Below is my *interview with American Outdoor Expert James Menta...
Today I have the pleasure of introducing Warrick Kernes. I have been following his site for a while now and I find it to be just a well of inspiration when it comes to adventure gear/outdoor electronics. You will find great information in this interview together with tips from a seasoned explorer that faced some of the harshest environments and different survival situations. I, for one, had a lot to learn from what he shared and I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to take his interview.
Lets get into it, and do not forget to use the comments section below if you want to say “hi” or you have any questions for Warrick or me. ENJOY !
1. Please introduce us to yourself and your company.
Warrick Kernes, Founder and MD of Action Gear – South Africa’s specialists in high tech sporting gear. www.actiongear.co.za.
2. How did your passion for gear and adventure start?
I’ve always been an outdoors person looking out for the next adventure. Growing up in Africa meant many family safaris while growing up as we explored our own country South Africa as well as neighboring countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana and more. This fast became a passion and now my wife and I travel as much as we can into the outdoor to go camping, on safari and to take on ultra distance adventure races.
This kind of lifestyle can be made so much more comfortable and enjoyable if you’re willing to fully embrace new technology. Some true outdoors-men are quick to judge when I pull out my bag of gadgets around the campfire but as soon as they see everything that I can achieve through these incredible (and often fun!) outdoor electronics this fast becomes the focus on conversation with some very envious onlookers.
3. What is your preferred traveling gear?
When driving out to your destination its always really fun to have some walkie talkie wireless radios in each of the cars to swap banter and share in the excitement of the upcoming adventure. Once out on the trail we’ll always be sure to pack all the standard necessary hiking gear but the extra gadgets which have become a must have for us include a solar charger which you can strap to the outside of your pack during the day to recharge in the sun and then be used to charge up all your electronics at night and to power your camping lights.
As the price of GPS’s have come down and the functionality has gone up it is almost an absolute must have on any hike. You’ll have a wide selection of devices to choose from but from loads of testing and comparing we have settled on the Suunto Ambit 2 which conveniently cramps all the desired features into a light weight wrist worn GPS. This includes all the bells and whistles that any outdoor enthusiast could dream of – it’ll even give you a few hours warning on incoming storms.
A few years ago we used to carry some bulky but really cool tech like bird call identifiers, landscape route planners, weather stations, star gazers, scorpion lights, thermal imaging goggles and more but all of this and more can now be found on the app store so nowadays our most used device is just one lightweight tablet! This definitely saves us a ton of extra space and weight!
4. What is the most appreciated camping gear item from the perspective of your clients?
While we can talk for days about all the best technologies to improve your outdoor experience we will certainly agree with every other camper that the most appreciated gear to make your trip enjoyable is what you sleep on at night. So long as you’re getting a comfortable sleep then you’re going to love your adventure. It only takes one night to find out who didn’t think this one through!
5. If you were in a survival situation what is the one item that you wish you had close?
Beyond water and food your main priority is to find someone to help get you out of there. The Sirenco Emergency Flare is, in our opinion, the most crucial device you need to carry. Unlike a regular flare this can be used over and over and recharged through your solar charger so that you can attach it to your back pack and have it flashing for hours at a time. You have a wide selection of light options from using it as a simple torch to it sequencing the SOS signal continuously. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it but they are cheap and may just save your life so sick one in the bottom of your bag and forget about it.
6. What habitat you find to be the most dangerous and what is the “star” gear item that you recommend for it?
Africa’s wilderness territories are by far the most likely place that you won’t make it out of alive if you are careless. Beyond the extreme temperatures and landscapes you need to keep your wits about you at all times as you never know what animal is behind the next bush. We have done several adventure races and journeys through areas like this and there is absolutely no gear or gadget available which can substitute your 6 senses. As you make your way through the bush or across the savanna your senses are the only things that will warn you of impending danger; from the warning call of a shrike to the musky smell of an old buffalo, you need to put your gadgets away and just trust your senses.
7. Give us 5 tips on how to make the most of a hiking experience.
- Clean your pots properly. The fastest way to ruin your hiking trip is to give yourself and your friends an upset stomach which is so easily done if you don’t clean your pots, plates and cutlery properly with hot water and cleaning liquid. (We’ve learnt this one the hard way!)
- Take a camera which can be easily reached without needing to take off your backpack. Often incredible views come out of no where which you may feel the desire to photograph but this is even more likely to happen with a beautiful flower or a small animal. You need to keep a camera on hand at all times. A camera like a GoPro or Drift can be easily attached to the front straps of your pack so that its a quick point and shoot photo without needing to stop, unpack your pack and stop the entire groups momentum.
- Spend time planning your route. We’ve been on hikes where you can see the top of the mountain from the trail head and just head off in that direction without taking ten minutes to assess the map and plan your route. Every time we do this we think we know what we’re doing and that we’ll be able to find the best route on the go but every time we do this, we are wrong. Maps are great things and you can get yourself into serious trouble if you end up getting yourself into a situation where you need to scale a rock face or cross a gorge which could have been easily avoided if you had checked the correct route before hand. With this said, it does often make for the best stories so I may not take my own advice when we’re at the next trail head!
- Pack your bag correctly. Are you doing a flat, long distance hike or are you doing a lot of climbing? Did you know that you need to pack your rucksack differently for each according to the weight distribution? Lay out all your gear beforehand and pick out the things that you may need quick access to like nutrition and an emergency kit – this will need to be at the top regardless. Arrange the rest of your gear from heaviest to lightest kit – if you’re hiking a flatter area then it will be more comfortable to the heavy gear at the bottom of your pack but if you’re doing a like to elevation work then pack your clothes lower down and position the heavy gear three quarters of the way up. This will again give you more comfort and more stability on the hike. As each backpack is differently designed be sure to consult the info pack.
- Divide up carrying and cooking duties. Our hiking friends have come to a terrific win-win agreement around who carries the heavy stuff. In every hike you’ll have some that are stronger than the rest and this often creates big gaps in the group as the strong people head off at their pace leaving everyone else behind. Conflict can often be sparked when they wait for the group to catch up and are then nicely rested to take off again as soon as the laggards catch up desperately wanting a break! The solution – agree that the stronger people take all the heavy gear off the weaker people which works wonders to even out the pace. So where’s the win-win? The agreement needs to involve an exchange of campsite duties so that the weaker people then return the favor by doing all the cooking and cleaning. A fair exchange if you ask me!
8. Tell us a little about your blog and what was the story that made the most impact.
The Action Gear Blog has not had one story in particular which boosted the following but has rather gained traction over time by continuously posting about the newest and most useful outdoor gear and sporting technologies. We spend time product testing and write up detailed reviews and comparisons which provide our readers with great value and keep them coming back again and again.
9. A message to your fans.
We love it when we have our followers share their content for us and especially when they suggest new products to review and test out. This is where most of our excitement comes from and it really helps us to stay ahead of the curve. We have such a great passion for outdoor tech and love it that we can share this with our growing following.
Thank you again Warrick for getting involved and helping the community that is growing here, offering your valuable insight on adventure gear. I am already loving some of the equipments you have on your site and will surely try some out.
* Find the original article on James Menta's blog.