Planning a trip to Hawaii ?

Check out Cormac O’Brien’s  very detailed and awesome Hawaii Travel Gear packing list, pretty handy for photographers, adventurers, geeks, paragliders, party animals and every traveler!

Cormac is an intrepid traveler who loves seeing the world from the air as a paraglider pilot, through lenses as a photography enthusiast, a scuba diving mask or whatever modality he can get away with. The perfect Modern Day Nomad with a paramedic training…

Thanks for the XShot love Cormac! What would you add to the list?

Guest post by Cormac O’Brien @cormacpara

” I’m taking a little trip out to Kauai and Maui to see some friends get hitched and definitely find some adventures!  I put together a post talking about some of my essential items. I’m planning on doing some paragliding, snorkeling and diving and am going to be taking loads of photos.  I’ll be getting to trying out a few new toys as well.  Here are some of the things that I make sure to have with me!  My scale for “must have” items means that if you see the word “essential” next to the item I would immediately get It replaced. Please contact me if you would like to connect!


Photo @cormacpara

Travel Gear :


– I have a few bags in my quiver ranging in size 75 liters to fanny packs depending on the length/luxury/duration. Here is what I’m bringing along

·       Camelbak snowboarding bag (now redesigned, was $69) – Great carry on for my most precious electronics and laptop with some extra webbing to carry additional gear.

·       Arcteryx Bora 65L Pack – ($199) Great pack for backpacking and airline trips! I’ve even snuck it on as a carry on at times : )

·       Marmot Kompressor Plus Day Pack ($59) essential  – Other companies may say their backpacks compactable but this day pack condenses into its own pocket and holds an impressive amount of stuff!

·       Ortlieb Cor 13 Waterproof backpack ($160) – German engineered, super waterproof.  Way bulkier than the marmot but ready to literally crawl through the mud or waterfalls with zero fear of wet gear.

·       Ebags Clothing organizers ($30) – essential   These mesh zippered bags are amazing.  You never have to dig through luggage or your backpacking bag again.  Saves you volumes of time packing and unpacking as well. They go everywhere with me.

·       Heavy Duty Large Duffel Bag – ($25)  Traveling with paragliding equipment can be tricky.  I recently switched to a reversible harness that fits the wing inside to reduce size and weight.  It works as a functional backpack with all your flying gear inside, but it is worth it to put it inside a larger container to keep that fabric safe and help to reduce the possibility of tinkering with your aircraft!


·      Geigerrig Hydration Engine ($43) essential  – I’ve thrown away all my other camelback style water bags after I came across Geigerrig a few years ago.  Practically indestructible, reversible, quick filling, pressurized and even can have an in-line filter!  Some items I would replace immediately if lost, this is one of them.

First Aid/Safety:

Being trained as a paramedic I tend to go a little “ricky rescue” in this department and I truly believe this is an area you should never skimp if you are off the grid and/or in countries with antiquated medical systems.  Having training is nice, but a few key items may really make a difference in austere environments.

I won’t list everything but a solid smattering of Assorted band aids, Gauze, antibiotic ointment, painkillers, blister stuff, Bug spray, Sunscreen

If you are able to get more advanced stuff, ie. Sutures, staplers etc. you may not know how to use them but having sterile equipment in the right hands could really help you or someone out.  I do bring prescriptions for broad spectrum anti-biotics (Cipro and Cephlex) in case I get hit with any number of stomach bugs or ocean-borne lacerations.  The best part is that you can donate your kit if in an impoverished country and have more room for souvenirs!

Travel Insurance:

An SOS device is great if you want out of there but who is going to pay for it?!  I personally use World Nomads because they cover extreme sports (woohoo!) and will extricate you home if it comes down to it.  I sadly had to utilize them after a bag with some expensive toys was stolen on a bus in Colombia but they came through and vouch for their service.  I do recommend if you are traveling with super expensive items you note that they do have a max reimbursement and maybe using additional insurance (IE Renters insurance) may be a good idea.  The cost varies greatly depending how long you are gone and where you are going. ($89-199)


Here is where things vary greatly.  This is the most fun and most challenging part.  I believe in redundancy but isn’t as important if you are traveling with people or to places where things can be replaced if lost or broken.  Listed here are items that usually make it into my bag.

·      Gopro Hero4 Black ($499) essential and Hero 4 Session ($399) – Im a huge believer in Gopro and have drank the kool aid since day It is hard to beat the image quality, portability and size.  I’m testing out the new HERO 4 Session but so far for the price point and functionality I’m not super impressed.

·      Sony A7r – I’ve used point and shoots, Fuji Mirrorless gear but love the incredible images married with super compact size that the Sony can offer.  Right now I’m using their 16-35 F4 and their 55mm F1.8 lenses.  Wish List:  Sony A7rii and Sony RX100IV
·       Gorilla Pod focus by Joby ($78)– The joints are metal and love the compactness of this thing.  If you want a tripod on the go this is a creative option.  The metal links will last, DO NOT get the one with the plastic links as they do not last.  Not the most ideal tripod for serious photography but is great if you are packing light and it is highly adaptable!

xshot cormac gear·      XShot Selfie Sticks/Accessories:  Xshot 2.0 for Gopro ($29) essential XShot Sports ($49 – Coming real soon!) I’ve been using Xshot since 2008.  There is no question that these are the most compact, high quality and longest lasting gear gopro and camera accessories I’ve ever used.  They vary in length, weight and functionality and can fit any trip or need.  The selfie stick craze is here to stay and I feel there is absolutely a time and place to get epic shots, but maybe not in a crowd at the mall.  This has become essential gear for multi-faceted adventures.

·      Knog Qudos Video action light for Gopro ($110) –  Careful! 400 lumens is bright!   This is an excellent accessory light for both diving and caving.  It can mount on a helmet or along side a gopro and is waterproof to 40 meters! We used this in some deep caves and a load of dives and am really impressed!  I do recommend getting additional batteries as well as I didn’t get a super long life on the brightest setting.

·      Dicipac Waterproof case for Digital Cameras ($49) –  The jury is still out on this.  Hard plastic housings are safer by far, If I get any good shots I’ll let you know.

·      Delorme Inreach ($290 + $15mo. subscription) essential This is a satellite based “SOS” type device and I pay the $15 a month subscription for the basic service. As a paraglider this pretty much has become a mandatory item and many report a better interface with a smartphone and reliability with this brand and service compared to competitors.  This device just may save your life!

·      Dog and Bone Wetsuit Waterproof case ($63) essential – I love my Iphone 6+, I haven’t needed an Ipad since! (Yes I get made fun of) These guys were one of the first to come out with a waterproof, shockproof case for the larger iphone with a lanyard which is a must for paragliders!

·      Goal Zero Venture 30 ($100) essential – I absolutely love their vision and their products.  This battery pack is a lifesaver for all the gear I use during all of my adventures.  Add in a solar panel when you’re off the grid and you no longer need to replace batteries!  Super scaleable for loads of different adventures.

·      Sound Matters Dash 7 Bluetooth Speaker ($199) – These guys have been ahead of the curve for years.  Sound is excellent and can also use it as a conference call phone.  Slim, loud bluetooth enabled with surprisingly robust bass, a must have almost anywhere I go.  I usually carry a straight jack if I really need to conserve battery.

·    Skull Candy Headphones ($25) essential – I break or lose these things all the time.  All i need in headphones is a bit of noise-cancelling and a microphone for phone calls.  These are relatively inexpensive and I don’t worry to much if I break them.


·      Salomon XA pro Trail runners ($107) – I’m a sucker for lightweight hiking shoes.  You can get these wet and they dry fast and provide great traction in the slippery stuff.  Gone are the days of the oversized boots in warm weather.  The only caveat is if you break a lace, you’re in trouble.  Better carry replacements ; )

·      Vibram 5 fingers Sprint ($70) – I know there is controversy regarding how they affect your “barefoot” running experience but these are awesome water/boating shoes that I just cant get rid of.  Excellent water shoes.

·      Patagonia TorrentShell Rain Jacket ($112) & Pants  – ($89) Packs down to nothing and does what it says.  It can get a little sticky in warmer weather and you just may be wetter on the inside!  The pit zips help a bit however.

·      Patagonia Men’s Quandry Pants ($127) – Lightweight material, quick drying and water resistant.  Great day use pants to keep bugs and sun off  or use as a layer with colder weather. I had extra buttons sewn on the back 2 pockets for the win.

·      Bluesmiths Spartan Board Shorts ($185)– These are hydrophobic board shorts!  They do get wet but dry insanely fast.  The pocket design is really intuitive and can hold a host of gadgets.  Not sure if they justify the price tag but I would consider these if you are in the water a lot!

·      LuluLemon Men’s T shirts ($68) – I held out as long as I could.  This stuff comes with a ridiculous price tag but is hands down the most comfortable T-shirts I’ve ever owned.



Your Attitude: 

Going anywhere new and trying out new adventures is both exciting and can also generate a lot of fear. (Check out my post on my relationship with fear)  The most important thing an explorer can bring is a solid mental game. Things are going to happen that are unexpected, and they often always will when you least expect it.  How you handle the unexpected is what defines you.  Cultivate this attitude, rinse and repeat.  See you out there!”

Cormac O’Brien

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