Letter Re: Wearing and Carrying Safety Gear, At All Times

Dear JWR,
I am an avid motorcyclist. (I’ve logged more than 300,000 miles, and I’m 40 years old.) I recently noticed a trend on bike blogs regarding ATGATT, spoken as”At-Gat.” This acronym stands for All The Gear, All The Time. In other words, if you believe a helmet (or leather jacket or good sturdy boots) to be a good idea at any time, you should wear them all the time.

Personally, I wear a helmet, leather jacket, good boots, gloves, etc. whenever I’m on the bike. I usually wear them when I’m not on the bike as well, out of habit. But I also carry a decent medical kit on the bike or in the truck, whichever I’m using at the time. I’m an EMT and like to be prepared for incidents that occur when I’m not on the clock. Add a bullet/stab-proof vest whenever feasible, a sidearm (when allowed, which in my case means not at work), materials for making fire, a knife and some other goodies, and I think I have ATGATT.

This term has replaced EDC in my vocabulary: Your “every-day carry” should be “all the gear, all the time.” It doesn’t take much space or weigh much if you go minimalist, and it really could save your life, or someone else’s. I also have a G.O.O.D. bag, and one for my wife and daughter, but if necessary I’d be fine with the things I carry/wear every day. I’m not saying I carry an axe, adze and flock of chickens with me. Difficult, that would be. But I could go into the boonies now and stay there for a week or perhaps a month without suffering much, partially due to experience and partially due to equipment.

Thanks again, JWR, for providing SurvivalBlog. I learn something new every time I visit, which means frequently. – J.D.C. in Mississippi

JWR Replies: Your point is well taken. It reminds me of a conversation that I had with my late wife, The Memsahib back around 2006. We had just seen some news footage of a street riot in the Middle East, and I asked rhetorically: “What is the best way to survive that, aside from conveniently not being there? Her response: “Well, I suppose a full set of off-road motorcycling gear would be a good start.”

And it bears mentioning that a large portion of life-threatening trauma (both combat and accidents) is head trauma. Kevlar helmets (including the later-generation ACH and MICH) are sold by several mail-order firms like BulletProofME.com. Proper sizing is important for helmets, so don’t just buy any Kevlar helmet on eBay. Many of these same companies also sell kevlar body armor vests. There again, sizing is crucial.

Following the theme of your letter, it is important to wear a full set of safety gear whenever you fire up a chainsaw, even if it just to “make a couple of quick cuts.” (Kelvlar safety chap, boots, combination helmet with face screen, etc.) Murphy’s Law dictates that the one time that you omit the safety gear will be the time that your foot slips.