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Mandatory Gear

Canadian Premiere
16 mins |
United States |
  • Adventure
  • Mountain Sports
  • Women
Emily Hopcian
LANGUAGE(S): English


In the male-dominated sport of adventure racing, co-ed teams of four race unsupported through rugged, wild terrain. To compete, each team must have at least one woman. Due to this rule, in the adventure racing world, women are often referred to as “mandatory gear” for competition.

In Expedition Oregon, North America’s toughest race, three women and one man flip that script and compete as a reverse co-ed team. Over the course of five days, Team Journey/Bend Racing challenges stereotypes—and themselves—as they navigate, trek, packraft, mountain bike, rappel and more through Central Oregon’s wilderness. Throughout, they must work as a team to overcome physical, mental and emotional obstacles to complete the race and discover what’s possible with a mostly-female team.

Mandatory Gear pushes back on gender stereotypes, explores what makes competing on a reverse co-ed team different, and celebrates and inspires female empowerment and gender equity in sports and the outdoors.

Playing at

This film was part of VIMFF 2023, VIMFF 2023 Tour and is no longer available for viewing.



vimff mandatory gear emily hopcian

Emily Hopcian

Emily is an award-winning storyteller and content producer with a focus on character-driven stories of outdoor adventure and social and environmental impact. Throughout the past 10 years, Emily has written, edited, directed and produced stories for National Geographic Adventure, REI, Osprey, Sidetracked Magazine, RANGE Magazine, One World Play Project and more. She is the director and producer of “DURGA: Forging a New Trail,” a short documentary film about a female guide in Nepal. Support from Arc’teryx, Teva, Osprey and more than 100 individual contributors made the film possible. “DURGA” premiered at No Man’s Land Film Festival in March 2021 and was awarded “Best of Festival.” The film also received the “Inspiration Award” from Maine Outdoor Film Festival and was named “Best Documentary” at Detroit SheTown Film Festival.

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