In the first installment discussing the “10 essentials”, I presented an overview of the types of items that one should consider when putting together their own kit bag for outdoor adventures. In this post, I’m going to address in more detail how to store and manage three key items along with a couple of tips that you can do yourself. We’ll begin with the headlamp, but these tips are applicable to any battery-powered light source, whether that’s a flashlight, headlamp, or lantern (although including a lantern in your 10 Essentials kit would be a very based move).
This is my headlamp, but there are nearly infinite varieties that one can choose from.
Tip #1: Always carry backup batteries for your battery powered items.
Tip #2: Do not store batteries in your electronics. They may leak in storage and damage your light source.
It’s important to protect batteries from moisture. Using a vac-sealer is one method.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can use a nitrile glove to protect your batteries.
Just push your batteries into one of the fingers; they’ll stretch plenty.
Tie an overhand knot in the glove where the finger starts, trapping the batteries.
Cut the finger off of the glove, and you’ll have a waterproof storage solution that’s easy and inexpensive. One glove will provide five iterations if you’re careful.
Next, we’ll touch on items like lip balm and sunscreen which are often stored in tube applicators with twist mechanisms. While these are convenient in order to dispense the product without getting it all over your fingers, when traveling in dusty and sandy environments (especially desert or canyon lands) the mechanism tends to get gummed up with fine dust and dust/sand also get into the balm or the sunscreen itself. Furthermore, in very hot areas the balm can melt and make a mess of your bag. I’ll show you a proven method to deal with this below.
This is a small finger cot. It’s a simple latex barrier that’s normally used to cover a single finger.
A small finger cot will perfectly cover a typical travel-sized lip balm tube, protecting it from dirt and containing leaks if it melts.
Roll the cot up to the lid of the balm to use, which will make it easier to replace as needed.
An XL-sized finger cot will fit over most sunscreen applicator sticks.
While the length of the tube may or may not allow you to entirely encase the stick, it will keep debris out of the sunscreen.
On the subject of suncreen applicators, they are just about the perfect size to wrap your tape around to protect the tape from being crushed.
Finally, a word on butane lighters: while arguably one of the most convenient and inexpensive methods to carry fire-starting capability with you, they’re prone to discharging when tossed into a small bag full of objects in the event that the gas release button is accidentally depressed while in storage. Here’s how I recommend that a lighter be prepped for carry in a 10 Essentials bag or survival kit.
First, take advantage of the real-estate provided by the lighter body and wrap some duct tape around it for later use.
Next, we’ll need to prevent the gas button from accidental activation. Here I have a ring cut from an old bike inner-tube.
Jam the inner-tube (or a rubber band, or an o-ring) under the gas button to block it from being depressed.
Wrap the inner-tube band around the lighter head to hold it in place. It will not activate unless removed, and in a pinch the inner-tube rubber can function as effective tinder.
These are just a few ways that you can optimize your survival equipment for carry in a back-country situation (or everyday carry, for that matter). I hope that these proved useful to you as you continue to build and refine your own “10 Essentials”.