Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crap I Pack For a "Day" Trip

I get paid to worry. Worry, plan and prepare. These job requirements have filtered over to many aspects of my personal life, including the one depicted below.

I like to visit the desert, the one where few people live. Better yet, is the desert where few people visit. Although it can be a harsh, brutal place, it is also filled with an immense beauty and a peaceful solitude. A great place to visit if one is so inclined.

While unpacking my jeep after a day trip yesterday, it occurred to me that a day trip requires only a slightly less amount of stuff than an overnighter. I decided to whip out the 7D and document the load.

Photo #1: Unplanned food/water

This is the food and water that I take, but plan on not using. This is the stuff that I will use, should I get stuck out in the sticks for few days. I usually take enough water to last two or three days. Dehydration probably kills people faster than anything else, ask the scores of people who have died along the southern border. The one gallon containers can be used to fill the radiator in the jeep if needed, the small bottles are exclusively for MY radiator.

MREs, though not savory, contain a lot of calories and are easy to carry and store. I take at least one for each day, each person and enough for three days.

Photo #2: Recovery Gear

This is the stuff that I use to get unstuck if I should get stuck. I have been stuck before, 30 miles from anywhere. I was with my two kids, then 8 and 10 and we were alone. It pretty much sucked. I used the entrenching tool in the picture above to dig us out. It took over two hours and it was after that that I started buying four wheel drive vehicles.

Most of the stuff pictured is used to either hook up to another vehicle or use as an anchor for my winch. The two yellow straps have different uses. The wider of the two is a snatch strap that is used to use a vehicle to "snatch" another from being stuck. The skinnier of the two is a tree strap that is used to wrap around a tree to use it as an anchor point. The clevis, pully and the chain are winch accessories, as is the black coiled wire.

The black coiled wire is actually the controller for the winch. You plug it in and control the winch with it. It is something you don't want to forget, the winch won't work without it.

Notice the winch stuff looks new and unused. I try really hard not to use it, I try to avoid getting stuck.

Photo #3: Survival/mechanical Stuff

Tools, flashlights, first aid kit, more tools, jumper cables, wipes, TP, maps GPS duct tape, 200 MPH tape, flat repair kit, hose clamps, baling wire, wire ties etc. etc. etc.

The maps and GPS get used all of the time. I actually use the maps more than the GPS, the GPS serves to verify that I am where I think I am. I think that being lost would be worse than being stuck or broke down.

Wipes. One type for your ass, one for your hands and a specific procedure for using both.  Gastro-intestinal distress is never any fun, it's worse when you are digging a hole for a restroom.

Photo #4: Other Stuff

Air Compressor - This gets used a lot. I lower the air pressure in my tires nearly every time I go out into the deep desert. I usually drop the air pressure to 14 PSI. That pressure reduces the risk of tire damage from sharp rocks, improves the ride on washboarded roads and improves traction. The compressor is used to "air up" when returning to the pavement for the drive home.

Fire extinguishers - I carry two, the one pictured and a smaller one that I can reach from the driver's seat. All of the stuff that I carry isn't going to help me if it is reduced to ashes!

Warm jacket - Hypothermia sucks just as bad as dehydration.

Food/water - This is the stuff that I PLAN on using.

Handgun - The deep desert is a remote place. There are some strange folks out there, as well as a few dangerous ones. I have never seen a ranger, sheriff deputy or any other law enforcement officer while in the deep desert.  The canyon we traveled through yesterday, Berdoo Canyon, has been the dumping ground for a few bodies over the years. The one time that I really felt threatened, was in the deep desert, in Joshua Tree National Park, located at the top of Berdoo Canyon. That was before I even owned a handgun, I vowed never to be that vulnerable again.

I assume that every person I meet in the desert is armed, they likely assume that I am. (rightly so) It makes for very polite conversations.

Not pictured: Camera and tripod; Engine coolant, 2 gallons; spare radiator hoses; motor oil; high lift jack; hand sanitizer; sunscreen; boonie hat and a bunch of other stuff that I won't bore you with.

Add a tent, sleeping bag, cot, compact folding table and chair for overnight trips and you can see why I have an extended wheelbase jeep. 

Off-roading is a great way to explore the desert, I am fortunate to have the equipment to do it. Some desert explorers carry more stuff, some less. I have never used most of the stuff that I carry, that is fine with me.

I the next few days, I will discuss a few instances where people who didn't have some of this stuff died. A tragic ending to what could have been a wonderful experience.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Schmoe, Outstanding (both the post and the preparation). I don't off-road (good gravel roads, sometimes), but there are still things I keep in my car "just in case," and you've given me some good ideas. Especially, I've got no way to put out a fire in my vehicle, which is made mostly of somewhat flammable stuff, really flammable stuff, and "holy **** look at that burn!" stuff. I suspect the metal bits are just there to hold all the flammable stuff in place during combustion.

    Things I do have include ways of getting noticed (loud whistle, &c.). Does your kit include anything like that?

    I agree that it's good to be both polite and prepared. I've encountered some... interesting... people in the desert. I've been fortunate that I've never had to use any tool other than good manners when dealing with strangers. I want to keep it that way.

  2. You make an important point here: A lot of the gear you pack never gets used because you are careful and don't want to use it.

    I'd really like to see this article expanded to an itemized list with detailed explanations and the thought process behind your selections.

  3. W.C. - I have a whistle that I carry in a small backpack that I used to use for day hikes. That is a great idea, your voice will give out after shouting for a while. I'm with you, I'll take courtesy over combat any time. The one time I had an issue, I used bluff and bluster it worked, but I was very lucky.

    Mad Jack - It all boils down to what I think could break/happen and what will be useful. Past that, it's a matter of what will keep me alive.

    Thanks for the comments