Deserted Island Go Bag

August 25, 2017

  • by
  • Jessica Tegerstrand
  • Emily Applekamp

Who here hasn’t always wanted a Go Bag? While the tactical or doomsday versions sound pretty tough, we were thinking more of the Active Junky adventure version—a bag that you can grab and go for a specific trip. Yes, we could just call this a packing list, but that isn’t as fun.


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Channeling our inner Tom Hanks, we spent some time quasi-stranded on a quasi-deserted island 36 miles off the coast of Belize. But instead of only having a volleyball to converse with, we gathered a fun group of friends. And instead of random packages, we selected the ultimate stash of gear to maximize the fun throughout our island escapades.

Here are our favorite selections for a Deserted Island Go Bag, and don’t forget to sign up for Active Junky for exclusive deals and cashback on your gear purchases.

Patagonia Nanogrip Triangle Bikini


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Let’s face it—on a tropical island, 90% of the time you’re going to be wearing a swimsuit. The call of the insanely blue water is unending, and only amateurs say “hold on, I need to get changed into my suit!” For the ladies, we loved the Patagonia Nanogrip Triangle Bikini for not only its simplistic and stylish design, but also the slip-resistant blended polyester/PU nanofiber lining that kept it in place. Patananogriptriangle Patagonia Nanogrip Triangle Bikini $62.79 - $65.55 One might think a sticky swimsuit sounds awfully uncomfortable, but the material is soft against the skin, and when it gets wet, everything stays put. No wardrobe malfunctions while free diving for conch or splashing around in the surf. The top is best for A-B cups (ladies with a bit more on top should check out the standard Nanogrip top), and the criss-cross strap design allows for a secure fit. Pair the bikini top with the bottoms that have ties at the side for fit adjustment, and cute ruching down the center back.

Tester Comments: “I loved having a suit that I knew I never had to worry about anything slipping out of place. I took this thing through the paces with snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, hammock napping, and coconut bocce ball, and the suit stuck with me the entire time. The sizing on this Patagonia swimsuit runs a bit small, so consider ordering up on the bottoms.”

Benchmade Jungle Machete


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Your best bet for drinkable water on a tropical island is up in the trees. Our pick for a hydration system on this adventure just happens to be a rather large machete from Benchmade’s Jungle Family. The edge retention was great; even after piles and piles of coconuts, there were no dull spots, bending, or chipping. Benchmadejungle Benchmade Jungle Machete Its bright orange handle had a grip that remained solid even with sunscreen, the sea, or coconut water mucking up the works. The Bowie, Clip-point blade is versatile as it has a flat cutting surface, but both it and the Bolo worked their way through a coconut or into a conch shell with ease. The leather carrying case was handy to loop onto your belt. If you are roaming around your island in a bikini, there isn’t much to loop it to, so for those smaller jobs, testers also took along a favorite everyday carry.

Tester Comments: “Benchmade’s Jungle Family of knives made quick work of the coconuts’ tough exterior. Just add a straw and maybe a bit of rum, and you have the quintessential island beverage. If it was only this easy to get the green ones down from the trees, we would be set.”

Grand Trunk Parachute Hammock


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Deserted island + hammock = heaven. There isn’t anything much better than relaxing in a hammock as it sways in the ocean breeze. We took a couple of Grand Trunk Parachute Hammocks and strung them up between the palm trees outside of our hut. The notched straps and attached carabineers make the hammocks a breeze to set-up. Grandtrunkhammock Grand Trunk Double Parachute Hammock $61.60 - $67.20  The hammock stuffs small into the attached or included pouch to facilitate easy transporting. Spread the fabric out fully for a two-person or cocoon hammock, or double up for a classic experience. We liked the vibrant colors and fun patterns of the Grand Trunk offerings. We also brought a Grand Trunk Parasheet Beach Blanket and fell in love with the rather simple yet ingenious design that grabs and anchors to the sand. Come what may, the Parasheet held onto the shore while we explored the shallows of the ocean and depths of the palm groves.

Tester Comments: “There wasn’t a day on the island where I didn’t take a mid-morning, afternoon, or evening nap in one of the hammocks. I can’t think of a more relaxing and indulgent experience. The Grand Trunk Hammocks were an excellent complement to our island adventure.”

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 90L


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel line is the ideal companion for the added stress that active travel puts on your luggage. The water-resistant fabric has a laminate finish that we liked for this trip; the sand didn’t cling and the water rolled right off. When it comes to luggage, we’re a sucker for a classic duffel bag. Patagoniaduffel Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 90L $135.59 - $141.55 The large open compartment gives a lot of flexibility in what and how you pack. The 90L is pretty big; it packed up this entire Go Bag gear list, plus many extras, like a larger set of snorkeling fins and the half ton of hot sauce that had to make the return trip (seriously, Marie Sharp’s is amazing, find it!). The Patagonia duffel has a couple mesh pockets inside and one outside for those small items that you need to find in a jiff. The multitude of handles made this bag easy to maneuver, and it comes with optional backpack straps that are quick to connect when you need to traverse hands free. The shape and less-rigid structure made it clutch for the many games of tetris necessary during transport, and it was the perfect choice to ride cinched onto the car rack when we ran out of room. It didn’t scratch up the roof and easily managed any bursts of moisture.

Tester Comments: “On the boat ride to our island, the skies darkened and then let loose. Everything inside our Patagonia duffels were bone dry after our three-hour ride through rain and sea spray. And when we finally arrived home, these looked as good as new, even after being thrown around planes, cars, boats, and countless piles of sand and dirt.”

Teva Azure Flip


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Walking the beach, toes in the sand, is an integral part of island living. But it’s nice to have some added protection while traversing the rocky paths or weathered decks. Especially, if it’s something easy to kick off and carry once you get to the shoreline. Our pick for footwear this trip is the classic flip-flop from Teva’s Azure collection. Tevaazure Teva Azure Flip $38.21 - $38.40 These sandals can stand up to the ocean waves, and they have a water resistant upper webbing that dries quickly. Teva molded the midsole to give your feet some arch support and comfortable cushion, and then finished them off with a durable rubber sole. The Azures bring the comfort and grit of Teva, with a more relaxed and classic styling, and are ready to face the variable weather island life may bring.

Tester Comments: “Flip-flops always make me feel like I’m on vacation. These Tevas were my constant companion throughout my deserted island week. They saved my feet from the hot sand, rough rocks, and occasional sea anemone. Comfortable on my feet and capable of taking a beating from the wind, water, and sun.”

Yeti Hopper Two 20


Photo: Dan Rhodes

An important part of relaxing on your very own deserted beach is sipping a cold beer or rum cocktail. We chose the Yeti Hopper Two 20 because it has Yeti’s famous cold-holding power in a portable package that is comfortable to pack around the shallows searching out your next meal. Yetihoppertwo Yeti Hopper Two 20 $264.00 - $288.00 It’s leak-proof, so it won’t be invaded by seawater or leak out any precious melted ice; it can serve as a floatation device in a pinch. The Hopper Two 20 is large enough to carry the beer necessary for a day of fishing and tote back your catches. Plus, it was just the right carry-on size for the flight. However, if you are covered in muscles or are in need of more beverages, take a look at the 30 or 40. The Two series has some new handles on the top that make it easier to fully zip open and close or maneuver around.

Tester Comments: “We also brought a larger Yeti Tundra 105 full of ice for our week on the island. The Tundra and the Hopper were a flawless combo. Each morning we filled the Hopper with a dozen or so pounds of ice, and it kept our drinks cold and our fish fresh throughout all our adventuring in and around the atoll. Ice for an entire week on an isolated island is pretty freaking amazing. Carabiner a bottle opener to the top, and you are ready for Belize.”

Sage X Rod


Photo: Dan Rhodes

There is a unique feeling of satisfaction that comes from living off the land, or in this case the ocean. The Sage X Rod with the Sage 6200 Series Reel is our pick for exploring the atolls off the coast of Belize. This Sage rod setup lets you chase the grand slam, catch reef fish for dinner, and experiment with the huge variety of game and eating fish wandering the atolls: bonefish, tarpon, and permit are the grand slam of saltwater fly fishing. Sagex Sage X $805.50 - $814.45 Wind, waves, and rocky conditions are no match for the fast action and power of the X Rod. Due to the lightweight construction, you can cast into the wind all day without fatigue, and it seems to adapt as conditions change. It has a nice balance of strength and finesse and gives you a broad range of casting options. The X is light and responsive enough when you see a bonefish up close, but has plenty of backbone when you catch sight of a permit tailing at 70 feet. The conditions of saltwater and sand are a corrosive mix, but the Sage reel drag is completely sealed so you don’t have to worry about babysitting your equipment. The Sage 6280 has clean and classic lines with a sporty and lightweight feel; a silky yet robust drag that flows easily. We paired it with the RIO General Purpose Tropical line, and it kept up with everything we threw at it, or threw it at.

Tester Comments: “While we were sure to over-pack in the rum department, we decided to under-pack in the food department. Coconuts and conch were fun to gather, but it was the fresh-off-the-line, ocean caught snapper and barracuda that stole the show. The Sage set-up was the perfect tool and toy. The rod is just as fun to cast at 75’ as it is at 40’.”

Fugoo Go Bluetooth Speaker


Photo: Dan Rhodes

While soaking up the sounds of lapping waves or wind rustling the palm fronds is pretty damn nice, sometimes you want some beats to elevate that sunset cocktail party. The Fugoo GO is a waterproof, snow/dust/mud proof, and shockproof Bluetooth speaker, and boasts an impressive 10 hours of playback on a full charge. Fugoogo Fugoo Go Bluetooth Speaker $69.30 - $71.40 Stand it on its side for directional sound, or lay it on its back for a 360-degree dance party. We brought along two and were able to pair them in both stereo or double sound playback. A 100’ Bluetooth range let us wander down the beach to snap a shot of the sunset without playback interruption. It takes about 5.5 hours to recharge via micro USB, so as long as you remember to plug it in at the end of the evening, you are set for tunes all day long. A built-in mounting cord gives plenty of options for hanging or strapping, and a mounting socket on the bottom allows you to attach several other mounting accessories that Fugoo offers. And this Bluetooth speaker is solid: even if you drop the Fugoo GO into the ocean, it keeps up the beat.

Tester Comments: “The integrated bungee mounting cord is such a nice detail on this speaker—it allows you to hang it on a hook, strap it around a small tree, or even attach it to the birthday boy for an on-the-go dance party!”

Columbia PFG Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Sometimes sunscreen just doesn’t cut it. For long days on the water, whether you’re kayaking around the island or prowling the breaks for fish, your best bet is to cover up. We chose an assortment of items from Columbia’s PFG (Performance Fishing Gear) line to keep the sunburn at bay. Columbiapfgtamiami Columbia PFG Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt $41.40 - $43.20 Our female anglers sported the Columbia Tamiami II button-up shirt, which is lightweight with a large mesh vent in the back, and has nice design details such as snaps to keep your sleeves cuffed and an assortment of loops to hook items to. Colombia’s Omni-Shade UPF 40 gives plenty of sun protection, and antimicrobial treatment keeps the funk from lingering. The Solar Fade Shorts brought a much-appreciated touch of style to the outfit, along with UPF 30 protection. Our male anglers geared up in the Zero Rules Long Sleeve Shirt, which not only provided UPF 30 coverage, but also Columbia’s Omni-Freeze Zero sweat-activated cooling fabric, and antimicrobial treatment. The Grander Marlin II Offshore Short were comfortable and stretchy, with a zip pocket for securing items, stain and rain resistant, and UPF 50 protection. We also took along a couple of the Omni-Freeze Zero neck gaiters and bandanas, which are amazing due to their UPF 50 sweat-activated cooling material that kept us cool and shielded us from those tropical rays.

Tester Comments: “Throwing on any of the Columbia PFG items was way easier and faster than putting on yet another layer of sunscreen… plus probably a lot more effective as I have been known to take a dip between casts.”

Smith Audible ChromaPop


Photo: Dan Rhodes

Take it from a Californian, when you travel to areas where the sunshine is cranked up to 11 all day, don’t forget a good pair of sunnies. And our deserted island was certainly bright! For this trip, fishing was a prime component of eating, so we selected Smith’s Audible aviators with their ChromaPop lenses. Smithaudible Smith Audible ChromaPop $207.68 - $253.89 Smith’s ChromaPop technology adds clarity and greater definition in visible colors, making spotting fish and movement underwater a whole lot easier. Polarization helps cut the glare off the water and heightens your UV protection. The classic styling of the aviators gave these a relaxed feel, and the comfortable and snug design made them easy to forget about.

Tester Comments: “These Smiths were the leg up I needed to spot all the fishies swimming in the deep. They eliminated the glare and helped differentiate colors on even the most camouflaged sea dwellers. And an added bonus, the ChromaPop really made the blues in the ocean and the pinks in the sunset come alive. Without them the island was beautiful, but with them everything was rich and layered with color. I didn’t want to take them off and still haven’t!”

Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit


Photo: Dan Rhodes

When you are completely off the grid, you might think that your energy needs are minimal. However, how are you going to power the devices that record your memories, manage your playlists, and light up beachside dance parties? We selected Goal Zero’s big daddy Sherpa 100 to keep us illuminated, rocking out, and charged up to capture memorable moments. Goalzerosherpa Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit $491.36 - $522.50 This solar charger system kept devices large and small buzzing throughout our week in the middle of the ocean. The AC inverter was perfect for the cameras, and the USBs got the most constant usage; good thing there are two! The 12V port and the laptop port were used the least, but both worked well. With the help of some Goal Zero Micro Flash Lanterns, rechargeable via the USB port, and a few other lighting options, our hut was functional and quite brilliant any time of day. With the Sherpa solar charger, you don’t need to leave the drone behind, and why would you want to when the views are so spectacular.

Tester Comments: “When the sun was up, the Sherpa was charging, and when the sun went down, it had no problem keeping our hut lit up for any nighttime activity we desired. Though we made up about a third of the limited residents on the island, our hut was still the talk of the tiny, tiny town.”

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