follow) keeps our town’s energy fresh and hopping.

To help you do the same, we’ve tapped some of Missoula’s best minds to help us put together a list of gear useful in keeping everybody smiling as they maximize their time in Missoula. It’s not comprehensive, but if you gear up with the following necessities, you’ll be well on your way.

A Pig

Keep glass out rivers and landfills by investing in a Pig, the Kettlehouse Brewery’s lightweight mini-keg. Nearly as good is the Growler, a half-gallon jug refillable at local breweries and bars, although no one ever complained about a party guest arriving with a full pig packed into a large cooler full of ice (see below).

Jumbo Cooler

Experienced roadtrippers know: investing in extra-large coolers saves money, hassle and sanity. They can be pricy, but a suitcase of PBRs or a Pig (see above) takes up a lot of room, and so does ice. So go big.
Then, when winter ski deals have you sleeping in the parking lot, surround your cooler goodies with bottles full of hot water and manage carefully to keep your veggies unfrozen. Hot water can be filled up at nearly any gas station, typically for free.

Inner Tube(s)

Few items so cheap and compactable bring so much multi-season pleasure, so buy a pair to guarantee an adventure companion. When it’s sweltering in town, head to nearly any stretch of local river and float on. When it snows, go up to the Blue Mountain sledding hill, strap on your helmet and send it.

Repeat ’til failure.

Bike Lights

Cycle in Missoula and someday you’ll be darked on. Comply with the laws of state and visibility by always bringing a front and rear light. I prefer clip-ons, as they’re less prone to theft and being left flashing overnight. LED styles use the least battery power; flashing mode cuts back power use even more. Wear your helmet.

Skis and/ or Snowboard

You live in Montana and you…don’t…ski?

Few states can boast the expansive terrain and empty slopes of Montana’s ski areas and backcountry, and nothing brings as much joy to the poor saps eking it out beneath the winter inversion. So then, one board or two? New or used? Tele or alpine? Backcountry or on-area? None of this matters. Just borrow some gear from all those friends of yours who ski and get it on.

A Nice Piece of Glass

And by this I mean a clean and attractive tool to toke non-joint quantities of herb with the thousands of other Missoulians who do the same. Law enforcement is listening, and last fall voters moved criminal marijuana prosecutions to our county’s lowest priority. Since then, only one possession prosecution has been initiated.

Ritual is part of the experience, and nothing says ceremony like glass, whether you’re smoking medicinally or recreationally.

Flying Discs

With two premier (and free!) disc golf courses in town, invest in at least one folf disc, although as with golf clubs, more is better.
Separate but related is the Ultimate disc. Here in the hometown of some of the most talented Ultimate players in the world (Missoula’s elites play Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Riverbowl), even neophytes can get their forehand dialed in and go join in the fun.

Remote Coffee-making Capability

Coffeeheads can count on great java throughout Missoula, Bozeman, Whitefish and, well, that might just be it for Montana. Wise coffeeholics bring a coffee kit when traveling in the boondocks—mine consists of a stove, a coffee press and Bernice’s Blend beans.

Mug-wise, it must fit in holders, be easily cleanable and have personal markings. Go for break-off open/close lids to aid in cleaning and reduce unsightly sludge buildup.

UM Griz Gear

Folks sporting the maroon and gold fall into two categories: Griz fans, and those looking to fly below their radar. Yes, cloaking yourself in a Griz hoody or cap might just keep your face from being rubbed in the pavement some Friday night, although be prepared to gurgle a “Cats suck!” through broken teeth if the situation deteriorates further.


The future’s bright, wear shades. And with .08 inches of rain falling in July and winter white just around the corner, we hardly have time to remove the Ray-Bans. Protect your squishy white globes with shades of any price range, then protect your shades from a drowning or alpine bobble with Croakies, or a cord duct-taped to the earpieces.

Bike Trailer

Contrary to popular belief, bike trailers are not incubators for all the tiny pink lumps currently seen crying around town. Tow-behinds allow grocery-getters and Pig-haulers (see above) to go gasless. My $5 garage-sale score performs great; it hauled two beautiful whitetails out of the woods last year.


You might think your Tevas are the same as Chacos. We all did, once. But then we put the Chaco on the foot and closed-toe or Velcroed footwear will never again be acceptable. The revolution has already occurred, and if you’re still wearing the Teva, or the Merrill, or whatever “sport sandal,” your feet are paying the price.
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