Being outdoors is awesome. Nature is purely amazing, and it never gets old. Except when Mother Nature is pissed, like with a hurricane, earthquakes, huge fires, or something like that. Other than that, it’s always incredible and awe-inspiring. Hopefully, one good thing to have come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, is that people were able to get out into nature a bit more, avoid people, avoid cities, and take in some fresh air. And to enjoy nature, we need good gear. Out of any gear, certain gear always rises to the two as essential, and VSSL has that figured out.

I have been watching and following VSSL for a couple of years now. For whatever reason, I just haven’t bought any of it yet. From the very first time I came across them and checked them out, I was impressed by the overall idea and concept: essential gear in the tiniest, most efficient package. The modular nature and concept of a “vessel” — hence, “VSSL” — is amazing.


Inspiration Based on Need

VSSL was founded on practical needs. The founder, Todd Weimar, learned as a kid to travel light while being outdoors because kids are small and simply can’t carry a lot. He became proficient in learning to carry as much essential stuff as possible, in the smallest package possible. Well done, young Todd.

Inspired by those childhood experiences, and wanting to help others be more prepared for the outdoors, the seed was planted. The idea of VSSL came to him one day while holding a Maglite flashlight. Seeing the tubes of VSSL and comparing it to a Maglite handle, the connection is obvious. And it’s such a great idea. Creating a modular system of small, curated, essential, and easily carried gear into an air- and water-tight portable tube, brought it all together.

As explained on the VSSL website, “VSSL has found the right mix of quality, functional gear that you’d want on you anytime that you head out into the wild. The best part is how that curated set of outdoor gear is perfectly organized into a single, durable, compact unit known as VSSL.” For people who like gear and geek out at cool little things, there is a lot here to geek out about.

VSSL camp supplies
Camp Supplies with included gear samples. (VSSL)


Camp Supplies From VSSL

VSSL offers a few different products, all built around the same concept. The “flagship” product, you could say, is the VSSL Camp Supplies kit. Filled with 70 pieces of essential gear, the VSSL Camp Supplies keeps critical gear and supplies handy. These items all come inside small, individual aluminum tins, that all stack neatly inside the VSSL tube.

The VSSL team sent me the Camp Supplies VSSL to check out and evaluate, and I was immediately impressed. As soon as I took it out of the package, I liked what I was seeing and handling for the first time.

The VSSL tube is manufactured from military-grade aluminum and has a nice, anodized aluminum finish, or can be finished in various colors. At least, I think it is anodized. It certainly looks and feels like it, and it feels sturdy, strong, and of high quality. It’s quite impressive.

The VSSL tube has caps that screw off at the top and the bottom. The top cap is an oil-filled compass. Obviously essential, and obviously convenient in this case, attached to another piece of gear. The bottom cap is a 4-mode LED flashlight, that has a red light and flashing light mode options, as well. The way the on/off mechanism works for the flashlight, it allows for Morse Code signaling, something critical in an emergency. Again, also essential, and also extremely convenient. The threads and connection between these two items that also have the double duty of keeping the VSSL closed, is nice and tight. The manufacturing quality is also apparent here, as well.

VSSL camp supplies
Camp Supplies comes with over 70 pieces of curated, essential outdoor gear. (VSSL)


VSSL Options and Supplies

I like the idea of the VSSL gear so much, after they sent me the Camp Supplies, I went online and ordered another one, as well. Hard to resist, actually. In addition to the Camp Supplies VSSL that comes packaged with those certain items, they have the great option to build and customize your own VSSL. So I did.

For the most part, I chose items that did not come in the Camp Supplies so I could have more options and different supplies. They allow one to choose from three sizes of tubes, and I chose the largest, which is the same as the other. There is an option to choose from simple caps to close the tubes, or the compass and LED flashlight options. For the compass, they also offer the option of upgrading to a SUNNTO mechanical compass, which is a nice offering.

In addition to the great concept and products themselves that VSSL offers, the ability to create and customize your own unique VSSL, is one of my favorite features of the whole thing. Every user gets to make their own, or own more than one that is not redundant, which is out-freaking-standing.

The supplies that are curated and included with the Camp Supplies VSSL, are all chosen to ensure “the basics” in any outdoor situation. Whether for use on the trail or for an emergency, a lot is packed into a little space. Things like mini fishing or first aid kits, fire starters and waterproof matches, a whistle, and mirror for emergency signaling, a wire saw (which can even saw through wood and bone), and so on. It is a solid baseline of critical and important things to have. There are over three dozen supply tins available for the VSSL tubes.

They have well-thought adult beverage and coffee product options, in addition to the others. Be sure to check those out if that is your thing, even while outdoors and playing in the wild.


VSSL Considerations

At this point, it’s clear that I am a fan of what VSSL has done. The size and weight of these make them just very convenient, and worth having. If they were to offer an even bigger VSSL option that can hold more or bigger items, that could also be cool.

It also doesn’t have to be for camping or outdoors, either. You could just as easily put this in your car, your bike, or in a backpack to take to work or school. The options are there, to where even if you don’t need a fishing hook, or a wire saw to cut through your own arm if you are trapped in the rocks, first aid and other items are just too freaking easy with the VSSL.

In all candor and objectivity, I really don’t have anything negative to say about the VSSL. To continue that objectivity, it’s also worth pointing out what the VSSL is, and what it is not.

Even though I said at the beginning that nature is awesome, and the outdoors are amazing, apart from some crazy natural disasters, allow me to amend that statement slightly. Or amend it quite a bit, actually. I live in South Florida, and here, half of the outdoor options really freaking suck. Like, things that will actually kill you, nasty mosquito- and snake- and alligator-infested swamp water, kind of suck. If you go east, the ocean is awesome (well, a few things will try to kill you). If you want to camp and do the outdoors to the west, the Everglades and the swamps are just not quite as fun as hiking in Utah or Colorado. However, it is what we have.

VSSL supplies
VSSL Camp Supplies, custom VSSL, and supplies. (Courtes of author)

Always Plan to the Mission

Most things are “mission dependent.” Outdoor adventures are just the same. I would not recommend using a VSSL as your primary, go-to source for many of these things. You should have more of these critical items, or at least a bigger option, and quantity, for many of these things. For example, in the humid, wet, swampy South Florida outdoors, I would never leave for any length of time — especially overnight — with only a few matches. My first aid kit would also never consist of only a few band-aids or alcohol wipes, as well. To be clear: especially, the first aid kit.

This is all to say that the VSSL is a great option as a backup or emergency item. One should always take care to ensure that this backup would remain with you, and be a viable backup, should something happen to your primary gear. This would also not be my primary flashlight, for example, so how would I ensure that I keep it safe and available? And while Todd and the VSSL team envision a way to keep super cool, small kits of vital gear, I have become conditioned to think just a little bit bigger. Or for the worst-case scenarios. VSSL still has a place in that for me, as well.


VSSL Is Recommended Gear

For day hikes, however, this is amazing. For maybe a one-night overnighter, in a relatively safe or easy environment, then yes. Something light, compact, and portable, and to still have on hand. Again, mission dependent. Know your terrain, and your environment. Always plan accordingly and conduct through planning and inventories.

Would I use this in Florida? Absolutely — as my backup items that I would never use, except in an emergency or as a last resort. This ensures they are always available should an emergency arise.

This is a great, handy, and useful gift for anyone that loves the outdoors. It’s also a very nice gift. Keep this on your Christmas and Holiday list for those that love getting the heck out of the city.

I now have two of them, in fact, with different items. I am already scheming… Time to figure out other things I can put into the VSSL for my outdoor adventures.