So what makes me think that my opinions are worth anything? First, a lifelong fascination with outdoor gear and an obsession with finding what really works out there. Second, 14 years of hauling bodies, both alive and dead, out of some of the nastiest terrain in the country, gives me a unique perspective on gear and it’s effect on performance and survival. Third, my independence and objectivity is fully in tact because I am not compensated by the companies that make or sell the products I review, evaluate, or recommend.
This is not really a gear review site because we don’t review everything in a particular class or genre and then rate it. To me that wastes a lot of time and energy. I dismiss the junk to look for good gear and then try it out in the field. If I like it, I use it. If I use it, I promote it because I want to support it and make it economically successful so it will continue to be available for me and my readers. This is my way of influencing the market and driving it in what I think is the right direction.
There are other things that distinguish us from the so called competition. This is not just some thing I decided to do because it is a good business idea, because the truth is that it isn’t a good business idea at all. I originally started this whole thing because people constantly asked me what gear they should buy. I tried to find a good website to refer them to but I didn’t like any of the ones I found, so I had to create one. This one. As things progressed it became clear to me that there was a more important reason to pour money and time into this. It satisfies my sincere interest in continuing to play a part in the Public Safety Search And Rescue (SAR) system. While, I am no longer part of the emergency field response, my work here can help outdoorsmen perform better and safer in the field. Hardcore Outdoor is my own personal PSAR (Preventive Search And Rescue) program, so in a sense I can still save lives. Lastly, I am truly looking for what I think represents the very best gear available on the market, which means that value is important but price is not a consideration in our evaluations.
Look, I am not an “expert” and I am not the smartest guy in the world, but I spend a lot of time searching for and testing what I think is best-in-class equipment for me to use in the field. If you find something you can use out of this effort, great! If not, that’s fine too. Remember, your visit here didn’t cost you anything but, time so the only thing I owe you is my honest opinion.
Here is my biography and a pic of me just about to board Fox 1, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Bell 407, to go do something stupendously heroic I am sure, but I can’t remember exactly what it was now. Ain’t she a pretty bird? That was my primary ride for four incredible years. I got to work with some great guys, do some amazing things, and help people in the process. It was good duty. The photo is courtesy of Team mate and friend, Glenn Speight.
When Wade Nelson talks about gearing up and getting out he does so with passion and authority. He served as a Rescue Technician-EMT for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Mountain Rescue Team for eight years and another two years as its Commander. The all-weather, all-terrain Team of highly trained mountaineers is tasked with handling high angle-rope, underground, swiftwater, alpine, and helicopter search and rescue operations in one of the largest and most geographically diverse counties in the lower 48 United States.
During his time with the Team, Wade was instrumental in developing two innovative programs. Trail Guard put resources in high incident wilderness areas to provide a faster response to emergency calls, while also achieving critical training, fitness, and visibility objectives. Airborne Search And Rescue (ASAR) loaned Senior SAR Tech-EMTs to the Sheriff’s Aviation Division to enhance the search, rescue, and emergency medical capabilities of unit helicopter crews, which are often first to arrive on the scene of backcountry emergencies. ASAR proved so effective that Wade transferred to Aviation and spent four years as the division Airborne SAR Tech-EMT and Rescue Training Coordinator.
In his fourteen years with the Sheriff’s office, Wade participated in more than three hundred fifty search and rescue missions in conditions ranging from triple digit desert heat, to alpine snow and sub-zero temps, to torrential monsoon rains. He has had the privilege of training and working with some of the best in the business, like Tom Pendley of Peoria Fire and Fire Rescue Magazine, Reed Thorne of Ropes That Rescue, Ken Phillips of National Parks Service-Grand Canyon, Mountain Rescue Association, Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue Unit, Phoenix Fire Department Technical Rescue Team, Phoenix Police Department Air Support Unit, USAF PJs-305th Rescue Squadron-Davis-Monthan, Rescue Three International, Rainier Mountaineering, National Ski Patrol, and of course the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Lake Patrol and Aviation Units.
Wade received numerous commendations and awards for his service, including Employee of the Quarter and the Medal of Valor for Life Saving. He is also a professional member of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association.
Wades fascination with the backcountry began as a kid, and he has been backpacking, climbing, skiing, trail running, ATVing, and hunting for more than 30 years. Whether he is out with family and friends or going solo, he enjoys getting as far back in the boonies as possible. “For me, a great day in the field is stormy weather and a deserted trail.”
Home for Wade is in Scottsdale with his wife and children but he might just as easily be found walking on the beach in Coronado, huffing and puffing his way up Mt Rainier, not catching fish on Lake Pend Oreille, or glassing up a giant Coues buck on some wind swept mountain top in unit 22.
There are more knowledgeable survival training experts and better wilderness athletes out there but few outdoorsmen can match his hands on experience with life and death situations in remote locations. His opinions on being prepared, survival and “getting found” are based on practical, real world lessons and deserve serious consideration by anyone who trades the comfort and safety of civilization for the cold heartless, brutality of the bush.