We have covered several EDC articles in the past covering everything from knives and flashlights to handguns. These items are what you’ll typically find in an urban, or city EDC. When it comes to being out in the woods those items may not be ideally suited. Most units in the Military that deploy will have ‘kit bags’ containing their gear for specific applications/environments. They never have just one kit and use that for every mission. Each mission has specific criteria which requires specific gear. The same goes for your everyday carry loadout. For example, although a knife could always be useful in the woods, the one you carry everyday around the city (or to work) may not be the best knife for the woods, or backcountry. We’ll cover that later in the article.
When I travel into the woods for day hikes, whether it’s a quick few hours or all day, I always have a standard set of gear on my person. I’m somewhat if a minimalist and prefer to travel on the lighter side. The items I discuss in this article are what I have found work for me based upon time out in the woods (you will need to determine what you actually use and need). You’re kit may contain a few more items and that is totally fine. As you spend more time in the woods and practice your skills you’ll become more confident in your abilities, which will translate into a lighter more streamlined loadout.
Let’s dive into the kit that I use:
First off let’s take a look at the knife that I have on my person at all times when going out into the woods. That knife is the Gerber Gator Drop Point Folder. The Gerber Gator line of folding knives have been around since 1991. During my enlistment in the Marine Corps (that started in 1993) I purchased a Gerber Gator and that became my primary knife when out in the field. That knife stood the test of time and survived many field exercises and deployments without ever failing me. Having built that kind of trust in this particular blade is why I continue to carry one today when out in the woods.
The Gerber Gator has a durable edge with corrosion resistance thanks to the bead blasted 154CM blade steel. The knife contains no washers and no bearings, just a piece of steel with an FRN Gator grip handle and a robust lock. You could leave this knife out in the rain for a month, wipe it off, throw some oil on the pivot and you’re good to go. If you’re looking for a knife you can take out into the woods, thrash around, and not care if it gets wet, then this is the knife for you. You could call it an affordable working man’s field knife.
Along with my knife I carry a metal match case full of UCO Strike Anywhere matches. Yes, that’s right I carry matches. Frowned upon by many, but they are easy to use and if kept dry can get you a fire going relatively quickly (if you do your part in gathering the proper material for a tinder bundle). The metal match case I use and prefer is an old school style made by Marbles. It’s compact, water tight, and durable.
Other items I may choose to carry to assist with fire making are; a Bic lighter, my flint & magnesium bar (similar to what I carried in the Marine Corps), and a few pieces of pine fat wood. Again, a lot of people discount the magnesium bars as not being reliable, but with time and practice you can hone your skills and become quite proficient with starting a fire using the magnesium. Having the pine fat wood gives you an advantage in inclement weather to have something dry and combustible to ignite with any of the ignition sources mentioned.
Now that we have covered the individual items carried we need a way to carry those. I personally do not enjoy loading up my pockets with this stuff. It becomes uncomfortable and makes it more difficult to access the items. At times I have put the Marbles match case in my front pocket, but that’s it. Typically to carry these items I use a Fire Bag. The Fire Bag is designed and manufactured by Malcolm Coderre at the Hidden Woodsmen. The bag is made from 1000D Cordura which is highly abrasion resistant and water-resistant.
Although the Fire Bag was designed to carry a fire kit, it was not intentionally designed to be carried as a belt pouch. Due to the the design (strip of Velcro at the top), you can utilize a lightweight climbing carabiner as a way to attach it to your belt. The carabiner is held in place by the aggressiveness of the velcro allowing you to clip it directly onto your belt or belt loops of your pants.
This kit is not much, but as long as I’m dressed appropriately for the weather, the Gerber Gator knife and my belt kit will allow me to endure an unexpected night or two in the woods.