What’s The Junk In A Paddler’s Trunk?

If you believe what you see on social media you probably already know that vans are ubiquitous with freedom. Maybe, maybe not, but what they do represent well is the transitory stages in modern life. I don’t own a van. Chances are, I never will. For almost seven years I lived out of a 70-liter backpack. Then everything I owned would fit in a pickup truck. Turns out, with ingenuity and a minimalist’s compromise on comfort, one can be satisfied with the #vanlife in a hatchback. 

First Aid Is A Thing 

As a certified wilderness first responder and ski patroller, I accept the responsibility of pulling over at any time to assist in an emergency situation. I can grab numerous parts of this kit to stuff in my SealLine drybag and cover the majority of situations one can reasonably expect. Other essentials packed away in my car include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, headlamp and spare batteries. I assembled my own kit after years of trial and error, but companies such as Adventure Medical Kits offer packs for most conceivable adventure activities, including road trips. What can’t be stuffed in your trunk however is good first aid training and years of experience.

Down-Dry Hugs

Temperature fluctuations catch even the best of outdoor enthusiasts off-guard. Depending on your geographic location, hypothermia is a legitimate concern. My go-to synthetic down stuffy puffy is the Sierra Designs Tuolumne. I have been testing this jacket all winter and it’s due to hit shelves this fall for under $100. Along with this, I pack the Eddie Bauer Men’s Cloud Cap Flex rain jacket. Both of these scrunch up small beside my first aid kit. I’m prepared for any unexpected weather changes—two quality jackets for less than $250. What’s not to love?


Finding a $29 Double Black Diamond down duvet at Costco cemented its inclusion in my four-wheeled kit. It is also perfect to stuff inside your kayak—as well as for picnic cover, a shivering friend or waiting for help in the wintertime. I have used it as a sleeping pad along with the First Ascent Flying Squirrel 40. This sleeping bag’s unique design is zipper less and originally intended as a bag liner for chillier evenings. The Squirrel 40 is perfect for emergency situations. The 850-fill StormDown and tough ripstop nylon helped earn this sleeping bag the Active Junkie 2016 Badass Gear Award. 

Caffeine Fix

My morning rituals are pretty much the same no matter where I go. And I love coffee. The AeroPress Coffee Maker and GSI Javamill coffee grinder live year-round in my Mazda. I also have a JetBoil Flash, which holds 1.1 liters of water and boasts a boil time of roughly three minutes. If you use your kayak or tires as a windbreaker, chances are your coffee water will be ready even faster. I keep a gallon jug of fresh water to fill hydration packs or Nalgenes.

Nutritional Pick-Me-Ups

Have you strolled around the dehydrated food block in your local adventure gear shop lately? With brands like MaryJaneFarm, Harmony House, Good To-Go and of course Backpackers Pantry there are a myriad of options for your gluten free, vegan, organically-sourced, lactose-free diet. Along with an assortment of granola bars well past their expiry dates, I also carry a few Clif bars and bags of AlpineAire Foods with me. AlpineAire’s unique meal and snack options have quickly become a favorite staple for day or weekend trips. Their Chicken Gumbo, Mountain Chilli and Himalayan Lentils & Rice meals are very reasonably priced and remarkably delicious. As with all pre-packaged, dehydrated foods, remove the moisture pack and just add water. These are easy to store, access, eat and share on tailgates anywhere. 


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