By January 3, 2013 Read More →

Whats in my Backpack?

[intro2]Whats in my backpack?[/intro2]

Whats in here? (photo credit://

Being prepared doesn’t always have to apply to natural or man-made disasters.  Being prepared should be a way of life no matter what you do.  If you are a hiker, hunter, fisherman, camper, etc.  You should always have a bag of goodies in your backpack or other pack, just in case things don’t go as planned.  Each activity is different, but I will share what I carry in my backpack and who knows, it could get you out of a sticky situation in the Great Outdoors someday.


My bag of goodies was developed from a list called the Ten Essentials,  originally developed by a group of outdoors men in the Northwestern United States in the 1930s.  It has since been adapted to almost every outdoor activity as the list applies to all.  You should always carry:

Map and Compass (photo credit:

Navigation – A map of the local area (in a waterproof package) can be very helpful whether you are familiar with the area or not.  I always carry a good compass to help get my bearings, no pun intended.  Compasses, unlike GPS units require no batteries and work well in all conditions, wet, dry or in between.

Sun protection – A good pair of sunglasses is always good to have even if you leave the house on a cloudy day.  Who knows if conditions might change?  Sun screen is another must.  Even in dead of winter sunscreen is good to have on hand as you can receive a sunburn anytime of year.

Insulation – Although as I write this, here in Texas, it is overcast and cool in winter.  You never know when that crazy front will come in.  It’s always good to have a warm fleece or windbreaker/rainjacket (or both) in your pack just in case the weather makes a turn for the worse.

Illumination – If you are like me you can underestimate how long a hike or outdoor trip might take.  You might plan on being home way before dark, but Fido runs off and you have to find him or you just spend a little too much time admiring the scenery and it  gets dark.  For this category, I pack a headlamp for hands free illumination, with a backup regular flashlight, and maybe an emergency candle or two.  You never know when those might come in handy.

First-aid supplies – I am certainly not talking about an expedition level kit, but it is not a bad idea to have a basic kit in your pack in case you or someone else has an accident.  It might not be a bad idea to get some basic first aid/CPR training to go along with that kit as well.

Fire! (photo credit:

Fire – Just like illumination, its a great idea to carry multiple methods of fire starting.  Waterproof matches in a waterproof container, a lighter, and some of those candles mentioned above are good ideas to have with you.  You can also carry some tinder with you like dryer lint in a waterproof container.

Repair kit and tools – A great compact tool kit is a multi-tool, like a leatherman.  A Leatherman is not the only game in town of course, as many manufactures are out there in the multi tool arena.  I always carry a pocket knife with me for cutting jobs, some safety pins, a short length of paracord, and a bit of duct tape rolled up on broken pencil.  All of those items should help me complete any minor repairs on the trail.

Nutrition – Even if I am going out for the day for some fishing, a hike or a bike ride, I usually take some extra food with me.  Good lightweight compact choices, such as trail mix, granola bars, or energy bars like Cliff Bars, are good to have in your pack.  Even better, you can carry full meals like MREs with you that have everything you need for an entire day.

Hydration – I drink copious amounts of water when outside in Texas as its usually hot.  Most of my day packs will accept hydration bladders and have space for two or more water bottles as well.  It’s a good idea to have alternative means to acquire water as well such as filtration systems or purification tablets in case your supply runs out.

Emergency Shelter (photo credit:

Emergency shelter – More often than I like to admit, a day trip I had planned turns into an overnight trip.  It’s not a bad idea to carry something to make shelter such as a tarp, emergency blanket, or bivy.  You never know when something might extend your trip.

By keeping a cache of these supplies I went over, you should be prepared for almost anything that might happen while enjoying your outdoor adventure.  Put some of that Christmas money to good use and pick up some things you might be missing in your own kit.


Please comment below if you enjoyed the article or have other suggestions to add to the list.  Be safe out there and Happy Prepping to you in 2013!

Friends welcome to add me here: Facebook or Twitter

Shop my store for more prepping goods! The Survival Nurds Prepping Needs

Posted in: Bug Out Bags

About the Author:

19 Comments on "Whats in my Backpack?"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

    • Methane Creator says:

      TNN: Everyone in our Prepper Group brought their BOBs in to share with everyone. Some bags were bigger than others, and some barely had the essentials. Seems Fire Making and Food took the front seat. Everyone left feeling they had a lot more stuff to try and fit in their bags. Our oldest member had the best stuff in his we feel. He has been living off-grid for 25+ years and seems to be doing fine without the modern conveniences. He always offers interesting workable solutions to the problems posed by members.

  1. I don’t like dryer lint as a fire starter. It is unreliable, and you never know what you’re getting in the mix. It’s better and safer to carry cotton balls. They’re cheap, and have medical uses in addition to being a firestarter.

  2. stevenswilkins says:

    nice way to start the prep year, thanks! we all have whistles in our back packs and a ‘leatherman’ each. including in my son’s school back pack.

  3. robert overstreet says:

    i use cotten balls soaked in melted vasoline then i pack about 4-or5 in a 35mm canaster i can use them for cuts,burns,lip balm,fire starters thay burn about 7 min.

  4. Sasquatch says:

    Nature Nurd,
    For your repair kit I would suggest also a Speedy Stitcher sewing awl, and some Household Goop, or some other type of glue. I even carry a hot glue stick – melt with heat from a flame and apply.

    For First Aid I like to go a little bit overboard myself. I would add a 6′ Israeli Bandage system, a long Ace bandage, a Sam Splint, a chest wound closure, super glue, gauze wraps, and some quick clot bandages, or sponges. if you really want to go overboard surgical staplers are now available on amazon.

    For water filtration I have chosen the life straw. Are you a fan of that product?

    I also am a huge fan of para-cord, and by using the informational videos made by JD of TIAT “Tying It All Together” on youtube I have managed to incorporate it in many ways into my gear.

    One thing I did not see you mention in your gear was Security. Personally I am a big proponent of carrying pepper spray all the time. My 2 favorite products are the 3.5 oz bottle of Cold Steel Inferno, and the Kimber Pepper Blaster II. Pepper spray is great for dealing with all the vermin, predators, and even animals that one might run into as well. But I guess that is more EDC.

    Lastly if you are not already wearing them I always keep my boots in my vehicle and change into them at the slightest need.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Yes I think you are missing the point of this article…this is not a bug out bag. This is basically an EDC outdoorsbag. Not enough space to mention everything and get people to read this. Yes I am armed when I go out, but rather not say with what at this writing. i mentioned lifestraw in another article its a good product though I have yet to pick up any will soon.

  5. RTGold_TX says:

    Great list.  How about a signal mirror or signaling device of some sort.  I believe in multipurpose items, so I make sure to carry at least one emergency blanket in my pack.  cut a corner of it off and you’ve got a signaling device.

  6. Joe says:

    Great kit, and one of the things I liked about it is that it does not contain a lot of unnecessary junk to load you down. As most experienced people know, it is not what you take with you but what you leave behind that is the most important. Anyone can fill a bag, but it takes considerable thought to leave it as empty of superflous stuff as possible. The author appears to be an experienced outdoorsman. It’s obvious that he has experience in using a map and compass. Do you know what declination is? If you don’t, you need to take some lessons on actual navigation and not just merely keep a compass in your pack. The point is having the stuff is only half the battle. It doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if you don’t know how to use it expertly. And carrying a knife doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know how to put a good edge on it. Do you know the standard of a good working edge? It is being able to easily cut a piece of typing paper with very little effort. If it doesn’t cut it easily, it is not considered a good working edge–keep in mind this is the MINIMUM standard. Learn to sharpen your knife so in the event that you actually need it, it can actually do its job as intended.

  7. Barry Wood says:

    I would add a signal mirror and whistle. A lightweight, inexpensive source for the signal mirror is an old CD or DVD. They are highly reflective and the hole in the center allows you to direct the flash at the target being signaled. As for the whistle, I would recommend a plastic “Storm” whistle. However, if you prefer a metal one, get a “Ref’s” Whistle. This comes with a rubber cover which allows for cold weather use.

    Other than that, it is a great list. I have worked in search and rescue for 20 years and if everyone carried what was on your list, I am sure we would have found them quicker and none the worse for wear.

  8. Hawkeyes_WA says:

    After doing all kinds of camping and just plain “getting outta Dodge”, here’s a few things I have added to my bags:

    Tongue depressors. Makes for nice dry kindling. Or pop-sickle sticks.
    Zip ties. Six inch up to around 24 inch. They are always handy.
    Found six rather small LED flashlights,for less than $1 each. If I loose one,so what? (I do have a ‘real’ flashlight, these are extras and ‘loners’)
    Paper clips. Small,Large. They have really come in handy!
    I don’t usually carry a tent, but do carry an 8×10 tarp. With a little creativity.and some para-cord, one can make a fairly decent tent.
    Chap-stick. Good for keeping lips un-cracked, and can help start a fire.

    I generally try to not come up with the Rolls Royce version of things, but not the Sanford and Sons version either. I try to keep things simple, affordable, and workable.

    If these items help, you’re welcome.

  9. Allie says:

    Garbage bags weigh almost nothing, can be filled with duff for a “matress”, used as a raincoat or any waterproofing and if dark colored could be use to condense water in a REALLY dire situation. Easy to add…..

  10. Dan says:

    I like your ideas and adding them to my list. I would also give a thanks to you for putting these ideas on the site. For my basic kit i fit almost all in a 40 oz. water bottle with a built in filter. i.e. fire starter, e-blanket, 4 zip lock baggies, multi-tool, snare wire, 2 day first aid kit, and like the comment before 2 trash bags. that about takes the room of my bottle but i do cram believe it or not but i carry a mil grade camm stick light and dark green just because you never know if the reason you are using this kit is escape and evasion or survival.

The best investment for prepping is your skills

Black Friday $10 300x250