My possibles pouch began as being simply a Doug Ritter Pocket Survival Pak. The Survival Pak comes in a waterproof envelope that is meant to be carried in a pocket. I prefer a belt-mounted solution, so I ditched the waterproof envelope and moved the contents to a TAD Gear SERE SP pouch. The SERE pouch has velcro webbing on the back, which allows it to be mounted to be mounted to any sort of belt or PALS webbing.
When using the possibles pouch, I’m often traveling with my Kifaru ZXR. The ZXR is built upon Kifaru’s WrapTech Plus Suspension system, one of the primary components of which is the belt. The belt is a very thick, wide belt that is designed to work with the anatomy of the body and allow the user to comfortable carry obscenely heavy loads. The design of the ZXR’s belt makes it unpractical to have many pouches mounted to your own pants belt. Because of this, I didn’t want to actually mount the SERE pouch to my belt itself, but instead mount it so that it dropped down a bit below my waist, thus not interfering with the ZXR belt. To accomplish this, I simply tied a short loop of paracord through the pouch’s webbing. To mount the pouch, I pull the loop through the backside of my belt and run the pouch through the loop. This allows me to both don and doff the pouch without removing my belt.
The contents of the pouch have changed since I first removed them from the waterproof envelope. The Doug Ritter Pocket Survival Pak still forms the base of the pouch, but I’ve added and removed other items to cut down on redundancy and better compliment the other gear that I carry. I also don’t intend the possibles pouch to be strictly a “survival” item. All of the pouch’s contents have utility in a survival situation, but some of them are not intended explicitly for that.
The contents are as follows:
- Ferrocerium rod, striker and paracord
- Duct tape (26" x 2")
- Aluminum Foil (3 sq. ft.)
- 2 match strikers
- 8 Coghlan's Emergency Tinder
- Sterile stainless steel surgical blade
- 20mm compass
- Stainless steel utility wire (6' of .020")
- Signal mirror
- Magnifying lens
- 4 large safety pins
- Repair kit
- Fishing kit
The components that remain from the Doug Ritter Pocket Survival Pak are the duct tape, pencil, safety pins, 20mm compass, stainless steel utility wire, sterile stainless steel surgical blade, magnifying lens, signal mirror, and aluminum foil. The other items I’ll cover here.
Ferrocerium rod, striker and paracord
This is a standard Light My Fire Scout firesteel and striker. It is not my primary firesteel, but a backup that I can be sure of always having securely attached. You might have noticed that the paracord that I use to secure the rod and striker to the pouch is rather long (about 3.5’). Paracord, of course, has hundreds of uses, so carrying a bit more of it than is strictly necessary isn’t always a bad idea. But the primary reason for the length of this particular piece of cord is that I can use it as a bow string on a fire-bow set.
This is just one standard latex condom. It can be used as a water carrier, a makeshift glove for a few fingers while taking care of a wound, a barrier to help stop the creation of a new species of half humans half wood nymphs, or utilized in the creation of emergency balloon animals.
REI Storm Proof Matches always come with 2 spare strikers sealed within a piece of plastic. I find that so-called “strike anywhere” matches can be hit and miss, so by carrying this, I assure myself of always having a dry, reliable surface to strike any kind of match on.
Coghlan's Emergency Tinder
This stuff is not my favorite fire starting tinder, but it does work, and I have a bit of it kicking around, so I tossed it in. They’re stored within a small waterproof bag.
My repair kit, I think, is somewhat ingenious. I like it, at least. I previously carried a small leather pouch with an assortment of different needles, types of thread, and safety pins. The whole thing was far larger and heavier than I could ever justify it being, so I ditched it and started from scratch. I got the idea for this new kit from the BackpackingLight Forums.
The container is an old Pentel mechanical pencil led refill case. This is the perfect size to secure the two needles I’ve chosen to carry and the case itself is light enough to make me happy. (And it’s free.)
Around the outside of the case, I’ve wrapped a length of black Kevlar thread. When I built this kit, I just wrapped till I got bored, so I have no idea how much thread there is. Enough, I think, for any repairs that I am likely to encounter. I chose Kevlar thread as the best complement of weight and strength. Previously, I carried a bit of standard, thin sewing thread. The thinness of that thread is suitable for sewing things like clothing, but it is decidedly weak. Kevlar thread is the same thickness, not noticeably heavier, but much stronger. I also previously carried a bit of thick waxed nylon string that is appropriate for sewing things like thick leather, heavy cotton canvas, or thick nylon. This is very heavy by my standards and overkill for most repair jobs. Out of all the gear I carry, it would probably be appropriate for repairing only my Kifaru rucksack. And Kifaru rucksacks don’t fail. If by some strange happenstance it did fail, the Kevlar thread would probably be strong enough to get be back home or to some place where a more permanent repair could be made.
Inside the case I carry two needles. One that is thicker and stronger than most thin needles used for the hand-repair of clothing, but still small enough to qualify as small in my eye (just under 5mm in length and thin enough to not punch overly large holes in a thin cotton material). I believe this is the needle that comes with the Doug Ritter Survival Pak, but I could be wrong. The other needle is slightly longer (about 6mm) and has a slightly thicker head, making it more appropriate for heavier material. (I believe this one is technically a sail maker’s needle, but I could be wrong. I have a variety of different needles I’ve picked up over the years and lack the expertise to be able to identify their intended purpose.)
Also inside the case is a small safety pin. The purpose of this is actually just to take up more area inside the case so that the two needles don’t bounce around and make noise.
This repair kit, along with the 4 large safety pins also carried in the possibles pouch, makes for a very small and lightweight repair kit that is able to tackle any of the problems that I may encounter. In addition to this, I also carry a half dozen safety pins of a varying sizes and a couple spare buttons within the rucksack itself. The guts of paracord and the floss in my toiletry kit can also be appropriated as thread.
My fishing kit is actually a combination fishing kit and glasses repair kit. An odd combination, you say? I agree.
I am dependent on my glasses, so I have always carried a glasses repair kit. Such kits are available in any drug store in the country and usually consist of a small tube that contains a few of the small screws that most glasses use, a small screwdriver to match, and a couple spare rubber nose pieces.
A year and a half ago I purchased a new pair of glasses that happen to have plastic nose pieces integrated into the frames. Recently, I was going through the possibles pouch, rethinking each item, and came upon the glasses repair kit. I opened it up and was shocked – shocked, I tell you – to discover that it contained two of those small rubber nose piece replacements. With my new glasses, these were completely useless to me. I had been carrying around an extra 2 grams (or so) all this time! I disposed of the offending pieces and felt better immediately.
But then I looked at the tube and its contents and decided that it really was a waste of space. The tube was far too large for the spare screws and screwdriver that it now contained. I shrugged, moved on to looking at the rest of the contents of the possibles pouch, and then had a stroke of brilliance. I would turn the glasses repair kit into a fishing kit!
It follows on the same principle as the repair kit.
Around the outside of the tube, I wrapped a length of 4 lb monofilament fishing line (“ultragreen” in color). Again, I did not measure the length, but it is plenty for such an emergency kit.
Inside the tube, I placed 4 small hooks, 2 split shot, and 2 snap swivels. This is clearly a very minimalist fishing kit, meant for emergencies only, not for when one intends to actually catch fish for a main form of sustenance, but I have used it. It does work.
This particular glasses repair tube is well-suited for such a kit because the lid for the tube is the screwdriver itself. The top of the screwdriver can then be removed, exposing the inside of the hollow handle. It is in here that the spare screws are stored. This allows the glasses repair bit to be separate from the fishing bit.
It should also be noted that the fishing line wrapped around the outside can also be used as repair thread.