Photos and story by BST Photographer, Brian Threlkeld

Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement.” -Mark Twain

Two miles into my first winter hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, I was exhausted. Sweat soaked everything under my heavy GoreTex pants and jackets, my double plastic boots were already giving me blisters and my two traveling companions were out of sight ahead on the trail. I off-loaded my cumbersome pack, plopped down in the snow ready to admit defeat, and nearly tucked tail and headed back down the mountain. I was only 17 and in way over my head.

Fast forward nearly 20 years later, and my approach to spending time in the back country has changed quite a bit. My pack is way lighter, I carry only what I need to be comfortable, and I ditched the double plastic boots long ago. Over the years I’ve gained valuable experience based on my own mistakes in the backcountry. From broken stoves, charging grizzly bears, running out of food and headlamps dying on overnight hikes, I’ve been faced with many challenges that required a bit of ingenuity, fortitude and luck to overcome.

hiking, white mountains, solar charger, folding solar panel

A large part of my continued growth in backcountry travel and living has come from the companies that understand the importance of solid, reliable gear. While our brains are arguably the number one item of importance on our gear lists, there are other pieces I never leave home without. My basic kit always includes a shelter, a sleeping bag and pad, a stove, clothes, and food. In addition to those basics, I bring a number of things that require batteries—until recently.  With the wave of USB powered headlamps, cell phones, GPS-type devices and even ways to purify water, the ability to charge and recharge devices in the backcountry has become standard for many, including myself as an adventure photographer.

Thanks to companies like Voltaic Systems, and their Arc 10W Solar Charger Kit, I no longer have to worry about my headlamp dying or my camera losing its juice. It’s solidly built, simple, lightweight, and unbelievably reliable. Pair that with the universal V15 battery and I can keep my devices charged no matter how long I’m out, provided I get lucky with sunny days in the fickle northeastern weather.

solar charger, white mountains, folding solar panel, travel, adventure

With the peripheries all set, the basics are just as important to keep simple and reliable. I could talk all day about options for packs and shelters, but when it comes to my stove and my food, I’m all set. JetBoil and Good To-Go are, in my mind, the best combination of delicious simplicity.  No offense to MSR or Primus, but the new Mini-Mo stove is, as JetBoil stoves always are, easy to use, lightweight, and it boils water faster than I can ever boil water at home. I’ve also made my own meals, bought freeze-dried for years, and even tried the no-cook options of eating, but Good To-Go meals are amazing, wholesome, delicious and nutritious. Real ingredients, dehydrated and packaged in Maine, and run by awesome people. As my buddy John Connelly of PaddleQuest 1500 fame says, “It just doesn’t get better than this!”

disconnect, offgrid, gear giveaway, white mountains

Thinking back to that hike in the Whites all those years ago, I’m grateful to still be alive to utilize the knowledge I’ve gained from my times of bad judgment, and thankfully my friends came back to find me and carried my gear up to camp so I could experience my first sunset above tree line. Thanks friends!

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