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Must haves for long hikes/outdoor exploration?

outdoors hiking survival backpacking camping

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#1 Bernard Capulong

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 09:29 PM

I wanted to hear what the community would consider must haves for a day out on the trail, in the forest, etc. What would you recommend to pack? What kind of gear would be best?

 

To get the ball rolling I would imagine a light/ultralight backpack is crucial, along with a water bottle or some kind of hydration system, a beefy folder or a fixed blade, some paracord, a way to start a fire, a throwy flashlight, etc. Do you guys have any specifics in mind?

 

With your help I can put together some cool guides or other content for the site, so I'd appreciate any input! What better place to do research than with you guys?


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#2 Dom

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 09:45 PM

Water is the most important priority. Minimal gear is best for a day hike, the less gear to weigh you down the better. That idea is counterproductive to carrying water though. My preferred water carrier is a fanny pack style bag/bottle carrier. The bag pouch has space for gear and food. The pack has room for two bottles. For longer hikes needing more liquid, I carry a Camelback, which also has space for gear.

The next important trail gear is boots. Great boots are unnoticeable. Bad boots are a nightmare.

The gear itself depends on location and duration; knife, light, etc.
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#3 Mikey Bautista

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 10:13 PM

@Dom: You got me interested when you said boots. Any recommendations or particular features (Gore-Tex?) or reliable brands that we should be looking for in a great hiking boot?


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#4 Stupendous Walrus

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 10:44 PM

Now we're talking! I grew up in Northern Ontario (re: serious hiking/camping) so here goes my .02 cents, adjusted for inflation.

WATER: Preferably, a CamelBak or similar product. One thing that is absolutely vital to survival, especially if you get lost, is some form of water purification. Life Straws are an amazing product, but st the VERY LEAST, some water purifaction tablets.

BLADED THINGS: skip your EDC style folder. Get a mid sized camp knife. I recommend the SOG Northwest Ranger. Great blade all around. Make sure you have an SAK somewhere and finally, an axe or hatchet. Shocking the uses they have. A skilled woodsman snd butcher and dress game with one. Personally, Gransfors Bruk is my favourite. Still made in the same building, by hand, in Sweden where they have been made for over a hundred years. (You can also take bushcraft and forging classes should you visit their facility!!) alternatively, axesfrom Best Made Co. are awesome as well. Listen, spend ahundred, or a few hundred dollars on a good axe or hatchet and it will survive generation after generation. Make sure you have something for field sharpening! In these situations I just toss a couple of these bad boys in: http://reviews.canad...ews/reviews.htmthey weigh nothing and do the job in a pinch.

BAGS: GoRuck or Osprey for me. Day or maybe two day trips, I typically use a 22 litre Osprey bag. Tough mothers they are! This all depends on your intentions as far as duration and terrain. North Face and Patagonia make great products as well.

CLOTHING: Again, high quality here is key. Personally, I am addicted to Columbia sportswear. First off, ethics, business practices are important to me, so the three companies I purchase clothing from for outdoors are Patagonia, North Face and Columbia. Start with your base layer. Make sure you have the appropriate support. If it's hot, then stuff like Under Armour that wicks moisture is awesome. If you get out in the weather (i.e. Canadians and people from Minnesota :D), step it up. Stanfield long underwear for me, still made in Canada. Columbia base layers work wonders as well. Their outerwear uses a hest reflection technology that will keep you warm in any realistic situation. I rarely have to wear an upper base layer with my Columbia jacket because I will legitimately sweat through it in -20 degree Celsius weather. For winter boots, use Sorels. I have a pair of my dads thst I use that he bought before I was born. For light hiking in more agreeable weather, I wear shoe-style North Face hiking boots with Gore-tex. for heavier hiking, definitely get something with an ankel. Merrell (sp?) are great as well. Gloves, hats etc I will use from North Face or Columbia. FOR GOODNESS SAKE bring extra socks. If your trip doesn't call for a full pack of extra clothes, at least throw a few extra pairs of socks in a dry bag. Remember, your feet will make or break your adventure.

EYEWEAR: Far more important than it's given credit for. Especially in winter were snow blindness is very real and very serious. Preferably something polarized but snything is better than nothing. I personally wewr Maui Jims.

FIRST AID: Aside from your standard stuff like bandaids etc, pack extra heat blankets. They add no weight and will save lives as they have millions of times in the past. Great for maintaing body heat in emergency situations, but they're also reflective or could help form an emergency shelter. Also, any runner/hiker etc will tell you: pack extra footcare. Lots of Moleskin, duct tale, super glue...anything thst will help your feet. GoRuck actually sell a first aid kit for footcare. Also be more aware of the increase in monor cuts due to trodding through fauna. Same deal with bugs and all their nastiness.

FOOD: Clif bars and beef jerky. And some of that elf bread from Lord of the Rings. Certai products, if their can last without refridgeration etc, like Ensure, can really save your ass as well.

MISC.: Rope! Not paracord, but actual quality rope. Maybe you have to make a shelter, or climb down something, or across something. Learn some useful knots and hitch on up! Generic pocket guide books can be a life saver too. Even if it is a skill you have, in high stress situstions your brain won't function properly. Suppose you get injured or lost, having a little pocketbook with some basic first aid and survival tips is great. Also have a few firestaring options. A bic is awesome, but some weatherproof matches and a ferro rod are always good to have.

SAFETY: again, depending on your terrain and plan, a signaling mirror and a couple pen flares may well save your life.


There. Get out of the house. Explore. Have fun! Be one with nature. Bathe in a stream. Sing to a bobcat. Dance with the wind.
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#5 Chris Szaroleta

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 12:47 AM   Best Answer

You're in my wheelhouse, Bernard!  I think my love of the EDC community started in the outdoor gear community.  You probably saw the day hike carry I posted last Sunday...some of the items I mention will mirror those.  Do keep in mind that every situation is unique, as well as the geographic location of the hiker, meaning that some items might only be specific to certain areas.  This goes for seasonal needs as well.  Also, the majority of items most of us take into the woods, especially on a day hike, go relatively unused.  Realistically, you're just walking through the woods, right?  Why on Earth would you have a tarp with you???  For emergency purposes, of course!  I'll try to keep my ideas as general as possible, but with notes to the side...could get lengthy at times!

 

SURVIVABILITY:

  • Daypack (Without the bulk of a tent, sleeping bag or several days worth of food/water, the pack itself can be a bit heavier than one carried on an overnighter/multiday hike.  Also, I'm listing the pack first because the other, more important, elements have to go into something, right?  GoLite makes amazing bags for hikes of all sorts.  If you're looking for something that can be purchased from a brick and mortar retailer, REI does it better than anyone.  They design, market and sell their very own branded products, and the daypacks they produce are some of the best.  Look at anything in the Flash series.)
  • Shelter (A common survival concept among the uber prepared is called the Rule of Threes.  The Rule of Threes dictates that you can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter [exposure], 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.  On a day hike, I prefer a tarp.  Personally, I like one a little on the large side for comfort purposes, perhaps an 8x10.  A 5x7 ft. will work just fine, but if you're caught in a downpour, you're relegated to a small area beneath the tarp.  Also, keep in mind that it's not likely going to be a strict 5x7 ft. above your head...depending on how steep the pitch is [the peak], it could be substantially smaller.  The one I'm adoring the most at the moment is the Terra Nova Competition 2 Tarp.  A scant 19.5 oz.)
  • Water (Anytime you're away from easily attainable water, you want to be as prepared as possible.  Remember the Rule of Threes above...3 days without water.  When it comes to my personal preference, I carry water with me, but also with redundant means of disinfecting water that I might have to gather.  I almost always carry a Klean Kanteen, or similar stainless steel bottle, that is NOT insulated.  The reason is for the purpose of boiling water [the best way to disinfect potentially contaminated H20].  The other option that I will often carry with me is a Sawyer Mini filter.  If you don't want the bulk and relative imbalance in your pack caused by a bottle, a hydration bladder is the next best option.  You can still use something like the Sawyer with most bladders.  My personal preference is and always will be for the Platypus Reservoir...any size.)
  • Fire (This goes back to the exposure thing from the Rule of Threes.  Let's face it, we love starting fires in the backcountry.  I'm not talking about the yearning a pyromaniac has for flames, but the inherent, primal joy that comes from setting logs ablaze to provide heat or cook food...we're all cavemen at heart!  While there's absolutely no substitute for a good, working knowledge of fire building, having the necessary implements to make it easier is always nice.  A lighter, matches, ferrocerium rod, two sticks...whatever!  Just be well versed in the process before heading in to the woods.  Remember, too, that responsibility with fire is always important, even in a survival situation, which is exactly the reason we're even talking about fire.  On an ordinary, uneventful day hike, there shouldn't be a need.  A product like WetFire Tinder can make fire starting 100% simpler, even in wet conditions.)
  • Saw or Axe (Again, this is an example of preparedness overkill, but better safe than sorry.  Most people tend to use a saw in warmer months/climates and an axe in wintry conditions.  The idea here is to have the necessary tool available for processing firewood, or possibly, shelter building.  The thing is, it's almost completely unnecessary.  In nearly any situation, the wood needed to start a fire AND keep it going is already available right on the ground, broken up into nice little pieces.  As for shelter building...bring that tarp!  For a small folding saw, few are better than the Bahco Laplander.  For a small axe or hatchet, almost any could fit the bill for the needs mentioned above.  I rather enjoy the Morakniv Boron Steel Camping Axe.)
  • Fixed Blade Knife (This one's a bit easier to explain.  We love, love, LOVE knives, so take them everywhere, including the backcountry!  That's it.  Ok, not really...... A knife in the woods has a plethora of uses.  Most notably, in this scenario, it's very helpful when processing wood for a fire, especially if the blade length is 4-5", has a flat edge and is full tang.  I'm a fixed blade knife nut, so I could speak on this topic for days.  To keep it light and cost effective, the Mora Bushcraft Black is hard to beat for an all-around outdoor/bushcraft knife.  It isn't full tang, but visit YouTube and you'll see any number of people abusing this knife and it maintains beautifully.)
  • Lighting (I am of the opinion that a handheld flashlight becomes pointless in the the wilderness, especially in a survival type scenario.  Why in the world would you want to take up precious hand real estate when you can jus strap it to your head?!  Headlamps are invaluable resources in the hiking/camping world.  Obviously, if you're keeping with the standard theme of redundancy, carry a small flashlight, if you must [I'll catch plenty of flack for these anti flashlight remarks...ha!]  I highly recommend Petzl Headlamps.  I love lightweight items that disappear when you're not in immediate need of them, so I enjoy the Petzl Zipka line of headlamps.  Instead of having a large, obtrusive band around your head, they have a retractable cord...super convenient!  Oh, I almost forgot, don't forget an extra set of batteries.)
  • Cordage (While cordage isn't necessarily necessary, it can be VERY helpful in emergency situations, and definitely for getting your tarp between a couple trees.  Most of us enjoy good ol' 550 paracord and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.  Others will swear by bankline or trotline...whatever floats your boat that day, is what I say.  Have some of all of it at your house and take what you decide on that day.  There's a new company that ran a a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign early in 2014 for a new type of paracord.  Their name is Live Fire Gear and the product is FireCord.  It's essentially regular 550 paracord, but one of the inner strands is made of a water resistant fire tinder.  Cut of the end, pull it out a bit, throw a spark at it and it lights up.  Man, I love multi-purpose items!  I'll add in a pic of some of my more beloved fixed blades below, each with an orange FireCord lanyard.)
  • Navigation (Since we're basically covering all of our bases for an emergency scenario, we can't overlook the possibility that we've wandered off the trail and are now lost.  This can make for desperate times.  Only once have I been lost in nature...it was decidedly NOT fun.  I was far too young to understand navigation in the wild and the concept of staying put, staying calm and properly thinking out a plan.  Nowadays, I'm decent with a compass.  You don't have to have anything super fancy...anything from Suunto will do, but I do prefer actual liquid filled compasses to digital compasses for their accuracy.  The Suunto Clipper is so tiny and light that it will disappear in a small pouch within your larger pack.  As with fire starting, know how to use it before venturing into the wild!)
  • Signaling (So you've gone for a day hike alone [seriously, take a buddy] and your foot got trapped between to large rocks as you were traversing a moderately steep ridge.  You lost your balance, your weight shifted hard to one side and BAM...broken ankle.  This is now where you live until someone comes along to save you.  Hopefully you remembered the Rule of Threes and you're prepared with a tarp to throw overhead and enough water to sip on for a couple days.  Otherwise, adios!  Having a mirror, using smoke from your fire, a whistle or a light source [you have your headlamp, right?]...anything will do as long as it gets the attention of someone from a distance.  Ultimate Survival Technologies makes the StarFlas mirror which works quite well.  For a whistle, going back to REI, they make a ridiculously small keychain whistle made of anodized aluminum that is ear piercingly loud!)
  • Multitool (This is a must have item for me.  I want it to have as much function as possible to set me up for success in nearly any scenario.  In order for it to accomplish my needs entirely, it must have a pliers, a blade, a saw [more firewood processing], a file, and scissors - anything else is awesome, but not necessary in the woods...dare I say, I won't have a need for a screwdriver out there.  The flathead, if broad enough, can be used to pry apart things, however.  I have two recommendations in this category...in my mind, they are virtual equals.  The Leatherman Wave and the Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit X.)
  • First Aid (For a day hike, there's no need to get crazy fancy here.  Some bandages of varying sizes, a good bandana, which can be used for a TON of different things outdoors [a sling for a busted arm, for instance], medicines [Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Benadryl, Triple Antibiotic Ointment, antacids, and antidiarrheals are ideal], personal needs items - if you wear glasses/contacts, bring backups for each.  You don't want to be blind in the wilderness, do you???  Your multitool will have things like a small blade and miniature scissors to use as part of your FAK.)
  • Food (Remember, you can survive 3 weeks without food, but that doesn't mean you want to.  You're on a hike, which is arguably the single most calorically depleting aerobic exercise you can perform [side note: if you're interested in some of the best fat burning exercise possible that's also fun and gorgeous, look into trail jogging].  If not for a survival situation, at least have some food items with you to maintain your body's need for energy.  A couple protein bars, some jerky, nuts...they're all light and they all work well to keep you energized on the trail.  The protein bars I enjoy the most are Clif Bars.  Either the tried and true Clif bars, or their sweet and salty variety.  If you go the route of the latter, try the Mountain Mix...YUM!)

COMFORT:

 

  • TP (This one should be obvious to us all.  No one wants to feel discomfort...there.) 
  • Blanket/Sleeping Bag (Most blankets are a tad bulky just for the sake of convenience in a day hike situation.  If you're considering a blanket because you're heading out in the winter, might I recommend just going with an extra layer instead?  There are also sleeping bags that bundle into super tiny carry sacks, but they have minimal loft in order to pack so small, so you don't get a great deal of warmth out of them.  For many, covering up isn't just about warmth, it's about a comfortable, familiar feeling, which is very important when you're stuck outdoors.  Anyway, if you go that route, I recommend something like the Lafuma Simple USe 600, though it may no longer be available.)
  • Cell Phone (Your cell phone can be a lifesaver.  I mean that literally.  I posted a story on someone's daily carry pic recently about a time my phone got me out of a pinch when I was on an outdoor adventure.  Nowadays, smartphones can do a ridiculous amount of helpful actions for the outdoors.  GPS still works, even when you're in airplane mode, so many navigation apps work.  This is great, especially if you were to lose the map you should have been carrying with you from the ranger station at the trailhead.  You can use your phone as an additional light, as a source of music to remain somewhat sane in the event of an emergency.  That being said, I would never advocate anyone actually hiking with their hearing restricted.  Where I live and hike, we have rattlesnakes.  The first time you see one, it's a bit jarring, and it's not because it's a snake either.  It's because the first time you see one, you don't actually see it first...you HEAR it first.  If you have earbuds deep in your ear canal, rocking out to the latest from the Foo Fighters and a rattler goes off, it might be too late by the time you realize he's there.  They make the sound to warn you of their presence.  This has happened consistently to me at least once a year, every year.  At this point, when I hear it, I stop, calmly look for him and find a new route.  If he's kind enough to let me know he's there, I want to be kind enough to respect that I heard him and find another way.  Ummm...oh yeah...your smartphone can be used for a ton of awesome application in the outdoors, but your battery won't last forever, so...)
  • Battery Backup (This is really for your phone, should you decide to bring it along, or the last item I'll list.  I'll go outside of the battery backup norms here and suggest one that I have an absolutely LOVE.  The Joos Orange.  It's a single solar panel charger, but can be precharged using micro USB before you leave the house.  5400mAh is all it holds, but considering that you can charge it over and over and over again, using the power of the sun, who cares that it's not 12,000mAh!  I especially love this guy on canoe trips.  After I've used it the first time, it stay face up in the middle of the boat while I paddle all day.  By the time I get to camp, I can charge any electronics I've brought along.)
  • Camera (The technology we have right now is phenomenal.  If you have your smartphone, it's probably sufficient for your stills, even some video.  Depending on how much video you plan to shoot, you might want to consider something a bit more dedicated to either stills or video.  For me, I like to accomplish both using a GoPro.  The Hero 3+ has served me well, but you could go newer if you want to shoot your outdoor adventure in 4K!)

 

Ok, that's it.  I've now been working on this for over two and half hours (my wife is going to divorce me...I'm certain of it) and I'm sure I've forgotten something obvious.  I hope you enjoy.  Feel free to ask about any of the specific items I posted.

10470767_914828238535242_242441626906242


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#6 Dom

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 07:33 AM

@Dom: You got me interested when you said boots. Any recommendations or particular features (Gore-Tex?) or reliable brands that we should be looking for in a great hiking boot?


By far the most important feature of boots is the fit. If they fit, all is good. If they don't fit well, you have blisters and pain in your future. As for technical features...it depends on how you'll use them. Consider the terrain, weather/temperature, dry/wet climate. If its hot, wear something breatable. Col and wet, wear something insulated. Also, I prefer ankle protection. You'll have more stability, and also physical protection of the ankles themselves.
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#7 Dom

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 04:14 PM

Forgot one very important thing. Like Lieutenant Dan said to Forrest and Bubba...change your socks. I always have clean/dry socks to chane into. Your feet will thank you (and so will the person closest to you).
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#8 Bernard Capulong

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 12:40 PM

Wow, huge thank you to Dom, Walrus and Chris, very useful information for me! You guys rock.


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#9 Stupendous Walrus

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 04:16 PM

Wow, huge thank you to Dom, Walrus and Chris, very useful information for me! You guys rock.

I busted through my "like" quota, so...Attached File  image.jpg   20.44KB   0 downloads
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#10 Chris Szaroleta

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 10:24 PM

I busted through my "like" quota, so...attachicon.gifimage.jp

 

Wow, huge thank you to Dom, Walrus and Chris, very useful information for me! You guys rock.

 

I busted through my likes as well, but thanks, Bernard!  


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#11 Marc

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 08:38 PM

Nice posts boys.  Thanks for taking time to share all this good info.


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#12 Jambon

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 03:46 PM

That pretty much covers my military sere training. Great posts!
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#13 Duff72

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 09:41 PM

Just a suggestion for long hikes (even day hikes) have a friend or family member that will know your path of travel and return time expecting your call. if no call is recieved they can send help. A turned ankle at the half way point could put you in a bad spot when night falls.
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#14 Dom

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 10:48 PM

Just a suggestion for long hikes (even day hikes) have a friend or family member that will know your path of travel and return time expecting your call. if no call is recieved they can send help. A turned ankle at the half way point could put you in a bad spot when night falls.


Great suggestion. Also, Garmin makes gps trackers for real time location. Or, the "find friend" app on iPhones does the same thing. My solo excursions are a little less worrisome when I know I can be found via gps.
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#15 Stupendous Walrus

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 06:16 PM

Just a suggestion for long hikes (even day hikes) have a friend or family member that will know your path of travel and return time expecting your call. if no call is recieved they can send help. A turned ankle at the half way point could put you in a bad spot when night falls.


This should really be rule number pne. Same goes for swimming, cycling and even exploration or travel by car. It WILL save lives.
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#16 MTBoxer

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 05:11 PM

Day hikes for me are usually about 10 miles and mostly hiking towards higher elevation. I only take my EDC folder, cell phone for pics, beef jerky, cliff bars, 3 liter camelbak, and a couple tetrapacks of coconut water. I don't bring much except for fluids.

When I go back packing I'm usually somewhere in the Sierra Nevada Mountains hiking up to 9000 ft in elevation for about 3 to 4 days. I have everything mentioned above. But I also have, a sleeping bag, freeze dried food, tent, jetboil, water filter and tablets. A lighter and as well as a magnesium ferro rod.

Backpacking for long periods of time is a good workout. But if you get the wrong bag and shoes it can suck! Make sure you get a bag that has waist straps. The load you carry should be done at waist straps not the shoulders. Hiking boots I use Keen. Also a change of wool socks.

For me I can run 13 miles under 2 hours without consuming a drop of water. But backpacking 13 miles, with 30lbs of gear uphill, towards increasing elevation causes me to drink fluids like it's nobody's business. It's always good to have more fluids and not need them than to not have them and need them.
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#17 Stupendous Walrus

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 06:50 PM

Food info Jo! Thanks.

#18 Dom

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 12:45 PM

I should have thought of this item sooner:
Always carry some form of ID. I always have a wearable ID, usually a Road ID. I've had other brands and styles, including other wrist IDs and dog tag style IDs. You never know when you'll need to communicate to a first responder even if you can't speak.
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#19 Chris Szaroleta

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 12:51 PM

I should have thought of this item sooner:
Always carry some form of ID. I always have a wearable ID, usually a Road ID. I've had other brands and styles, including other wrist IDs and dog tag style IDs. You never know when you'll need to communicate to a first responder even if you can't speak.

 

What a great call out, Dom!  (I'm out of likes, so...ya know...couldn't like it)


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#20 Stupendous Walrus

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 01:50 PM

I should have thought of this item sooner:
Always carry some form of ID. I always have a wearable ID, usually a Road ID. I've had other brands and styles, including other wrist IDs and dog tag style IDs. You never know when you'll need to communicate to a first responder even if you can't speak.


Good point. Maxpedition make some good I.D. holders.

I know people that have medical info tattooed on them in lieu of a bracelet. Always a good idea.
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