Old Town NEXT Gear Review Canoe Kayak

The author, testing the Old Town NEXT

What follows is Part V in C&K Editor-at-large Alan Kesselheim’s collection of field-tested, functional gear that has the potential to elevate your trip and serve you well, standing up to the rigors of continual use and the gamut of weather. Read Part IV: Camp Comfort, Part III: What to Carry, Part II: Light My Fire, and Part I: Shelter, where he first breaks down the criteria and scope for gear deemed “expedition-worthy,” most notably the items' durability, design and weight. A few items stand out for their quality and impact on the success of an extended trip. Read all of Kesselheim’s Expedition 101 series: Inspiration // Gear Decisions // Food Planning


— Story and Photos by ALAN KESSELHEIM

Adventure Medical Kits – Pro Model: Adventure Medical Kits has an entire line-up of lightweight, backcountry first-aid medleys from small group/short trip to expedition/large group. The Pro is the latter. It is provisioned to handle up to 10 people out for the long haul. Gear is separated by category into waterproof bags inside the kit. Of course, on most trips the first-aid kit never comes out other than a band-aid or two. As it should be. Once in a while you really need it. The Pro has you covered. My advice, especially for a longer journey, is to consult your doctor to add in a few prescriptions (soft tissue injury, pain killer, staph infection . . .) that seem sensible. Other than that, the Pro has it all – from wraps to splinter pickers, CPR mask to irrigation syringe. (1 lb., 12 oz.; 10.25"x 7.5"x 5.5"; $99 — BUY ON SALE NOW)

Ben's Bug Repellent and Headnet: You hear a lot about how to handle bugs – eating garlic, downing vitamin B, wearing light-colored clothing . . . Maybe so, but in the depth of black fly/mosquito country, the only thing that slams the door is DEET. That and a headnet, tucked in pants, and a long-sleeved shirt will cover you. Ben's specializes in 100 percent DEET juice. My experience is that a little dab does it – a drop on your nose, on the cheekbones, on the backs of hands goes a long way. Beware putting on the palms of hands, because DEET does degrade plastics (paddle shafts, cameras). Ben's InvisiNet headnet takes head protection to a new level. Incredibly light and compact, with great visibility, the netting fits over a ball cap and stuffs into a tiny sack barely bigger than a teabag. Mess around with alternative, eco-friendly bug juju to your heart's content, but when it's war, you'll want Ben's. (100 Max Formula Insect Repellent, $6 — BUY NOW; InvisiNet headnets, $10 — BUY NOW)

DeLorme (Garmin) InReach SE Satellite Commnicator: I'm old enough to remember heading off into the boonies and not being able to contact the outside world, ever, no matter what. Frankly, that's part of what made it edgy and exhilarating. That's all changed in the era of electronic devices and GPS technology. I'm leery about adopting all that clap-trap in the wilds – I go there to escape that stuff. However, when it comes to safety, it's a breakthrough to have something like InReach to stay in touch. As with most of the gadgets, I only know how to use about 10 percent of their capability, but that's enough to send periodic signals to the outside world that I'm safe and to give my location, precisely. The InReach fits in your palm, but has the power to set waypoints, send texts, fire off pre-set messages, and, in the worst case, send out an SOS. The InReach is a relief, both for the explorers and the folks back home, and if you use it sparingly, you'll hardly need to recharge. It's the one electronic gizmo I include on the gear list. (available with annual plans or monthly subscriptions, pictured $299 — BUY NOW; See Garmin’s new inReach Explorer, $450— BUY NOW)

Anker PowerPort Solar: Back in the day, who would have thought we'd be bringing power tools on expeditions. These days, we are, and we need to confront keeping them up to speed. Otherwise, they turn into expensive dead weight. By far the spiffiest and most efficient way to keep the power on is with compact solar units like the 15-watt PowerPort. Long as you have sun, you have power. Lay it out on top of the load, on the camp table, or draped over the top of the pack, and soak up the sun through dual USB ports. Plug in the phone, the GPS, the computer, or whatever else you want to burden your trip with in the way of electronics, and rev it up. Though not waterproof, it’s weather-tough/resistant and it's light, it's compact, and it doesn't run down. If you have gadgets, and if you're gone more than a few days, then you need one of these. (11"x 6.3" folded, 12.5 oz., durable canvas case; $79 — BUY NOW)

— Read Expedition Planning 101 Gear — PART I: Shelter; PART II: Cooking; PART III: What to Carry; and Part IV: Camp Comfort.

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