“Does everyone need to bring their own gear? Can we all share?”
A question I get asked a lot by groups or families, that come out to class together is, “Does everyone need to bring their own gear? Can we all share?” I have a difficult time answering that because I think beyond the training scenario and to real world situations where people should be prepared. What kind of predicament would they be in if they didn’t have their own gear. Here is a 2 part answer for you to chew on.
Part 1 - Our classes do not require a lot of gear and we want you to know what works for you before you drop a ton of money on new gear. If you are on a budget or just don’t know what to buy then yes you can share some of your gear. Keep in mind though that whatever you do share during a classroom setting, will slow down the learning process. So essential items like a knife and fire starter, I highly recommend you have your own. That’s the basic answer for a training scenario. Keep reading for a real world answer.
Part 2 - The real world answer is, train like you play. And lets add that you might end up playing alone. It’s pretty simple but let me elaborate. It is essential that everyone learns how to hold their own when they are out on an adventure (no matter how big or small) and is prepared to face any reasonable situation without the help from another. If you don't have the right gear then you need to know how to improvise should you need it.
What I typically see out on day hikes is people not carrying anything… but Im not talking about this situation today. What I typically see out on day hikes for people that are partially prepared is dad carrying a large pack with most everything. Mom has a small pack with 3 water bottles, a huge amount of snacks, and an armful of jackets because the kids don’t want to carry anything because it’s too heavy. Little Susie has a stuffed animal and little Bobby has a stick and may have a pocket knife hidden somewhere to sharpen said stick. Little Bobby tends to have more stuff because he wants to be like dad but it’s probably still not adequate. What I see on longer excursions is Dad having the bulk of the gear and the rest of the family having smaller incomplete packs. They are relying on dad to be there at all times and that the gear that he has will always be available to get them out of a sticky situation. I'm a dad, so believe me, I know and even though I am a survival instructor, the struggle is real! Moving on...
Before anybody gets offended, if this is not you and you carry all of your own gear then give me a high-five, chest bump, elbow bump, secret handshake, nod or whatever kind of pat on the back that you prefer.
However, if this is you then let’s get you thinking and shake things up a bit. For whatever reason, everyone in this group suddenly gets separated or one of the children or mom gets lost and is forced to spend a night or two out in the wilderness. It happens. Unfortunately it happens a lot. What kind of predicament is everyone in now?
Now throw in this family’s level of training and experience. There is a good chance that Dad may have taken survival training before, either in the military or though civilian classes such as mine but that is not always the case. Mom may have done so too but typically Mom stayed home and sent dad out for the week so she could relax at home or enjoy her own hobby. And the children have very little experience and most likely no training because mom and/or dad would always be there…right? Moms or ladies, if you trained too, then give me another high five.
With the family completely separated and not everyone having knowledge or training, now what is their situation?
Now add what I consider to be the 10 essentials of a good kit. Knife, fire starter, paracord(rope), shelter, water bottle & filter, rain gear (a good poncho can double as shelter), first aid kit, map and compass, food and proper clothing. You can obviously switch out these items depending on your style but all of your bases should be able to cover the Rule of Threes. If you don’t know RoT, you should look it up. By giving them these items, how would they fare now? Let us add a little training on how to properly use all of these items. Now how will they do? All of these items can fit in a small backpack and weigh less than 10-15 lbs if done right. Now let’s add a signal whistle and mirror so that everyone has a better chance of getting found by SAR.
So when someone asks me the aforementioned question, all of this runs through my head and I revert back to my simple real world answer. Train like you play!
p.s. This goes for bug out bags too! Everyone's kit should be self sustaining. Every individual person should be self sustaining.