The internet contains some good advice from some experienced and knowledgeable people if you know how and when to separate this good advice from the frankly much larger volume of chaff provided by either well meaning novices or individuals with delusional self belief.
Here in these pages we will begin a rundown of some common, sometime dangerous and often amusing advice perpetuated online.
Two is one and One is none
On the face of it, this seems like good advice, it means that redundancy in your equipment is a good thing. The phrase suggests that if you have an important item such as a knife or a flashlight (torch) with you then you should carry another in case something happens to your first item.
Over the years I have completed many expeditions on foot and by canoe and there is one comment that I have never, never heard anybody say.
“I wish my bag was heavier”
In fact many people of experience go to extreme lengths to reduce the weight that they carry.
More stuff means more weight and heavy packs can turn a nice little walk a waking nightmare.
I have seen countless videos on YouTube showing self proclaimed experts advising people to carry 4 knives, 6 flashlights, 17 lighters, 3 ferrocerium rods ect
Well, this point has some merit of course but many of the reasons which may cause you to lose or damage an item can be overcome with some simple training.
Use good quality equipment to reduce the chance of failure. That Chinese knock off head torch or that 9.99 multi tool may save you some cash at the time of purchase but in the outdoor retail world the phrase “you get what you pay for” generally holds true. Cheap stuff is more likely to have been manufactured with corners cut, low quality materials used and durability not a priority.
To borrow another American phrase “buy once, cry once”.
Taking good care of your equipment is a fundamental aspect of outdoor life because if we look after our our then our kit should look after us. Proper care and maintenance mitigates the risk of failure.
“Ok but what if we look after our stuff but it still gets lost smart ass (arse)?”
A few simple rules to follow greatly diminish the chances of you loosing things.
- Make sure your pockets are all done up all of the time. Those zips or buckles are there for a reason. Before setting off check that everything is done up but then check again a few moments after you start moving and again throughout the day. In time it will become second nature and a glance or a feel of a pocket will be all that it takes to confirm that it’s all done up.
- Keep your kit organised at all times. By far the most common reason that I encounter for people losing stuff is them scattering their belongings out on the forest floor. Inspite of being advised not to, many people adopt this strategy anyway because it is what they would do at home indoors. There are few locations in which you can effortlessly hide just about anything and the forest is one of them.
- Nature rewards the organised.
- Keep your loose items in your pack or in smaller bags. You could even hang it all up on a tree or improvised line.
- If all of your items of kit have their place and you always put them back in their place then you have to try pretty hard to lose something.
- If you are just one of those people who could lose an elephant in an empty room then consider using brightly coloured equipment that is easier to locate amongst the leaf litter and where possible tieing a little loop of cord to each item so that it can be attached to something else.
- Keep mission critical kit attached to your body at all times. Ferrocerium fire starters, Lighters, Knives, folding saws even water bottles and first aid kits can be worn on a belt or attached to your belt with a length of cordage.
I watched an amusing video last night in which a day sack bushcraft bag was dissected. It contained no less than 6 flash lights. You need only one, arguably a small backup, some spare batteries and that’s it. If you think that you might lose 4 flashlights then something is wrong, see above article.
One, good quality, strong bushcraft knife is all that you need although some experienced people carry a small folding knife for eating. If you feel that you need more than one knife because you do not have a knife that meets all of your requirements then it is likely that your knife is unsuitable anyway.
Your knife is usually the single most important thing in your kit and it should be protected against loss at all times by wearing it on your belt and then getting into a habit of checking that it is still there by feel throughout the day. The sooner you notice it’s absence the easier it will be to locate.
Do chastise yourself for losing your knife, you did mess up and you must never do it again.
Keep anything that does not like water in sealed plastic bags.
Use good quality gear and keep your stuff organised.
So by keeping your things organised, being disciplined and using good quality kit we can greatly, massively reduce the need to carry additional items that we don’t really need.
Of course, many people do not have the knowledge and experience to know these things and this is why they turn to YouTube for help. The trouble is that they have no way to recognise the chancers and novices posing as experts or even a well meaning novice handing out advice and we find bad advice propagating throughout the internet.
In this case I would recommend to you, to them, to get some training from a reputable source, if not me then somebody else, just get some.