Whats in my backpack?
Being prepared doesn’t always have to apply to natural or man-made disasters. Being prepared should be a way of life no matter what you do. If you are a hiker, hunter, fisherman, camper, etc. You should always have a bag of goodies in your backpack or other pack, just in case things don’t go as planned. Each activity is different, but I will share what I carry in my backpack and who knows, it could get you out of a sticky situation in the Great Outdoors someday.
My bag of goodies was developed from a list called the Ten Essentials, originally developed by a group of outdoors men in the Northwestern United States in the 1930s. It has since been adapted to almost every outdoor activity as the list applies to all. You should always carry:
Navigation – A map of the local area (in a waterproof package) can be very helpful whether you are familiar with the area or not. I always carry a good compass to help get my bearings, no pun intended. Compasses, unlike GPS units require no batteries and work well in all conditions, wet, dry or in between.
Sun protection – A good pair of sunglasses is always good to have even if you leave the house on a cloudy day. Who knows if conditions might change? Sun screen is another must. Even in dead of winter sunscreen is good to have on hand as you can receive a sunburn anytime of year.
Insulation – Although as I write this, here in Texas, it is overcast and cool in winter. You never know when that crazy front will come in. It’s always good to have a warm fleece or windbreaker/rainjacket (or both) in your pack just in case the weather makes a turn for the worse.
Illumination – If you are like me you can underestimate how long a hike or outdoor trip might take. You might plan on being home way before dark, but Fido runs off and you have to find him or you just spend a little too much time admiring the scenery and it gets dark. For this category, I pack a headlamp for hands free illumination, with a backup regular flashlight, and maybe an emergency candle or two. You never know when those might come in handy.
First-aid supplies – I am certainly not talking about an expedition level kit, but it is not a bad idea to have a basic kit in your pack in case you or someone else has an accident. It might not be a bad idea to get some basic first aid/CPR training to go along with that kit as well.
Fire – Just like illumination, its a great idea to carry multiple methods of fire starting. Waterproof matches in a waterproof container, a lighter, and some of those candles mentioned above are good ideas to have with you. You can also carry some tinder with you like dryer lint in a waterproof container.
Repair kit and tools – A great compact tool kit is a multi-tool, like a leatherman. A Leatherman is not the only game in town of course, as many manufactures are out there in the multi tool arena. I always carry a pocket knife with me for cutting jobs, some safety pins, a short length of paracord, and a bit of duct tape rolled up on broken pencil. All of those items should help me complete any minor repairs on the trail.
Nutrition – Even if I am going out for the day for some fishing, a hike or a bike ride, I usually take some extra food with me. Good lightweight compact choices, such as trail mix, granola bars, or energy bars like Cliff Bars, are good to have in your pack. Even better, you can carry full meals like MREs with you that have everything you need for an entire day.
Hydration – I drink copious amounts of water when outside in Texas as its usually hot. Most of my day packs will accept hydration bladders and have space for two or more water bottles as well. It’s a good idea to have alternative means to acquire water as well such as filtration systems or purification tablets in case your supply runs out.
Emergency shelter – More often than I like to admit, a day trip I had planned turns into an overnight trip. It’s not a bad idea to carry something to make shelter such as a tarp, emergency blanket, or bivy. You never know when something might extend your trip.
By keeping a cache of these supplies I went over, you should be prepared for almost anything that might happen while enjoying your outdoor adventure. Put some of that Christmas money to good use and pick up some things you might be missing in your own kit.
Please comment below if you enjoyed the article or have other suggestions to add to the list. Be safe out there and Happy Prepping to you in 2013!
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