Review of the Wilderness 1-2-1: GearPods Wilderness System
by John Fenna
Wilderness 1-2-1 is a well-known name to anyone who visits the “Trading Post” on this site, and, as well as running bushcraft, tracking and medical courses, they have a shop selling some very useful gear.
Amongst this gear you will find what I consider to be the best commercial “bug out bag” or “survival kit” that I have yet come across – the GearPods Wilderness System.
GearPods are simply watertight UV protected polypropylene and polycarbonate containers with screw caps and screw linking caps, of various lengths from 1.5” to 6” and of approx 3.25” max diameter, that can be joined together in various combinations to give a modular storage systems. The connectors and terminators come in 6 colours, Black, Olive, Coyote Tan, Yellow, Blue or Orange.
Various ready-made kits are available, such as the “GearPods Health” 1st Aid Kit, “Gear Pods Survival Pro” Survival Kit and “GearPods Shelter” tarp and survival blanket combo.
The “GearPods Wilderness System” is a ready-made kit that combines the GearPods Survival Pro, GearPods Stove, GearPods Shelter and the GearPods Health elements into one unit of 3 “pods”. The Stove and Pro in one 6” pod, the Shelter in a 4.5” pod and the Health in a 3” pod – each labelled with an appropriate icon to help identify the contents of the pod.
The “Survival Kit” of the Survival Pro and Stove System comes in 2 black silicone nylon stuff sacks and comprises:
a 4” tall 9.5 fluid oz hard anodised aluminium mug or cooking pot with a snap-in heat resistance “sipper” lid and a heat-proof silica fabric band to hold it by.;
a GearPods stove – a hard anodised aluminium stand for the mug/pot incorporating swing-out 3 legs to ensure a stable platform;
a windshield of lightweight aluminium some 13” by 3.75” with air vents and locating slots;
2 solid fuel tabs;
4 pieces of “Tinder Quik” waterproof tinder in a sealed poly bag;
a “Spark Lite” one-handed sparker that will ignite the Tinder Quik to give you a couple of minutes of flame per tinder unit;
10 NATO “Storm” matches and striker in sealed bags (like those found in MoD ration packs);
a Fresnel lens approx 2” x 3” for fire lighting in sunny conditions as well as other uses;
a 2” x 3” rescue flash signal mirror with retro-reflective targeting and full instructions;
a “Fox LED torch (with split ring and swivel) with a 24 hour plus battery;
a sterile self-standing 1 litre (36 fl oz) sealable waterbag;
10 “Oasis” chlorine based water purification tablets (1 tablet treats 1 litre of water);
1 fishing kit of 4 barbed hooks, 2 split shots and 1 snap swivel;
25ft of 70lb breaking strain braided nylon cord;
2 x 2” safety pins for repairs etc;
50ft 10lb breaking strain thread for fishing and repairs;
1 strong sewing needle;
8ft 0.02” stainless steel wire (non-magnetic) for snares and repairs;
30” of 2” wide duct tape for repairs etc;
4 2” x 3” sheets of water proof paper printed with lines and grids for messages, logs, mapping etc;
1 pencil with protective cap;
a 20mm liquid filled button compass for basic navigation;
a folding saw with a 2” blade of 18 TPI for cutting wood or metal and a protective and strong plastic handle;
a folding knife with a 2” “razor blade” stainless steel blade for “light to medium cutting”;
quite detailed illustrated instructions/aide memoire printed on waterproof and tear-proof paper and, of course
the Pod which can be used as a water scoop/container, basic digging tool and more.Not bad for a kit that measures only 6” x 3” diam and weighs approx 400gm. Repacking the pod takes some skill and practice, but it is possible and you can even fit in extra small items of personal choice. Packing becomes easier with practice!
All the items in this kit are of excellent quality and have obviously been chosen for their “fitness for purpose” rather than purely on size, weight and cost.
The “GearPods Shelter” includes the GearPods Adventure Tarp, a thermal “space” blanket, another 25ft of 70lb breaking strain braided nylon cord and a set of guy tensioners.
Personally I found the guy tensioners unwanted bulk – I use common knots to fit my guys even on my normal tarp set-ups – and ditched them, while the thermal blanket is the very familiar and useful (especially if you use a bit of the duct tape to fashion it into a cape or “sleeping bag”) item that has so many uses.
The “GearPods Adventure Tarp” is a high quality 4.5’ x 6.5’ item made from 1.47oz double silicone proofed ripstop nylon in a very highly visible orange and would also serve well as a signal panel. There are 8 reinforced lightweight webbing guying pegging points and a reinforced centre guying point as well, giving multiple possible configurations. This tarp is tough enough to take repeated hard use (it is not a “disposable” or one-use item by any means) despite weighing in at only approx 150gm.
With the shelter pod you have enough kit to build a really protective shelter and/or a basic waterproof cape – as well as a 4” pod for a container for food, water, etc. Getting the tarp back into the pod with the unused folded thermal blanket proved … interesting …; getting the used thermal blanket into the pod with the tarp proved impossible. I think of the blanket as something that needs replacing in the pod with an unused one each time! The oversized stuffsack that comes with the tarp proves the ideal way to carry the blanket home!
With the items seen and described so far, the GearPods address all the survival priorities, except health and first aid, which is where the “GearPods Health” pod comes in.
In the 3” pod you get a silicone nylon stuffsack containing:
2 pairs of surgical gloves; 1 resuscitation face mask
1 triangular bandage 1 No 8 wound dressing
1 non-adherent dressing 1 packet of sterile gauze
2 cleansing wipes (non-alcohol) 10 assorted waterproof plasters
1 roll of zinc oxide tape 5 safety pins and 1 pair of tweezers
A good basic 1st Aid Kit that is, again, so well packed that repacking can prove difficult – but not impossible!
All in all, this is the best and most comprehensive “bug out bag/survival kit” that I have found as a complete item on the open market and it offers quality items to cover all the main elements of survival priorities.
With this kit, plus a positive mental attitude, imagination/adaptability and, hopefully, a little training and practice, you should be able to survive quite comfortably where the unprepared would not.
If you want to go minimalist for a wilderness trip, or prepare for TEOTWAWKI, then this, the best commercial survival kit I have come across, is where you might want to start.
The GearPods Wilderness System weighs approx 1.1kg, measures 14.5” x 3.25” and costs £129.95 from Wilderness 1-2-1, who supplied the review sample.
However, the Modular Kit is not where it ends! For ease and versatility in carrying the GearPods Wilderness System you can get the GearPods Sleeve. Made from tough, durable but lightweight 600 denier nylon fabric, this not only protects your GearPods, but has Molle/Pal (or “daisy chain”) webbing plus a reinforced strap for attaching the sleeve to practically anything – belts, packs, canoes, vans etc, or you can add small compatible pouches to the sleeve as well.
Each end of the sleeve has an adjustable end cap with a quick-release buckle and a clear vinyl centre for viewing the sleeve’s contents, while on the body of the sleeve there is a vinyl window with an icon labelling system for instant identification of the sleeve contents and a Velcro pocket (with a pleat construction and a Velcro flap closure) for holding accessories, such as torches, knives, multi-tools etc.
As with the pods themselves and the kit therein, the sleeve is well made and versatile (for instance, I used it as the basis of a basic water filter).
Coming in 2 sizes, the 9.5” and the 14” to suit differing GearPods set-ups, the sleeve is the ideal companion to the pods and comes in digital camo or black.
I tested the 14” version, as this fits the Gearpods Wilderness System that I was testing, and this costs £25.79 from Wilderness 1-2-1.
Top quality kit, the GearPods Wilderness System and Sleeve have been with me for a couple of adventures over the bad weather this winter and no doubt will be with me for many more. The modular system is versatile and robust, the contents well selected and there is room for adding a few personally selected extras (so far I have added 6 extra fuel blocks, some rubber inner tube, a wire saw, a small multi-tool and some personal medication – without yet using the sleeve pocket).
The survival priorities are all addressed; the whole kit is not so big as to be left behind for short/lightweight trips, nor too small as to be of little practical use. I like it!
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