By Travis Birch
With two teenage boys, an active wife, and dog that acts like a thoroughbred, life tends to move pretty fast. Keeping up with this group is a challenge in itself. Since we live in the grid in town, and off the grid with any free moments we have, I try to keep myself prepared for the moments when we head out the door without a clear agenda.
The boys and my wife prepare similarly. My trusted companion Chester relies on us taking care of ourselves, so we can take care of him. Therefore, there are certain staples that I keep on hand, and always make sure that I have these items in my pockets when I head out the door if I plan to be away from the homestead for more than a couple of hours. These items are here to protect us if a safety situation arises. I have had several friends ask what exactly I keep on my person when I venture out, and I want to share with you some of the basics I use.
First, I wear a watch with a compass, compass watch attached. Understanding the time of the day, and keeping my orientation straight is very important. It allows me to know how long I have been heading in a certain direction, and when and how I should back track if necessary. The band on my watch is made with paracord. The Paracord can reach up to 6 meters in length when broken down, and can be used to assist in building a temporary shelter, set a snare trap, or just secure my belongings if we become stranded.
I have a compact mirror in my wallet. This is perfect for signaling from afar. It also serves as a method of starting a fire if necessary. A bandana and a comb sit in my back pocket. The bandana serves as a sling or bandage. It can also keep the sun off of your scalp during the day, or serve as a mask to filter air or to filter debris from water.
My comb does more than make my hair pretty. It is ideal for removing burrs from my legs. If a member of our party feels they may have a tick, the comb easily parts the hair line to search and destroy the uninvited guest.
A small AAA pen light is always in my front pocket. This give off instant light, and serves as a night time signaling device. Plus it holds two batteries that may come in handy. Next to the flashlight is a disposable lighter. It is important to have several methods of starting a fire, and a lighter is a must have. It is compact, easy to use and it is fast. I carry two knives on me as I traverse the countryside. A hunting knife is attached to my belt in a sheath for cutting and slicing. And a Swiss army knife in my pocket gives me a variety of tools to get through any adventure.
Finally I usually have my key chain on me. On that key chain is a pill fob that will hold a days’ worth of my necessary prescriptions. I don’t anticipate being stuck out overnight when I set out on a hike, but you never know. It’s better to have these things on me, and not need any of this stuff, than to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere missing the essentials to get through a typical day. The best part is that all of these things combined weigh almost nothing, and are just a regular part of what I carry everyday anyway.