My Backcountry Carry Gear

Because I like to be prepared

We all know that guy...

... the one who has a backpack or satchel or some kind of bag always with him. And it’s always packed with exactly the right piece of gear needed for whatever situation may arise. Well, I’m that guy sometimes. I’ve got the bag and the gear and I like to be prepared. I try not to be obnoxious about it, but most times when there’s a need outdoors for some kind of something, I’m the one with the right piece of equipment. It's a little bit of Boy Scout, MacGyver, and nerd all mixed together. Mostly nerd with me, though.

Truly, however, many of us have our every day or almost every day carry items. And I’ll bet our lists are fairly similar, in fact. Today, I want to show you what I carry into the backcountry -- that is, when I’m hunting or hiking or just enjoying the lesser traveled parts of the creation. These items aren’t all that could be carried but they’re a good starting point for being prepared. Whatever you carry, make it a step up from basic, able to handle the abuse and demands of the backcountry.

For a knife, in the Fixed Blades Are Better Category, there’s the Glock Survival Knife. Made as robustly as any Glock pistol, Glock knives feature a blade made with spring steel (HRC ~55) with an electrophoretic coating and a exceptionally durable polymer handle. As a tool, it’s tougher than nails. The polymer sheath can be installed on your belt without having to remove your belt. Or you can lash it to a backpack or MOLLE-equipped gear. I’ve cut, pierced, and pried a lot with this knife; it takes a beating and begs for more. With an overall length of 11.4 inches and a weight of 7.13 ounces, the Glock Survival Knife sells for less than $40 online.

In addition to your tactical light, take a headlamp with you. I’m showing you my Smith & Wesson headlamp but truly just about any make/model will do just fine. The point is to get a bright LED light attached to your head, freeing your hands for other tasks. Features to look for in a headlamp: a lamp you can tilt down to a useful angle, high and low settings, and an adjustable (and therefore comfortable) head strap. Higher end models may offer a red light in addition to the bright white light and a white light that automatically dims when you look down. Prices will vary depending on features.

Rather than trying to carry your gear strapped to your waist or filling your pockets, pack it all in a backpack of some sort. This Vanquest Ibex 30 has been a faithful companion, offering superior organization with plenty of pockets as well as webbing for attaching extra, well, anything. Best features are the compression straps with allow me to have physics work in my favor by making my pack as small as possible on my back. Also love the heavily padded shoulder straps and waist straps. Current Vanquest Ibex models include 26 and 35 (as in carrying capacity, measured in liters) with even better features than the 30. Prices range from $185 to $230, respectively.

Rather than any other gun, carry a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver, specifically the 686+ with a three-inch barrel. It’s reliable, powerful, and with seven rounds on board, you’ll be well prepared for encounters with any two- or four-legged aggressors. The trigger is virtually unmatched in precision and smoothness. Even though it weighs 36.8 ounces, you’ll appreciate the steel when it soaks up recoil from Magnum loads. This gun retails for $849.

Whatever you carry, just smile when friends poke fun at your preparedness. They’ll quit joking when you’re the one who comes to their rescue.

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