>Belt Gear

This topic is my own idea, although it might exist elsewhere. Consider your waist belt a piece of valuable real estate, in your planning and in deciding where to carry certain important gear.

I always have certain items on my belt in 'peace time', like a Leatherman multitool and my cell phone, sometimes a flashlight. However, in 'hard times', I put more things on that belt, because I want them available quickly. When I need light at night, I don't want to have to take off my pack and unzip a pocket - I want light NOW. Similarly, I have about a dozen pieces of gear I consider so critical to survival that I give them a home on my belt, not always at the same time.

Your mileage may vary. Your environment, your priorities, skills, needs, and so on are personal. Think about the following items and decide which, if any, you want close at hand:

1. Multitool (pliers, saw, knife, scissors...)
2. Sheath or folding knife
3. Walki Talkie
4. Mini-binoculars or Telescope
5. GPS and/or Compass
6. First Aid Kit
7. Mini Survival Kit
8. Flashlight
9. Handgun
10. Extra Magazines
11. Mace
12. Tool Kit

Belt Gear placement image


When deciding where to carry an item, consider its height above and below your belt. A sheath knife may be so long that carrying it forward of your hip is dangerous, in case you bend over or raise your leg - the handle can stab you in the belly. So put long items on the side or in back, shorter items in front. The image above shows where I carry gear, not necessarily all at the same time. 2 and 5 are front left and right respectively, 6 and 7 are in back. I carry a sheath knife (folder clipped in my front pocket), no mace or tool kit. If 6 and 7 are small, they can be in front.

Consider also how quickly you may need to access a piece of gear. Mace, handgun and magazines may qualify for prime real estate on your belt, near your hands. You may not need all of the items listed at any given time - they are just items I found useful on my belt, rather than in a pocket or in my pack.

Note that a large pack may ride so low on your back, or its belt may conflict with your own belt, so that you have to relocate belt gear while carrying the pack. I relocate critical items on my pack's belt, if possible (those that clip on). I'm considering sewing pouches on my pack's belt to carry as many of my belt gear items as possible, in the same places. Small daypacks don't conflict with belt gear, as they ride higher and have no belt.

A Survival Kit small enough for a spot on a belt will be limited to a few essential items. See the page on Survival Kit & Bug Out Bag contents for ideas. Depending on the environment, weather, etc., consider space blanket, fire-starting gear, safety pins, snake-bite kit, mirror, compass, whistle, para-cord/twine, etc.

A First Aid Kit will also be just essentials: bandages/battle dressings, band-aids, pain reliever (aspirin or whatever), lip balm, tweezers, safety pins - whatever you prefer. The purpose of a belt first aid kit is to make a few items quickly available, so that you need not take off your pack and look for your main kit. I sometimes cut or puncture my finger or hand and want to deal with it immediately, even though it's minor. Minor cuts can become infected if they become dirty - dirty wounds don't heal, they just get worse. Being able to pull out a band-aid from a small pouch and apply it, while still walking or standing with a full pack I find convenient. Chap stick/lip balm is useful for cracked hands and feet. Rub it on the crack, stick a band-aid over it, and it soon stops throbbing and begins to heal. Small zippered pouches made for compact digital cameras work well for first aid and survival belt kits. I get them from thrift shops for under a dollar. In fact, in the same place I find zippered bags and pouches for all kinds of kits, some with belt clips or bands.

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