Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
By now, most of you are probably getting tired of reading about me getting ready to head to Colorado in a couple months. I’m trying to do my best to contain my excitement about the trip and not wear you folks out with my drivel.
I’ve been packing and re-packing my backpack, adding gear, deleting gear, trying to figure out what I’ll need for the hunt all the while keeping the weight at a manageable level. My hunting partner and pal Jerry has told me that the bigger the pack, the more un-needed stuff I’ll bring along, so I’ve picked a medium sized hunting pack that should work out just fine in the event that I need to do an overnight stay away from our campsite.
I’ve loaded it with essentials: knives, flashlights, emergency blanket, a compass, first aid gear and a myriad of other items I might need; but the one of the smallest tools in the pack is an unassuming Altoids tin.
Yep, one of those small tin containers that contained the curiously strong breath mints. There’s no longer any breath mints in the tin, although after a week in the mountains and limited dental hygiene during the hunt, I’m sure those around me would appreciate it if I had a mint or two. Nope, no mints – but the little tin is packed full of gear.
I’m not a doomsday prepper or what you’d call a survivalist, but I do like to be prepared and you’d be shocked to see what you can stuff into a little metal container that measures about 2″x 4″ and an inch deep. It might sound like overkill, but you never know when you might need to be prepared for an emergency and my Altoids kit is just the ticket.
Here’s what’s in mine: A folding, two blade knife, fishing line along with several hooks and a couple sinkers, collapsible tweezers and fingernail clippers. A few band-aids and folded gauze, along with some ibuprofen, some pepto tablets and a few water purification tabs in the event I can’t find a safe water source. I have a couple methods to make fire: a small Bic lighter, a book of matches as well as two of those trick birthday candles that won’t blow out.
Fire does something more than warm you and cook your food out on the trail. There’s something about a good fire that gives you a sense of peace and security out in the woods, especially in the event of an emergency and that can be the difference between life and death.
Let’s see, what else: a 12″x 12″ folded piece of aluminum foil, four paper towels folded in, several feet of duct tape rolled onto itself along with a coil of jute twine. The twine can be used as cordage or as tinder to help start a fire. I also have a short sewing needle and a length of thread in there and a couple of paper clips that I can use for lots of different things.
I’ve also included in my little kit a small pencil and piece paper. I’ve written the names of my loved ones and their phones numbers on a business card and taped it to the inside of the container so that in the event I’m not able to communicate and someone were to find me, that they’d at least know who they could call.
And last, but not least, I’ve taped four quarters and a ten dollar bill inside the lid of the kit. Even out in the middle of nowhere, having a little cash might come in handy and even if it’s not an emergency, I know that I’ve always got enough money and change to make a phone call or buy something to eat. Finally, the container is wrapped and with two thick rubber bands to help hold it closed.
So, there you have it, my little hiking/hunting/tuck into your glove box survival kit. I seriously doubt that I’ll ever have to break into my Altoids tin kit, but as the saying goes, especially Along the Trail, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
– David Hewitt