A Dry Look At Gear Pods
Now I’ve been having a bit of fun with the Gear Pods Adventure Gear System I was sent to review. (Especially since the company seems to have sent them out to every blogger in the known universe!) Still my strange little oatmeal test does express the point that the gear we take along on a serious kayaking trip is only as good as its water resistance. After a couple weeks on the water, keeping things dry and free of sand can become a hellish obsession. But let’s come back to that….
The Gear Pods modular Adventure Gear Systems are made to cover the basic survival essentials for the outdoorsy type. The modular kits contain everything from cook stoves and first aid kits, to shelters and fire starters. The Gear Pods team must have spent many an obsessive hour figuring out how to get everything to fit into their round polycarbonate, UV-protected containers. They did a fantastic job.
I was asked to review the GearPods backcounty system which retails from around $110 and contains their first aid kit, cook stove, and a whole range of “lost in the woods” tools that will certainly help someone with a bit of knowledge stay alive until help arrives. I’m not going to list everything in their kit since you can read a detailed inventory on the website, but I was honestly shocked by the amount of gear they packed in and how well thought out it was. What stood out to me were the small folding knife & razor as well as the fact that they provided two ways to start a fire and not just one. They provide wind proof matches, a small flint starter and a bit of tinder. The kit also included a small amount of wire and duct tape, as well as fishing hooks, pins, a whistle, spotting mirror, tiny compass and water purification tablets among other things. While we can all come up with bits we’d add or remove, all in all they did a good job in my opinion.
The small cook stove works as advertised. Again it’s small, but well thought out and easy to get going. You’ll be able to heat about a cup of liquid at a time. The metal cup has a small insulated ring on the lip to keep you from burning yourself. The stove uses solid fuel tablets but you could improvise if you had to. They also provide a vented windshield. The small fold out stabilizers show a bit of forethought as well. I loved this very basic but very usable little stove. Of course given its purpose and size I can’t imagine using it other than in an emergency situation, but in that case having this little stove on hand would be a godsend.
The next bit of kit in the GearPods Backcountry system is the little first aid kit. The kit is packed in a small orange pouch. Small is not a problem if you pack it with the essentials. Generally off-the-shelf first aid kits are packed with a large variety of stuff you don’t need and very little of what you do. For the most part this is true with the GearPods First Aid kit. Now I should say here I am a former EMT and currently certified in Wilderness First Aid, but to confirm my thoughts I contacted my friend & fellow coach John Browning. John is an EMT with Bell in Milwaukee, certified wilderness-EMT and instructor as well. Again I won’t bother to list everything in the kit and simply offer some quick thoughts.
1. Include medical gloves – cheap, easy and essential. There should be at least one pair of one-size-fits all gloves. 2 or 3 pairs is better. (non-latex)
2. Not enough & too low mgs on all pain killers. The kit provides Ibuprofin, 2 tabs, 200mg and Aspirin, 2 tabs, 325mg. No Tylenol? I’d carry 500mgs and more than 2. (many more…)
3. Not nearly enough iodine or other cleansing wipes. The words “wound” and “wipe” don’t match. “Flush” is the word we’re looking for here. Why not a small bottle of iodine that can be mixed down in the field? (or used straight if necessary) Just a thought.
4. Butterfly Closures – Bad medicine. In my training we would not use them. JB concurred on this.
5. Not enough gauze pads. Again, think “wound” & “wilderness”.
We also agreed that it is probably more important to have additional meds of things like diarrhea than, lip ointment. A sam splint, 2 or 3 triangle bandages and vet wrap would be important as well. Yes, space is limited and maybe you would need to go the next size up with the GearPod container but so be it. The first aid kit is simply too important to skimp on. Certainly anyone with experience will pick and choose their own kit and keep or leave out things I wouldn’t. I think the first aid kit is the only real weak link in an otherwise well done system.
Ah, but that brings us to the “Oatmeal Test” doesn’t it. Well, let’s just get this over with. GearPods failed. They didn’t fail catastrophically, but still water got in. After 2 days of submersion in the rain barrel out back, both end caps leaked and we made some sticky porridge. The connectors did not leak. That meant the center tube stayed dry. (See the video below) I took some time to compare the caps and connectors and I could not see an obvious difference. I should also say that I took an extra moment to double check that I screwed them on just right when I set up the test. More than I would in real life. Could the leaking be a fluke? Sure. Still 2 end caps leaking and no connector leaking does suggest something else.
Honestly I was a bit cold to the idea of the Gear Pods when I was first offered the chance to review them. Then as I started experiencing the kit I became more and more impressed by the design and ingenuity. After giving Gear Pods a good going over I had myself convinced that I would certainly carry this kit in my jeep and out on trips (with some first aid modifications). I probably still will. However as the oatmeal test showed, you may not want to give them 100% trust in a situation where they may become submerged for any length of time. I’m sure I will have a chance to talk to the guys at Gear Pods again and maybe I got some bum caps.. we’ll see. I hope that’s the case because all in all I do think that Gear Pods are good product.