If you haven’t heard of GearPods, you’re not alone. They’re a relative newcomer to the outdoor/survival gear markets. The company was established in 2008 in Polson, Montana and launched it’s Adventure Series Kits and Connect System in late 2009. For those of you not familiar with the product, the GearPods Connect System is a semi-lightweight, modular gear storage system comprised of different sized, durable plastic tubes than can be connected in a chain (or used separate) to organize your gear.
James Davies, GearPods CEO, describes the product here:
“GearPods provides the best of both worlds – highly compact yet capable adventure gear but without the weight and bulk downsides you’d associate with traditional backcountry gear.”
With 4 different tube lengths and 7 different colored lids, it is a very versatile and easy to organize storage system.
Using the modular Connect System, the GearPods Individual Kits are pre-loaded with the kind of emergency and survival gear that these containers are suited for. Individual kits include the Stove system, Shelter, Health and others. GearPods goes one step further and offers Multi-Kit Systems combining essential Individual Kits into “integrated Adventure Systems” like the Backcountry Kit in this review.
Their Multi-Kit Systems range from $75 to $250 and offer everything from basic emergency shelter to full-scale rescue and survival systems.
GearPods was gracious enough to send me one of their Backcountry Kits to try out in addition to the kit they donated for this week’s giveaway. I took the kit with me on an overnight trip out to Lake Pleasant and tested out the stove system. But first, let’s take a look at what’s included:
The GearPods Backcountry kit:
- Weight: 1.25 lbs (20 oz)
- Dimensions: 3.2″ diameter, 9.25″ length
- GearPods Health: Compact but comprehensive first aid kit for treating minor wounds and injuries.
- GearPods Survival Pro: Range of survival tools for starting a fire, navigating, signaling, purifying water, fishing, and repairing clothes or gear. Includes the GearPods Stove, GearPods CookMug (with snap-in lid), GearPods Windshield and solid fuel tablets for boiling water and cooking.
The Health Pod is a basic emergency first-aid kit including all the necessary items to treat most common injuries or ailments on or off the trail. I was pretty impressed with how complete the first-aid kit is with one-time-use packages of everything from sun screen to sting-relief to burn ointment and a huge variety of bandages. This kit alone is a very useful and essential part any emergency kit.
GearPods Survival Pro:
The GearPods Survival pro is a combination survival kit and cooking system (mainly for boiling water). The kit includes an incredible assortment of survival gear including an ultra-light blade and saw, emergency fishing kit, multiple firestarters and tender, a tiny LED flashlight, signal mirror and weather-proof writing pad (see pics below). With the addition of the small, lightweight, ingenious little stove and cook-pot I couldn’t think of a single thing lacking from this survival kit.
Unpacking the kits for the photos above I was immediately impressed with how much gear is actually crammed in to these Pods. In fact, there seems to be room for a few more items if you have some specific personal item that you’d want to add (or beef up the medical kit with extra bandages). My initial thought was, “I want one of these things everywhere! I’d keep one in the house, one in the truck and have one handy for backpacking trips (at least the medical kit)”. The size is perfect for stashing just about anywhere and the fact that everything is stored in these durable, water-proof tubes makes them perfect for a variety of different conditions. I do believe that they are a little bulky for backpacking, especially if you travel light. But they do pack easily if you don’t mind the weight. When I took mine out on the trail I initially stuffed it into one of the side pockets of my pack, and on the return I rolled it up with my sleeping pad and strapped it to the bottom of my pack.
In the Field:
I brought the Backcountry Kit with me to camp overnight at Lake Pleasant. I had a couple of goals in mind. One, I wanted to test the cooking system and see how easy it is to set up and take down as well as test how effective it is at boiling water. Second, I wanted to test the firestarters. To me, those are the most important aspects to a survival kit (fire and water).
This is my field test of the cooking system-
The fuel tabs worked well once I got them lit (it was suggested that breaking apart the fuel tab would make lighting them easier). It took nearly a full single fuel tab to heat 9-11oz to boiling. The cup is still very hot to the touch even with the fabric strip around the top. The snap on lid worked well and would make for a nice drinking cup if you wanted to make tea, coffee or broth directly in the cup itself. The cooking system was very easy to set up and take down and was very lightweight. As an emergency stove or backup, it’s perfect. I would even consider it as my primary stove on short trips.
Getting fire started was a snap, the Tender-Quick lit without issue and allowed me to get my fire bundle going easily.
I will admit, in putting the kit back together in the tubes, I did have some trouble getting everything to fit just right. I had to unpack and repack it several times to get the Pod lids to screw back on properly. This, more than likely, is entirely a user generated problem. It clearly fit just fine when I got it. There is little room for error in the Survival Pro kit though, so pay attention when unpacking it so you can insure that it gets repacked properly. If the fit is off or you can’t get the lids screwed on right, the Pods are no longer going to keep out water.
When everything is put together properly and the lids are screwed on tight, the Pods feel indestructible. I felt comfortable tossing the Pod around camp, leaving it out overnight, tripping over it and kicking it out of the way without ever worrying about the contents. I submerged it at one point in the lake without leaks and had to force it below water verifying that it would float if dropped out of a boat. This made me think it might be useful to store electronics on boating trips. The Pods are big enough inside to store a cell phone (even my massive HTC Thunderbolt 4G WITH a case on it fit inside the tube), batteries, cables, etc.
In the morning I played around with making a make-shift fishing pole. Using the line, hooks and sinkers provided in the kit along with a float I found on the beach, I tried my hand at fishing. The system worked, even if I wasn’t able to land any fish.
All in all, I was very impressed with the Backcountry Kit. It has nearly everything you would need for most any survival situation or backcountry emergency. I would put serious thought in to adding the Shelter Kit to make this a perfect, all-around survival system (the GearPods Wilderness Kit includes the shelter kit). If you spend much time on back roads, or live in areas where the weather can turn bad and leave you stranded I would definitely get one of these for your vehicle. They would also make an indispensably addition to your camping, boating or off-roading gear. Or use the Pods to make your own kit, keeping everything safe, dry and organized! I am considering getting a Pod to make in to a small tackle-box for creek trips.
As mentioned above, the Backcountry Kit was provided to me from GearPods at no cost in order for me to review the product. My opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by the company providing the gear. I have tested the gear under my own standards and offered my free and unbiased opinion based on my own personal experience.