Alaska pilot Brett Coblentz recommends the Garmin InReach Explorer as his favorite GPS for Alaska travels.

Brett Coblentz is cooler than David Bowie, Santa Claus, and Rooster Cogburn combined. He’s the chief pilot for Alaska Seaplanes and, come rain or shine, you’ll find him flying people and necessities to communities in southeast Alaska. A mixture of a young William Wallace and Maverick from Top Gun, Brett gave up a promising career modeling aviator sunglasses and blue jeans to live the dream of being an Alaskan bush pilot. When he’s not flying, he’s hanging out with his wife and kids or chasing moose, deer, and king salmon. Brett will be embarrassed reading this, but it’s people like him and the good folks at Alaska Seaplanes that keep the great state of Alaska going through rain, shine, and pandemics.

Follow Brett on Instagram.

Gear descriptions by Brett Coblentz

Ruger Hawkeye .300 WIN MAG Rifle

Ruger rifle

This is my rifle of choice for Alaskan hunting. It’s large enough that it can handle the big animals, but still small enough to not ruin a Sitka blacktail with a well-placed shot. I shoot a Ruger Hawkeye with a stainless barrel on a synthetic stock. It’s bulletproof against rust in the saltwater areas of Southeast. Mine is topped with a Leupold VX5 for hunting longer distances above the tree line for early season deer, mountain goats, and Dall sheep when I can get north.

XTRATUF Legacy 15-inch Boots

XTRATUF rubber boot

Chances are, you will be able to find a pair of these boots in most homes in Alaska. I wear them for flying to get planes to the beach; I wear them on the boat; I wear them hunting muskeg; I wear them hiking; I wear them to check the mailbox. They are quick and easy to put on, and they are comfortable. These boots also have the best grip I have had on a pair of rubber boots.

Leki Micro Vario Trekking Poles 

Trekking pole

I first resisted the idea of using trekking poles because I thought they would be clunky, but after trying these out I will never go back. They are great for hiking up and down steep mountains with a heavy pack, and they are a handy tool when pushing through devil’s club. They help with balance, and you can use all of your limbs to climb the steep hills. They fold down small so they can be tucked away if you are going through the thick stuff.  

Garmin InReach Explorer 

Garmin GPS text handheld device

This is my wife’s favorite piece on my gear list by far. We keep these awesome devices in our floatplanes at work at Alaska Seaplanes, and I take one with me whenever I am heading out on the boat or going hunting. They are a GPS texting device that allows you to text over the Iridium satellite network, and they work excellently. The best part is that the subscription doesn’t cost a fortune each month; plus, there are a few varieties to choose from. 

Darn Tough Hiker ¼ Socks

darn tough hiking sock

It may sound silly, but who doesn’t like free socks? These socks are made of wool and there are many styles, weights, and varieties to choose from. After you wear them out you can send them back in for a free pair. 


Bjorn Dihle is Alaska magazine's gear editor and a lifelong resident of southeast Alaska. You can follow him at instagram.com/bjorndihle or facebook.com/BjornDihleauthor.

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