The colder weather has started to make its presence felt, and I am currently re-examining my Get Home Bag (GHB) to meet the change in season. It is important to do this periodically, to ensure all items are in working order, all food is within expiry dates, and to make sure that the contents match the requirements. My kit has been kitted out for the warmer weather, with a large woolen blanket, minimal clothing, and no need for anything above a basic amount of shelter. Due to the smaller amount of material I needed to carry, I was able to get by with a smaller pack.
Now with the change in season, I need to re-examine my bag and re-evaluate the contents. I now need to carry a Sleeping bag that can handle the conditions, a change of clothes, cold weather gear (for the sections of the journey that may be covered in snow or just for terrible cold weather) and a add a more sturdy shelter.
When I create my GHB I try to follow Dave Canterbury’s five Cs.
This gives me a great foundation on which to build my bag.
The bag itself is a large hiking backpack. It is possibly around 80 liters, yet I don’t fill it to maximum capacity.
Of course, I have some basic first aid supplies. These are not extensive, yet are for more situations which I can foresee. I have also included food in my pack. This provides me with sustenance for any occasion. If I have a break down, the contents can provide a quick snack. If I am hungry while driving home from work, I can grab something from the bag (to be replaced once home) which will get me through the journey. Or, if I am forced to hike, the food within can feed me for 3-5 days. It isn’t great food, yet it is light, easy to eat and carry, and it is not expensive. The food included are also items that I have eaten, and continue to eat… nothing weird here for me. This isn’t within the five Cs, yet it is important to me.
I have included the large, 3 meter, tarp in the bag. It is large enough that I can make a sizeable shelter for myself and anyone else with me. When I use it with my 2/2 meter Australian Army Hoochie (which could be used for a floor covering) it can make the shelter very comfortable. I also have a large poncho to keep the wet weather off me and my pack.
Finally, I have included a snow jacket and a light change of clothes. These will allow me to change for the night to allow my hiking clothes to air for the evenings.
I have a Gerber, full tang, knife in my pack. I have had this knife for well over a decade and it has served me very well over the years. This knife can do all the large jobs I may require of the item.
I have included my folding saw in the bag to allow me to process wood for fires, and (most importantly) for items to assist with securing the shelter to the ground (make a tent pole and ground stakes).
I have also added a small (and light) Smith and Wesson skeleton handled knife. It is wrapped in Para cord and is there as a backup blade.
Finally, I have a Multi-tool which has all the usual items. A great deal of usefulness in a small package.
I have the Stainless steel, 1 liter, container I carry everywhere I go. It is one I use at work and it travels with me in my everyday backpack. I also have an old Australian Army canteen, which includes a steel cup. I can boil water in the steel cup, or in the stainless steel water bottle. Finally, I carry a couple of plastic water bottles in my car for convenience. These all allow me to carry up to 4 liters of water, and to sterilise water by boiling (or the addition of purification tablets I have in my pack).
I have a very capable disposable lighter in my kit. It is super light and takes almost no room. I also carry a couple of Ferro rods in my bag (one is attached to my Smith and Wesson knife, the other is in a survival kit which I reviewed many years ago). These can be used to create a spark to make a fire. Matches are also in my survival kit, along with some combustible cotton balls and a small tea candle. Finally, I have some hexamine tablets which can be used to create a fire. They are part of a little stove I carry. With these items I am fairly confident I can light a fire.
While it isn’t “fire”, I will also include in this category the inclusion of a head light and a light camp lantern (with batteries for both). These are used when hiking (as I can’t light camp fires in National Parks) yet they are also useful for any activity after the sun sets. I have also thrown in a pencil light and a couple of disposable glow sticks.
To erect my shelter I will need some cordage, and for that I have the usual Para cord. I have around 15 meters of Para cord included, along with 15 meters of double braided rope. Finally, I have a meter of copper wire and a basic sewing kit for emergencies. These items are so light I have included them all in the bag.
I have all the basics covered, and with this pack I am very confident I can meet most situations that I expect I could encounter. I have used this kit for many accidents that have occurred over the years, so much so that I don’t like driving anywhere without this in the back of the car.
What else do I need?
Despite my confidence in my bag there are other items I wish I could add to my inventory. These are items which I feel could compliment the already included equipment, or make the pack more versatile.
Water is a big requirement. If I need to walk for 3-5 days, I will need a large amount of water… more than I want to carry.
According to a few websites I have checked, most people need about a liter of water each hour of walking (not including water I would need for cooking). So I don’t want to carry that much water. In order to fulfill my needs I will need to procure water on the way. I know that the path to my house has dozens of streams and water sources which I can use to collect water. To that end, I believe I need to add a water filter to my pack. I have researched this for a while and the best one I can find is a Sawyer mini water-filter. It is small, light, and will last a long time.
I can also use this when I go camping with my kids… as we can use it to filter water for our longer hikes (my daughter really wants me to take her on a two day hike in the National Park).
I have a canteen, mess kit and a stainless steel water bottle… yet I want something a little better. I have been very interested in something like David Canterbury’s Survival Mess Kit. It has a great water bottle, a container for cooking.
It isn’t as high on my list as a water filter, yet it would make cooking easier.
I hope next time I update my GHB I will have at least one of the items I mention I require.