The Gear

These are some of the products that have met our needs, served us well and held up over years of regular use. For those tools and products where it is relevant we try to make our purchase decisions with a BIFL (Buy It For Life) mindset. Some of our gear has been around longer than Willow. Some has been around for decades like our Thru-Hiker tent, Dragonfly Stove and Marmot sleeping bag. We believe that Quality Lasts. We believe that Quality is an Investment and see no reason to buy a cheaper alternative if it will perform poorly and last a shorter length of time. When we find a brand whose products work well, are a good value and have an exemplary warranty we tend to continue giving them our business and spread the word.

The list below would be our Full Load for when we are heading into the unknown and want to cover all our possible needs no matter how unlikely, but we have learned enough to not do that too often lately. It is a list that encompasses our two options: comfort in the Tacoma or minimalist with backpack on foot. In reality, we keep whittling the list down in order to deal with less stuff, lessen our load and get less poor gas mileage as an extra, added bonus. It really is a truism: the more you know the less you need.

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Willow’s Gia’s Gear: She would rather be a naked, dirt-rolling dog but we carry all of this just in case.
• Ruffwear Palisades Pack (Our Review)
• Ruffwear Mt. Bachelor Pad (Our Review)
• Ruffwear Grip Trex Boots (Our Review)
Ruffwear Summit Trex Boots (New)
• Ruffwear Sun Shower Rain Jacket
• Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat Utility Jacket
• Ruffwear Just-a-Cinch leash (used more for our roadside rescues than for Willow)
• Petgear Tri-Fold Pet Ramp (Our Review)
• Seresto Flea and Tick Collar (set and forget for 7 months)
• Nature’s Variety Instinct or Orijen dry dog foods

My Gear:
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Sky 3 Tent
• Mountain Hardwear Ethereal Bivy Sack (discontinued)
• Marmot 7th heaven sleeping bag (discontinued)
• Therm-A-Rest NeoAir pad (for in the tent)
• Full-size Self-Inflating Mattress (for the platform in the shell) We now use a custom-sized, truck bed version of what many consider to be “The Best Sleeping Pad Ever Made
Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Camping Stove (Our Review)
• MSR Dragonfly stove (with a Quietstove Damper Cap or DragonTamer3)
• MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter (Had this older one for 20+ years)
• MSR Dromedary Bag (MiniWorks attaches directly to fill opening)
• SteriPEN Freedom (USB rechargeable UV water purifier) (Our Review)
• Eagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest Hammock
• Aeropress Coffee/Espresso Maker, with S Filter (my morning ritual)
• Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
• Eberlestock Gunslinger II Pack (To carry our minimum load away from the Tacoma)
• Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe (inherited from Grandfather)
• Garmin eTrex 20x (It’s good to know where you are and where you’ve been)

My Specialized Clothing:
• Arc’Teryx Theta SV Jacket (when only a shell is needed)
Arc’Teryx Beta AR Pants
Mountain Hardware Snowpulsion Ski Jacket (when a little insulation is a good thing)
• Grundens of Sweden Brigg Parka and Herkules Bib Pants (Our Review)
• Muck Brand Hoser boots (Our Review)
• Birkenstock Super Birki Clogs (Our Review)
• Asolo Boots (They’ve been great for years but are starting to show their age)
KEEN Men’s Durand Mid Hiking Boot (The new replacements for the Asolo boots)
STABILicers Ice Traction Cleats
• A variety of Smartwool, Bridgedale and Darn Tough socks

Camp, Truck and Recovery Gear:
• Valentine One Radar Detector along with its Concealed Display
• ARB 50 Quart Fridge/Freezer (Our Review)
ARB Awning 2000 (SOLD) We upgraded to an Alu-Cab 270 degree awning
• Renogy 100W Solar Suitcase (Our Review) We now just carry a single 250W panel off a house
• Coyote Automatic Tire Deflators (Our Review)
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires (Our Review)
 Q Industries MV50 High-Volume 12-Volt Air Compressor (Our Review) Now replaced with the ARB Twin High Performance Portable Compressor (Our Review)
• Krazy Beaver Super Shovel (a.k.a. Murder Spork) mounted with Quick Fists
• MaxTrax MKII sand ladders (Used to rescue ourselves and others)
• Pop & Lock Manual Tailgate Lock
• Hi-Lift Jack
WARN VR10-S Winch with Synthetic Rope
WARN Recovery Kit
Factor55 Hawse Fairlead 1.0
Factor 55 Flatlink Shackle Mount
• H3R Fire Extinguisher in a Drake Off Road Mount
• Scepter MWC (Military Water Cans)
• 20 liter NATO jerry cans (CARB-compliant cans leak and just generally suck)
• Tire Chains
• Dometic Portable Toilet (just in case)

The Apps
I run a MacBook Air running Debian as well as an Android phone (some Motorola 5G phone with a long, dumb name) running the LineageOS ROM for my GPS tracking, geocaching, Points of Interest access, research and general online activities.

I have found several apps and websites that make these tasks easier and am happy to share them with you. Hopefully one or more of these might fill a need you have. Many of these apps are also available for iOS.

Alternatively, if you use different apps, websites and services and have a reasoned opinion of why you think it’s great I would love to hear about it as well.

Mapping Apps and websites:
Waze (it’s good to know where the hazardous road conditions and speed traps are)

Google Maps (I double-check with this because Waze sometimes wants to take us on the circuitous, “scenic” route)

PDF Maps (for real-time tracking on MVUMs) I started my collection here. Their latest update limits you to three maps at a time and deleted the 50 maps that I had waypoints and notes added to with minimal warning. If you know of another geo-referenced PDF reader please let me know.

Forest Service Topo Map Download tool:

Free Campsites (If you like “off the beaten path” and are not opposed to dispersed camping. A little heavy on car and RV-accessible places as opposed to more off-road oriented)

iOverlander (between this app and the website we find the majority of our camping spots)

Points Of Interest:
Atlas Obscura (Weird Attractions and Unusual Things to Do Wherever You Are)

GPS Apps:
GPS Essentials (for making GPS tracks, marking waypoints and general GPS stuff)
GPSVisualizer (Extremely powerful and customizable kml/kmz manipulation)
c:geo (for our geocaching activities)

GasBuddy (Find the brand or price you want closest to you)
WeatherBug Elite (Good to know what to expect and plan accordingly)

Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) Info:
Sometimes called OHV maps. A great, free resource to see where travel and camping with a motor vehicle is allowed on public lands. I focus on Forest Service and BLM lands. A quick web search for “<name of public agency” or “name of National Forest, BLM district or wilderness area you are planning on staying at” or “name of state you are visiting“+ MVUM”> will more often than not return several pages where you can download the MVUM (usually in pdf format), then import it into PDF Maps or your geo-referenced pdf map reader of choice. MVUMs are free – Do Not Pay for them. Also, they are supposed to be updated yearly (which does not always happen) so make sure you get the latest version. The best way is to get them directly from the agency whose lands you want to explore. This page is a great start.