My mother always told me as a child that it’s the little things that count. I think she told me that so I wouldn’t be disappointed when I didn’t get that new surfboard or bicycle that I wanted for Christmas and had to settle for something small and utilitarian like a new pen and pencil set to start off the school year with. (Did I mention that I grew up in Australia where school starts in January? That always meant some sucky Christmas gifts.)
Anyway, now that I’m a grown up, I actually enjoy filling my space with the little things. After all, they’re lighter and cooler than a surfboard, and most importantly, they fit in my bug-out bag, which also goes with me on regular camping trips.
So, here is a partial list of the little things I find essential to have. After you read this, please use the comment box below to add the little things that you carry, so I have an excuse to go to Amazon and spend more of my money on stuff. After all, you can never have too much stuff.
Three things that I have are for signaling– a signaling mirror, a small but powerful flashlight, and a whistle. If you buy a signaling mirror take the time to practice with it. They’re pretty easy to use and only took me a few minutes to figure out, and I’m not too smart according to some people. A signaling mirror can get someone’s attention from a long way away, even as far as a small aircraft or helicopter that may be searching for your poor lost butt.
However, at night a mirror is useless, hence the flashlight. Besides the obvious use of being able to see where the heck you dropped that box of matches, a good flashlight will also attract the attention of rescuers over fairly decent distances on a dark night. I haven’t tested it out myself, but I suspect that a strobe function would even be more effective in making yourself seen.
If you don’t have a flashlight, even the light from a cellphone can catch the eye of a rescuer, especially if they have FLIR ( Forward Looking Infra Red) capabilities. And EVERYONE has a cellphone these days, right?
Lastly in the signaling department I carry a small but very loud whistle. Much easier, less tiring, and more piercing than yelling your head off for hours on end.
Another small item I carry is a compass–you just know that the battery is going to die in your fancy GPS device just when you need it, but a compass will last a zillion years. However, with your compass, you will also need a local map, or at least a very good idea of where you want to go, as well as the skills needed to be able to use the compass correctly. I’m not going to go into the whole “how to use a compass and map” lesson now, but take the time to at least learn the basics.
Of course I have fire starting equipment, including matches in a waterproof container, a butane lighter, and the Lightning Strike fire starter by Darrell Holland that I reviewed here before. I also have a magnesium block but I never was able to use it as easily as my other fire tools.
That’s most of the little stuff I carry, leaving plenty of room for water filters, plastic bags, first aid gear, cutting tools some food and something to cook it in, etc etc etc. it’s amazing just how much “stuff” you can fit in a backpack.
So now it’s your turn–use the comment box below and share with us all the little things that you find necessary in your bug out bag or emergency kit.
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