BLACKHAWK! makes some bomber gear. I know when I buy something from Blackhawk it’s going to go the long haul and endure all types of abuse and weather. That’s why I chose the Blackhawk Predator as my preferred pack for all my hikes and field use.
The loadout I’m going to discuss here is what I keep in the bag at all times so that I can, at the drop of a hat, hit the trails and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re not prepared to get outdoors then it will probably never happen. Eric Davis wrote an article in the Loadout Room – Getting Active – What Are You Ready To Be? – and addressed that very issue.
The gear I’ve settled on is the result of getting out and using it. If it doesn’t work or get used, then it gets cut from the packing list. The only way you will find out what truly works for you is to get out and actually use the gear.
Let’s take a closer look at the gear I’ve chosen.
Again, the pack I chose is the Blackhawk Predator. This pack is a smaller and leaner in profile. I like that as it allows me to be more mobile and forces me to really think about what I need to take and cut all the fat, so to speak.
Bark River Bravo 1. This knife will last beyond my lifetime, for sure. I usually carry a simple field sharpener to keep a serviceable edge on it. See my article on the Bravo 1 for a more in depth overview and capabilities of the knife.
I honestly love the Gerber Bear Grylls canteen and canteen cup. I know you guys are probably laughing at this one, but I’ve beat the hell out of the thing and have had the cup in open flames on a fire to boil water numerous times and it has performed flawlessly. As you can see though I’ve made some modifications to suit my personal preferences. First, I removed the rubber coating on the canteen cup handles as that would have melted in the fire. Second, I painted the outside of the cup with three coats of Rust-Olium High Temperature Paint used on grills. This gives the aluminum cup some additional strength when it comes to being directly in a fire. Third, I’ve removed the plastic piece that held the cap onto the canteen and replaced that with some bank line. The last thing I did was to duct tape two water purification tabs to the back of the canteen. This gives me the convenience of not having to look for them when needed.
I carry 100’ of seven strand paracord for basic camp tasks. I also keep a 25’ piece of 1” tubular nylon with a climbing grade carabiner on one end. That is for emergencies and allows me to tie a tentionless anchor around a tree and do a hasty rappel if needed. My family usually goes out on trails that have a lot of rocks and steep elevations. I like to have the option if one of them falls that I can get to them.
Princeton Tec headlamp. American made, durable, and waterproof. I prefer a head lamp over a flashlight so that I can have hands free movement.
A Bic lighter and a Strike Force fire starter with two micro inferno tabs stored in the handle. I have also wrapped the handle with duct tape to use as an accelerant if needed. This gives me the option of “sure fire” if I need it. I’ll write a future article some tips and tricks for starting a fire.
This too is for emergency use only in the event I get stuck outdoors and have to hunker down and spend the night. For this I chose a 55 gallon drum liner as my overhead cover/tarp. I’ve cut down the long sides and made homemade tie out points at each corner and the center with duct tape. Then I have the SOL Heat Sheets to wrap up in under the make shift tarp. This will for sure protect me from the elements in an emergency.
I always have a medical kit with me when out in the woods so that I can treat myself or my family in the event of an injury. I carry mine in a custom made low profile cordura pouch. In the pouch I have enough supplies to handle anything from cuts and scrapes to severe life threatening bleeding.
I hope this information helps you determine what your needs are when going outdoors, and also helps motivate you to get out and enjoy the outdoors, too. Keep a bag packed and you’ll be ready to hit the trails whenever you like.