Gear I Bring and Use On Almost Every Adventure

I have always loved vehicular travel by land. My mom’s and dad’s families raised me that way. We drove everywhere many times camping along the way. From Montana to California. Minnesota to Florida. Arizona to Missouri. And even if we flew somewhere (like Africa), once we got there, we drove. This upbringing has led to my current life. It has led to some of the greatest life experiences and memories one could ever dream of. Including riding motorcycles around the country. Throw in a photographic career and I’m the definition of a starving artist with a wanderlust soul working in the outdoor industry and being a stay at home dad. Life choices along the way have dictated my destination in life just how choices along your route can influence your travel destination. It gets bumpy sometimes. It gets rough in parts. Sometimes the road is smooth. We get through it (much like we’ll get through this virus like we get through those rough patches of road).

If you catch my drift.

Ngorongoro Crater 1997

Things have come a long way in regards to gear since mom and dad and family tossed the old metal Coleman cooler next to the Eureka tent in the truck. We’ve got portable fridges and freezers, roof mounted solar panels, portable propane heaters, portable jumpers, portable electric generators, portable EVERYTHING. This saves on so much space and adds so much comfort. And for those of us who just don’t get into RVs or big camper trailers and like to hit the narrow backroads, that makes a world of difference. Being able to fit everything you need for weeks long travel into a vehicle like a Toyota Tacoma is pretty impressive. This type of vehicular travel is what I and many of us love.

There are many reasons I prefer this over air travel, or even RV or trailer. The fact that you can be 100% self reliant on your journey is the number one reason. No hookups are necessary, nor are toilets (if you’re okay with a shovel, but of course you can use a bucket too). Stopping at various points en route to your destination is one of the most rewarding things. Especially stops that are out of the way and off the beaten path that those RVs and camper trailers can’t fit. The route you pick can lead you to some hidden gem food joints, remote countrysides, deafening quiet camp spots and stunning scenery. Not to mention hearing the stories of others’ lives and how they got to live there and where they came from.

Home for the night. Somewhere in the Ozark Mountains.

Those of us who enjoy this method of adventure are longing to hit the road once more, I know. So I figured I’d put together a list of items that I pretty much ALWAYS have with me. Especially on big trips. Spending most of my time solo over the years, I’ve learned and acquired what I need and what I know works for me—a process that’s taken years, literally. There are things I learn that I could use on every single trip I go on.

This week I had an old friend from high school contact me. She was curious about what all I bring with me on my adventures. So, whether it be a week(s) long trip or an overnight, this is a compiled list of what I bring. The section named “Extras” is dedicated to the extra gear that I may not always have with me or may change out and replace for certain reasons—for example for longer travels and expeditions or temperature dictating what I need. I omitted things like food bins, toiletry kits, along with my camera kit as I feel these go without saying. Do you need ALL of this stuff? Absolutely not, but I travel a lot so I’ve found it all particularly useful. So here we go.

Shelter

  • Yakima Skyrise HD Medium (bedding stored inside)
  • Yakima Slimshady Awning
  • Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe (if sleeping in truck bed)

Kitchen

  • Sea to Summit Kit (collapsible bowls, mugs, cups etc)
  • Tembo Tusk Adventure Skottle
  • MSR Whisperlite Universal
  • Coleman Butane Stove
  • Coleman Camp Oven
  • 8×8″ pan
  • 9″ cast iron skillet
  • MSR 1L Alpine Pot
  • Fireside Outdoor fire pit/grill combo
  • Utensil Bag—cutlery, silverware, other utensils
  • MSR IsoPro Fuel
  • Coleman 8.8oz Butane
  • briquets
  • fatwood
  • RTIC 45 cooler
  • 1-10 gallons water
  • basic white folding 6′ table

Comforts

  • Roadshower 7 gallon
  • Goal Zero Yeti 150 Generator
  • Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel (roof mounted)
  • Goal Zero Lighthouse Core Lantern
  • Luminoodle 5′ LED lights
  • ARB Touring chair
  • x2 Nemo Victory Blankets

Tools

  • socket set (standard and metric)
  • wrench set (standard and metric)
  • allen Set (standard and metric)
  • x2 ratchets
  • sharpening puck
  • knife sharpener
  • Hults Bruk Almike
  • Hults Bruk Salen
  • Silky Saw Pocketboy
  • fire extinguisher
  • first aid kit
  • ratchet straps
  • Frontrunner Stratchits
  • NRS cam straps
  • bungee cords
  • traction boards
  • Noco Boost battery jumper
  • shovel
  • Safe Jack Private
  • x2 soft shackles
  • 30′ recovery strap
  • extensive tire repair kit
  • Viair 300p air compressor
  • 6 gallons gasoline

Navigation

  • Garmin InReach Explorer
  • Gaia GPS iOS
  • DeLorme Gazetteer maps

Extras

  • Hi-Lift Jack and Lift-Mate
  • Mr. Buddy Heater
  • Hults Bruk Bjork
  • Luxe Hexpeak XL Tipi w/Packaflame Wood Stove
  • Kodiak Canvas Swag Tent
  • Hill People Gear—various items for foot travel
  • MacBook Pro
  • Softopper—replaces Yakima tent and rack system for extreme winter conditions (subzero)
  • Darche Nero 60 waterproof duffel—for roof rack transport of clothing or extra bedding
  • ARB Swag Bag—for swag tent if being used or extra bedding
  • Winter trekking duffel (snowshoes, ice axe, crampons etc)

I use Decked Drawers to store almost everything—tools in one drawer and kitchen in another with various storage on top on the roof rack. EVERYONE is going to store their equipment differently than the next person. I’ve been using a Yakima Megwarrior above the cab for solar panel and extra storage which has been very adequate. However, being in the industry I’m currently waiting on one of their new LockNLoad Platforms which has quite a bit more robust off road rating. And with a future expedition planned after this pandemic is over, I’m going to need it.

I can spend hours talking and sharing my experiences with you about each item on this equipment list. If I typed all that up I’d probably crash my provider’s server. So, if you have any specific questions please let me know. I’d be more than happy chatting.

The Decked Drawer system has proven to be very useful for my purpose.

I have always loved vehicular travel by land with an eventual falling in love with and pursuit of photography. My career choice has led me to not making much money. But it has led to some of the greatest life experiences and memories one could ever dream of. Even for simple overnights or weekends with my wife and daughter. With the right investments in the right places, you can get rich in memories comfortably too. We don’t have cable. We don’t subscribe to every subscription service there is. We shop at Aldi, eat at home, and quite honestly never go out to bars. The rewards mean so much more than financial gain.

Boreas Pass, Breckenridge, Colorado
My Subaru Outback traveling days, under the infamously dark skies of northern Minnesota.
Northwoods backroads. Photo credit: Erik Schlosser
“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it.” —George W Sears

So while the road may be rough right now, take your time to focus on your family, get your gear ready. Make memories now, make plans for travels and more memories down the road. I hope this list helps inspire you. Slow down, enjoy life and enjoy the journey.

—Jake

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