Let's Talk Gear!!!
Let’s Talk Gear!!! I spend a lot of time writing about protests, injustice, and corruption within systems because it’s important. Another passion of mine though is the outdoors, and it’s something I really haven’t spent much time in lately. I get asked a lot about where I get my gear and what it’s all used for. For all you gear junkies this article is for you.
Prior to starting this journalism path, I was planning a thru- hike. Essentially, a thru-hike is an end-to-end backpacking trip on a long-distance trail like the Appalachian Trail (2,190miles), Pacific Crest Trail (2,650miles) or the Continental Divide (3,100miles). Completing all three trails is called the Triple Crown, a major accomplishment that most don’t complete. A typical thru-hiker takes 5 to 7 months to hike. You need to be at ease with your own company considering most thru-hikers go at it solo. It’s also possible that, after several hundred miles, you’ll begin to question why you wanted to do this thing in the first place. You might even think about calling it quits.
If you’re able to get passed the mental challenges of a thru-hike, along the way you will need to deal with physical challenges which can include everything from blisters to major injuries and Lyme disease to altitude sickness. The PCT alone has an elevation gain of just under 500,000 feet with the AT having similar stats. You need to prepare for all of these and will undoubtedly have to overcome at least some of them.
Prior to getting into the right frame of mind and enduring the physical elements there is a huge financial element which prevents most people from following this dream. You’ll be off work and without a paycheck for half a year. And, though you won’t be spending a lot of money on gas or lodging, budgeting for the trip can be a challenge. Major expenses include gear and food, with the cost of a thru-hike varying from as little as $1/mile to $8,000 dollars for a spare-no-expense budget.
After two years of researching all three trails and finally making a conscious choice to stop procrastinating, I decided this was something I wanted to do. In preparation I went hiking daily and took long bike rides to help gain endurance and get this dad-bod in better shape. I grabbed food that I would be eating on the trail and began experimenting with different meals. I watched thousands of hours of hiking, backpacking, and outdoor related videos, studied maps, gear and joined online groups with other hikers. I began to reach out to companies that I decided to use their products in hopes I could either gain sponsorships or become a Pro-Staff Member. This is not easy as they don’t accept just anyone, but I already had experience with being a Pro-Staff Member within the fishing industry which gave me a little nudge to the forefront. Little by little I started to purchase gear that I would need for my first hike and started to put some money to the side.
Unfortunately, the entire world entered into a pandemic and while all this was going on, I got injured at work. Ultimately in the first three months of the pandemic, I lost my apartment due to being out of work and using what money I had saved to ensure I still was able to eat. On June 25th 2020 I would need to test my outdoor survival skills and see if I would be cut out for long distance solitude outside of the comforts of a home and a warm bed. For the next 63 days I stealth hammock camped in local parks and woods. I have to tell you while this absolutely sucked in comparison to having a home, it was one of the most freeing experiences and really made me look at what I valued most in life and what I could do without. During this time, I ended up going back to work which helped in order to continue to get supplies that I would need and I met some of the most incredible people while enduring this personal struggle. Most people don’t know that during the week of the unrest in Kenosha I was living in the hammock and a tent while trying to run around and re-launch the Never Stop Media Company that I had temporarily shut down due to all this. I definitely need to give a shout out to Outdoor Vitals because their hammock provided me the most cloud sleeping experience. https://outdoorvitals.com/ I documented my entire experience from the good through all the bad.
I bring all this up because it has helped me over the course of this last year surviving in and out of hotels and traveling and trying to figure out what gear I need to utilize while filming demonstrations. I have tell you, I still utilize some of that ultra-light outdoor life style even now. At any time those days are going to come back as this journalist journey while righteous isn’t self-sustaining and every day becomes harder and harder.
I’ve filmed everything from a press conference, to demonstration, marches, and riots, so I need to be prepared at any given time for the entire atmosphere to change within a moment’s notice.
First and foremost is the Never Stop Media Apparel. All of the apparel I personally wear along with apparel we sell is made by our friends over at Central Screen Printing. https://www.centralscreenprinting.com/ The NSM T-shirts are Next Level Triblend and printed using a Direct to Garment Print. Our hoodies are Gildan Heavy Blend and also utilize the DTG Print. Definitely check out Central Screen Printing and ask for Blake!!!!
One of the most vital pieces of gear I carry is my backpack. I utilize two different packs with different styles. For my everyday travel, I use a Swisstech 50L Backpack. https://www.amazon.com/SOLDIERKNIFE-Durable-Backpack-Charging-Including/dp/B07V4R4Z77/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=swiss+tech+backpack&qid=1617523746&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1&smid=ARUQ351AG5FCY&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFPRFQ0MUROR0RIWlkmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA0MTY4NzAyQVo0U0E4N040TzZZJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA0MTc3OTFPRjNKTTQ5R0hDT00md2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl
- Large Capacity and Organized: Men travel backpack owns 20 independent pockets for large storage and organization for small items. 3 spacious main multi compartments with many hidden pockets can accommodate lots of stuffs like college supplies, travel accessories, stationery, notebook, cord organizer, side deep zipper pocket for easy access essentials, side elastic net pockets conveniently hold travel gear umbrellas or water bottles.
- Unfolds the extra large backpack freely 90-180 degree, exclusive designed for airplane traveling. The big backpack is perfect for indoor/outdoor
- External USB port with set-in charging cable offers convenient charging your cellphone. A hole for headphone outside gives easy access to earphone usage. Also, a sturdy rugged handle with steel cable on the top for carrying, side compression straps keep the exclusive backpack at whatever size you requires.
- Size of extra large student backpack: 19.5x15x11 (inches), Capacity: 50L, separate padded laptop compartment hold for 13 inch MacBook, 14, 15, 15. 6 and up to 17inch laptop
- Tech backpack with back U shaped three dimensional ventilation design, comfortable wide breathable mesh shoulder straps with plentiful soft pad help relieve the stress from your shoulder. Both sides of the shoulder strap with lanyard design, can hang sunglasses and other small pendants.
This next pack is by far one of my favorite packs I’ve ever purchased, and with good reason. One of my sponsors is Hyperlite Mountain Gear. https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/
Their products are made of Dyneema, waterproof and extremely durable. The Daybreak Backpack is meant as a day bag for those shorter trips. It weighs 1.27 lbs. | 20.35 oz. | 577g and holds 17L
- External Pockets: Large external center pocket, great for hydration/snacks/rain jacket. Two angled side water bottle pockets that are easy to reach while wearing the pack. Front shock cord system allows you to lash gear or compress the pack.
- Internal Sleeve: Internal sleeve fits up to a 13” laptop.
- Hip Belt: Lightly padded 1.5” hip belt with peekaboo storage pocket to stash hip belt when it’s not in use.
- Loops: Ice Axe Loop & Grab Loop.
- Sternum Straps: Adjustable sternum strap with whistle.
- Internal Pockets: Internal 7" x 5" zippered pocket designed to hold phones/keys/money/etc.
- Top Closure: Clamshell design with water resistant YKK zipper allows for wide pack access.
- Back: Integrated 1/4” padded back panel.
- Shoulder Straps: Hardline with Dyneema® shoulder straps with 3/8” foam and spacer mesh.
- Buckles/Bungees: Front shock cord system allows you to lash gear or compress the pack. Removable ice axe attachments.
- Daisy Chains: Daisy chains on shoulder straps.
Technically classified as ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), Dyneema® fibers are produced by extruding a UV-resistant polyethylene gel through a spinneret. In a patented process, the fiber is drawn, heated, stretched, and cooled. The result is a filament with exceptional long-chain molecular alignment and high crystallization that limits density while allowing for uncommon load dispersion. At one-thousandth of an inch in thickness, Dyneema® has a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio that makes it the strongest fiber in the world.
Fifteen times stronger than high-quality steel, lightweight, extremely durable, waterproof and resistant to UV light and chemicals, Dyneema® fiber is increasingly used in industries where strength and dependability matter most—from military and law enforcement (personal and vehicle armor), the maritime industry (mooring ropes), and commercial fishing (lines and nets).
Also from Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I have their Shoulder Pocket. The Shoulder Pocket puts your chosen tools for communication with the outside world within arm’s reach. Or, throw in a small digital camera and document the outside world you’re in. Designed to mate perfectly with the shoulder strap systems found on our packs, it’s roomy enough to fit most modern cell phones and some GPS devices. Constructed with Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, it’s a rugged and slim accessory that won’t be a distraction or hamper your freedom of movement. Put technology like phones or GPS, or items like sunscreen within reach with this accessory that attaches to the shoulder straps of our packs and many others. It weighs 0.08lbs | 1.4oz
On the outside of the Daybreak I have a “PRESS” patch that I rigged so I would be clearly visible as press and not get harassed or shot at with tear gas.
- Reflective identification patch for garments, vests and uniforms
- Standard 8.5 inches(w) x 3 inches(h) patch
- Bold letters are heat-fused to Cordura nylon backing
- Backing is securely sewn to hook panel
- Designed to mate with soft loop panel on tactical vests, uniforms, packs and gear
I also have a standard bicycle helmet for a bit of head protection against projectiles and thrown objects that is affixed with carabineers, Press Credentials, and in the two outer side pockets holds a water bottle and Monopod Equipment. I have a Carbon Fiber Extension, a Neewer Carbon Fiber Monopod, and a quick release attachment. Having multiple extension pieces pretty much has me covered when I can't get front row during speeches. Everything is very quickly assembled or disassembled during an event.
Carbon Fiber Extension
- [EASY EXTENSION BAR] - Simple extension stick helps in exploring more possibilities and positions shooting on beautiful photography.
- [UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY] - Standard 1/4" Screw for wide mounting. Various gimbal stabilizer including DJI RONIN S / RONIN SC / OSMO Mobile 2 / ZHIYUN Crane V2 is suitable. Helps getting wider and higher view in photography and video shooting. Or you can mount on other devices with 1/4 inch thread.
- [LIGHTWEIGHT BUT STRONG] - Only 0.38lbs in weight but it's powerful to support your gimbal stabilizer cameras. Product length: 13.8 inch; Diameter: 1.4 inch Length 13.8 inch, 35cm
- [WELL MADE] - Quality Carbon Fiber Body offers comfortable holding.
- [BOTTOM 1/4" THREAD HOLE] - With 1/4" thread on the bottom, the extension pole can be mounted on tripod/slider.
Quick Detach Accessory
- It consists of two pieces, one piece with 1/4 screw thread and the other with 1/4 hole
Neewer Carbon Fiber monopod
- WIDE COMPATIBILITY: with reversible 1/4inch-3/8inch screw, accepts almost all Canon Nikon Pentax Sony Fuji Lumix Olympus DSLR and Video Camcorder
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND DURABLE: Made of lightweight 8X carbon fiber, weighs only 0.75 pounds/0.34 kilograms but with loading capacity up to 11.02 pounds/5 kilograms
- EXTENDABLE HEIGHT: 5 leg sections with anti-rotation twist locks to enhance stability, height from 18.9 inches/48 centimeters to 64.2 inches/163 centimeters
- ERGONOMIC DESIGN: Non-slip foam rounded handgrip and wrist strap ensure a safe hold and avoid risk of camera dropping
- PERFECT TRAVEL COMPANION: Removable non-slip rubber mat and screw-in spike for different shooting occasions, carrying bag offered for convenient travelling around
If you’re really into outdoor gear, another company to check out that has quality gear is Sea To Summit. https://seatosummitusa.com/ I’ve utilized Sea To Summit for various products from pocket showers, long spoons, sleeping bag liners, and much more. One product I was able to utilize was their 5L First Aid Dry Sack. Mine contains a variety of first aid supplies to cover cuts, scrapes, up to serious injuries. Early on I walked passed too many injured people and wasn't sure if I was alloed to intervene as a journalist, but you can only walk passed so many before the human side of you comes out and you have to step in. Made from a lightweight 70D waterproof, durable nylon fabric with a white interior lining and a TPU window for visibility, the First Aid Dry Sack is printed with the international standard (ISO 7010) symbol for first aid kits. Using the same hypalon non-wicking, roll-top closure as our other dry sacks and featuring a D-ring attachment point at the buckle, it is available in three sizes for everything from day use to longer expeditions. Quality materials – packable 70D nylon, fully taped seams and a TPU window which will not yellow or crack. Easy to find contents – white interior coating and large ‘window’ for greater interior visibility. Important when seconds count. The red fabric and universally recognized white cross make the First Aid Dry Sack stand out from other gear. Hypalon roll-top closure does not wick moisture, D-ring for easy attachment. Waterproof – rated to 10,000mm hydrostatic head. 8.6" x 5.1" x 11" 1.9 oz. / 54g
Backpack Body Cam Mount 3.35 x 1.97 x 1.69 inches 70 Grams
Everybody knows I don’t eat prior to an event and would typically eat while live once I got back to the hotel. So, you have obviously seen my Alpha Light Long Spoon. The only meal utensil I use. The Alpha™ Long Spoon utensil uses a durable aluminum in a sleek-yet-strong shape to create an extremely lightweight utensil. By hard anodizing the aluminum it forms a kind of "exoskeleton," so the utensils can be slimmer and lighter. This hardened shell also encapsulates the aluminum, to completely eliminate the risk of the alloy leaching into food. Ultra-light and super-strong aircraft aluminum alloy utensil set. Conforms to FDA food safety standards. Smooth matte finish. Comes with a mini carabineer.
8.5 in / 21.5 cm 0.4 oz. / 12g
Having been tear gassed and maced during riots, you can’t leave home without a proper gas mask. I’ve definitely choked on enough riot control methods. I highly recommend buying better filters.
- Silicone Sealing
- Has a wide range of applications and strong applicability - It can be used to prevent a variety of harmful gases, vapors and particles, and it has a wide range of applications.
- Unique design of the central adapter- Exhaust the heat and dampness downwards without affecting the sight. The exhalation valve plate is not easy to be polluted, and the cleaning is more convenient.
- Bayonet assembly design - The cartridge and the filter cotton are easy to install and disassemble, and the soft gasket can ensure air-tightness. Packing list: 1 x full face respirator; 2 x 6001CN organic vapor cartridge; 2 x 501 filter cover; 10 x 5N11 particulate cotton filter
- Double tank type, low breathing resistance - Compact appearance, low profile design, keep the wearer's vision broad. The exhalation valve opens with a wide range, and exhales more smoothly. Reduce heat and moisture accumulation inside, and the air is fresher.
Next up on the list inside the Daybreak is the Frogg Toggs Extreme Light Rain Jacket. This jacket came in handy on many nights surviving outdoors and I’ve even caught myself in the rain filming and event. If you haven’t noticed yet, weight is extremely important when it comes to backpacking so it’s always something I am conscious about and almost OCD down to the gram. Unfortunately, journalism requires a bit heavier equipment and not as easy to be picky about weight. This jacket weighs around 10.3oz
- 2-ply lightweight jacket
- Fully taped seams
- Adjustable, attached hood with E-Z push cord locks
- Zippered side pockets
- Self-storage pocket
- Adjustable hook-and-loop wrist closures
- Adjustable waist with E-Z push cord locks
One of my least favorite items but absolutely necessary for quality video footage is the Joby Gimbal. You have all heard me cuss this thing out repeatedly but I think it’s more user error rather than product. It really is a life saver when it comes to stillness in video quality. Along with the gimbal is a counterweight, and a triple cold shoe mount, an insanely bright LED camera light for those evening videos.
4.37 x 4.65 x 12.72 inches 428 Grams
- Moment Universal Counterweight select a 60g, 90g, OR 120g weight configuration. Just screw and unscrew the weights on the side to adjust the weight.
Triple Cold Shoe Mount
- This Universal Extension Bracket Provides Very Effective Way to Extend the Versatility of Your Gimbal Stabilizer.
- THREE COLD SHOE MOUNTS: You can mount microphones, lights, recorders or other small devices on this mount, used as an extension bracket of gimbal for professional shooting
- ALUMINUM ALLOY MATERIAL: Made of high-quality metal material, durable to use.
- With 1/4-20 SCREWS ON EACH: Each of the screws has a 1/4-20 socket on the bottom, so another device such as a tripod can be attached.
LED Camera Light
- You can easily adjustable Color Temperature from 2800K to 8500K and adjustable Brightness 0% to 100%. And the RGB Video Light with RGB 0-255 full color, 10 scene effects. Built-in OLED screen design enables every adjustment clearly and easy operation, let you operate easily and work more effectively.
- The LED Camera Lights with 72PCS led (warm white 21pcs+cool white 21pcs+RGB 30pcs),CRI≥95. RGB full color (Hue from 0 to 360) with 2 RGB working modes, up to 16 million combinations color support for hue, brightness, saturation sensitive adjustment, supports 10 scene modes to meet different shooting requirements.
- RGB Pocket Light with two creative design 1/4 screw holes makes it extendable and multi-functional, which can freely add other accessories on it using the cold shoe also you can add this light on your camera, Camcorder or other accessories like tripod & Stand with the help of 1/4 screw holes. Excellent heat dissipation and good durability, compact and lightweight makes it portable so you can take it even in the pocket and use it at anytime and anywhere.
- The RGB LED Camera Video Light is equipped with built-in 3.7V 3000mAh lithium rechargeable battery and USB Type-C charging port, offer 1.5 hours at 8500k at 100% brightness and longer time working with lower brightness. It’s suitable for indoor and outdoor used, low power consumption and environmental protection, can be charged via USB Type-C charging port (USB Cable Included).
- Double-sided Touch Fastener backing (hook and loop)
- Size: 5.0 x 2.0 inches / 12.5 x 5.0 cm
Selfie Stick 7.9 x 2.4 x 1.8 inches 0.17 Kilograms 7.7 inches
Tactical Baton Holder (holds my selfie stick)
- Constructed of Strong 1000 Denier Cordura Nylon for 26" Baton
- Strong 2" wide elastic over pouch will firmly retain your Baton
Tactical Punisher Knife
Why? Well, why not, it looks absolutely bad ass. It's ridiculously sharp and great for cutting through pretty much anything, and mostly geared if I have to cut through clothing during a medical emergency. Plus it matches all my other Punisher gear.
Anker Portable Battery Charger
I've used quite a few brands of portable battery chargers and by far one of my favorites is Anker. They are pretty durable and each one gives several charges during those long events and very quickly too. While they are a bit on the heavy side, they are worth it. Definitely need to invest in a few more of these!!
I have so many cords that I carry with me for the various pieces of gear that need charging. At times when you see me I look like a walking bomb because I have several cords hanging off me attached to electronics. A bit ridiculous looking, but it's about getting the footage, not a fashion shoot.
90 Right Angle Short Cable
90 Right Angle Long Cable
I used to have everything attached to my tactical vest and it just added so much weight on my shoulders. This tactical duty belt solved that problem and keeps everything on my hips and allows for ease of access to the different types of gear I carry at all times.
- High strength, fast-dry 1000D high density-nylon, the condor battle belt main material of quick-release buckle. The inner part uses breathable mesh material, quick-drying, comfortable and breathable.
- Tactical battle belt length: 31.8 IN, inner belt length :49 IN, fits 32-44IN waist. The tactical molle battle belt is adjustable and detachable; the inner belt can be used alone.
Tactical Water Bottle Pouch
Staying hydrated is vital. I actually have a couple of these tactical style water bottle pouches. If you're looking for something more ultralight, I reccommend the Hyperlite Mountain Gear water bottle holder.
- Perfect for water bottle and umbrella. Packaging Dimensions: 9x3.5inch; 3D Size: 23x9x9cm (9x3.54x3.54inch).
- 1000d high density Oxford cloth and the lining part are mixed with cotton wool.
Tactical Cell Phone Holder
- Material: durable nylon with soft velvet padded interior.
- Size: 9.5cm/3.74" x 2.5cm/0.98" (LxW); adjustable height from 16.5cm-18.5cm/6.5"-7.28".
Tactical Molle Pouch
- Compact size: 18 x 12 x 5 cm; approx 7 x 4.75 x 1.5 inches (L x W x T)
Olight S30R Flashlight
Olight products are amazing!!! Compact, lightweight, easily accessible and easy to charge on the go. Not as budget friendly as your bix box store brand flashlights, but worth every penny!!!
- This flashlight includes our signature Olight blue accents with the latest Cree XM-L2 LED that covers an output range from 0.5~1,050 lumens.
- The high output, portability, convenient charging, and long runtime can meet all your illumination needs for home, travel, and the great outdoors.
- The S30R III is shorter by 3mm in length, reaching 114mm than the previous S30RII
- Magnetic tail cap that allows it to be secured to ferrous metal surfaces for hands free work
- Low power and Lockout indicator under the side switch.
Olight Charging Cable
- Highly efficient MCC charger: This magnetic USB charger is not only 13% thinner than the previous MCC but is also compatible with all existing rechargeable flashlights and headlamps.
- Olight MCC 3 Magnetic Charging Cable.
- Tangle-free flat cable design. Easy for storing and organizing.
Tactical Drop Leg Bag
- Made of 1000D high density oxford - waterproof and wear-resistant, approx. 8.3"x11.9"x4.3" / 21*30*11CM (WxHxD).
- AMPLE CAPACITY: 3 main compartments, 2 side pockets with 4 conceal insert pocket, large enough for EDC gears, like smart phone, power bank, wallets, sun glasses, digital cameras, tactical flashlight, keys, emergency first aid items, etc.
- Adjustable quick-release buckle & high quality polish zipper with parachute cord end, external MOLLE expansion system & breathable sandwich pad, adjustable waist strap & detachable, adjustable leg strap
Obviously due to the pandemic I have several face coverings, but also in order to somewhat conceal my identity during some of those more discreet moments that I find myself in.
Paisley Face Mask
- The tactical desert shemagh scarf is made of 100% cotton, high quality woven design, protects your head and neck against sun, sand, wind and dust
- Dimension:42" x 42" including tassel, thick material, net weight:6.4oz
Last on the list of crucial products I use is my backdrop for when I go live inside of a hotel or AirBnB. Due to lunatics paying close attention to my landscape I have to have something behind me in order to not give any details away. I chose a Punisher Flag for several reasons. Number one is Punisher is my favorite comic. For those who pay attention, Chris Kyle is a personal hero to me. Chris's unit would mark their vehicles, gear and tag buildings with the Punisher Skull. Kyle wrote in his autobiography "He righted wrongs, he killed bad guys, he made wrongdoers fear him". With the Punisher Flag behind me, on the back of my vest, and on my helmet it's my nod to Chris Kyle and it gives me a feeling that with Kyle behind me I'll be safe. You've all heard me say, if you see that Never Stop Media name and Punisher Skull, you should probably move out of the way if you're doing something wrong. Punishment will come to all who are corrupt.
Whew, that’s a lot of gear!!! That doesn’t even cover snacks that I carry with me while I’m out and about. Be sure to follow upcoming gear articles for the various elements of my professional and personal life.
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