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#86312 - 01/07/08 12:24 PM Finding my stuff
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Kind of a funny thing to ask but I'm sure each of you runs into the same problem each time and has developed your own solution.

One of the funny things about ultralight backpacking is that you bring less stuff but what you do bring is very small. So at night when I am unpacking, setting up, and cooking I keep losing track of these little items. You know. "Where's my lighter? spork? fuel? pocket knife? etc etc, and (most importantly) my little LED light which I need to find that other stuff?

I'm not so much worried about finding it in my pack because I can organize things by stuff sack. But once they are out they tend to disappear.

I can imagine a big keychain with all this stuff on it but there may be a better way. Anyone got any methods they use?

Heber

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#86313 - 01/07/08 12:41 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
cfiles Offline
member

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 24
Loc: Arkansas
Duct Tape!

Now for my real answer...I have a pair of Mountain Hardware paints with lots of pockets and I use them. When I unload my bag I start stuffing the little things that I know I will need in my pockets.

Cheap carabiners and belt loops work well too.
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my sites: http://www.hikeitall.com - http://www.arhiker.com

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#86314 - 01/07/08 02:50 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
Xelif Offline
member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 241
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
Quote:
I can imagine a big keychain with all this stuff on it but there may be a better way. Anyone got any methods they use?


I use a dummy lanyard.

Take about two feet of thin cord. At one end, tie a two inch loop (bowline) with one or more items threaded onto the loop such as a pocketknife. At the other end, tie a two or three inch loop (bowline again). Girth hitch/lark's head the unladen end to your belt or belt loop, dropping the laden end through. A girth hitch - to make it clearer - just slide the loop around your belt and drop the knife through the loop. This leaves you about 18 inches to work with said tool, and it's quick to detach from your belt if you need the extra slack. Stick the knife in your pocket, and you won't ever lose it.

I actually have 3 lanyards, and I think that's all I need. One on my left side holds a whistle and a photon LED. They are held on and separated by overhand knots to avoid them jangling together and making noise while I walk. On my right side, one lanyard holds my pocketknife, the other holds a lighter. Whichever pants I attach them to, I jokingly call my "survival pants" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> The items jangle less when I hike, which is very very nice. If they fall out, I notice almost immediately from the weight shifting. I found the only time things fall out are when I get in and out of a hammock or go nearly horizontal with body position. I use pretty heavy cord at 300lb test, 3mm thick or so, and each lanyard weighs 0.1 of an ounce. Yes, I weighed them! With thin line I imagine they'd not even register on my scale.

I learned this trick online from one of the Jacks (JRB), who in turn said it was taught as an old Army trick to avoid losing items at night, under attack, etc. There was a hilarious thread on BPL with hundreds of little plastic gizmos suggested to serve this purpose, when a length of short line and the right knots does the trick. Nobody seemed interested in the simple solution as opposed to buying little plastic breakable trash <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

(edit) The best, best, best effect of this is that my whistle is attached securely in my pocket. Before, it was on a line around my neck, under my shirt. It posed a choking hazard, but more significantly it looked like I had a bright orange third nipple in the middle of my chest! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

Any fastening method has to pass the 'jangle' test for me. It drives me nuts when things jangle together and make noise while hiking. If I can get them to stay quiet while I jog or run, so much the better. With the lanyards, it's much quieter.


Edited by Xelif (01/07/08 02:54 PM)
_________________________
- John

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#86315 - 01/07/08 04:10 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Since I tend to use simple packs without a lot of pockets I rely on "ditty" bags. I found that mesh works well so I can see the contents. Everything I carry (except fuel bottle) usually ends up in 4 or 5 different bags of different sizes. My wife made a couple from leftover noseeum mesh.

Nothing is carried loosely. Like items are grouped together in the same bag. The key to making this system work is to return each item to its proper bag immediately after it's used, without exception. That takes a little discipline. Things get lost when I procrastinate and don't put them away immediately. Then I forget where they went. I'm getting old <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

At night when I go to sleep I leave out my light and that's it. When I wake up in the morning I know where everything is.

It takes more time to operate this way but in the long run it's less time consuming than looking for things all the time.

A place for everything and everything in it's place. That's the speech my kids get when I tell them to clean their rooms.

Also.......whenever I leave my campsite I always pause, look back and check for anything I forgot like that overlooked tent stake. You never know what you'll find lying next to that log you used for a seat.
_________________________
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#86316 - 01/07/08 05:18 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
Bright colors. I now specifically purchase bright colored stuff. I paint florescent orange or green on small dark items.

In spite of this, I left my titanium sporke sitting on a log at the Cirque of the Towers. I usually take a few minutes before putting on my pack to carefully look around the campsite. This time I did not.

When I get water I put the lid in my zip pocket when filling- never just lay it on the ground. Yet a few times I have put it in my shirt pocket and forgot to zip, leaned over, and guess what?

I have left trekking poles after a rest break. I usually notice that something is not quite right fairly soon.

At night all small things I will use go in the mesh tent pocket. When I am in a bivy, all small things go in a small zip bag. Ditty bags only work for me if they are zip closure.

I carry the absolute minimum of items out of the pack when I am on the trail.

Maybe as I get older I should take a check-off list with me! I think the bottom line is simply establishing a camp routine and taking that extra minute to inventory and put things in their place several times a day and have a designated place for everything. Wow, sounds like what I tell my elderly Mom who has early Alzhieimers.

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#86317 - 01/07/08 05:28 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: wandering_daisy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
wanderingdasiy
"I carry the absolute minimum of items out of the pack when I am on the trail."
____________________________________
Some people carry a LOT of tiny things camping.
I too prefer to carry the minimum number of items and keep it so simple that I don't need a flashlight to find my stuff. Of course there is a photon atached to my pack. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

All the small special stuff I carry goes in one small mosquito net ditty bag and can be identified by feel. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Jim KISS <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#86318 - 01/07/08 05:33 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
I can't recall ever having a problem with loose stuff. When I stop and consider the question I find I have an amazing assortment of little habits meant to overcome this difficulty.

Like many others, I tend to group smaller items into dittty bags. But I think the real key is that every item you have should have a home: in a bag, in a particular pocket, in your shelter when you are camped, and so on.

Overall, just be systematic. Develop strong habits of putting things back into their home as soon as you are done with them. Keep a neat camp. If you put something down on the ground, put it where it is sure to be seen, not overlooked. THINK as you lay it down, "is it safe here? will I see it? can it fall or be kicked or stepped on?" Do that habitually.

For example, when I take my pack off and set it down, I invariably tuck the two ends of the waist belt buckle into a safe nook in the padding where they can't be stepped on and broken. All it took was a couple of near breakages to convince me that this was mandatory. So I learned to do it. Now I do it unconciously.

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#86319 - 01/07/08 06:09 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: aimless]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
You seem to be one of those naturally organized people. We who are naturally disorgnaized struggle more with this! But you are absolutley correct.

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#86320 - 01/07/08 06:30 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: wandering_daisy]
Spock Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 679
Loc: Central Texas
I like to hike in simple T-shirts and running shorts, even in cold weather, so I use a lanyard with an easy-release fitting - to avoid being choked - that holds a whistle, small knife, lighter, and dental pick. I get my lanyards at BizMart or Office Depot for about $2.50.

Other small stuff goes in a ditty bag with a secure closure so it won't come open accidentally. Bright colors and glow-in-the-dark help as well. A little florescent paint goes a long way on small stuff.

Dental pick? Substitutes for floss and is always handy after a snack. OK, That's weird. So what?

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#86321 - 01/07/08 07:57 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Xelif]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
"I learned this trick online from one of the Jacks (JRB), who in turn said it was taught as an old Army trick to avoid losing items at night, under attack, etc. "

Yep, we did this in Basic, and after. It is amazing what new recruits lose because they didn't buy it themselves and are careless. But, we all forget sometimes regardless on how careful we are. I remember having to tie EVERYTHING to either our belt or pack (mostly belt). In Iraq, I had a friend who tied his gerber multitool to his belt and never took it off. He never lost it. He was a little absent minded, so it works. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#86322 - 01/07/08 08:03 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: wandering_daisy]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
Habits can be your best friend, right up until the moment they become your weakest point. I try to play on both sides of that street. I'm not always as organized as I am on a solo backpack.

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#86323 - 01/08/08 03:37 AM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
GrumpyGord Online   content
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 846
Loc: Michigan
It may not work for everyone but I use the photon light with the key ring and I wear it on my finger on my left hand like a ring so it is there all night and I know just where to find it.

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#86324 - 01/08/08 05:13 AM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
That's a good question with regard to any kind of camping, ultralite or otherwise.
I like to keep things used often, on my person. My led light a whistle compass (very small) goes on a lanyard around my neck, and then on the ridge line of my hammock/tarp at night. Multitool (leatherman squirt) stays in my pocket as does a mini-bic lighter.
My packs all have big mesh pockets and stuff like first aid/survival, fire starters, etc. stay in thick freezer bags, in those mesh pockets....organized in no more than two bags. Being clear, you can see what you are looking for through the mesh.
My personal pack rule is just like my personal tool rule....use it, then put it back in it's proper place. My camp always looks sparse....nothing stays out of the pack that's not being used. (food being the exception depending on local critters) Cooking stuff gets cleaned and stowed after use.
"Where's my spork?" Try and pack in "units". ALL my cooking junk fits in the pot. Do this enough and you'll find your niche where it comes natural, trip after trip.
I can usually find what I'm looking for in the dark by touch. I wear bifocals and at night, those stay in a tiny bag also hanging from the ridge-line at night. That little bag says there permanently and gets folded up with the shelter...always in it's place.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#86325 - 01/08/08 09:30 AM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Dryer]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Like many I keep anything not in use in the pack, in it's bag with like critters. I don't like to have a choke hazard so I never hang anything around my neck. Instead ,if I am wearing pants, or shorts, with pockets I put a few items in a small bag together. They won't get lost being in the bag, and if the bag should jump ship I immediately notice the weight difference, and the lack of bulk in said pocket <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

In my Clark hammock I have similiar bags with night gear that stay inside. If I am camping for more than one day in the same place i unload my pack into the Clark pockets and know where everything is during my stay.

On the trail a lost item is a hassle to my mind, so I try not to have a 'yard sale' look to my pack while hiking <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Likewise, I keep the little ditty bag things to a minimum in my pocket.
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#86326 - 01/08/08 09:53 AM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Earthling]
kbennett Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 820
Loc: north carolina
The dummy cord thing carries over into civilian life. I use a large waist pack to carry photo gear at work, and my Gerber multitool is on a dummy cord attached inside a pocket. My memory-card case is on another dummy cord (and I am totally anal about how the cards go in the case -- upside down for shot cards that need to be downloaded, right side up for empty cards ready to shoot).

On the trail, I carry a Photon light, whistle, and tiny Swiss Army knife on a lanyard around my neck. In camp, I have come up with little habits about where things go, and sometimes I even remember what they are <g>. Many small items are carried in a small waist pack, which I can wear both while hiking and around camp. Headlamp, chapstick, camera, pocket knife, bandana, that sort of thing. Useful.
_________________________
--Ken B

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#86327 - 01/08/08 02:01 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: aimless]
jamieS Offline
member

Registered: 09/29/04
Posts: 271
Quote:
Habits can be your best friend, right up until the moment they become your weakest point.


Dang, that's the truest thing I've heard in a long time. When you are organized, you assume that everything is where you put it, so you lose stuff by not double checking... but when you are organized, there's no need to double check.

<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

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#86328 - 01/09/08 01:19 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: kbennett]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee


I sort of do it the same way. I do use a light weight "fanny" pack to carry around not only the smaller things that get lost easy, but also the more handy, and more often use items in there to where they are right at your finger tips all the time...there is a small nylon bag that hangs at the bottom and the rear of the pack and that's where I keep the snacks that I eat while I am actually on the trail.Remember, if it's not multi-purpose, you probably won't find it in my backpack....period....sabre11004...



The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
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The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!

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#86329 - 01/09/08 01:21 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: GrumpyGord]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee



Grumpy, that's a damned good idea. Why don't the rest of us experienced hikers think of stuff like that??? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!

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#86330 - 01/09/08 01:31 PM Re: Finding my stuff/check-off list [Re: wandering_daisy]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee

I think that we should all live by some sort of check list that we can systematically go through to make absolutely sure that we are not taking what we do not need and that we do get what we intend to take on any given trip. Until I started using one, I would invariably leave something at home or maybe even at base camp, and then later wish that I had it. Some or maybe even most of time, it's really not something that you can not live without, but you would have still like to have had it had you had the before mentioned "checklist", you probably would have. It may be a little over kill for some of us but it's the only way to make absolutely sure that we are square when we get to where we are going...sabre11004....



The first step that you take will be one of those that will get you there... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!

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#86331 - 01/09/08 01:54 PM Re: Finding my stuff/check-off list [Re: sabre11004]
cfiles Offline
member

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 24
Loc: Arkansas
Quote:
I think that we should all live by some sort of check list that we can systematically go through to make absolutely sure that we are not taking what we do not need and that we do get what we intend to take on any given trip.


Yes checklists are wonderful things. I do not take one with me but I have one at the house that I check as I am packing and before I leave. It is an ever growing list of things to check.

Because I am a geek I keep my checklist in a wiki page in my little note taker (Tomboy, Linux only...sorry). I print out the list before packing and cross things out as I get them ready.
_________________________
my sites: http://www.hikeitall.com - http://www.arhiker.com

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#86332 - 01/09/08 03:06 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Heber]
hootyhoo Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 686
Loc: Cyberspace
Right on.Is there any sort of durable reflective paint or tape that could be applied to these items.

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#86333 - 01/11/08 03:46 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: hootyhoo]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Fishing lure reflective tape is easy to cut and sticks on nearly everything. It comes in sheets of lots of types and colors to choose from <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#86334 - 01/18/08 10:02 AM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: Earthling]
NiytOwl Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/04
Posts: 501
Loc: California
This would be the ultimate system for absent-minded hikers if it were smaller and supported multiple tags:



You can actually get RFID chips that could be epoxied on all your equipment. However, the readers are still bulky industrial-strength affairs that would be extreme overkill (and too heavy) for backpackers. As the technology percolates down to the consumer level, expect someone to offer a pager-sized device that will scan for the chips and compare what it finds to a checklist - any missing chips would be flagged. When you break camp, you just push the button and see what's missing.

I do like the lanyard idea though...I'll have to use that until something better comes along.

-Jim

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#86335 - 01/18/08 03:31 PM Re: Finding my stuff [Re: NiytOwl]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Nity, Why you no talk story long time <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> Must be bad Musubi kep' you down bradda <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> You make up crazy keychain item, I place DaKine order <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#86336 - 02/04/08 04:42 PM Re: Finding my stuff - The Kit System [Re: Heber]
Brumfield Offline
member

Registered: 12/23/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Expat from New Orleans, now in...
Heber, I like the giant key chain idea, or maybe a Swiss Army tool that has a fold out tent, sleeping bag, water filter, stove etc..

Sometimes I think I'm just too orderly. I use a kit system to keep all the small stuff in order. I have a kitchen kit, a food kit, a water filtration & treatment kit, a socks/undies kit, a clothes kit, a medical/first aid/surgery kit, a repair kit, a day kit, a toilet kit, a toiletry kit, a bedtime kit, a clothing kit, a laundry kit, a lighting kit, a climbing kit, a caving kit, a diving kit, a camera kit, a microscope kit, and a few others.

The kits are kept in either UL Sil-Nylon or Chinese silk mini stuff sacks that are custom cut to exactly the size needed, with only nylon draw strings or self repairing nylon zippers, but no heavy metal buckles or zippers. Some of the kits, such as the laundry kit and toilet kit, are only in zip lock bags with rubber bands. Two zip locks for the toilet paper. Soggy TP after fording a river is not nice. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

I like to keep everything in its place, and when finished, put it back where it came from instead of laying it around hither and yon. I also have the habit of keeping little butane lighters, that have built in LED lights in them, in several places around my pack. It's always good to have extra fire and light...makes life easier. I use two headlights; a Brunton L3 for night hiking and trying to see what is sneaking up on me in the dark, and I use a simple, but functional ($20.00) Energizer 6 LED headlight for around the camp. One of the headlights always goes on my head before it gets dark, whether I'm still on the trail, or already setting up camp. I'm so used to wearing a headlight that I have even fallen asleep with the headlight still turned on.

I guess my most used kit is the day kit which contains smaller quantities of the items I have in the larger kits, but use while I'm walking. The day kit is located in an easily accessible (while moving) outside pouch on my pack. In it I keep sunscreen, lip balm, mosquito spray, a mosquito head net, butane lighter with led light, Ibuprofen, 1 oz of chloride dioxide, 2 Band-aids, 1 piece of mole skin, tweezers, and my home-brewed hand super-sanitizer.

And oh yeah, I nearly forgot... I also keep a "Run Like Hell Kit"... which I've created using the detachable top of my backpack that seconds as a large hip pack and/or ultra light day pack.. In an emergency (there are robbers in the jungles and mountains here) I can run faster with it than with my 5300 cu. in. 70 lb backpack. I keep smaller quantities (2 days supply) of the basic life support needs in this day pack at all times, and only draw from it on my last two days on the trail (except for medical supplies and smoked meats as needed) .

The RLH Emergency Only top pack includes the following at a minimum;

Ceramic water filter, 16 oz filled water bottle, one LED head light, one hand held mini LED light, two butane lighters with built in LED lights, one razor sharp 8 inch blade dive knife, one extra compass, my maps and Google Earth satellite images of the area, my 3 ounce homemade Colima alcohol stove with 2 oz of alcohol fuel, one titanium 12 oz pot/cup, one plastic spoon, 2 packs of freeze dried soup mix, 30 sheets of TP, my entire medical/first aid/surgery kit, one pair of Wigwam socks, my North Face rain jacket, half of my smoke cured meats (yes, dogs do follow me around in the villages), and my Clark jungle hammock remains attached to the top day pack's outside straps. My machete also stays attached to the top-riding day pack at all times unless it's in my hand being used.

Even not in an emergency, when I leave my main pack anywhere, such as in a camp site, hostel, or in a villager's home, I ALWAYS bring the RLH top pack with me... always. That way, if the main pack comes up missing, I have enough supplies to get me out of the area, back to civilization, or even home if needed.

All kits, whether in the main pack or the RLH top pack, are loaded by order of need from the top down. After each use the items go back in the kits, and the kits go back in the packs, no excuses. My kit system allows me to quickly find and use things relative to a particular chore. Before making my on UL kit stuff sacks, I weighed my other odd and end store bought kit stuff sacks and found I had 2 lbs of just empty kit sacks. Sil-Nylon, silk, and zip locks save the day on weight. Ugh oh, I ran on and on again, sorry. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> Brum
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