Basic Kit, What I carry and why

Often on courses and in day-to-day life we are asked what kit we use. With those of us who work out in the woods day in and day out we tend to use well tried and tested items. In this blog rather than go into specific kit recommendations I thought I’d try and explain the logic behind the kit I carry day to day. I’ve deliberately only looked at the “always carry kit” as what kit to carry varies from environment to environment as it does from person to person. 

Day sack 

For the last 20 years or more I’ve carried a standard British army NI patrol park. My reasoning is twofold. The first is it’s a bombproof bit of kit and the other is they are cheap. admittedly it isn’t the lightest or most ergonomic of packs, but it fits a weekends worth of kit in summer as well as being a good general size. 

What’s in it?

  1.  Brew kit.
  2.  Mess kit.
  3.  Fire lighting kit.
  4.  Personal kits.
  5.  Cutting Tools.
  6.  Wash/hygiene kit.
David’s brew kit

What’s in the kits 

The brew kit & mess kit have a lot of commonalities in that they are mostly stainless-steel and for good reason. What’s the reason? Well, after many years of scout camps and various outdoor activities, I came to a couple of conclusions. Firstly, my food & coffee at some point gets cold, having a metal kit means I can warm it up whatever my heating source. It’s also far easier to clean and even sterilise before and after use rather than the greasy residue that is hard to remove from plastic bowls. 

Lastly, it’s very difficult to break. It may get dented or bashed but at worst (worst being my cup being driven over by a vehicle) it can be manipulated into shape again, with a large rock or stick. I keep it all in separate bags, keeping the containers from making each other dirty. 

In the brew kit I have:

  1. Large stainless-steel mug.
  2. Aero press coffee filter. (Probably my only luxury in the kit,).

The mess kit contains:

  1. Bowl & handle.
  2. Skillet.
  3. Bowl.
  4. Pan.
  5. Chain mail scourer. 
David’s mess kit

Fire kit 

Of course, you always need something to cook on, be it a fire or a stove. Often working in the woods it’s on a fire, so I like to carry various ways to light it. I have a varied kit, I’ve not covered tinder’s as again they vary on the environment however my go to kit includes:

  1. Fire steel.
  2. Eld (blow tube).
  3. A bow drill bearing block, in this case a bit of loose bone.
  4. Lifeboat matches.
  5. Vaseline.
  6. Flint and steel in a tin. 

Previous blogs have gone into detail on fire lighting, so the only think I’ll mention here is that fire steels or ferro rods are not all the same. One test of a decent rod such as the strike fire in the picture is to stroke it a waist height & the sparks should stay alight until they hit the ground. 

Personal kit 

This will vary to the individual, but I carry a small set of items everywhere I go, the kit contents are:

  1. 5 litre dry bag.
  2. x2 head torches, with spare batteries.
  3. x1 power bank and lead.
  4. A pair of gloves.
  5. A tub of hand cream.
  6. A weather/wind speed meter (anemometer).

Most of the items in the kit are self-explanatory however many folks might ask why two head torches. The simple answer is my batteries might need changing after dark.

David’s personal kit

Cutting tools 

Cutting tools in your everyday kit isn’t always the best idea. However, as a full-time bushcraft instructor and forester these are in constant use, so they live in a bag that goes to work with me every day. With other items I tend to keep this simple, with a modified Mora basic knife and a decent saw, in this case a silky gomboy which will feel small trees etc. Again not an everyday need for many, something like a Laplander will do just as well. 

I also carry my sharpening kit with me as I have a routine of sharpening while my lunch or evening meal cooks. I’m a big advocate of little but often to keep my tools tip top. In my everyday kit I carry 

  1. x1 DC 4.
  2. x1 homemade leather strop.
  3. Polishing compound, (in my case it’s tormek but each to their own on brand).
  4. First aid kit.

You may have noticed I’ve added the first aid kit to the list, that’s as it never leaves my pack unless I’m using cutting tools, then I take it out and always keep it within reach. 

Wash kit 

I’ve not put a picture up on this one as I’m sure the audience doesn’t need to see my clean socks and boxers, but I’ve listed it below, as well as my reasoning. 

  1. 5 litre dry bag.
  2. x3 face cloths face, body, feet.
  3. Talc/foot powder.
  4. Toothbrush and paste.
  5. Mouth wash.
  6. Travel towel.
  7. Nail clippers.
  8. Spare socks.
  9. Spare underwear.

I carry the kit I do for a reason, if I can do nothing else at times, I always want to have the ability to keep myself comfortable and well. Even if I can only wash with my billycan, I have the ability in the kit to deal with my feet and teeth, two things that if you start to get issues with you are then in a downward spiral. Again, with the stainless-steel kit I can boil water, use the skillet or billy can as a bowl, then sterilise with fire.

David’s extra items to consider

In regard to taking my kit beyond this with sleep system food etc, it can be dependent on location, environment and reason for the trip, ranging from historic blanket bedroll to modern sleeping bag and tarp. 

With my kit listed above, topped up with food, axe of choice and sleep system, I’m carrying most, if not all of what I need to get by in the wilderness. Some other bits I tend to regularly carry that you may wish to consider are a decent flask and water filter. 

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