Most of us like to feel prepared: We load our cars with flashlights, blankets and jumper cables to cover basic emergencies. But when heading out of civilization, most of us lack basic emergency gear. It could be the excitement of escaping the daily grind, or just the fact that we’re switching packs around for different activities but a lot of us forget the key things that we should carry everywhere—just in case.
My Everywhere Carry (EWC) pouch solves this problem while remaining out of sight and out of mind until it’s time to deploy it. For the pouch to be effective it needs to be well rounded, but compact enough to be easily transferable from place to place without feeling its impact. It acts as the core around which you build your pack. Some people use dry bags to hold their kit—I prefer a zippered pouch that slides easily into my pack.
My kit, repurposed from an old pack, measures 11 by 8 inches, and is just an inch thick.
Here’s the list of what I usually carry for my wild life in New England:
Batteries, Glow sticks, SPF 30+ sunscreen, 50 feet of 550 paracord, Medication(s), Spare Contacts, Duct Tape, Space Blanket, Potable Aqua Tabs, Scrap Paper, Surveyors Tape and a Fat black marker.
First Aid Kit
Most folks like to build up their own kits, but Adventure Medical Kits’ Ultralight and Watertight series perfectly fit the needs of an EWC pouch. I personally pack the Ultralight and Watertight .5 pouch as it contains the essentials to treat burns, blisters, bites, stings, and wounds for one person for a few days.
Contractor Grade Garbage Bag
These heavy-duty bags can collect rainwater; serve as a raincoat, a shelter, or even a sleeping bag (fill it with dry leaves or grasses for insulation). The contractor-grade bags—available at many home-improvement stores—are twice as durable as a regular trash bags.
Matches AND a Disposable Lighter (or two)
Inexpensive disposable lighters work when they get wet and equate to about 1,000 matches. But you can’t put them in the base of a fire to substitute for a missing or insufficient tinder nest—that’s where matches come in to play. The UCO Stormproof Match Kit answers your call of need for under $10.
Adding a multipurpose folding knife to your EWC can really help you out if you lose or break your primary blade. The Petzl Spatha resists corrosion, weights next to nothing, and features serration, which—love it or hate it—can come in handy in many emergency situations.
Pronounced “schmog”, this oversized piece of woven cloth can be used to protect you from the elements as a hobo bag, tourniquet, to haul wood, and trumps your bandana in size and thickness. Check out TAD Gear’s Mean T-Skull Shemagh.
Latex can stretch out to hold a lot of water and items you may need to keep from getting wet (but not at the same time). I won’t recommend a brand.
By all means, if you have one, take it with you. Turn it off, stuff it in the pouch, and reach for it when you can’t make it out on your own. Modern phones have mighty powerful GPS modules that can still work when you’re without signal. In the very least, they make for great back-up flashlights.
Note from the Viking:About a year ago, I was inspired by Cody Lundin and his book “98.6 Degrees – The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive” to incorporate a “survival kit” into my pack system and it’s helped me out in a few jams, and has also installed piece of mind into my grey matter. My EWC pouch reflects my needs and the climate of New England. It is crucial that yours be designed to meet your needs. Use this list as a basis, but to get into the right mindset on designing your own, check out this book. It’s a quick read and not once does the man shove anything down your throat. He’s just telling you how he survives and now so am I.