We go hiking in local state parks and generally are only away for a few hours at the most. But “stuff” can happen in just a few hours. So, in keeping with my normal state of mind… I like to be prepared.
The bag, or pack, is a Condor Deployment Bag. This bag is just big enough to carry some essentials and just in case items. And at about $25, much less expensive than the Maxpedition equivalent at $80 bucks. It is incredibly sturdy, well made and easy to carry. It is NOT a fanny pack. It has a shoulder strap though with a little ingenuity could be made into a fanny pack I suppose.
Deep Woods OFF! towelettes. Nothing fancy here. But in the South where I live, the ‘skeeters’ can get pretty vicious. These are small foil pouches with individual towelettes inside. I carry a small ziplock bag with me as well and put the towelette inside for either re-use that day or for ease in disposing of the products. Pack it in pack it out! Insect repellent in a small non aerosol pump spray bottle. I have used this particular brand and it works great!
Sawyer Mini Water Filter – I choose to carry a water filter vice water. It’s lighter, smaller and does the same thing. Plus, this bag is likely to be used and accessed “in town” or whatever so water will be available pretty quickly if needed. Again, this is “just in case”.
Wet towelettes are indispensable. Quick clean ups or even a cool off may be in order. I use Wet Ones but there are dozens of different ones you can use. Or even pilfer from some fast food restaurants (not encouraging this).
BITE STICK! Or an itch and sting relief remedy. I like the StingEze for Kids. Works great on stings, bites and other itchy creepy crawly things.
N95 Respirator Yeah it might be overkill but you never know. At at about $.50 per unit they shouldn’t be THAT cost prohibitive.
Sunscreen Spray Pen and it really doesn’t matter what brand. As long as it is a decent product. Small tubes of cream or even some towelette types have had some good reviews as well. You need to find what works for you and will fit in your bag.
Hot Hands hand warmers depending on the season. Obviously if I’m walking around Sumter National Forest in July these are probably not going to be in my bag. But anytime after November 1st they are there. Colder climates? Sooner.
I keep a couple of mylar space blankets in the bag as well. They are small, light weight and actually do work pretty well for keeping you warm in cooler climates. In a pinch, they can keep you cool too by turning the reflective side toward the sun and hanging out underneath. At 10 of them for $7 you can’t really go wrong.
Bank line. No, not paracord. Bank line. It stinks, it makes your hands sticky. But its nearly as strong (mine is 350 pound) and is lighter and much easier to tie and keep tied. How many of us are truly going to put 550 pounds of weight on a string anyway? And tell me again how you are going to pull one strand of the lines from paracord long enough to go fishing with? I’m a genuine paracord ADDICT. I have tons of it. But in my grab bag… its bank line.
Mini Bic Lighter. If for some reason you do need to light a fire this handy little item will be priceless. Walmart carries them in the impulse aisles.
Cheap, inexpensive, not very durable, packed for size only rain poncho. Do not expect to hand these down to your grandkids after you’ve used them a half a lifetime. Remember we’re out for only a couple of hours and may be less than 30 minutes back to our car. That’s how long these have to last.
Small Altoid Style Fire Tin – I build my own. Click the link for a short (less than 2 minute) video on what is in my tin.
Fixed blade knife – I carry the Gerber Bear Grylls paracord knife. I also have a Ka Bar Becker Necker (BK11). Both are good, lightweight blades. The decision on which one to carry is only dictated by which one I grab first.
Flashlight of course. I love the NEBO Redline series of lights. I probably own 7 or 8 of them. They are some of the best little lights around. Don’t spend a ton of money on Surefire or Streamlights. These guys rock. AND… they have a lifetime warranty. BAM! UPDATE: August 2015 – I just bought a new NEBO light. And this guy ROCKS! I love it! A little more expensive than the previous ones but really really nice.
My first aid kit is a small waterproof bag, with first aid stuff. A couple of gauze pads, some various sized band aids, some antibiotic cream, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Advil, butterfly sutures, tweezers and such. Its not a trauma kit. Its a first aid kit.
There are also things that are always with me in my pockets. A folding knife, normally a lockblade of about 4 inches in blade length. A bandanna, good for pre-filtering water if you have to, wiping sweat whatever. Just a very useful thing to have. Notepad, pen. Must haves. I keep a $20 dollar bill stuffed inside the bag as well. Probably should have put that up there with the contents.
I also carry a pistol everywhere I go. So in my bag may also be a couple of loaded magazines for my weapon. The weapon will be on my hip. But that’s like my skin. I never go anywhere without that.
One of the best areas to shop for stuff for a quick grab back like this is the “Samples” or “Travel Size” aisle at Walmart. Walgreen’s has a pretty good section too. You can find wet wipes, sunscreen, and other sundry items there in just the right size for your bag.
In closing, there is no right or wrong way to build a grab bag. Its what ever YOU think you might need at hand. What’s in your grab? Share in your comments below.