I’m finally getting around to revising my twenty year old essay on what constitutes a rambling man’s Possibles Pouch,,,,what it is, and what goes into it,
The concept is to store close at hand everything needed to operate efficiently, and safely, in remote places. Everything meaning everything besides clothing, shelter, boots, (horse)…you get the idea. The name dates back to the Mountain Men who roamed the West in the early 1800’s seeking furs or just for the adventure of exploring wild country. The veterans always had some sort of container (very typically a leather pouch) filled with everything the man needed, or importantly might need to function and stay alive in the wild, aside from the Big things cited above. Things such as fire starting implements, tools for his rifle and pistol, tools for his horse’s needs, generalized tools, a few nails, a sewing kit, candles for light, medical supplies, etc., etc., etc. They named it their Possibles Pouch.
I’ve long since adopted the concept, the imperative of such a collection of essential items, and named it respectfully the same as my forebears, my Possibles Pouch.
Here is what I carry to cover what I need routinely as well as items to cover “anything that can happen”, based on extensive experience of NOT having some of this stuff, and wishing that I did. Not all of it is actually in my Possibles Pouch, which resides in my backpack. Some of it is on my person, in order to be immediately accessible.
Items Carried On My Person—
-—Smart Phone. It is my camera. When in cell tower range it allows contact with the outside world. It contains my books, both print and audible. It contains my music. It rides in my right shirt pocket in a slightly sticky case so it doesn’t readily fall out.
-—Pocket Notebook and Mechanical Pencil. Always in my left shirt pocket (the smart phone is always in the right shirt pocket…I buy only shirts with two breast pockets). The one residing there now must be the hundred fiftieth or so to occupy that spot in the forty-plus years I’ve used such notebooks for designs, reminders, draft letters, contact information and on and on. The pencil won’t freeze, and the notebook doesn’t depend on battery power. The system is as old-timey as the Mountain Men era, but it never fails.
-—Paper Towel. Folded behind the phone in the right shirt pocket. Used to dry whatever needs drying without resorting to my bandana, which I like to keep dry and clean for when I really need it. Functions as an on-the-move bandage when combined with a rubber band or duct tape (see below).
-—Rubber Bands. Always a couple on my left wrist. The big wide ones. Used for a surprising number of rapid fixes/chores. As they are right there on my wrist I needn’t search in the main Possibles Pouch (although the main supply does reside there) for quick tasks as I’m moving To cite a frequent example, I bushwhack cross country a lot. And I often get bleeding scrapes on my hands and forearms from beating through brush. When this happens I’ll fetch the paper towel from the right shirt pocket, tear a strip off sufficient to wrap around or cover the bleeding location and then secure the on-the-move “bandage” with a rubber band from the left wrist. When at camp I’ll use rubber bands to corral tipi poles, to hold pot sets together, to hold utensils as a unit and for many other useful purposes.
-—Trekking Poles. Not actually on my person, but you get the idea. These tools have swept through the backpacking world like wildfire since my original Pouch essay. And well they should. I’ve been using them for about fifteen years and don’t leave home without them They provide security in rough terrain under heavy loads. As a solo rambler most of the time such security is priceless I wrap my supply of Duct Tape around the upper shafts so it’s immediately handy for quick fixes.
-—Pocket Knife. In my right front pants pocket. It’s a vintage Swiss Army Tinker model and its never not there. The tinker has just enough functions that I’ve avoided ever having to carry a multi-tool. (Use the small blade for most chores, like wire cutting etc. and save the large always-sharp blade for working on game and fish for the pot.)
-—Chap Stick. Left front pants pocket.
-—Bandana. Right cargo pants pocket.
-—Wallet. Left cargo pants pocket. (Note: I like cargo pants a lot. Never use back pockets on any britches and my lower back really appreciates it.)
ITEMS IN THE POUCH-—
The Pouch itself is the largest Kifaru Pull Out. It rides in the top of my backpack. Smaller Pull Outs are contained within the large one, for specific organizing of most used or most important items. I invented Pull Outs thirty plus years ago for precisely this purpose, and have found no other organizing system as efficient as to speed, low bulk and stow-anywhere practicality. The contents below aren’t in any particular hierarchy of importance, except for the fire start kit. If one wanders the mountain west getting a fire going is critical for survival in many incidents.
-—Fire Starter Kit. Having used every known ingredients-—dryer lint soaked in lighter fluid, cotton balls saturated with Vaseline, special matches in myriad commercial offerings, etc., etc., etc-—my all-time mainstay remains Trioxane, metal match and Bic lighter. This combination resides in a Small Kifaru Pull Out. The usual complement of Trioxane is two of the full size bricks with partial bricks from previous fires. Full size bricks measure 1 1/2” by 3”. (Half size versions are sometimes found, but are less cost-worthy). The purple “brick” is contained in an olive drab aluminum wrapper. It can be found at Army Surplus stores. The best value is on line purchasing. I bought a gross of three-pack boxes many years ago and still have lots left. Another prime recommendation for the stuff is that it lasts forever. Even when wet by the way.
-—Headlamp. My current headlamp is the ArmyTek Wizard. It was shown to me at the Northeast Rendezvous in February by Forum colleague Woods Walker-—who stays on top of lights technology with nearly obsessive enthusiasm-—and I immediately upgraded from my previous wonder light. It’s that good. (Thank you Woodsy). The headlamp lives in a Kifaru Medium Pull Out inside the big Host Pull Out, just like the by-itself Small Pull Out containing the Fire Start Kit. This Medium version hosts, in addition to the headlamp, several much-used items. So let’s examine its contents:
-—Extra 18650 battery, for the headlamp.
-—A very old, very used Silva Starter compass.
-—Constel LED tipi light. Perfect illumination for my Sawtooth. One 123 battery. Extra 123 battery. Soft white.
-—Foldup toothbrush and tiny toothpaste tube, held together by rubber band.
-—Sewing kit. Homemade by me. Constructed of quarter inch aluminum tube wrapped with #69 bonded nylon thread, a variety of heavy duty large needles inside, and capped on the ends with duct tape. It’s served for decades
-—20’ of orange nylon cord. Wrapped by rubber band.
-—Tiny thermometer. Weighs .3 oz with it’s one foot lanyard tied on.
-—Three ear plugs. <.1 oz.
-—Backup Headlamp. An old Petzl micro with the pull string headband One ounce with CR 2032 backup batteries. I’ve not found anything better for weight and size. I consider a backup headlamp essential.
-—Thinoptics backup spectacles. Purchased at Walgreens Wear on nose. Another essential. .7 oz. in excellent hard case.
-—Small roll of surgical tape Half ounce
-—Tiny foldup fork and pullout spoon. Plastic. From single-portion fruit and yogurt packages. Weight won’t register on my scale. With my Swiss Army knife and these little backups I can dine nicely even when I forget my standard titanium silverware. Beats crafting chopsticks from twigs, especially the little spoon.
-—.5 mm pencil leads.
-—Dental floss. Miniature size.
-—Assortment of safety pins and paper clips. (Note: I remember well the time I began to set up my Sawtooth in a blizzard and discovered I had left my stovepipe assembly rings at home! Using my army knife awl and these pins and clips I was able to”pin” the rolled stovepipe together thus getting the stove operational and drying my very wet self out. Having these any-purpose items in my Possibles Pouch quite possibly saved my life. Well, I could have built a fire just outside the open door of the Sawtooth-—tarp style-—as I’ve done hundreds of times, and survived well enough despite the difficulties of keeping an outdoor fire going in a raging snowstorm. But having the fire in a stove inside a snug tipi was far more conducive to recovery. To bouncing back and performing well next day. To making the outing enjoyable instead of survivable.
Moving on to “loose” items within the overall confines of the Pouch:
-—Gloves. Specifically lightweight gloves suitable for tasks requiring dexterity, such as shooting, fishing and the like as well as simple always-at-hand (so to speak) utility. I have many such gloves; the pair currently residing in my Possibles Pouch are Burton ski gloves. They feature nubby palms and fingers, as always. Come winter I’ll switch to a pair that has iPhone finger and thumb “patches”, to allow operating my smart phone whilst wearing the gloves full time.
-—Hat. It’s a Kifaru stocking style. Very lightweight and perfect for all my hat needs. In sleeping bag. Under my parka hood. Everything.
-—Rubber Bands. Several. In a quart size baggie.
-—Baggies. Two quart size and two gallon size, rolled together and secured by rubber band.
-—First Aid Kit. Several bandaids of various sizes. Very small tubes of neosporin and campho phenique. Aspirin, ibuprofen, antihistamine tablets. All contained in a quart size baggie.
-—TP in quart baggie.
-—Paper Towels. Several. Flattened and carried in a quart baggie.
-—Handy Wipes. Half dozen or so. In quart baggie.
-—Air Mattress Repair Kit. It’s multifunctional. Can be used for torn clothing, tent, etc.
—-Wire. Three feet of very thin (20k) stainless steel wire wrapped around a sliver of foam .2 oz.
This is the List at present. It represents many years of winnowing. Many other items have ridden in my PP over the years; if they didn’t get used after a good long while out they went. I suggest the same procedure for your pouch. I can’t presume to know what is of critical importance to your well being. Carry what you think you must, and if you don’t use it after a good long trial toss it out.
My Possibles Pouch goes with me everywhere in the outdoors. Including day hikes. Of course elsewhere in my pack, usually quickly at hand (in a belt pouch for example) you will find GPS device (and backup batteries), Range Finder and extra batteries (in season), Binoculars and etc.
It’s a fine idea to carry your Possibles Pouch and some water in your automobile Rain gear and/or an umbrella too. Warm garb in winter. Just sayin’….