Friday, January 21, 2011

Practical Minimalism...



Two long trips to and from Virginia, one long trip to and from Maine, three long weeks of 100 miles per day patrol left me with a screaming sciatic nerve. A literal pain in the ass!

My solution? Other than mega doses of Aleve, I did a complete EDC (every day carry gear) re-evaluation and an evaluation of how the gear that remained would thence be carried.

I emptied my pockets of gear and took the few things that were on my belt off. I was 4 lbs lighter than two minutes before. I thought to myself, "That's plain nuts." Looking at the pile of gear; it contained no less than 4 different knives or multitools, a cell phone, wallet, 2 bandanas, a PSK (personal survival kit), a 1st Aid kit, a bottle of breath drops, two BIC lighters and two key rings loaded with gear that was made redundant by other pocketed items. Time to trim down - especially when you consider that I have a go-bag that travels with me 24/7/365 that carries a full sized SwissTool X multitool and a Blind Horse Knives Small Tiger Knapp fixed blade knife.

What had to stay with me? Wallet, bandanas, breath drops, one BIC lighter, ONE small knife or multitool, a small PSK geared up solely to enhance the skills I have and one keyring with NO or minimally redundant items.

I took everything out of my wallet and put in only what absolutely needed to be there - Driver's license, hunting/fishing license, pistol permits, medical insurance card and ONE debit card. Bandanas were a no-brainer - they stayed because there's too many practical uses for them on a daily basis and they're invalueable in an emergency. The little bottle of breath drops stayed because it keeps my raspy voice working. The cellphone stays because it's a valueable work tool and lifeline.

It took a couple weeks to pick a knife. I spent two weeks tracking what I used on the former pile of tools I carried. I determined, based on actual use of the items, that I most needed a locking blade, a medium screwdriver, a toothpick, a super small screwdriver and it had to have a means to attach a lanyard or watch chain. The blade needed to be long enough to cleanly slice summer sausage and wide enough to plop a huge dollop of canned pate onto a water cracker. Additionally, the knife had to fit into the watch pocket on my jeans and cargo pants. Lastly, when it was placed into my watch pocket, it could not interfere with my ability to draw a pistol from the main pocket. These determinations basically meant that I needed to select an 84 or 85mm Swiss Army knife with no more than two layers. Selection then became easy, there was only one that met all of my criteria above, that being a Wenger 85mm Evo S10 with a Victorinox eyeglass screwdriver mounted into the cork screw. It's weight is advertised as 1.9 ounces, but mine tips the postal scale at 1.9 ounces with the added-on screwdriver.



My Otterbox 1000 sized PSK and Witz ID locker 1st Aid kit went by the wayside. I selected a Sparklite sized translucent container for my new PSK. Whatever I really needed had to fit in. It does. I carry a small AMK signal mirror, cylinder shaped handmade brass whistle, pico sized photon type light, three sewing awls and threader, a travel sized roll of floss, a ferro rod and striker, some tinderquick, some post-it notes, a piece of pencil, a spare cuff key, fish hooks and sinkers, a spare toothpick and a SERE compass in a box that's 2.5" x 1.5" x 5/8". Weight is 2.1 ounces. The beauty of the container is that nearly all of the contents can be easily seen from the outside. I added a homemade ranger band to secure the container from accidental opening.



Nothing gets carried in back pockets except bandanas. They're for padding while tucked away. Everything else is divied up between cargo, front and watch pockets. The only item added to the mix is a homemade watch chain to secure the SAK from being accidentally dropped. It also adds a touch of class to the mix.

In as far as my keyring goes, all of the keys that see only occassional use and all of the redundant gear was stripped off. Remaining onboard is an Egear Doug Ritter Pico light, a small traser glow ring marking light, an ID tag, and a delrin space capsule with a couple day's worth of critical meds in it. The two full sized BIC lighters were replaced by one Mini BIC.

I feel much better now. Light and Airy. Practically minimalistic...

M :)

2 comments:

Steve J in Ky said...

Great article Mike! I second carrying the wallet in the cargo pocket. That's where I keep mine.

Steve

Adam said...

So how about a follow up article on what's in your go bag?