Survival To Go, Revisited- Part 2, by JMD

We are revisiting what I carry when I travel for comfort and survival. We are looking through my items, as they are organized by their location in my pack, which is a 28 liter Red Rock Outdoor Gear Assault Pack. We’ve gone through part of the pack. Let’s continue on, looking next at the pocket that considers our airport security requirements.

Top Front Pocket Pouch- Ready to Remove At Airport Security

The next pocket is the small top front pocket (the one with the American flag patch in the picture). This holds things that I’ll need to pull out and put in a separate bin when I go through airport security. It contains:

  • A ziplock bag with my “liquids and gels”. (Note: I also have some small single use packs of medical gels in other pouches in my bag, but I’ve never been asked to take any of them out when going through security. I guess they’re too small to register.) These liquids and gels include:

  • Bic lighter
  • Small fishing kit in a metal screw top tin – 50’ of 20lb line, a couple of hooks, a couple of small lures, a bobber, 20’ of 50lb line, and a few weights. This also has one of those “commando” wire saws (minus the rings on the ends) rolled up inside it along with the fishing line. I know they’re not the best saws in the world, but I did want to have some capability to cut wood with me. I have two split-ring hooks in my “Repair” pouch that can be used as handles on the ends.
  • SOG PowerLock Travelermulti-tool – TSA specifically states that “Multi-tools without blades” are acceptable in carry-on bags, and I’ve carried it on dozens of time with no problems in the U.S. Just take it out before you go through the security checkpoint, fan out the tools, and place it in a small bin by itself. The TSA folks thank me every time. Be aware that most foreign airports won’t allow it, so I don’t bring it when traveling internationally. (I also have a full multi-tool in my checked bag.)
  • Small Exotac 3-wick emergency candle.
  • Esbit folding stovein a small nylon pouch – This is a great little stove, and I’ve used one for years while camping and traveling. If I need to heat water indoors, it holds the Exotac candle and my Toaks cup at the perfect height. Inside it I have:
    • Waterproof matches
    • Various tinder
    • Ferro rod
    • Titanium foil – I use it primarily as a wind break for the stove.

    Note: If you carry an Esbit stove or equivalent, I strongly recommend against carrying any of the fuel tablets (hexamine), or carrying a stove that you have used fuel tablets in. They’re not allowed by TSA regulations, and even the residue from previously burned hexamine can potentially set off the explosives sniffer that TSA uses. That’s because hexamine is a pre-cursor used for making some types of explosives!

Middle Zipped Pocket

Next is the middle zipped pocket in the backpack. Inside that I have the following:

  • Icom IC-R5 with ear plug and Eneloop AA batteries – This replaced the Kaito KA800 radio I used to carry and is a great travel radio. It receives AM, FM, HF, Air band, Marine band, Weather (US), shortwave, TV band, and a lot more in a super small form factor (3 3/8” x 2 ¼” x 1”, minus antenna and belt clip). Note that it doesn’t do encrypted/trunked/digital communications, but I haven’t found anything in the same form factor that does. Icom replaced the IC-R5 with the IC-R6 a few years ago, but it’s basically the same thing. I like to stay informed by listening to the air traffic communications when I’m flying. (For example, I want to know when the pilot while taxiing says, “Did anyone see where that 747 went?”) If you’re looking for a less expensive option, take a look at something like the Baofeng UV-5R series, which transmits as well as receives, but it doesn’t get all of the bands the Icom does, is slightly larger, and doesn’t run on AA batteries (unless you buy the extra six AA battery pack.) If you absolutely have to listen to the encryptd/trunked/digital bands while you’re traveling, take a look at something like the Uniden BCD325P2.
  • Klymit Pillow X
  • Rite-in-the-Rain 3×5 notebook
  • True Utility TelePen
  • Hand wipes
  • Package of tissues
  • The Doctor’s BrushPicks
  • Tube of Advil
  • Nylon shopping bag – Useful for carrying wet clothes, shopping at the local market, carrying foraged food, or for when the significant other decides to buy souvenirs for all of the nieces and nephews at the airport.
  • Aluminum pill case (blue) containing a SanDisk 64GB Ultra Dual USB Drive – The USB drive has both a regular USB plug as well as a microUSB On-The-Go (OTG) plug, which can be plugged into and read by almost any Android device. Note that if you’re an iPhone or iPad user, there are alternatives available (much more expensive), such as the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive. My drive contains:
    • Critical Android app packages (APK files) – These can installed on almost any Android device and include the various apps I might need to access the rest of the content on the device, including FBreader, ES Explorer, Adobe PDF reader, et cetera. I use AirDroid to extract the APK files from my device, but there are a number of ways to do that.
    • eBooks – I have eBook versions of most of my preparedness books, like 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, Where There Is No Doctor, SAS Survival Handbook, and hundreds of others, including (of course) the entire SurvivalBlog archive. Sitting on an airplane for a couple of hours is a great time to refresh your memory on critical skills and come up with new ideas for preps. On a related note, here’s a good source of free Amazon Kindle survival-related eBooks (updated daily). I also have a couple of thousand science fiction and action adventure novels for when I’m really bored. BTW, if you’re looking for a way to free your legally-purchased Kindle eBooks from Amazon’s walled garden and change them into a more broadly recognized format (like ePub), check out this software.
    • Scanned copies of all of my critical documents, in individual password-protected PDF files.
    • Detailed medical information for my wife and me, including eyeglass prescriptions.
  • “Health” pouch:
    • Tums
    • Rolaids
    • Dramamine (I get sea sick in rough seas, but I’m fine on bumpy airplanes)
    • Advil PM
    • Vitamins
    • EmergenC
    • NyQuil
    • DayQuil
    • ZzzQuil
  • “Skin” pouch:
  • “Comfort” pouch. This comes out when I’m on a really long flight when I want to sleep or just relax. It contains:
    • Eye shades
    • Silicone ear plugs– For sleeping, when I want to block out all noise.
    • Hand/face wipes
    • Foam earplugs – For when I just want to minimize the sounds of screaming kids.
    • Breathe Right strips– Because no one wants to listen to me snore.
    • ZzzQuil
  • “Oral” pouch:
  • “Minor Wounds” FAK (blue bag):
  • Small “Meds” bag:
    • Kaopectate tablets
    • Anti-dirreaheal tablets
    • Diphenhydramine tablets (allergies)
    • Nasal decongestant tablets
    • Some oxycodone pills (left over from a previous prescription)
    • Packets of Medi-Lyte
  • Small “Skin” medicines bag:
    • Anti-itch gel packets
    • Small Water-Jet burn packets
    • Hydrocortisone cream packets
    • Sting and bite pads
    • Technupoison oak & ivy remover (my wife is a poison ivy magnet)

Main Zippered Backpack Pocket

Next is the main zippered backpack pocket. In this pocket, I carry the following:

  • Suaoki portable 16W foldable solar panel – I’ve used this for a few years, both for camping as well as travel, and it’s the perfect size. Unfortunately, Suaoki no longer makes it, but an alternative is the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus (V2) (with the same form factor but less power) or the less expensive BlitzWolf 15W 2A Foldable Solar Panel (which is slightly larger but offers more power). I used to carry one of those batteries with a built-in solar charger, but I finally figured out it takes 3-4 days of full sunlight to fully recharge the thing. The folding solar panel can recharge my Anker battery in a couple of hours with good sunlight.
  • Spare underwear (vacuum sealed)
  • Spare socks (also vacuum sealed; I got a new vacuum sealer and wanted to try it out.)
  • Sunday Afternoons Adult Sun Tripper Cap
  • Bandana
  • USGI nylon ripstop poncho – My primary travel raincoat/ground cloth/tarp/et cetera. This replaces the Frogg Toggs poncho I used to carry, which has since worn out and ripped in several places.
  • 50′ of TITAN SurvivorCord– This stuff is paracord on steroids, and it includes Fishing Line, Fire-Starter, and Snare Wire in the cores.
  • Mechanix Wear Original Covert Tactical Gloves
  • Two 3M Aura Particulate Respirator fold flat N95 masks – Really useful in dusty climates, or heavily polluted places like Beijing, Mexico City, or Los Angeles (especially when there are wildfires around). If I’m traveling to China, I always have a bunch of extras in my checked bag; I’ve actually had a Chinese customs guy offer to buy some from me.
  • Bathing pouch (black mesh pouch):
    • Microfiber travel towel
    • 2 small bars of soap – I like these small bars a lot better than the “camping soap sheets”, which always seem to stick together.
    • 2 x Lightload Towels
  • Fenix MC11 flashlightwith Eneloop AA battery
  • Plastic spork
  • Silicone collapsible 1/4 cup measuring cup (for getting the right amount of water for the various instant foods)
  • “Food” pouch – All of the instant packages can be prepared in hotel rooms or airports just by heating up water using the Toaks cup, the Esbit stove, and the Exotac candle:
    • 4 x Millennium Energy Bars
    • 2 x packages of instant hot chocolate
    • two packages of instant oatmeal
    • 2 x packages of instant soup
  • 32 oz. Sawyer water squeeze pouch– Screws into the input side of the Survivor filter stored in the “Water” pouch.
  • Vapur Eclipse 1L folding water bottle – This is also my “spare” water bottle for carrying when I’m out-and-about but don’t want to haul the Hydro Flask with me.
  • “Water” pouch:
    • Survivor water filter – I prefer this to the Sawyer mini and others, since it has an activated charcoal element in addition to the microporous elements, so it can filter chemicals, pollutants, et cetera. I also have a spare carbon and cotton filter elements for it in my checked bag.
    • Aqua-Pouch 1L
    • Aqua-Pouch pre-filter– This fits into the top of the Aqua-pouch, and allows you to use standard coffee filters to pre-filter the water, which in turn extends the life of the water filter. I also have a couple of coffee filters in the bag.
    • 3 x Whirlpak Survival Water Bags – I figure you can never have too much water-carrying capacity, and they take almost no space.
    • 20 x Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

    Tomorrow, we’ll continue with more of the items carried in the main zippered backpack compartment

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 72 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
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Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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  3. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
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  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value), and

Round 72 ends on September 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. If possible, get from your Doctor a “medical certification” that you need Special Items during travel maybe especially on the flight.

    e.g. medicine and a cane

  2. Thanks for a wonderful article. I always carry an epicenter in my liquids bag and have never had a problem at security. Though I have never had an allergic reaction needing it, they can start anytime in life. There are now less expensive alternatives.
    I notice that you have benedryl which is good for less severe reactions.

      1. In 30+ years of business and personal travel I’ve only ever had a bag permanently lost 1 time, and mis-routed but returned 3-4 times. I know it happens, but I’ve been incredibly lucky.

  3. JMD-enjoying this series and my Amazon cart is filling rapidly (Dude Wipes cracks me up!). Quick question: the SOG Traveler appears to have 2 blades on the Amazon link which TSA would not allow correct? What am I missing?Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  4. I read further on the Amazon reviews and SOGs own description and its TSA compliant but I still don’t know why. Obviously I don’t fly often (as in not in over 30 years!)

      1. Now I got it. Amazon’s description section was describing the Powerlock line in general which includes blades, not the specific Traveler tool. Thanks.

  5. This is really a superb article. I love these “break out” lists with photos and explanations + background of how the items came to be added.

    Excellent job!

    1. Thanks – I have a sillcock key in my checked bag. I covered that in my original article, and I didn’t want to repeat too much of that in an effort to keep the size of this article manageable (and it still ended up being 4 parts 8-))

  6. A correction – the Uniden BCD325P2 that I mentioned does NOT receive encrypted communications, but it does receive digital and trunked ones. Sorry for the mistake.

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