Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Backpack and One Shoulder Bag, what goes in and what is this game all about?

I feel like I am finally entering the era of modern hiking and camping gear.

In a couple of trades over the last two weeks, I have landed the following equipment:

1. A Katadyn Hiker Model Water Filter, very small and very nice.

2. A Cabela's GoreTex Bivy Sack which is a very, very thin zip up bag that is more of an emergency shelter than a traditional sleeping bag... In it's self-storing pocket, it is just incredibly small and just about as large as the Katadyn water filter in its zippered storage bag.

3. A Snugpak Softie Merlin 3 Sleeping Bag which is just a tiny bit larger in diameter than a loaf of bread and about 8 slices shorter than a loaf of bread - now, that's really small for a sleeping bag rated down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit! You know, FREEZING!

4. SpecOps Brand - T.H.E. Pack in the much cherished Olive Drab Green. You need it to be camouflaged? Just roll it around in the dirt for two and a half minutes and it will be nicely camouflaged!

I can put the first three items in the fourth item and along with some other choice items, fill up item four and go disappear if I have to. That's a good thing. (Between two guys named Spencer and Steve, I traded for these great items...and thank you guys if you read this.)

I know I have probably said it somewhere on this very young blog and I am positive that I have said it in a few different places on forums dedicated to survival gear - but this is "THE GAME." This is how I like to "game stuff out," for lack of a better phrase...

If you can arrive at your own combination of gear and carrying system and achieve this goal, you will have a great chance of surviving just about anything.

I'm not going to discuss firearms because it's simply beyond the scope of the discussion and laws and personal philosophies are so varied it would be pointless to do so. Obviously, you should have some type of firearm and be skilled with it or your ideas of "surviving" might not be all they are cracked up to be.

That having been said.

You have a really good pack, backpack, ruck, rucksack, whatever you want to call it. You're packing your life in it, what you need to survive, so it better be big enough and tough enough to take a beating. Also, for the purpose of this exercise, you should have an equally good shoulder bag. It might be a Maxpedition Fatboy, Fatboy Jumbo, Collossus - all "Versipacs" from that company. Or something like a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag, your choice.

I have sort of modified this from the original exercise of just having ONE BACKPACK. So, now you get a shoulder bag as well. Just remember, you have to be able to carry this stuff through a variety of terrain and until you are absolutely bone tired and cannot go any farther. For some, that might be five miles and others maybe forty miles.

What do you put in that backpack and shoulder bag in order to survive the greatest number of possible situations?

This is the rest of "THE GAME." You take your backpack and the shoulder bag and you throw that in the trunk of your car, the bed of the pickup or back of the van or Jeep and you drive to a predetermined place and you pull the car off of the side of the road and you unload your two packs and you walk into the woods and you never come back.

Don't ask yourself the following type of question: "Why would I do that? What sort of situation would warrant that type of action?" That doesn't matter! That's not what the exercise is all about. The exercise is about choosing equipment to save your life.

Also, do not get into the trap of thinking like The Ultralight folks and start to mutate the exercise into: "I would not even need two bags..." Or, "I would not even need a large backpack..." Or...anything else like that at all! No, you take from the Ultralight folks, their awesome discoveries in gear, the innovations, and you take that and you exploit that to your safety and benefit.

On the other hand, you don't load the backpack and the shoulder bag so heavy that you need to be a bodybuilder to hump it through the woods. You have to strike a balance.

Because that's what a truly intelligent human being does in any endeavor, right? You don't necessarily embrace the extremes, you strike the balance and then you get on with it.

That's enough for today's "sermon." I really didn't mean to sound so preachy, just came out that way I guess. Ultimately, you can take what you read here and just go play with it and you might arrive at totally different conclusions and that's all right too, that's perfectly good because that is what any good blog or website is, a teaching vehicle and not Jonestown.

Tomorrow or the next day, some pictures of this stuff and a little bit more.


Anthony said...

Good post, awaiting part II/breakdown of contents. What's the reason for the seperate shoulder bag? I assume it's for quick access to things without taking the whole pack off..

Don Rearic said...


It could be for quick access to vital gear, etc., without taking the pack off. Or, it could just be you want to carry even more stuff and the pack is not large enough.

Some packs are incredibly large. When you start getting well over 3,000 cubic inches, you are talking about a huge pack.

The SpecOps Brand T.H.E. pack has a total capacity of 2,550 cubic inches. The Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II comes in at 1,440.

I've chunked around medium ALICE packs for a long time. I spent A LOT of time with one in the 1980s and into the early 90s. They are a dumpster, you can put so much into them.

The point is, I don't want a pack that is so much over 3,000 cubic inches. I think I would rather have a decent shoulder bag on the side for various pieces of easily accessible stuff and perhaps other things.

cpmorgan said...

Here is some encouragement to get those photo's up

Don Rearic said...


And, truly, thank you for that encouragement. I really do appreciate it. I cannot believe that was posted last wednesday already. Time flies. I want to get to the point where I am making a minimum of three posts per week. I want them to be quality posts and not just tossing everything up willy-nilly.

Tomorrow morning we shall see about some pics of the aforementioned gear and some more info on it and ideas, etc.

Thanks again,


culpritish said...

Another great post, Don. Thanks.
As a youngster I was instructed by my father to carry essential gear (fire starter, compass, sierra cup, etc.) in a satchel or butt pack at all times in the great outdoors, even when bumming around camp. I still do this, as it makes for a convenient as well as comforting companion while foraging for critters, firewood, or just a side excursion.