But first, a warning
If you do decide to go explore old mines, you are doing it at your own risk. Trust your gut, instincts, and senses. If something does not seem right, or you have a bad feeling, do not do it. Most of the places I go (the cool ones at least) are EXTREMELY remote. Generally there is no cell phone coverage, and if you get injured you are pretty much on your own. You need to go out prepared for most outcomes you can think of experiencing. With this disclaimer out of the way, I will now go over the basics of what I bring with me.
My basic equipment
To the right of the pack you will see my adventure hat, also made by Triple Aught Designs. I have been a big fan of Boonie hats since I bought my first one from Stagers Surplus in Elko Nevada when I was 12 years old (which I still have). Being white to the point of rivaling mayonnaise, keeping the sun off my face and ears is a priority when hiking around in the mountains of the desert. True to their normal quality, the Triple Aught Designs Boonie hat is the most comfortable one I have ever owned, is well ventilated, and is just my constant companion for adventures.
Above my adventure hat you will see two pretty important pieces of safety gear that I have recently added to my equipment that I should have added years ago.
On the left is a 4 gas air monitor. It monitors the air for low oxygen, carbon monoxide, and volatiles. When you get in old mines you can run into pockets of bad air, or just bad air in general. This was an inexpensive 4 gas monitor as far as they go. Testing it out so far, it appears to work as advertised when I trigger it, so it is cheap insurance and much easier to carry around than a canary in a cage.
On the right is a Garmin GPSMAP 66i with Inreach. Having a dedicated GPS while out in the mountains and without cell coverage is a bit better than relying upon pre downloaded maps on your phone. In the past I (and even now), I have extensively used OnX Offroad and Hunt for my navigation and marking aids while exploring, and I will continue to do so. Now let's say that you have a very loving and supporting wife that is not the most thrilled that one of your favorite things to do on your days off is to go and crawl in sketchy holes in the ground all by yourself. With the 66i with Inreach, for as little as $12 a month you are able to send and receive messages via satellite, activate an SOS message, and those with a link to your device are able to see where you are via a slick link that you send them. The initial price of the unit is high, but in the end it can literally save your life, so it is a good insurance policy.
As lame as it is, on the left I have my Salomon Quest hiking boots. I tried to find a link to that exact model, but it looks like they have been replaced by the Quest 4 family. Only reason I put it, proper footwear is crucial for outdoor adventures. To date these have been the absolute most comfortable and durable adventure shoes I have ever worn. I have 7 different pairs of Salomons (their size 13 fits me better than any other brand, and the durability is superb), and the Quest are my favorite for these purposes. A runner up would be the Speed Assaults, but the Quest's kick their ass when walking through super rocky areas, which is most mining areas. And Nevada. Rocks. Fucking. Everywhere.
The H&K SP5 was to show an overall size, and just happens to be the rifle I take the most with me exploring. Main reason is due to its size, it is easy to maneuver around in adits and drifts. Why bring a suppressed submachine gun when exploring mines? Well, sometimes things need to be shot, and gun shots are fucking loud inside of adits. And because I can. While the SP5 gives you a -2 weight penalty, it gives you a +4 cool factor and ensures the drip doesn't stop.
Not pictured in the overview is a pistol (because who doesn't have a pistol on them when they go out in the hills, that goes everywhere even if I do not take a rifle), and the clothing I wear and shit that goes in my pockets. I am not going to break down what to wear, because I figure if you have read on to this point you are more than likely (autistic like me) able to dress yourself. Durable pants with kneepads (like my favorite Force 10's) are always good, but when it is hot I wear shorts and just fuck my knees up fam. Long sleeve shirts are good for sun protection, but you do what feels good. Fuckit, don't wear pants, be an ultra minimalist. Free will and all that.
Outer pack compartment contents
I keep a rite in the rain pad along with a pencil (and a pen in my pocket) for any notes or anything I need to jot down, because having analog backups to digital stuff is smart when you are way out.
To the right of the note pad I have salt tablets, and quick carbohydrates. Salt tabs are good to carry in the desert because, well, it is a fucking desert and you can dehydrate rather quickly. Having electrolytes is a good thing. Same with the different energy gummies and gels to give you a quick boost.
To the right of the snacks, I have a Suunto compass, firestarter, and knife. These are things you should always have on you when you are out in the hills. Depending on where I am I will have at minimum an atlas of the state, or a map of the area. Do I need to explain the knife and firestarter?
Below that I have a Lifestraw. Main reason is because I have one of these everywhere I can fit one (except my prison purse). Once again it is cheap insurance. I live in a desert, if I find a water source, I want to be able to drink from it. They are like $15, I highly recommend getting several to keep in your truck, gear, whatever.
Below the notepad you will see sunscreen and a neck gaiter. Due to my excessive amounts of white privileges, I burn super quick. No matter my personal feelings, the fact is that I am not stronger than the sun. The neck gaiter helps keeping my redneck roots from showing if it starts to get bothered by the sun, and helps double as a somewhat maybe ok filter from dust while inside mines.
Redundancy is key. Longevity is good. Multiple sources, are better. The firestarter and matches are absolute last case use items. Chemical lights are great for backup, or for marking junctions if you go off into different drifts or winzes in a mine. Pro tip, replace them every few years as they do have a shelf life. In the near future I am going to be supplementing the large chemlights with the mini ones, as you can carry more and they work well for marking junctions etc, while taking up much less space. Also it is good to check your chemlights if your pack takes impacts, as that can inadvertently activate them.
To the left of the chemlights is a CR123 powered Streamlight handheld flashlight. If it takes batteries, carry extras. It may look like I only carry 2 extra CR123's but I found 4 more in my pack.
At the bottom I have recent additions. I have been experimenting with Fenix headlamps/handhelds that take 21700 batteries. The main appeal here is the ridiculously long life that they offer. The headlamp is the HP25R V2.0 which has great switching and 24 hours of life on the 150 lumen floodlight setting, which I have found to work great for most mines that I have been in, giving me great peripheral lighting. The handheld Fenix is the PD36R which has the ridiculous runtime of 5 hours 49 minutes on high at 800 lumens. While my headlamp gets the most usage, a bright handheld is great for checking out things a bit further down the shaft, or just outside of the range of the handheld. This way you are not constantly cycling through different modes on your headlamp. Even with the ridiculous run times on these lights with the 21700 batteries, I still carry an extra battery just in case. Redundancy and backups = GOOD.
Along with this, the SP5 and my Staccato also have lights on them, which take 18350 batteries with a run time of half hour each. I always carry a small Streamlight pen light that I have had for close to 7 years now, and my phone and GPS also have lights on them. Needless to say, having extra lights are a good thing, especially when you take a newbie with you. Is that clear? Good.
Pack main compartment
I am a big fan of the Hydrapak Impact bladder, prefering the 3.1L on each of my packs. For the Scout, this is almost too big of a bladder, but once again, Nevada is dryer than Ben Shapiro's wives vagina, so I carry this water bladder and usually a few more bottles or smaller bladders.
Being in Northern Nevada, the nights can get cold fast, so I have the space blanket, and reusable heat packs. The reusable heat packs can be used also if you get sore, then you boil them and they are good to reuse.
For first aid I have a couple different things. The first is a footcare kit, which has moleskin, blister pads, etc, just in case your feet get raw, you can patch them to get out. The red kit is a little booboo kit with bandaids, ibuprofen, and other little things. The trauma kit is for when things get bad obviously. Maybe it is excessive, but they are good things to have.
Paracord is paracord, I keep that shit everywhere. You can do lots of things with it, and it is cheap.
I better note that this is the minimum stuff I go out with. I usually throw at least a couple Pearson's Salted Nut Roll's in my pack, backpacking meals, layers, ballcap, etc in my pack when I go out. The things pictured above never leave my backpack so that I always have them there.
Since I got my Tacoma in 2018, it has gotten me absolutely everywhere I have wanted to go, and places I have went unwillingly. That covers the reliable vehicle part. Now the other big part is capable tires. Notice the tires in the above picture? Those were 6 ply tires. If you listen to people on the internet, they will tell you that you absolutely do not need 10 ply tires on a Tacoma due to the Tacoma being lighter weight, and 6 ply tires are plenty good enough for offroading purposes.
A word on maps and navigation.
Do not trust "roads" on Google Maps to actually be roads, they could be washes in the desert from flash floods, or have not been roads in excess of a decade. In the above picture it was obvious by the flow debris that this shit had been washed out for years.
Other times if god forbid you let it route you to a destination in the mountains, it will route you through washes and the absolutely most fucked up goat paths known to man.
Multiple data sources are your safest bet when it comes to plotting a route for adventure. Google maps gives you a good baseline to figure out where you are going, but DO NOT TRUST IT. Google Earth will give you another good resource to check your routes.
I have to say I have been very impressed with OnX Offroad. The app is like $30 a year, you can download offline maps for the areas you will not have cell phone service, and generally when it says the road shits the bed, it is correct. Also if you have Apple Car Play or Android Auto, it is compatible with that to make your navigation easier. Once again, multiple sources are a good thing.
Know your capabilities, and do not be too proud to decide you should turn around. Better that then being stranded out in the desert.
Be smart. Life is inherently dangerous, none of us are going to make it out of life alive. Taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone is something I have grown to look forward to, as it helps me become a stronger human being mentally, and physically. But everything is a calculated risk.
If you can help if, do not go out alone. I do all the time, but it is mainly because of my fucked up schedule working nights, and nobody wants to party with me on my days off because they are either working, or they have sand in their vaginas.
Let others know where you are going, and when to expect you back. A lot of time I will not know exactly where I am going, but I will know a general area of where I should be, and when I should get back. When you find yourself losing cell phone service, mark that location on your mapping app, or on your GPS so if worst comes to worst, you know where you have to go back to to get cell phone service. Let your wife/husband/friends know where you are going. I always let Wilderness Tom know where I am going because he is like the Charlie Daniels of the Nevada Desert. If you have an Inreach device, send your link to all your friends and let them know that hey, if you do not hear from me by XX time, or my location does not move for XX long, shit has went down, come and save me, or send help.
Know your limits. Do not overexert yourself, or push yourself past your physical limits, or the limits of your gear or supplies. Are you planning on going on an 8 mile hike but you are positively dying from heat stroke after a mile? Stop, take a drink of water, and unfuck yourself. If you are not used to heavy physical exertion, you can get confused and make shit decisions.
If you are new to doing things like this, start with an easy adventure. Go somewhere easy to get to, that others frequently visit. This way if something goes wrong, you have a better chance of getting rescued by others, or making it out yourself.
My gear list is not the end all, be all list. I am sure someone will read it and say I am fucking retarded. As I have said many, many, many times, I am five quarters retarded. This is what I have found over the years works best for me, and my activities. But as a human capable of learning new things, I reserve the right to change my mind. A week, month, or year from now, I may have a completely different core set of gear. Start with the basics: Food, Water, Navigation, safety and first aid, and go from there. Tailor your equipment choices to what works best for you, and your terrain. My gear selections in Nevada will be vastly different from someone in Florida where you just need a crack pipe, crack, and a machete.
Now that my autistic rambling is done, this will be an entry into me writing about Adventuring. Once again I have an absolute shitload of photos from a shitload of places I have been over the years. And in some of it I am freeballing it with nothing more than a backpack, so I wrote this as a primer on my lessons learned.
I hope this helps you if you are not sure where to begin, or at the very least amused you. If you made it this far I will leave you with a bonus picture, as Garrus wanted to be in the picture, and he is the goodest boy.