Anything can go wrong out on the road. It pays to be prepared. But there is limited space in the trunk of the car or behind the seat of the pickup. And that's why packing an emergency kit is always a compromise at best.
In the back of my Toyota 4Runner, I have a TruckVault system that allows me to securely carry a number of items that I otherwise wouldn't bring. Out of sight, I can keep anything from a shotgun to a water filter, a knife, extra ammunition and energy bars (a Clif bar for me, a TurboPup bar for the dog). I'll use all of it eventually.
But this isn't my emergency kit. Ideally my emergency kit is portable. It could be a backpack or a tackle box, but I prefer a soft-sided case that could fit inside a backpack if I need to leave the vehicle. Another advantage of a soft case is that it doesn't slide around in the truck like a hard plastic or steel box can.
Rather than starting with the carry system, it makes more sense to assemble the essentials then decide what they will fit in.
Here's what I carry everyday:
- Food. I want something that will be there for me when I'm stuck out in the desert. Candy bars, jerky and meal replacement bars don't take up much space. I also have something for the dog.
- I need a knife too, and my go-to is a tactical knife from McNett Tactical. I also keep chemical lightsticks for signaling. A safety whistle comes in handy to recall the dog at the end of a run.
- I carry a water bottle, but I also carry a water filter bottle by Aquamira. To make fire, my kit has waterproof matches and a lighter.
- I never go anywhere without a bottle of Tecnu Extreme. When hunting or fishing or hiking in poison oak country, I want to be able to wash up afterward. A little water and a little Tecnu protects me from a poison oak rash.
- It is a good idea to carry a space blanket. If an accident victim goes into shock, a space blanket can help them stay warm till the ambulance arrives. But better than a space blanket is a real blanket or a sleeping bag. I always have a sleeping bag with me when I go into the desert. Just in case.
- One item to consider is the Field Fix Kit from McNett Tactical. It includes cable ties, seam grip, sewing needles and thread, paracord, duct tape, Tenacious Tape and more.
For the last few months, I've been relying on a new charging system to power up my electronics. In elk camp in October, we used the NeverDedd Maxx to recharge a phone and two iPads and then we jump-started my friend's Ford truck with the amazing little unit. So now I carry that around too.
After one too many vehicle tow ordeals, I bought a tow strap. I've used it way too much now to ever leave it home. I also carry a shovel for putting out fires, for digging out of snow banks and other unpleasant tasks.
I've been carrying a come-along just in case I have to pull my vehicle out of a ditch. Haven't had to use it. Yet.
Gary Lewis can be reached at www.garylewisoutdoors.com
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