Adventure Essentials With Paraglider Gavin McClurg

What piece of potentially lifesaving gear is "an absolute must" for this high-flying adventurer?
Paraglider Gavin McClurg Over the Canadian Rockies
Gavin McClurg over the Canadian Rockies © Gavin McClurg
By Kitt Doucette

In this new column called "Adventure Essentials" we’ll be reaching out to experienced and inspiring adventure athletes to learn about what they rely on to get the most out of their projects and expeditions. First up is paraglider and Red Bull X-Alps competitor Gavin McClurg.

The adventure: Explore without getting lost or stranded

The essential: The inReach Explorer two-way satellite tracking device

McClurg’s airborne adventures often take him deep into the wilderness — really deep. He recently completed a 400-mile journey across the remote Northern Rockies of Canada using only his preferred method of travel: a paraglider wing. While his paraglider offers unparalleled views and access to wilderness areas, it can also leave him at the whim of quickly changing winds and thermals, which sometimes deposit him or his fellow pilots a long way from anywhere. Especially when they’re flying above extremely inaccessible terrain. For McClurg, the inReach Explorer two-way satellite tracking device is an Adventure Essential.

“I don’t go anywhere without that thing,” McClurg says. “Not only does it give everybody at home a way to track me, but if I ever get into trouble I can text anybody with a cell phone number or email anywhere in the world.”

Listen to one of McClurg's nail-biting stories of survival below:

What it does

The device functions off of satellite signals so it doesn’t need cell service or Wi-Fi to transmit a text or location signal. Every text from inReach transmits the exact longitude and latitude from which you’re sending it. “So I can tell my buddy that I need help and they’ll know exactly where I am.”

Why it's essential

The inReach can also save you a lot of money if you do get lost. During a paragliding event in Idaho in 2012 “we lost a guy,” McClurg explains. “He didn’t have an inReach or SPOT satellite tracker so there was no way we could locate him electronically.

“We ended up finding him eventually, after spending over $100,000 on search and rescue using Blackhawk helicopters and huge search parties. He was banged up but OK. Since then, the three things I always fly with are my sleeping bag, a bivy tent and my inReach.”

[Ed. note: McClurg recently started receiving the inReach product from the manufacturer, but he had already been purchasing it for years.]

Next we’ll feature mountaineer Pat Goodman; check back on Wednesday, Sept. 30, for his Adventure Essential.

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