Thursday, September 17, 2015

Packing a Day Pack

After Willie and I went out on our first excursion in our ATV, we started thinking of the things that we should have brought with us. When I was growing up and my dad or I went out on a hike or a drive my mom would always remind us to take a day pack. Just a backpack with some food and essentials in case we got lost, injured or stranded. I have a day pack which I keep in my car, but I hadn't looked through it for quite some time, so I decided to dump it out on my living room floor and get it organized again!

My pack is a hand-me-down from Willie. He bought it at an Army Surplus store a number of years ago. Come to find out, it is actually a fairly rare WWII French Foreign Legion pack. Go figure. I like it because it's got all sorts of straps, a sturdy frame, it adjusts down small enough that I can wear it comfortably, and it has big side pockets for storing all kinds of stuff. I also like that it's old. That part's pretty sweet too.

This first jumble is what I dumped out of my pack initially. I noticed that there were some things missing, and realized that I had split my survival gear up and had some more in another, smaller bag. In addition, there were some things that came out of my pack and were rattling around in my trunk.
This jumble is what was in my smaller bag and in the trunk of my car. Time to recombine everything!

The first thing I looked at was my clothing items. I had a hat for keeping off the sun, a stocking cap, a scarf and a pair of wool socks. I added in a pair of mittens, because no one likes frost bitten fingers. One day I will upgrade my hat and scarf to woolen items, but this will do for now.

I put it all into a roll up space saving bag and rolled all the air out of it. I made sure it was the rolling kind so that I could re-roll it no matter where I was at.

The next category of items is "personal care." Some wipes, toilet paper and feminine products. Last time I went to the dentist I decided to stow the toothbrush, toothpaste and floss I received in my pack as well. All of this went into a large zip top bag, and into the pack it went. 

Later on I found some hand warmers and stashed those in with the other personal care items.

I discovered that I had some rope, paracord and webbing in my pack. It all went into a zip top bag together.
Willie and I bought aluminum water containers to take with us on hikes and camping trips a while back. The benefit of having a metal container is that you can heat water in it. This style also has a loop on the top so you can attach it to your pack. I used a carabiner to clip it to a loop on the outside of my pack.

I have a very small and simple first aid kit for my pack. Basically it consists of bandages and gauze, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol and allergy pills. For the alcohol and the pills we bought travel-sized containers and taped the lids on to prevent spillage. Stuff it all into this sweet jungle first aid pouch, and you're good to go!

Next I gathered up all my fire lighting stuff. I have steel wool and cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly. Both of these things will catch a spark readily. I also have a magnesium bar and a striker. The magnesium can be shaved off to catch a spark as well.

The next bunch of items that went in are some survival related items. There are big black trash bags that can be cut apart and used as tarps or ground covers, drawstring bags to sack up items to keep the rain out, fish hooks and fishing line, aluminum foil, and some twist ties. You never know what situation you may find yourself in, and these items could come in handy.

I had quite a lot of emergency food in my pack, and most of it was still good. Each package is vacuum sealed and stamped with an expiration date. Can you spot the package in this photo which is no longer good?

The package on the left looks like it should: compact, with the packaging tight around the food. The package on the right has a leak somewhere, allowing air into the packaging. The packaging is no longer sitting snug against the food. This package should be discarded.

Aside from my emergency food, I like to pack an eating utensil, a small cup, some instant beverages, and a mess kit. The eating utensil has a spoon on one end and a fork with one serrated edge on the other and can be found in the camping department of most outdoorsy-style outfitters. The cup has a handle that allows it to be clipped or tied to the outside of your pack or your belt. My beverages pouch has tea bags, apple cider mix, and hot chocolate mix. You could also include soup or broth mix if you'd like.

Since I didn't want to use up all my space by packing two mess kits, I decided to open them up and see which is the better of the two. I decided that my grey kidney-shaped kit would work out better. It has metal handles, is more durable, the containers are decent-sized, and its kidney shape means I can carry it on my belt if I would like to. The round kit is a little more cheaply made, has plastic components, and I didn't care much for the size and shape of the containers.

Here are some basic components of any backpack. I know you all were getting antsy waiting for me to bring these into the mix! Always, always, ALWAYS pack a good knife. In a survival situation, you will die without a knife. A good pair of binoculars is a good idea. I have two compasses in my pack. One gets stored in the outside pocket, the other inside the bag in case the first one gets lost.

I have a couple of emergency flashlights. These are nice because they are a flashlight, and emergency flasher, and they have a whistle on them. This is handy if you are lost or stranded and need to draw attention to yourself for rescue. I also have an emergency roadside flasher. If your car breaks down you can use this to draw attention, either to alert people to the fact that you need help, or to keep yourself from getting run over while you repair your vehicle.

I had an otter box, and decided to keep it in there just in case I needed a waterproof spot to store items. I also found the world's oldest can of bug repellent, and decided I would keep it in there as well. Old repellent is better than no repellent, right?

I found my backpacking blanket in my trunk and washed it up. The straps on the outside of my pack are perfect for holding a rolled up blanket.

Here it is! The last little things that still need to be added are a poncho, and a lightweight jacket or long-sleeved shirt to keep the sun off. My poncho got ruined while bouncing around in my trunk. When I get a new one I will roll the blanket inside it, so that the blanket doesn't get wet.