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What different kinds of tools do you carry when you travel, backpack or cycle tour? These two images show mine.


Here I have my Longs Peak knife (L) a rope belay, a yellow ratchet screw driver, a pair of vise grip pliers, Gorilla Glue, a hack saw blade and a large round tip table steak knife and a carabiner, bike tool set, sissors,a Gerber and a Leatherman pliers knife set toe nail clippers (cuts through other things as well) and a camera mini tripod.

These are some hand made tools a friend made at a survival camp in Idaho and gave to me.

Victorinox Farmer

Zip Ties

Bic Lighter

GobSpark Armageddon ferrocerium rod



It depends on the type of trip.  Horse tools are a lot different that the tools for a raft trip, a truck trip or a backpacking trip.

Not necessarily a "tool" but a prusik loop gen ain't appreciated until ya want/need it


Gerber Multiplier 600 (has scissors, screwdrivers, saw, pliers, knife, and a jigsaw blade for cutting metal)

Gerber Air Ranger folding knife w/3.25” part-serrated blade

Asp Tungsten2 LED penlight

Paracord survival bracelet with ferrocerium rod

Uzi Tacpen2 tactical pen w/glass breaker

Nail clipper

500 ml bottle w/water


Cold Steel Recon 1 folding knife w/ 4” part-serrated blade.

Ontario SP16 SPAX multipurpose hatchet or SOG Tactical Tomahawk

Outdoor Research First Aid Kit

Acme Thunderer pea-less whistle

Silva Guide 426 Compass

Zippo lighter

Browning Black Ice Phantom headlamp

Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter

Coleman Xpert stove

Stainless steel cup

20’ 3/8” rope

2 Carabiners w/locking gate and belayer

Spectra-lined cut resistant gloves

single-use tube of super glue

Small roll of duct tape.

Panasonic Lumix TS2 camera: waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, and takes video.

Joby Gorillapod flexible tripod


Topeak Alien II tool set

Pedro’s tire levers

Topeak Road Morph G bike pump

Skabs pre-glued tire patches

Leatherman super tool or rebar, usually my Sog knife and a smaller buck knife that is always in my 1st aid kit. A mini folding shovel like the army type, and usually a couple of stretch bungees and carbiners that I attached to my hammock plus all the other usual items

My list is long, event driven, and boring, so I will only list the more unusual items:

A handful of medium size document binder clips - those blackened spring steel clips with shiny wire levers.  Binder clips are normally used like a temporary staple in that both are used to clamp together pages of a report.  I use binder clips in the BC to clamp-set the diameter of my stove wind screen, hang clothes, lamps, etc from cordage, and DYI other improvised situations.  Versatile and very effective.

Butane pocket torch by Soto.  It's an emergency fire starter.  You want something you can use when all other techniques are beyond your hypothermic, depleted abilities.  This is it.

A lightweight, flexible, clear plastic, protractor/straight edge.  I have taped a ruler of the most commonly used USGS map scales to the straight edge.  I use this tool to speed map orienting. One person can take compass sightings, while the second uses the protractor/rule to plot vectors on the map.  Weighs next to nothing, but adds much efficiency to navigation.

On certain winter treks I will also bring a slide rule and mechanical altimeter.  Why?  Many times poor visibility may allow sighting of only one land feature while attempting to determine your precise location.  Using these two instruments allow you to confirm your position, lacking a second vector required for conventional triangulating, by using altitude, sight line inclination angle, and trigonometry functions.  I could bring a GPS, calculator or smart phone, but prefer low tech for mission critical tasks whenever possible - slide rules and mechanical altimeters don't have power supply issues.

M-80 fire cracker.  Actually mini explosive is a more fitting description.  To be used as a bear deterrent when whistles, pot banging and other obnoxious acoustic repellents fail.  I witnessed someone use an M-80 to shoe a risk taking bear out of a crowded car camp park.  It was very effective; it even frightens unaware humans.

On solo trips I bring a note pad and pencil.  Most use these to log their trip; however, I use to leave notes of my whereabouts whenever I leave camp.  Several examples: "fetching water at lake intake" or "cat hole duty N of camp" or "Day hike to Peak of Mt. Goode via Bishop Lake to SE face of Mt. Goode.  Expect back by dusk XX/XX/XX."  These notes are left behind, displayed conspicuously at camp, just in case SAR comes hunting for me. 

On solo trips where I anticipate straying off popular trails I will bring a couple of small signaling smoke flares.  For the real emergencies - never used (knock on wood).

On solo trips I will bring a smidge of real fine burbon or other top shelf whiskeys, and real fine chocolates.  They go together really well.  And what better time to spoil one's self than while indulging one's self to a solo.




Always:  Victornoix Ranger knife and smartphone in pocket.

Outdoors:  The Ten Essentials in fanny pack (geeky but small)

Walking while backpacking:  Full backpack o' ultralight junk.

Driving in car: Pretty much duplicates of all above, for entire family, plus car/bike/house/canoe repair toolbox*

*Including a few flint knapp & native copper rocks the kids picked up somewhere.

whomeworry - i also carry a map protractor, square, clear military type - i drilled a small hole in the center and knotted a hi-visibility (yellow) fishing line thru it, with 1" marks. put the protractor on your map with center at current position, determine your direction, pull fishing line and measure distance  - makes it quick and easy. the fishing line measuring method also allows you other than straight-line measuring.

August 13, 2020
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