Thursday 12/11/15

Too often I have seen people venture into the countryside with little more than an odd assortment of gear in their car and clothes on their back. In my first book Sleep With One Eye Open, the main character purchased a list of equipment he thought he might need to help him endure some of the difficulties he might encounter. I based this list on the equipment that everybody should carry with them if they venture into the countryside. Sure, you may not need each item every time you go out; but if you find yourself in a difficult situation you will be grateful you have this equipment with you.

Be forewarned, this list will cost you a few dollars to complete. As such, I recommend only purchasing one or two items at a time. I strongly urge you to avoid the temptation to buy budget (bad quality) items. One day your life may rely on this equipment, so only invest in good quality gear. This kit is commonly known as a Bug Out Bag (or B.O.B.).

Your first item is a backpack. You don’t need a huge, metal framed backpack. Your backpack only needs to be big enough to carry your essential equipment. A 30 litre daypack should be sufficient. Granted, a bigger backpack can carry more gear; but bear in mind, the more gear you pack, the heavier your backpack will be. A heavy backpack is a hated backpack. Your backpack needs to have more than one compartment and plenty of internal pockets. This will keep your gear organised, and save delicate items from being damaged. If your pack doesn’t have internal pockets, it is little more than a disorganised sack. Your backpack must be water resistant and made from heavy duty material. Lightweight, flimsy material can snare or tear if it comes into contact with sharp rocks or barbed wire fences. The zippers have to be sturdy; an open backpack is useless. A couple of external pockets will be required so you have somewhere to carry your water bottles. Finally, your backpack needs a solid back support to keep it in shape; and your pack needs sturdy well-padded straps. You must try on a variety of backpacks to see which one feels right and suits your body shape. Don’t simply take the sales assistant’s word for which pack is the best; they aren’t the one who will be carrying it for hours on end, over rugged countryside.

Next item on the list is a knife. I recommend a fixed blade knife made from carbon steel. It must have a full tang. I prefer a knife that is no more than twelve inches long, with a seven inch, clip point blade. The longer the tang, the sturdier and more durable your knife will be. A tang that is shorter than the length of the knife’s handle is more likely to fail if your knife is being used for heavy duty tasks. Remember; in a survival situation, your knife will be your best friend. Ignore the “latest and greatest” advertisements. Look for a brand and model that has a proven track record, with a loyal following from customers. Your knife needs a sheath; this is not negotiable. Without a sheath it is impossible to carry your knife safely. A leather sheath is traditional but there are some good quality hard plastic sheaths on the market too. Never use a soft nylon sheath (made from the same material as a sports bag). Sharp blades and flimsy sheaths are a bad combination.

Other equipment you will need:

  • Good quality multi-tool.
  • 2 x one litre stainless steel water-bottles with a wide opening and a screw-top lid.
  • Lensatic compass.
  • Fire steel.
  • Matches in weatherproof container.
  • Chemical glow-stick.
  • Signalling mirror.
  • Space blanket.
  • Plastic storm whistle.
  • Waterproof marker pen.
  • Military can opener.
  • Spork
  • 10 metres of green para-cord.
  • Small LED torch with spare batteries.
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer.
  • Small bottle of sunscreen.
  • Roll-on bottle of insect repellent
  • Roll of duct tape.
  • A floppy bucket hat. (This can be folded to fit in your pack).
  • Socks x 2 pair.
  • Jumper/Sweater (Lightweight).
  • Protein bar/chocolate bar/trail mix; enough for three days.
  • Tinned food (eg baked beans/spaghetti/tuna/processed meat); enough for three days.
  • A deck of cards. (Card games can help pass the time if you are stranded).

As I said at the beginning of the blog, this gear will set you back a few dollars; but it is a worthy investment of your hard-earned money. If you look after your gear, you should get a lifetime worth of use out of it.

Before heading out into the countryside, you need to practice using your new gear. Make sure your knife is sharp. Know how to use each tool on your multi-tool. Practice using your compass to get you from Point A to Point B. Make sure you know how to use your fire steel; don’t try it out for the first time in an emergency situation.

If you found the information in tonight’s blog useful, please share it with your friends and family on social media. Information is only useful if it is shared. The better educated people are, the less likely it is they will find themselves facing an avoidable emergency.