Should You Bring "Backup" Essential Gear?

On one hand it seems logical to bring an extra compass, flashlight, knife etc., but on the other it usually just turns out to be dead weight. What's your take on it?
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On one hand it seems logical to bring an extra compass, flashlight, knife etc., but on the other it usually just turns out to be dead weight. What's your take on it?

Question:

Kristin, do you ever bring "backups" of your important items? On one hand it seems logical to bring an extra compass, flashlight, knife etc., but on the other it usually just turns out to be dead weight. What's your take on it?

Submitted by - Jeremy Rangel - Heidelberg, AE

Answer:

I like the way you phrased this question: “What’s your take on it?” Because it really comes down to personal style with a question like this. When backpacking, I don’t carry too much in the way of backups, because I’m looking to shave every ounce of “dead weight.” There are a few exceptions, though.

I always have a spare pair of dry socks. There’s something very comforting about knowing that they’re in my pack, should I get soaked in a stream crossing.

I also always pack a backup fire source. There’s the Bic lighter in my cook kit, of course. But I also bring a box of either waterproof matches or a flint, so that I’m not SOL when it comes to lighting the stove or a fire if I lose it.

If you’re the type who stresses over such things (and I love traveling with people who do, because it lets me off the hook!), I’d suggest investing in a lightweight, compact survival kit. These have all the basics covered, and allow you to just throw one little pouch into your bag without sweating over the details. A favorite: Adventure Medical Kit Pocket Survival Pak Plus ($70, adventuremedicalkits.com). It weighs only 5 ounces and has a mini light, a mini blade, water purifying tabs, a compass, cord, tinder and firestarter. It’s a pretty sweet insurance plan for 5 ounces.