Caveat: This is a post about gear. So many of you will get all glossy-eyed. Worse: it’s not even camera gear. This is a post about the gear I’ve chosen to live with on the on-going (if not somewhat interupted) nomadic adventure with Jessie. You will be forgiven if you just move on, not everyone cares about field kitchens and rooftop tents.
In February 2011 I sold my stuff, handed in the keys to the condo and left Vancouver with some haste. Just couldn’t wait to hit the road. That rush also meant I left home on a bit of a wing and a prayer, so I’m re-kitting the truck. I might not be able to walk just now but I can dream & scheme and start getting ready. One of the best resources I stumbled on was Kanz Outdoors. Run by Harald Kanz, this outfitter sells some top-rated expedition gear with excellent customer service. My mother nearly passed out when the UPS guys arrived within days of my getting home from the hospital.
My Autohome Columbus Variant rooftop tent (above on Jessie) has been amazing. I’ve slept some of the best sleeps of my life in this tent. My Western Mountaineering down sleeping bag is the most comfortable bag I’ve ever had. I could wear my Icebreaker clothing every day, and I did, right up until the Italian paramedics cut them from my broken little body when I had my accident. And when I asked Icebreaker if their warranty covered Italian EMTs with scissors, they said, “Not really” but replaced my clothes anyways. How’s that for fantastic service? My Patagonia H2No raingear rocks. Blundstone boots? Wouldn’t wear anything else.
A couple tiny Black Diamond ION headlamps slung over my rearview mirror mean I always have one, and the Black Diamond Titan (large) and Apollo (smaller) lanterns are amazing. The larger BD lantern takes D cells (4 of them!) so it’s get replaced by the Goal Zero Light-A-Life lanterns. My goal is to do this as sustainably as I possibly can for a vehicle-based trip. And for those looking at Jessie and thinking bad enviro-thoughts – she gives me 300 miles for a $50 tank of diesel, so she does extremely well! I’m also not powering an entire home.
My Virgin MiFi, while I was in the US, was awesome! Turned Jessie into a rolling WiFi hotspot for 5 devices. What’s not to love?! And while I only just got into the groove before the Italy trip, my 2 Hero GoPro HD cameras (mounted on Jessie in pics below) are SO, stinking cool, and infinitely mountable all over the Land Rover! I want one more. I have plans. Big plans.
THE DUDS & THE REPLACEMENTS
Rubbermaid ActionPackers to store my gear were really cheap and available, but they’re neither durable nor space efficient. I’ve replaced them with Zarges K470 aluminum cases, through Kanz Outdoors.
I had a small first aid kit and now looking long-term at this I’ve upgraded to a Denali Plus Wilderness Medical Kit from Wilderness Medical Systems . It’s not that I’m accident-prone or anything but, well, I tend to fall off walls and stuff. This kit ought to do me well, should I fall off a wall while holding it. I was going to get a kit to go into a Pelican 1600 EMT case but I’m trying to keep weight down. And, this’ll be a recurring theme, the customer service from the folks at WMS is amazing. I’ll be using them again.
The overly-trademarked PerfectFlow™ InstaStart™ Fold-N-Go™ Coleman™ stove was fine and worked well but for long-term travel and day-to-day living I wanted something more robust. I’ve replaced it with a Kanz Field Kitchen and stove that rocks so much it makes me smile. And if I want to hang it from a camel there are leather straps for that. And if I want to raft the Colorado, there’s a dry bag for that. Harald Kanz is the man, and this Field Kitchen is beautiful. And I’ll be getting a couple small refillable propane canisters, also from Kanz Outdoors. The small disposable, non-refillable, ones don’t sit well with me. While we’re talking Kanz, take a look at THIS and tell me it wouldn’t make a perfect field office! Add some foam and straps to hold laptops and harddrives down and you’ve got a perfect field office for post-production, etc. on the road. A perfect field office for someone with more space than I’ve got, but perfect all the same.
My no-name $300 12v fridge never worked. So it’s getting replaced with an Engel 35 which I’ve also ordered from Kanz. Putting ice in a cooler daily gets old, and when you’re carrying insulin as I am, and need cream for coffee, as I do, I need reliable protection from the heat.
Life on the road with cameras and ipads and laptops and lanterns means heavy power needs. I have two batteries in the Land Rover, one dedicated to powering gear, but pull over to camp for a couple days and you’ll want more power without turning the engine on. So I’ve picked up a couple solar panels, a solar generator, and an invertor, all from GoalZero, who is the first solar company I’ve seen to make this easy to understand. And their customer service is top notch. I wanted a specific package but I wanted flexible panels, not solid, and they made some suggestions and tweaks and made me my own package. A+ for the folks at GoalZero.
In addition to the new GoPro camera, I have finally picked up a BLUE-brand YETI USB-mic to record some things. I’m not going to give any hints, but this kind of mic seems like it might be just perfect for podcasts.
Inspiration is coming from Overland Journal, in part for the subject matter, and in part for the excellent writing and photography. And I finally tracked down a copy of The Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide. And speaking of tracking things down, I spent over a month without a hand-brake; the cable snapped just after San Francisco (probably because of San Francisco! Jessie and I nearly killed my editor, along with an $80,000 Mercedes sedan, on some of those hills) and I’ve just tracked down one of those too. So hurray for no more rocks as wheel chocks! (But you do need wheel chocks and THESE bad boys from ORTT are sweet! )
There will be more. The more entrenched in this adventure I become the more I simplify. Sadly that simplification often means getting rid of two or three things only to replace them with one that costs more. But I’m learning. Hoping to make it to Overland Expo in Arizona in 2012 and learn from the pros. If you’re coming let me know, we’ll get together for a meal and beer one evening. Otherwise, consider this the last of the Adventure-Geek-Out for a while.