Luc Mehl is a renowned adventurer with a deep love of wild country. A few of his expeditions include a traverse of the Brooks Range, traveling from Juneau to Mount Iliamna, and climbing North America’s three tallest mountains—all done by bike, ski, and packraft. He grew up in McGrath, on the Kuskokwim River, but now lives in Anchorage. He’s an expert packrafter and instructs packrafting and other outdoor courses as well as working in the environmental sciences. Luc’s website thingstolucat.com offers write-ups of his adventures and educational resources for backcountry safety and travel. He recently published The Packraft Handbook, which, if you’re interested in packrafting, is well worth the buy. Follow him on Instagram @lucmehl.

Product descriptions by Luc Mehl

NOTE: The price tag hurts on all of these products, but I’ve been able to justify the cost since they last longer than mass-produced counterparts. I’m counting on this gear to perform in remote Alaska; I need to trust the design and durability.

Revelate Designs Frame Bag 

Revelate Designs Frame Bag for a bicycle

I have a distinct memory of trying to use a Revelate Designs frame bag in a way it wasn’t intended (I needed to install a seat bag inside the frame triangle). As I was wrestling the bag in place, I thought, “Man, this thing would be perfect if there was an attachment point right… oh… there is!” The design was versatile enough that it allowed me to use the bag in multiple ways. I was instantly convinced that Revelate knew what they were doing, and I’ve been a loyal customer ever since. I also appreciate that the company is based in Anchorage.

revelatedesigns.com;  $90-150

Fairweather Skis

Fairweather skis

I was nervous about investing in a handmade ski, but after four pairs of mass-produced skis failed me over two years, I figured I had nothing to lose. I was thrilled to receive a pair of Fairweather’s gorgeous skis. They’re a blast to ski and can handle any abuse I throw at them. As an added bonus, I loved that the skis were made from windblown trees in Haines, Alaska. 

fairweatherskiworks.com;  $1,000

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter Backpack 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter backpack

I’ve been loyal to HMG packs for 10 years. I wish they were an Alaskan company too, but Maine sounds kind of similar. HMG is another case where I was burning through mass-produced Osprey packs every year or two. I switched to HMG and was instantly rewarded with a pack that was lighter and more durable.

hyperlitemountaingear.com;  $325-$430

Alpacka Raft Wolverine Packraft

Alpacka packraft wolverine raft

It isn’t a coincidence that my top three gear choices are designed by Alaskans. Alaskans know what Alaskans need (except, apparently, regarding the environment). Alpacka Raft started in east Anchorage and is now located in Colorado. Packrafts radically changed what I thought was possible in wildland adventure. With a packraft, all the blue lines on the map turn into trails. Alpacka packrafts are fun, light, and durable.

alpackaraft.com;  $1,500


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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