A few posts back I mentioned a product called ‘Gear Pods’ that was based out of Polson MT. I linked to the company’s webpage and wondered out loud about their product. Gotta be careful what you say out loud on the internet because a couple days later the fella running the company sent me an email thanking me for the linkage and offering me the opportunity to try out his products and review them. Sure! Count me in! (I’m tellin’ ya, folks….this is the one of the very, very, very few perks of writing a blog.)
Before I get started, let’s go over what Gear Pods are. They are a modular, cylindrical container system for storing gear. The ‘modular’ part is the attention grabbing aspect of this product. (In addition to the Gear Pods themselves, the company also produces some specialized equipment to fit inside the Gear Pods…more on that later.) Roaming around their website shows the range of different lengths the Gear Pods come in. Each segment or piece can be capped at either end to make a standalone container, or they can be connected together to form longer containers, or the individual sealed containers can be joined together to keep them in one convenient package.
The segments themselves come in four different lengths…1.5”, 3”, 4.5”, and 6”. The internal diameter of the Gear Pods is 2-3/4″. The individual segments are available in four different lengths. With enough connectors you could probably assemble some sort of Bangalore torpedo of gear but that would be, to put it mildly, a bit impractical. Cool, though. The segments are a semi-transparent smoky color that allows some recognition of what is inside the Gear Pod segment, but the Gear Pods also come with adhesive labels for more detailed identification. The threaded connectors and caps that go on the end of the segments are available in several colors so you could, if you were so inclined, add another method of rapid identification by color-coding each segment.
Normally, I keep a minimalist survival kit with me whenever I’m out fishing or hunting. I keep it one of these pouches. It’s an assortment of odds-n-ends like firestarters, bivvy sack, Leatherman tool, flares, paracord, whistle, etc, etc. My goal was a small and compact package of stuff. The footprint of the pouch is 9.5×6.5×2.25 [139" cu.] If I tuck it all into one of the Gear Pods its footprint is 3.25×6 [49.79" cu.]. (3.25×11 [91.29" cu.] if I add a segment to give me enough length for the hand flare.) In the Gear Pod it tucks nicely into whatever bag I’m carrying. The Rigid nature of the Gear Pod means that things that may be susceptible to crushing or punctures are protected. For example, I’ve a fairly expensive rain jacket that I keep in my bag. Considering all the other crap thats in my bag, the likelihood of it getting torn or punctured by something is fairly high…but if I roll up the rain jacket into a tight little bundle and slide it into the proper size Gear Pod it’s protected, kept clean and dry, and I can throw all sortsa junk in my bag without worry.
The modular aspect of the Gear Pods, though, is their hook..their selling point..what makes them unique. Rather than stuffing everything into one space you can split up your gear and keep it organized and separate from other gear at the expense of overall length of the finished kit.
The Gear Pod segments are made of plastic and threaded at each end. There are three options for what to put on the end of the Gear Pod – you can either screw on an end cap to cap off that end of the tube or you can screw on a connector that allows you to join one segment to another with or without a seal between them. So, if you wanted to join two segments together to split up two different items you could do that, or if the items were too long to fit in one segment you could join two (or more) together with a pass-through connector and increase the useable length of the segment.
I had some questions about Gear Pods and asked the owner about them. The two biggest questions I had were 1) why are Gear Pods the diameter that they are and 2) were there any plans to make them in a different diameter? The owner of the company (and the brains behind it) told me that the Gear Pods are of a diameter that makes them conducive to packing anywhere you would fit a water bottle…most notably bicycle water bottle holders and that sort of thing. That made sense since the market for this product isn’t just limited to gun-toting end-of-the-world-types like myself. If you think about the gamut of outdoor activities…hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, geocaching, etc…one thing they all have in common is the carrying of a water bottle. So, if you have room for a water bottle you have room for one of these Gear Pods.
I asked if there were any plans to bring out a larger diameter version of the Gear Pods…something that could accommodate bigger items. Not in the cards, I was told. Right now they’re wanting to focus on what they’re already producing and expanding that line with additional components and additional features.
Gear Pods are, to oversimplify things, a segment of plastic tube with threaded ends to accommodate three different types of endcaps. You stuff your gear into the segments and join them together as needed to provide length or to organize them by keeping like items together.
- Firesteel (I like the Swedish Firesteel – Army Model, although if you don’t mind the price, this is the most compact and well designed one I’ve ever seen.)
- Bivvy sack (the AMK Emergency Bivvy)
- Leatherman Tool (an older original one, I normally carry the Wave model around when I’m afield)
- Space blanket (the AMK Heatsheets Emergency Blanket)
It was a snug fit, no lie….but there was still enough room for a small Photon-style LED light and an Esbit fuel tab or two. Normally I’d stuff some paracord in there but it occurred to me that it would make more sense to simply wind the paracord around the outside of the Gear Pod. It wouldn’t be a night at the Ritz but after getting stuck on the wrong side of the river when fishing or getting too far from the truck at sunset while hunting it’s pretty much all you’d need to spend the night outside in the summer. However, this is kinda where the attraction of this system comes in handy – if you wanted to, you could take another segment and fill it with, say, just firestarting materials (fuel tabs, tinder, matches, magnesium bar, military fuel gel, etc, etc) and thread it onto the end of this segment, giving you more options. Or, I suppose, you could just join the two sections together with one of their pass-through connectors and make one longer container. Thats a large part of the attraction to this system…the modularity.
In addition to the Gear Pods themselves the company offers products specifically designed to fit within the dimensional envelope of the Gear Pod. One of the more interesting items was their stove. The stove is similar to the ‘Tommy cooker” or “Esbit” style stoves – a small stamped steel device that unfolds to create a platform to hold a canteen cup or similar container over a fuel source. In the case of the Gear Pod, the fuel source is alcohol in a small burner, or if you prefer, a military-style fuel tab or paste. A very clever bit of engineering, the stove comes with a small stamped steel cup for the alcohol burner, a windscreen, and a small cup with lid that fits atop the unit. The whole thing nests together and fits in the 6″ Gear Pod. The cup holds a bit over 8 oz. of liquid so theres at least enough volume there for a solid cup of coffee or tea in the field. I prefer using fuel tabs rather than carrying liquid fuels for small, ‘survival kit’-type stoves, so I’d probably wind up using this with an Esbit tab.
Of course, this sort of system isn’t limited to creating a place to house your survival kits. There’s plenty of other things that this system would be ideal for…repair kits for biking, carrying fishing gear, protecting small electronics, etc, etc.I’d love to see a segment about 18″ long to house a pack rod. Then I could add tackle to a smaller Gear Pod, screw it onto the end of the longer one, and have all my fishing stuff in one place.
After playing around with the Gear Pods for a couple weeks I’ve come to appreciate the handiness of them. I like being able to keep all my small, useful objects in one place rather than have them roaming around the inside of my bag and I very much like the ability to mate a couple of the Gear Pods together to keep like items in a group for quick use or transport. The Gear Pods also came with a handy tubular carry bag for carrying them around. Honestly, I didnt use it much. I found it much easier to slip some paracord around the body of the Gear Pod, form a couple loops, and just clip it to my bag or bicycle cargo rack. My ‘just in case’ kit for when I go fishing or hunting will definitely wind up in one these….makes things much easier to tuck away into my bag when I’m afield and, with a spool of paracord wrapped around it, should prove ideal for that task.
Anything to dislike? Well, I wouldn’t mind seeing some larger diameter Gear Pods to allow for larger items, but I can understand the manufacturer having his hands full at the moment with just the one diameter. Other than that, I didn’t see anything I didn’t like. Construction was good, everything seemed well made, and the fella running the operation was great at responding to my emails. Seems like a great product and I hope they do well with it.