MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 306
edited April 23 in THE GEAR LAB

We asked our friends and fellow adventurers across a broad spectrum of outdoor specialties to take a look in their gear piles and pick three items–one for each of the following categories:

MUST: Don’t go roam without it!
SHOULD: Maybe you can still get after it without one, but you should seriously consider adding it to your kit.
WANNA: You’ll be fine without this, but dang, if you don’t wanna up your game by bringing one of these along.

We all love comparing and tweaking our gear lists, so without further ado, check out how their MSWs stack up with yours!

NAME: Brett Davis


FOCUS IN THE OUTDOORS: It’s best to probably eliminate activities—I am not a skydiver, base jumper, high liner, Red Bull Rampager, etc. For the most part, I’ve spent my life adventure-by-biking, climbing rock, ice, and snow, paddling oceans, lakes, and wild rivers, skiing avalanche paths, rappelling into tight canyons, and walking across some of the most amazing landscapes our planet has to offer.

My MUST HAVE Item: HMG Camera Pod

Why you must have it, too: In the late 90s, I was given one of the first digital cameras, a SONY FD Mavica with a whopping 1.2-megapixel capability, to document two years of adventure travel around the globe for a group of schools throughout the U.S. Ever since then, a camera has always been my constant companion on any adventure big or small. If, for some reason, I leave home without the memory capturer, the feeling of something always missing will pervade the entire experience, whether a photo is snapped or not. Neurotic, I know. Anyway, the HMG Camera Pod is my go-to shield of protection for my optical friend, safely preserving it to be able to do its job of capturing moments in time. Even when at home, my camera is always in the pod, ready for a grab-and-go situation. You never know.

As a side note, my once “luxury/splurge” item to bring on a trip was an inflatable pillow, but after extensive research and years of nearly spending more nights on the ground than in my bed, my NEMO Fillo Pillow is another “Must Have” for me. The HMG Stuff Sack Pillow fulfills its dual-purpose design well when really moving light and fast, but there is nothing like laying your head down on some luxury foam with a little bit of air inflation at the end of a great day outside. Weighing in at a mere 9 oz. and compacting to the size of a potato, this legit pillow nearly always finds its way into my gear. I know this is a sign of age, but dang, a good night’s sleep is a crucial key to being ready to go big the next day.

My SHOULD HAVE item: Garmin InReach Mini + Yearly Subscription

Why you should have it, too: I know I am dating myself, but I began adventuring before such things as satellite communication devices or even cell phones came into existence. Hence, I am a product of my beginnings where when going into the wilds, one accepted the risk that very little or no help could be expected if things went dire. This mindset still accompanies me on every outing.

Though not antiquated in my professional life as an outdoor educator, where I always have a satellite phone with me when working, I find myself spurring such devices when out on my own. I do have and carry occasionally the larger Garmin Delorme InReach, but admittedly, I rarely activate it for use (only on the most committing of adventures). My ethos that my partners and I are “always the best rescue” is entrenched—rearing its head prior to getting out the door.

Having the appropriate fitness, skill set, knowledge, and plan for the given adventure are all part of the risk management plan to prevent an assisted rescue from ever happening. The best rescue is one that doesn’t have to happen because you are prepared for all potential issues. As we all know, though, the unexpected does and will eventually happen, so having some added insurance, such as a Garmin InReach, should be a part of my adventure kit. You never know.

My WANNA HAVE item: HMG River Rescue Throw Bag

Why you wanna have it, too: Beyond a first aid kit, some outdoor activities require specific gear that one should carry in the case of an emergency (i.e., avalanche safety equipment when backcountry skiing). In the world of paddling, the throw bag, along with some extra carabiners, prussiks, and perhaps pulleys, are the essential rescue items. As an avid paddler and instructor of paddle sports, I always hit the water with these items. Since I find myself most days in either a kayak or pack raft, I usually carry a throw bag that is slimmer in design and bulk rather than the larger bags carried while rafting. This past summer, while performing a rescue of a swimmer and their pack raft, my small craft-specific throw bag was left on a flooded riverbank in a remote river canyon. I was hoping to make another trip to search and hopefully retrieve my friend, but my adventure schedule wouldn’t allow it. Thus, I need a replacement with the HMG version as my target. Having previous experience with the HMG bag, I know this simple, lightweight, and practically designed bag will fit right in with the rest of my river rescue kit. You never know when you will need it, but it will be good to have it when I do.