Recently, I was reading a blog where the author listed 7 essential items he never left home without - it was a good read but the more I considered the authors options the more I started to think about it and to disagree with him and the more I disagreed the more I wondered at the type or view we take of what we consider or call essential items.
ESSENTIAL = items we can not do or live with, i.e essential to our survival is oxygen, without it we will die!
I'll explain why shortly but first let me give you the list -
1 First aid kit
3 sharpening stone
4/5 waterbottle and metal mug
6 fire steel
Now I have nothing against this list - its his list and he is perceived to be a knowledgable fella - i dont know him so I cant say overwise, but his choice of kit is in my mind limited. It doesnt matter if your highly experienced or a complete novice the items you leave home with which will save your life if your stuck out over night or longer are the same, maybe the rating will change from summer to winter but the basic items are the same.
These would be -
1 A shelter - tent or tarp for example - making a natural shelter is hard work. Even a poncho or space blanket will save you hassle and keep the wet and wind off you if its raining or snowing.
2 A sleeping bag - summer bag for warmer climes, winter bag for colder
3 A ground mat to insulate you from the ground
4. A cutting tool - preferably an axe, but as Sir Ranulph Fiennes says, "generally speaking a swiss army knife will meet most of a outdoorsmans needs"
5. A reliable means of ignition - firesteel if you know how to use one for example
6. A stove - can you light a fire 100% of the time?? On a snow covered hillside in the cairngorms, above the tree line??
7. A cooking pot - goes without saying its uses
Now think about it - what do these items all do or enable us to do?? They help maintain our core body temperature - why are they essential more than a compass or a sharpening stone? Because "mountain exposure" as the old term used to be, will kill you in less time than your knife will go blunt or you'll need to worry about your bearings.
So the essential kit is really your basic camping set up! After all if it werent essential why would every person who has hiked or camped out for the millenia or so carried a version of these items?
If thats the case whats this all about knives and compasses and first aid kits then??
Well I think its not the essential term we should tag them with, but useful in the right enviroment tag and even that might not be 100% accurate for example if I had to have one cutting tool I'd rather an axe than a knife and a compass is only of limited use without a map and the knowledge to use both!!
I'm not putting down the blog post or anything like this I am merely trying to point out dear reader that sometimes our view or the view of ours which we hear or read about may be either slightly off course or more specific to them and not really pertinent to us. A skilled woodsman can do wonders with just a knife and a billy while a novice will need much more gear to achieve the same ends (potentially)
And thats the reason for my writing folks - beware the information, some people say knowledge is power - some good people will share information with you that reflects their experiences and their experiences mught not necessarily be of any use to you. While others, mostly lacking in experience, will just rehash information (right or wrong) they read elsewhere or worse they believe to be correct in theory.
I can understand what the author was "getting at" and agree the relative
merit of each item in the first list, and agree my day sack kit list
isnt so far different but it would be wrong to suggest you can live
happily ever after with just those items - they are not essential to
your survival (in the right hands they will aid your survival of course)
And the growing you tube experts are just as bad - I remember for example the outdoors expert who posted a video telling folks how wonderful the civilian trangia was/is ............ even as he put the set together in completely the wrong order and way - proof it if were needed that the guy wasnt actually as "good" as his own ego believed he was or at least in this case he'd never actually used the trangia - so how can his opinion be counted??
Mis-information in some respects can be fun - especially if you know better but it can also prove deadly if you blindly believe everything to read or are told!
So next time you read a blog, google so some info, watch a tv programme or similar take the info given with a pinch of salt and temper it with your own skill and knowledge - there in lays the path to outdoor wisdom and a true essential kit that will work for you.