An IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) is something all of us need to carry – if we don’t already. Most people have a small first aid kit with some band aids, antibiotic ointment and perhaps some 2×2 gauze with any variety of other small pieces of kit which are great for dealing with minor cuts and scrapes. The IFAK I’m talking about is one we should be carrying in the post 911 world – one which can deal with a mass casualty situation. Many first responders, police and certainly all military personnel have begun carrying an IFAK which has advanced life saving gear in it. As civilians, we need something which will bridge the gap between band aids and advanced life support. One such item commonly found in a military IFAK is a decompression needle – this is one item I would not recommend an untrained individual to carry.


Here is a list of items I would recommend people carry. It should be contained in a pouch small enough to either be carried in your EDC (Every Day Carry) bag, or even on your belt. The list of items are:

1. Gloves – A must for dealing with anyone who would actually require you to use this gear on. If you’re using this gear it means these’s blood and a lot of it – if you’re like me you probably always have small cuts and abrasions on your hands so protecting yourself is a pretty important first step.



2. EMT Shears – Sometimes these are called Penny Shears because they will actually cut a penny in half. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get good quality a pair of these can be found for under $10 and will perform outstanding. If there’s an accident you’ll need to cut away any clothing, belts, gear and having a good pair of shears is important.


There are some pretty trick versions out there such as these made by Leatherman, but in the end paying over $100 for something you won’t use every day probably isn’t worth it. leatherman-raptor-xl


3. Israeli Bandage – The Israeli bandage was invented in Israel and is a great thing to carry, It has a plastic pressure applicator which allows the bandage to be wrapped around it and torqued back increasing the amount of pressure which would have been able to be applied simply by wrapping the bandage. It’s a great tool for getting a lot of pressure on a wound quickly.



4. Tourniquet – There are two types of tourniquets I would recommend. One is the SOF-T, it’s a little larger and bulkier, but it is more widely accepted by the medical community. It has a buckle with flat webbing material and a cam which increases the tension. The cam is able to be twisted further after the tourniquet has been applied so in case more pressure needs to be added this unit is capable of doing that. There is also a vital TIME marker on there which is the reason you should have your sharpie in your kit.


The second type of tourniquet is the SWAT (Stretch, Wrap and Tuck). It was designed by a special operations medic who was looking for something easier to use and lighter weight. This is pretty simple to use, for one you don’t have to try to feed the device over the severed limb, you simply wrap above the wound and then stretch it till the design distorts from ovals to circles then tuck it under. The drawback is it can not be additionally tightened later.swat-t-tourniquet


5. Cellox – Cellox is one item I would carry anywhere, it is a cellulose granular material which creates clotting within the wound. It’s fast and doesn’t create heat like another brand does. I have seen demonstrations using this product and it’s pretty remarkable. One of its attributes is that it can be abused after applying. Remember if you use this material, after pouring it into the wound you still should wrap the wound with a bandage, In the bandage include the packaging of the product. This way, when the patient gets to the hospital the caregiver will know exactly what this strange stuff is which has been poured into the wound.



6. Sharpie – It’s important to keep this little guy in your kit – it’ll serve a 1,000 uses and weighs nothing.



7. Roll of Medical Tape – Keep your gloves tucked into the roll of tape, you’re going to need the tape for all sorts of things if you’re rendering aid.


There are two medical companies I deal with, Chinook Medical and North American Rescue. They both have quality gear and extremely advanced life saving equipment which requires the proper licensing to purchase. The gear listed above should be able to be purchased through either of these companies as a civilian. I would strongly recommend getting training in how to use the gear properly because in the end, if you fuck some one other than yourself up, you are responsible. There are strict laws against using medical equipment and performing medical procedures on someone with out the proper licensing. Having said that – there are no laws against you going to any length to use this gear on yourself, and in the end – this kit is an Individual First Aid Kit… For you, as an individual. Now in the end if someone is bleeding out on the side of the highway after getting their arm torn off in an accident would I use this gear on them? Yes. Will I deal with the consequences later – yes.


Here is an IFAK I like from Chinook Medical.



I like it, because it is small and opens easily with the items I may need quickly. It goes for $160 and has the following Items:

(2)  Nitrile Glove
(1)  SOF Tactical Tourniquet, Wide
(1)  Compressed Gauze
(1)  Israeli Emergency Bandage, 4”
(1)  Bolin Chest Seal
(1)  Decompression Needle, 14G x 3.25”
(1)  Nasopharyngeal Airway w/ Lube, 28 Fr
(1)  Aluminum Eye Shield
(1)  EMT Shears, 5.5”
(1)  Permanent Marker
(1)  Flat Duct Tape, 1.89”x2 yd, OD
(1)  Tactical Combat Casualty Care Card

Some of these items you do not need if you are not trained properly so, you might want to opt for building your own kit and utilizing a pouch you already have.

Here is a micro IFAK from NARESCUE, it retails for about $109.Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 2.51.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-21 at 2.51.09 PM



Almost a year ago my hiking buddy texted me one of those texts where you knew he had been up all night thinking of something and couldn’t sleep because an idea was haunting him. Last year he and I went hiking with another guy who had brought a chair strapped to the outside of his backpack. Being lightweight purists we scoffed at the idea of carrying an extra two pounds of junk on the outside of your pack… and for comfort?!? Blasphemy!

It was on day one of that trip that trip that I popped a disc in my lower back and thought I might die carrying my 45lb pack. If it weren’t for my new found hiking buddies chair and being able to lean back in a comfortable chair I think I would still be in the middle of Yosemite.

As usual my friend who had been up all night couldn’t just accept the fact that we are getting older and a 2lb chair might not be a bad idea – this is the type of hiking buddy who cuts the end of his toothbrush off to save weight – he has to explore every option and look for the lightest weight solution before just buying something which in the end will be the best solution.

So getting back to the text: Have you ever seen a chair hammock? We should make one. After seeing that I thought: hmmmm, he may be on to something. I did a quick google search and a lot of chair hammocks came up, but most involved steel or wood and were permanent lawn furniture you’d have at your lake house. Nothing really came up for light weight backpacking.

One in particular popped up as a kick starter campaign for backpacking: chammockco.com. Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.17.20 AM

It was everything we wanted, lightweight, small and compact – it wouldn’t be hanging off my pack like a chair. During NOLS it was engrained into me that nothing should hang off the outside of your pack and I still feel it’s true today.
Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.17.40 AM

Being the kick starter campaign I ordered two and sent my buddy the link… Happy Birthday.

Well, cut to a year later and we got the product. Recently, we went to the Eastern Sierras and gave them a try. I have to say, they were pretty easy to set up and being able to have a seat at the end of the day was nice, but if you like to recline a little and have your head behind your shoulders then this is not the product for you. I’m 6′ tall and the way the back of the hammock crossed right behind the crown of my head I felt as if I were the hunch back of Notre Dame. I tried playing with the tension on the back strap, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it more comfortable. 

At the time I bought them they were $65 and an extra charge for the tree strap. I will play some more with the tension and angle of the attachment points but in the end, this 1lb chair probably isn’t as good as a 2lb camping chair which can be set up anywhere without the aid of trees. I will also probably bite the bullet and attach it to the outside of my pack.