August 26, 2016

EDC for Off-Grid Adventures

Most of the places that I fish don't have cell reception. I don't know about you, but the older I get the more conscientious I am about making sure my wife knows where I am and, as I joke with her, where search and rescue can find my body. So with this in mind I carry a few things with me when I go into the mountains.

First, I always have my cell phone with me. Like I said, the vast majority of places I fish don't have cell reception. But I use my phone as a GPS receiver; to let me know where I am in relation to things around me: my vehicle, cliffs, streams, etc. I really like a few apps that work off-grid to help me accomplish these tasks.

I use Topo Maps for my mapping app. I works perfectly for me and I'm able to store "pins" of places, like where I start and end fishing, or where a nice hole or fish are. I have years worth of data on this app and it backs up the data I record to my computer.

I also use Compass Go.  This is a simple GPS navigation app that lets me mark a certain location and find it again without any difficulty. I mainly use it set the location of my parked vehicle. I've used a dozen or more navigation apps, but Compass Go is simple and works.

I don't carry a lot of "survival" gear with me, but I do carry a small pouch on my belt that has a few essentials in it. The pouch is a Granite Gear Belt Pocket. It's designed as a backpack accessory, but I use it as a stand alone pouch. It attaches to my belt via two straps and holds just enough, but not too much.

Out for a hike. You can see my chest pack in front and my tenkara rod in my back pocket.

In the Belt Pocket pouch I have a three items: ResQLink personal locator beacon, a Pak-Lite torch, and a ferro rod with striker.

I have the ResQLink PLB because it's small, self contained, waterproof and pretty much idiot proof. It's the size of a small flip phone and fits in the Granite Gear pouch perfectly. It's easy to register, has a strobe light, floats and there's no subscription. Also, if you have to use it the company will replace it free! It's registered with NOAA, not a private company, and it's very unlikely that NOAA will go out of business! That's comforting to me. The PLB doesn't send messages, it only shows your location to search and rescue.

I also carry a Pak-Lite tourch. This is the best basic flashlight there is. It runs off a 9-volt battery and doesn't add much weight to the battery. I have the "Super" which is tested at a 30+ hours run time. It's very compact, robust and reliable in all temperatures I'd likely be in. The 9-volt battery is also a backup fire starter.

Finally, I carry a ferro rod and striker. It's compact, durable, and works when it's wet. I prefer a "soft" ferro rod and I have practiced enough with it so that I can start a fire in under 20 seconds with a well made feather stick. The ferro rod and striker are in a Chums wallet with a few waterproof fire starters.

I also carry a knife with me. But that's a different discussion.

My EDC pouch is not for survival. It's mainly to provide my location if I get injured enough that I can't get myself out. Or, to provide light if I can get myself out but I have to go slowly and get caught in the dark.

So that's what I carry. It's always with me, either on my person or in my vehicle (if I'm at a drive to stream). I've personally tested each item and they work - they work well. If you go off grid don't rely on your cell phone to get you help, because it won't -- particularly here in the west.


  1. I don't know if this is true or not but... I talked with a cell phone rep (outside of their store) who told me that if you do not have cell reception and you call 911 on a gps enabled phone it will use the satellite connection to get you to an EMS responder/operator. Can anybody confirm that?

    1. A standard cell phone requires connectivity through a cell tower matrix to receive or transmit text or voice messages. While a cell phone will function as a GPS receiver while off grid it can not transmit GPS location off grid. In other words, it can show you where you are at, but it can not use a satellite connection to transmit your location to others. That is the purpose of a PLB. There are special satellite phones that can be purchased or rented for off grid adventures though.

  2. Thanks for sharing your safety info. I live in W Mass. with many areas without cell service and I fish/hike solo. Great info.

  3. I use a similar system. I use a separate belt with 2 pouches. 1 pouch has first aid/survival gear including a PLB. 2nd pouch has Sawyer water filter, multi tool, and headlamp. Also attached is a good fixed blade knife. I like the Fallkniven S1. Third item on the belt is a folding Shimano fishing net. I also have a space on the belt for my Heavy Cover titanium canteen kit. The canteen is added or removed as dictated by need.

    My system has evolved to work with carrying my custom Zimmerbuilt daypack or Guide Slingpack.

    1. Thanks, John. I should have a few other items (first aid, water purification tablets, etc) in the pouch, but I'm going for bare minimum due to weight. I got your pictures and your system looks really good.

  4. My emergency kit is more based on my climbing needs, but I carry it fishing as well.

    At the minimum I carry headlamp or two (probably the best way to avoid unplanned bivouacs), athletic tape, gauze, a couple of GU packs and hard candies, a knife, a light jacket, and a couple strong analgesics. The idea being that I can stop bleeding, stabilize injuries, or move fast through the night to civilization. I can add to the basic kit as needed.

    There are modern radios with GPS receivers that can call into internet-connected repeaters which post your coordinates to a website. You need a license, but they're amazingly effective. It was hard to find a location in Montana that didn't get a signal.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.