top of page

REAL GEAR REVIEWS

Take a read of my authentic gear reviews

My gear reviews will always be authentic based on my opinions and experiences. Currently, I have no affiliation with any of these companies however some links will direct to Amazon where I do receive commission off of sales. Regardless, I will only give my honest feedback on these products after extensive use in the real world. I have no desire to grift off of people trying to do their due diligence. 

iLLUSTRATIONS-05.png
GC edit.jpg
Base Layers
sweater-2.png

BASE LAYERS

Screenshot 2023-06-13 at 15.46.40.png

BASE LAYERS

 

For any long distance ruck or run I would recommend layering and using compression pants and shirts as base layers. Compression layers help support muscles and can improve blood & oxygen flow during exercise.

Compression Pants:

DFND Compression: Performs as good if not better than the popular brands. 100% made in the USA and supports small business.

Compression Shirts:

Popular sport brands have produced the compression gear I've worn in the past. Again they perform well but there's other American made brands out there that put out comparable products.

DFND Compression gear is 100% made in the USA, supports small business and will be my next brand to put to the test. 

Socks:

Men's Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock

Bottom Line: Darn Tough socks are exactly what they sound like.

 

They keep feet comfortable and dry after several hours of hiking. The Micro Crew Midweight Hiking sock was perfect for the dry heat of the Grand Canyon and cold snowy days in the North East. Darn Tough makes a variety of socks for any condition, not just hiking, right in Vermont. As far as durability is concerned, under extreme conditions I've had a pair of these partially fused to the bottom of my feet. Gross, but after the painful removal you couldn't tell that significant amounts of that Merino Wool was left behind. 100% worth the money.

Boots
hiking.png

HIKING
BOOTS

Screenshot 2023-06-13 at 15.36.42.png

HIKING BOOTS

 

Salomon Quest 4 Gortex

Bottom Line: Great for carrying heavy loads over long distances

 

My current boots are the Quest 4D 3 GTX but those are no longer available. The boot I linked is their new version. If the new versions can live up to the abuse I put my Salomons through then they are definitely a great choice for carrying heavy weight through trails and mountains. Solid support throughout never let me down through any terrain carrying loads from 40-100lbs for long distances. 

After a few hundred miles the lining between the toe box and sole has started to separate at a crease point. Though this hasn't seemed to effect waterproofing as I have hiked through heavy rain and had no issues.

Bags
school-bag.png

BAGS & PACKS

Screenshot 2023-06-13 at 15.43_edited.jpg

BAGS & PACKS

 

EXO MTN Gear K3 4800 Pack System

Bottom Line: Durable and high quality materials. Excellent customer service and 100% Made in America. My favorite piece of gear.

 

Your choice in backpack can make or break your rucks, especially over long distances. A traditional military style ruck sack is fine but if you have the ability to, you may as well upgrade to a beast of a system made to be tough and versatile.

The EXO MTN Gear pack systems are by far the best backpacks I've used. They're rugged, functional and easily carry heavy loads. They're an Idaho based company and every component from fabric to zippers are made right here in the USA.

The pack are designed for hunters essentially to be able to carry field dressed big game out of the out of the wilderness along with all the gear you need on a multi-day backpacking hunt.... but why does that matter aren't we rucking or hiking?

Well if you Google how heavy a field dressed elk is you can probably tell why I figured these bags would have no problem handling the 60-100lbs of weight I'll load up in a ruck. In fact its probably way overkill but I had another popular brand backpack loaded to its upper limit of rated capacity and it was struggling after a couple 7-8 hour rucks.

The pack systems (now upgraded to the K4 Pack systems as of 2023) are modular with a lightweight titanium frame where you mount your bag, hip pads, and straps. The pack is actually designed to carry a load (typically harvested meat) between the pack and the frame, making it an extremely expandable system where you can pack out for 10+ days easily.

The packs come in multiple sizes and are simple with a large open compartment in the middle with center zipper and roll top access. A detachable hood adds more storage as well as two full length side pockets and most bags have a zippered or stretch fabric front pouch.

The hip pads have a MOLLE system with individual pouches, pockets, holsters and more that can be bought as add-ons to customize the functionality to suit your needs. And of course it has a water bladder pouch but the cool part is its completely separated by a waterproof liner and easily accessible with a fully loaded pack

The strap systems make it easy to shrink the pack down to fit your load and the frame can be adjusted as well to adapt to your situation.

I've put in hundreds of miles with this pack loaded up and it hasn't showed any signs of wear. When you put your hands on these packs you know its quality and made to last. At 2-3 x the price of a traditional hiking backpack I'd be hesitant to make such a resounding recommendation if it weren't for the quality of the materials, quality of construction and the fact that every component is made 100% in the USA. Those reasons are why you pay a premium and in my opinion it is worth it all day. Especially if you're going to be putting heavy things on your back for long periods of time, these packs are literally made for it.

I've definitely left out some features but there's a ton of useful info on the EXO MTN Gear website and the customer service is excellent.

Trekking poles
hiking-2.png

TREKKING POLES &
TRACTION

Screenshot 2023-06-13 at 15.36_edited.jpg

TREKKING POLES & TRACTION

 

MICROspikes

Bottom Line: Kahtoola knows what's up when it comes to traction. Best brand for slip-ons.

Slip on boot spikes are a pack necessity in cold weather especially if you're climbing elevations. No one really does it better than Kahtoola. The micro spikes are super packable and great for snow and ice on low to moderate incline. 

Leki Black Series Carbon

Bottom Line: Good but they don't quite get my stamp of approval.

 

I still use them but one of the locking clamp retention screws backs out often which loosens its grip and allows the adjustable pole section to slide down under pressure. I keep a multitool in my pack so I don't mind snugging it up every now and then but on a set of trekking poles this expensive I would expect them to perform a bit better. Packability and durability so far I don't have any complaints. I intend to test out another set soon.

smartphone.png

GPS UNITS & TRAIL APPS

Screenshot 2023-06-13 at 15_edited.jpg

GPS UNITS & TRAIL APPS

 

Garmin Montana 750i - GPS & Satellite Communicator

Bottome line: Great full featured GPS & Communicator, 300-330hours of battery life in Expedition mode. Easy to navigate touch screen and external removable battery. If week long treks are more your jam and you need to use active GPS navigation I would recommend the Garmin GPSMPS 67 Series with up to 140 hours in GPS mode and up to 840 hours Expedition mode.

I was looking into inReach devices, Garmin's satellite communicator line and was originally going to go with the small inReach Mini 2 however when looking at the options a full featured GPS & Communicator device seemed more practical.  There were a few of these all inclusive models to consider, the 86 series, 67 series and the 700 series. The biggest stand out was the 700 series with its glove friendly touch screen and inReach capabilities included. And while having a easy to navigate touch screen was appealing what sold me on this over the others was its external battery. I am a big fan of redundancy when out in the wilderness and while the other devices did last far longer on their internal batteries, with the 700 series I could have a back up battery on hand. I can run it on expedition mode and get 330 hours of battery life however that doesn't help an anxious wife who likes to get updates on my position. So with tracking on and updates set at 30 minutes expedition mode ge
ts dropped down to 300 hours of battery which is plenty for me since my trips only last a day or two and I can get away with a passive tracker to check my position every now and then. If you're looking for active GPS navigation then you'll only have 18 hours of battery life.

A subscription is required to use inReach services. They have a range of packages but the best part is its month to month. So if you only need it for one or two trips a year you can pause or cancel your subscription in-between, making satellite communication much more affordable than I would have thought.

GPS
Survival
first-aid.png

SURVIVAL & EMERGENCY

Screenshot 2023-06-13 at 15.36.42.png

SURVIVAL & EMERGENCY

Reviews Coming soon!

bottom of page