I think we can all agree that being prepared is important.  But what are you preparing for? Things you want to happen? Things you fear will happen? Or things you expect to happen.
Hi I’m mike and I drive a Toyota, so today we’re just going to talk about how I prepare for things I expect to happen with this go pack and the things I carry whether we’re cruising in my dad’s RzR, rock crawling with Harry or bouncing down dirt roads with the family.
We go out into the backcountry to explore and that inevitably involves being out in the sun, the cold, the rain and the dark. It involves being hungry and thirsty, falling down, and seeing cool things. When we’re out away from home and even the truck for a while. This pack has most of the things I want to have with me most of the time. Just in case I need to bug out and hike to the top of the nearest peak. If the truck is my go vehicle to get away from the city, this is my go pack to get away from the truck. Let me show you what I have here.

The Pack: REI Trail 40

I picked up this pack on a whim at REI last year when I was looking for something else. It was on sale for around $50 as I remember, and it has some great features that make it ideal for my uses.
It’s Light. It’s not a bulky pack, It doesn’t weigh much which makes it fast and light for me. While being light it does still have a sheet-style internal frame and robust shoulder and waist straps. These features make it comfortable for carrying heavier loads.
It’s convenient. The pack has two mesh pockets on one side and one on the other for carrying water bottles and other items that you need easy access to. It has a zipper pocket on the inside and outside at the top of the main flap for things you need more secure but still easy to get. There’s a mesh pocket inside the main body as well that’s handy for items you don’t want clanking around in there. There are also two zipper pockets in the waist belt. Lastly, it has a full-access zipper with 3 tabs for access to any part of the main compartment.
It has a rain fly in a special compartment as well as an array of attachment points and lashing straps on the outside.


If you’re going on a hike or you’re just going to be away from the vehicle for a bit you need water. I leave either a 32oz or a 40oz Hydroflask or similar double-wall steel water bottle in the side pouch all the time. I can grab a drink from the back of the truck, or it’s always ready for a hike. I’d also recommend having a larger container in the vehicle to refill from, I carry a 1 Gallon RTIC Steel jug in the back for that purpose.

Gerber Bear Grylls Survival knife

I know, I know. But the Bear Grylls knives are nice for two reasons, 1) they have that bright shock of orange that makes them easy to see and 2) the dense rubber grips are very durable. This knife has the potential, bare though it may be, of starting a fire, but the knife itself is big and hefty and very useful for cutting up fruit or spreading cheese on crackers.

First Aid Kit

It’s important to have a first aid kit because some of us never really grew out of the face plant phase.  I carry an Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit. It’s fairly small, but I’d say you should carry the biggest kit you feel like carrying.


It’s good to have a multi-tool. Camera tripods often need the leg locks tightened, whatever the kids are playing with might break and need to be fixed somehow, or someone might get a fish hook stuck in their hand. Sky’s the limit here.  I have a Leatherman Sidekick. There are a dizzying array of options available at your outdoor store or hardware store. Whatever multitool you choose will be better than nothing.


I keep a spare headlamp in my Go Pack. It’s not one I use around camp so that ensures that it doesn’t get taken out and left out. You can spend $15 to $150 on headlamps depending on the features or manufacturer. I have a Black Diamond Astro 175 because it was on sale at REI for $14. It will work for hiking in the dark, but is not bright enough for signaling or spotlighting. But realistically, we’re probably going to use it for climbing into caves and mine shafts or lava tubes.


Bandannas have a million uses from hanky to face mask to bandage to whip for subduing ornery wild horses. I’ve used them for cooling off, washing off, shading my neck, keeping sweat out of my eyes, drying tears of small children and playing peekaboo with babies.

Poo Pocket

I keep a zipper bag in the truck with toilet paper, a trowel, hand sanitizer, and plastic bags for when nature calls. If we’re going to be away from the truck for a while it’s smart the bring it. For more on the right way to poop in the backcountry, check this post and video.


I have a light gauzy scarf I bought at the visitor center ad Great Smokey Mountains National Park . It’s good for keeping the sun off my neck, cooling me off with some river water, or keeping me warm in the winter. It lives in the back when I’m not wearing it. You can get them at any national park.

Beanie and Gloves

In winter and shoulder seasons I keep gloves and a beanie in the pack. If a hike starts our warm and gets cold, it’s nice to have these as backup. Both the hat and gloves are not my best gear. They’re old and ratty, but since they’re backup It’s OK and tolerable to have a hat that’s too tight or gloves that are coming apart at the seams when otherwise I’d be freezing and unhappy.

Two-Way Radios

I keep a pair of Midland GXT Radios in the pack. They’re pretty handy if you split up with the group or otherwise plan to get separated. This is where I store them so I have them when needed, but I won’t necessarily cary them on every hike if I don’t think I’ll need them. They are very good radios as you can see in the Radio test video we did with them.

Extra rain/sun hat

I bought the REI Redwoods Co-op Pack Hat a while back and don’t love it. It’s uncomfortable and not particularly breathable. But it sheds water well and is a functional sun hat as a backup if I start off in a beanie and get hot or if the kids forget their hat. It’s a backup, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. It fits in the water bladder sleeve perfectly. Being not my favorite hat ensures I’m never tempted to just keep wearing it and thus not have it in the pack when I need it.

Shell Jacket

I carry a Marmot jacket in winter. It’s just a basic waterproof mountaineering shell. Nothing special, but it is good to have if it gets wet or cold. Usually if you’re hiking a shell is enough to keep you warm just by holding the air in and blocking the wind. In summer I don’t usually carry this.


If it does get colder than I thought it could, I have a packable Patagonia Micro Puff pull-over in tractor orange. It’s not water proof, but the Polarguard Delta insulation stays effective it if gets wet, which is important. I won’t always cary this in summer either. But it is quite small and light, so it may stay in the pack longer than the shell.


Years ago I bought a Go-Lite brand siliconized Nylon poncho for backpacking. It’s still in my kit and lives in the inside mesh pocket of this pack. I use it as a poncho in the rain, but it can act as a shelter for one or more of us in a pinch. It’s light and well worth having if I need it. A similar product is now made by Sea To Summit.


It’s always good to have some emergency snacks. Primarily for when the kids are melting down, but also just for getting calories on a hike. I always leave a pre-packaged bar or snack in the side pockets on the hip belt for this purpose. Generally, I prefer non-packaged food, but when long term stability is important you can’t beat a wrapped bar.


I’ve always had a pair of cheap binoculars bouncing around the truck. They’re really handy to have, but they get lost. So when Lightning Dragon got me a new pair for Christmas one year I put them on the strap of my Go Pack. Now they’re always on the pack when there’s Big Horns on the hillside, or we need to spot mines and ghost towns from the road. It’s really fun to have these with me. We use them almost every time we go out. They’re cheap and really very useful.


So those are the things that I always have with me in case a hike breaks out and I need to put some miles between us and the truck at a moment’s notice.
What did I miss? What do you carry for human powered adventures? Let me know in the comments.
Happy Trails,

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