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Saturday, April 6, 2013

The One Day (Everyday) Pack

Fantastic.  A broken ankle, no cell service, 30 degrees tonight, five miles from my truck, two hours 'til dark, and nobody knows where I am.  Fan-damn-tastic.

Well, it's a good thing I took someone's advice and finally put together a little one day, everyday kit that I carry on every excursion no matter how short, especially since I am solo!  Right?  You have one too, right?  No?  Well, that simple kit is the difference in "alright" and "serious trouble" in the above scenario.

So what goes in?  Only the bare essentials.  The easiest and most user friendly items available that will save your life in a case like this are what you need.  It's great that you know how to start a fire with a bamboo saw, but do you really want to be trying to do that in this situation?  It's also awesome that you know how to drink your own piss thanks to Bear Grylls, but wouldn't you prefer just a little bit of just plain ol' water?  Thought so.

The ten areas you need to cover with items in your pack are:
1.  Protection
2.  Water
3.  Fire
4.  Shelter
5.  Food
6.  Navigation
7.  Illumination
8.  Tools and Spares
9.  First Aid
10. Sun Protection
*   Bonus Items!

A few small and very lightweight multi-use items in your pack that will take care of you in these 10 areas.  What degree of comfort you'd like determines how much of each item you carry.  It'd be great to be able to bring the entire sporting goods section from the Cabela's store with you, but we are talking about a small pack that you will carry on every outing.  However, there comes a point where it becomes an inconvenience and at that point most people will start leaving stuff at home.  If you find yourself at the point where you must have the entire Cabela's store, I'd suggest you watch a nature show and get on a treadmill. 

Camelbak Mil-Tac M.U.L.E.
First things first!  You need a good pack!  One that is comfortable and functional, and that will carry everything you need.  My personal pack is a Camelbak Mil-Tac M.U.L.E. which is about as perfect a pack for this option as you will find.  I have carried this pack on hundreds of hikes in every condition you can think of.  The longest of which was 22 miles in ten hours and that started in 100 degree heat during the day and ended in 30 degree cold at night.  This pack has NEVER let me down and I have been using the same one for over 10 years now.  I highly recommend this pack! 

Now the top ten items to fill it!

1.  Protection from what ails you!  I recommend a 9mm or larger.  I personally carry a Colt Delta Elite 10mm when I am in the wilds with bears, and a compact .40 S&W otherwise.  But for inside your pack, you will carry your extra ammo, and a quality fixed blade knife such as a Gerber LMF II. If you go with a smaller pack than the MULE, then get a large folder for this billet.  I'd go with something like the Kershaw Piston 1860... and don't start whining about a seventy dollar knife for your pack.  It's only your life we are talking about.

2.  Water is sacred!  This pack will let you pack 100 ounces and you'll never realize it's there, but if you go with a regular pack, carry at least a 20 ounce sealed bottle for emergencies.  I also have an NDUR Survival Straw that I can use after my water supply is gone.  With that I can drink right out of a mud puddle if I need to.  If I was not carrying my Camelbak with 100 ounces, I'd for sure be carrying a one liter bottle (with the big cap) and the straw.  The straw is just a bit to big for a regular bottle and I am not keen on doing push ups in mud puddles to drink.

3.  Fire is a life saver!  A fire will warm you, dry you, and protect you.  Fire and shelter are interchangeable on this list dependent on your environment.  Summer in Florida?  You may not need a fire.  For your pack, put in two disposable Bic lighters WITH the child safeties on the gas actuator   The safety will keep it from accidentally getting depressed inside the pack.  I check mine periodically, but have had the same ones in there for years!  Why Bics?  Cheap and dependable.  Zippos dry up when forgotten about for over a week, however if you tend to them, they are hard to top for fire starting and will not explode if crushed.  If I knew I was going to have to start a fire, a hard to find model 6700 trench lighter from Imco is my first choice, but a Zippo is a close second! 

4.  Shelter for a pack is different than shelter in a normal sense.  What I am talking about here is a space blanket and a head cover.  Put in a Mylar space blanket and a Polartec beanie you are covered in this area.  The silver Mylar blanket will keep you warm and dry and the beanie will keep your head warm even if it gets wet.  The silver is also easy to see from the air so if you need found it will help.

5.  Food is the next thing we need to cover.  Put in three energy bars such as Power Bar Performance bars.  They keep for over a year easily, and are easy to find.  Matter of fact, you can get them at most any gas station.  Also, if you are in a hot and dry climate, put in a dry electrolytic mix such as Nunn tablets.
6.  Navigation is pretty simple right?  GPS?  Great, and when it breaks?  Get a good high quality compass and at the very least you can not walk in circles, because if you have no idea which end is up, you will walk in a large circle.  If you don't have either one, walk downhill.  Down always leads out.  Ever seen all the houses on top of Mount McKinley   Exactly, there are none.  Ever seen an ocean front without houses?  Just remember this saying:  When lost, you are DOWN and OUT.  
7.  Illumination is your friend.  I have a 4D LED Mag-lite inside my MULE alongside the water bladder.  It will burn for DAYS on a single set of batteries.  That is a great light.  LED bulbs do not burn out like regular bulbs and they don't pop when you drop it while it's on.  They also are a drop in replacement.  If your current Mag-lite has an incandescent bulb, buy the LED and replace it.  Put your old bulb in the tail cap... just in case.  The second light you need is a LED headlamp.  I like the Energizer 6 LED unit that is available on Amazon for about 15 bucks.  A Mag-lite is great except when you need both hands, like when carrying firewood or if you need to saw off your arm like Aron Ralston.  Just sayin....

8.  Tools and Spares are what you always need an never have... except inside your pack you will!  I am a huge fan of the Leatherman Wave tool.  It has about everything you need to build a house, or swap an engine. As for spares, toss in a set of spare batteries for the GPS and headlamp.  A spare set of boot laces is always handy too.  On that note, I always like to replace mine with paracord.  Not because it gives me another piece of cordage, but because they are superior to anything else!  The last thing you want to try to do is make your way out of the wilderness with no bootlaces while running from zombies because you used your laces to make a shelter last night.  Those are the ab-so-lute last piece of cordage I will ever use for anything other than their intended purpose!  I'll cut my underwear into cordage first!

9.  First Aid is always a concern and should always find a home in whatever pack you carry.  A first aid kit for a day pack is really a small item that is always handy.  I like to use a small plastic soap box to keep everything neat and clean.  Put in a few 4x4 gauze packs, a small roll of medical tape, Neosporin, a dozen alcohol prep pads, six Nexcare Sport bandages, a pair of quality tweezers, and a couple of needles.  Also put in a small bottle with Bayer Aspirin, Imodium, Motrin, and Benadryl.  Last thing I strongly advise including is Quick Clot or Celox clotting agent.  No need leaking out if you can avoid it!

10. Sun Protection is often overlooked, but it is a real hazard to become severely sunburned.  Your skin isn't just a bag to hold your guts, but it is the cooling system of the body.  Fry it and it stops working correctly, then you overheat and die.  Toss in a couple of the single serving packs of 30 + SPF and a tube of sunscreen for your lips.... AND USE IT.  No need to be a tough guy in the wilderness.  Nobody is there to see you not crying.

*   Bonus Items!  There are a few items that are indispensable in a tough situation.  These are things that get stuffed into a pack and forgotten about until you need them.  Let me kick off the festivities with this: TOILET PAPER!  Go to the local surplus store and buy a ziplok baggie full of the TP packets from MRE's.  How they pack 700 feet of TP in a packet the size of a matchbox still amazes me even though it has been over twenty years since I saw my first one!  Next, a hundred foot roll of #36 bank line with 25 feet of paracord stuffed into the middle of the spool is one such item.  #36 bank line is a cordage primarily used to make fishing nets in the real world.  It is slightly smaller than 3/32 of an inch with a tensile strength of 330 pounds.  We all know about paracord, so I'll skip that.  One more thing that I hope I never need but will have in my pack is a Storm whistle.  Loudest whistle in the world and much easier than yelling for help.  Lastly, inside the pack should be a plastic bottle full of cotton balls soaked in Vaseline. These are the best tinder for fire starting I think I have ever used.  They are also useful for dressing a wound, and as makeshift lubrication for whatever needs it.

                        

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