Jun 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm #1304434
Hello all. I'm rounding out my kit and see a backup light, whistle, and fire starter frequently included on gear lists. I don't have these items and would love to hear recommendations. I'm considering these options:
– whistle: Fox 40 Micro
– fire starter: Light My Fire Scout Firesteel Fire Starter (do I also need matches or tinder?); how does this compare to a bic?
– backup light: Photon (Micro light II, Freedom Micro), Princeton Tec (Pulsar/II, Impulse), and the Fenix E01 (this Fenix may be overkill since I carry a Zebralight as my primary)
I'd also love to hear about any other small odds and ends I could be missing (I have basics like compass, first aid, etc., covered).
Thank you.Jun 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm #1998535
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Whistle: Brian Green did a test of several whistles here: http://briangreen.net/2011/03/safety-whistles-decibel-testing.html
I have the Fox Micro but I thought the aluminum "toy" whistle, like the blue one in his photos, was much louder and easier to use.
Firestarter: I have the ExoTac NanoStriker, but have never used it. There are trips where I will bring it as a back-up but I think it's easier to just carry 2 Mini-Bics. Bonus: I came across someone last year who had forgotten matches or a lighter and I was able to give him one. I also carry a small ziploc of matches & cotton tinder.
Back-up Light: I carry a Fenix LD01 as my primary light (in case I have to hike at night) but mostly use a Photon on the included lanyard. This saves the battery life of the LD01 and has almost always been enough light to use around camp.
I also bought a neon-pink roll of mason's line (braided nylon) at Home Depot. I put a short loop on many small essential items just to help see them when packing up the next day. I also take a small piece of tyvek (a race bib) and place that on the ground inside my shelter. This is my "landing pad" (for lack of a better description) where I always (try to) put essential items so they are in ONE place. Simplifies trying to find things in the dark or when packing up in the morning.Jun 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm #1998544
@zipperLocale: LOST, but making good time
I don't carry a back-up light, I just turn around and go the other way.
What? Oh, I thought you meant back-up. Nevermind…
–BGR–Jun 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm #1998550
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I've been walking for >50 years.
I have never carried a whistle, and have never met a situation where I needed one or where it would work. Marketing toy.
Of course I carry a Bic lighter – to light my stove for cooking. I carry a second, small, Bic wrapped up in plastic in my FAK. I have used it once or twice – that's all. And I carruy it becasue my main Bic lighter is getting very low in butane. (Actually, I used it because I had forgotten to pack my main Bic!)
I do not carry a back-up light, but sometimes my wife who walks with me may have her only micro-light. But I do check my light before any major trip.
There's a lot of gear being recommended for 'just in case'. In general, the idea gets pushed by retailers who want to sell you something. A major part of the UL concept is to break free of this extra 'just in case' needless weight (which rarely gets used), and to rely instead on thinking. Brains are much safer.
CheersJun 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm #1998561
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Back-up lights have become much less important with the durability of LEDs and the long battery life IF your light will put out with low batteries. I have one LED light (that I no longer trust) that needed a reasonably battery voltage and would cut out with weak batteries. No moon? I've got a little squeeze light. Any moon out? Nah.
A mini Bic is my primary. If you get it soaked, it can take a while to dry enough to ignite a canister stove. A light-my-fire will get you going in that situation. Or, I've got some very small plastic vials that would hold about 3 wooden strike-anywhere matches and have a water-tight stopper. Failing that, you have to rub two Boy Scouts together, very quickly.
Skip the whistle. Skip the signaling mirror. I've never met anyone who ever met anyone who has ever used one to signal for help. Pull cactus thorns from their lips?, yes. Signal for help, no.Jun 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm #1998576
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
I'm not a big fan of carrying a whistle, though sometimes do, and my fire starter solution always at least starts with the idea that I'm typically carrying a fair bit of dry toilet paper (not idea, but at least something).
Backup light: I see two alternative uses for this. (a) something to see with briefly when your headlamp batteries inevitably need to be changed in the dark, or (b) something to use if your headlamp is lost or broken or you don't have spare batteries or something along this line.
I typically carry a really lightweight and small pinch type LED light for the latter, (b). I rarely bother to get it out for (a), as I find it's easier/faster to just use my smartphone display (optionally with a "flashlight" app) while changing batteries. The smartphone isn't optimal as a backup light in the event of losing or breaking my headlamp, but depending on time of year and type of trip, it's sometimes an acceptable option IMO.Jun 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm #1998581
I have been in situations where a whistle has been helpful. My wife and I backpack a lot with our children and all family members carry a whistle.
From time to time we are in situations where we separate – often because I go out of the way to fish an extra spot, while my wife continues with the kids. The sound of a whistle carries way further than that of a voice and makes it easier to locate each other. So in group situations – especially with children – it can be useful to carry a whistle.
ManfredJun 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm #1998586
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Photon Freedom is like a LED pinch light – button battery, 0.25 oz
Except when you pinch it, it will stay on. You can turn it on really dim so it lasts quite a while. Possible to use as a primary flashlight.Jun 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm #1998590
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I usually carry whistle, 0.2 oz
Yeah, I've never used it, but if I was lost and people were looking for me it could be useful, louder, can use it for a longer duration of time
Just because you've never used something doesn't necesarily mean it doesn't make sense to carryJun 20, 2013 at 9:19 pm #1998597
I can whistle quite loudly using my fingers so I have wondered if on the rare chance I needed to signal if I could just use my fingers rather than carry a piece of plastic. But then I wonder how well that would work if my fingers were broken or my lips torn or I'm in freezing temps…then the idea of carrying a plastic whistle doesn't sound so bad.Jun 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm #1998603
I've got a whistle, but haven't used it, ever.
Lights- I have a photon, a headlamp with lower light output that last really long, and my main that lasts a few hours. I try to use the Headlamp that runs on 1 AAA & doesn't put out loads of light the most. When I need to really light up things after dark, I use my ZebraLight, it is incredible. When I researched lights for my pack last year, this light was recommended by all the light enthusiasts across the web…here is a link…
Lighters- I have some waterproof matches in a sealed container. Never use them. I use my Windmill waterproof & Windproof lighter. Fast, reasonably light, clear SO as to see if it is getting low on fuel, and has never failed me. Here is a link…Jun 21, 2013 at 10:17 am #1998684
Why a whistle? Monday on Quandary Peak, two hikers got cliffed out and had to wait overnight for help. The hikers, from Tennessee, used a whistle to alert searchers from the Summit County Rescue Group. Officials say that whistle helped expedite their rescue.
During an accident involving my own hiking group in August in Rocky Mountain National Park, I was waiting with an injured man on a steep cliff. Hours later I heard two rangers on the cliff above me whistling. I yelled, but they never heard me. They later said they only found me because they spotted me waving my arms on the slope. A good reminder that in an emergency situation, the whistle needs to be in my hand and not on my pack on the ground.
Anna DeBattiste, the Public Information Officer for the Summit County Rescue Group said, "all of our rescuers carry whistles attached to our backpacks to help find people. A whistle carries so much further than a person's voice."
the weight of a whistle wont kill you … hell if you wear it like you should it doesnt even count towards you "pack weight" … so you can still be that XULer
;)Jun 21, 2013 at 10:22 am #1998686
Hi Eric. I have been on a trip where a person was lost all night long. A whistle is what helped to find them quickly the next morning after they spent a night out in 20 degree temps.
You won't ever need them until you need them. I'd imagine there are many stories of how the whistle has helped persons get found. I'd also imagine a google search will find several stories of getting found with a signal mirror, but I do not carry one since I hike in groups.Jun 21, 2013 at 11:18 am #1998701
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Whistle on the sternum strap is such a good idea.Jun 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm #1998809
I have done a fair amount of SAR, mostly in southern Arizona. We have responded to legitimate rescue situations that were initiated with both mirror flashes and whistles. They aren't items that are likely to be in routine use, but they are quite useful when you need help. Both items are well worth their weight.Jun 21, 2013 at 9:30 pm #1998820
@cfrey-0Locale: US East Coast
I have actually used my whistle several times to chase away bears. I sound like a little girl when I try to yell. Not very intimidating. Enter the man-whistle.Jun 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm #1998821
"Skip the signaling mirror. I've never met anyone who ever met anyone who has ever used one to signal for help."
They say that there are no strangers, just friends you haven't met yet. Here are some friends David hasn't met yet:Jun 22, 2013 at 2:05 am #1998841
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
James, I'm not sure he and I would be friends. "Tired, dehydrated, and hungry"?!? When I'm tired, dehydrated and hungry, I drink something, find something to eat and head home. I don't use a flashy thing nor want six (6) different agency mobilized unless someone is really in trouble and not just flashing his little flashy thing.
The websites that link to each other are weirdly hyper about how a signal mirror saved him from a non-emergency and how there is some conspiracy among other media to ignore that aspect.
You're not wrong to carry a mirror if you want. I'm not wrong to do otherwise or to discount most things that conspriacy theorists go on about.Jun 22, 2013 at 4:44 am #1998848
@jshannJun 22, 2013 at 5:39 am #1998854
I believe the fox 40 is recommended over the toy pea whistle as it does not have the ball inside that can freeze up, and fail to sound.
Good thread. Whistle as bear deterrent is interesting.Jun 22, 2013 at 6:09 am #1998858
– whistle: I am 62 years old and have never used/wanted/needed a whistle despite spending a large portion of my life in the woods in one outdoor pursuit or another.
– fire starter: I carry a striker type fire starter only because it is easier to light my alcohol stove with one than with a bic. Otherwise the backup for the bic might as well be another bic if you really need a backup. Without a lot of practice, most people will have trouble starting a fire with a striker in ideal dry conditions and wouldn't stand even a remote chance in wet conditions.
– backup light: At the risk of being burned at the stake, I'll say that I always figured that a primary light wasn't really a necessity, let alone a backup light. I went as far as not carrying one, but found that, after scorching a couple meals I did like to be able to look into my cook pot. I then started wearying a $10 eGear Pico light on a chain around my neck as my only light. Since I use it seldom and for a few seconds at a time the 15 hour battery life lasts me a very long time. Mine has been used on many thousands of miles of bicycle touring including a coast to coast bicycle trip as well, on a few short backpacking trips, and has been used around home for over a year and is still on the original battery. It is bright enough to check the color of a blaze at night or to see the bear checking out your canister.
How essential can something that has only been invented in the last hundred years or a bit more be? Humankind got by without flashlights for most of our existence as a species. I think of them as a convenience rather than an essential.Jun 22, 2013 at 9:00 am #1998886
@pnwhikerLocale: Pacific NW
I have a Coughlan 4 in 1 safety whistle. This also has a compass, thermometer and magnifying glass (stuff you can remove from your emergency kit now). It's 0.8oz and pretty inexpensive. It's also nice that it clips on your pack.
I use a Fenix LD01 as a backup light. It's lighter than a extra AA battery for my headlamp, and it provides full redundancy.
I use the Exotac UL polystriker as a backup fire starter.
All are available from REI.Jun 22, 2013 at 10:01 am #1998902
I carry a Suunto MC2 compass with mirror. I prefer a compass with a sighting mirror for a number of reasons but having the option of using it to signal someone is just another added bonus. I've used signaling mirrors in training but have yet to use one in a real world emergency.
I'm new to SAR but it's taken less than a year to learn how invaluable a whistle is. I've always carried one and never used it prior to volunteering with this organization; I can see how someone would be inclined to shed it from their base weight. When SAR is banged out for a mission, having the whistle really helps the ground teams zero in on the victim's location. No disrespect to any of the dissenting opinions but they don't weigh much and it's probably worth reconsidering.
I carry the Storm Whistle which is very loud.
Happy trails all.
Edit: I carry a Bic Lighter which has never failed me and matches as a backup. I'm in the market for a Exotac Nanostriker.
I have a $3 led light which weighs .3oz as a backup light. Bright enough to walk with if a marmot ever ran off with my head lamp.Jun 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm #1998950
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> When SAR is banged out for a mission, having the whistle really helps the ground
> teams zero in on the victim's location.
A good reason for a SAR person to carry one.
Perhaps not quite as applicable for non-SAR people on a simple trip?
CheersJun 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm #1998952
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I've never found a mirror to be of much use. However, a whistle can be pretty handy. I used to lead a lot of group backpacking trips. On one layover day, the entire group had spread out and was supposed to return to camp in time for dinner. One member was missing and one hour overdue, so we set out in pairs to search. The whistle was worthwhile, because searchers could be heard over a much longer distance than if we were just shouting or something. The missing hiker started responding with his own whistle, and the problem was solved quickly.
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