The best way to maintain your gear is to use and inspect it regularly. Once every few months or at least once a year, take the bag to a well-lit table, open it up and take everything out for a visual inspection. If the knife needs to be sharpened or the first aid kit needs to be refilled, those are things that are easy to take care of at home. In this article, we will go over the items in the Companion that need to be maintained with a checklist to be used for inspection.
It doesn’t have to take all day, and if everything is okay, then it shouldn’t take much time at all. It’s essential to go over your gear at least once a year for multiple reasons. It ensures the bag is complete and the equipment is in usable condition. This also serves as a reminder to you of what is in your bag and where it is located. Knowing where the items in your pack are can be crucial in an emergency. You may also need to find the flashlight or knife in the dark and knowing how your bag is packed could save your life.
At least once a year, it is essential to do a visual inspection of the components of your Companion; water sachets can break, or the batteries in your headlamp go bad. Other items need to be checked to ensure they are in good working order and are not missing from the bag. Below are checklists for both items.
- The packaging on gauze and bandages are sealed.
- Gloves are present.
- Scissors and tweezers are present.
- All water sachets are sealed and clean.
- Purification tablets are sealed and clean.
- The water bottle is clean.
- Ensure food is sealed and clean.
- Ensure the knife is sharp and clean.
- Ensure the multitool is clean and opens.
- Ensure USB flashlight is charged.
- Ensure Headlamp batteries are still working and are clean.
- Check matches to ensure it is full.
- Ensure Chemlights haven’t been broken or used.
- Ensure straps are not fraying
- Ensure the backpack strap clips are not chipped or lose.
- Ensure the whistles are still working.
- Ensure zippers still pull without getting stuck.
- Check the external shell for holes or damage that may affect the waterproofing.
For the rest of the bag, go over each piece to ensure it is in the bag and is where it is labeled. Adding items is fine, but you want to make sure that if someone else needs to use the bag to help you that what is labeled on the bag is there.
Once you have checked the equipment and bag and put it back up, set a reminder to recheck it in a few months or when you have time to. The more often you check it, the faster you will get looking over the items and reinforce where the things are, saving you time when you need it, and so you will know precisely what you have in your bag, keeping you from wasting time and checking.
Another great way of checking your gear is to show it to someone else you may need to use it. You can never assume that you won’t be injured and unable to use the bag, and your companions may need to know where items are to help you or others. Showing someone else may get them to ask a question of something you hadn’t thought about or maybe a teaching moment for them to learn about survival. Because survival doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it happens in a community.