I’ve been hearing and reading this quote a lot recently. As far as I can tell, it originated in the US military (marine corps?). It stresses the idea that it’s good to have some redundancy to your gear, especially when it comes to items which are frequently used or required for safety/survival. If you have a knife on your belt and one in your pack, for example, you’d still have one knife should you somehow lose either your pack or belt. If you only have one knife, and it gets separated from you, you’re out of luck. I decided to take a look at my gear to see how it measures up (by the way, a review of what I carry in my backpack is coming soon…promise!).
I identified the following redundancies in my gear (only important or semi-important items taken into account here). I carry:
- 2 knives (one fixed blade and one small SAK)
- 4 fire-starting tools (matches in two places and ferro rod and flint and steel kit in other places)
- 2 map compasses (almost identical)
- 2 bundles of cord and twine (twine and paracord in one place, just twine in another place)
- 2 flashlights (one LED headlamp and one bright LED keychain flashlight)
- 2 canteens (second is brought on longer trips)
- 3 pots/kettles (cooking pot and kettle in backpack, canteen cup in shoulder bag)
- 2 basic shelters (2 poncho tent halves) (3 shelters if you include the Mylar space blanket)
- 2 soaps
- 2 small rolls of toilet paper
As I said above, this list is not exhaustive, but I don’t think there are too many other items which are doubled up (or tripled etc.). As you can see, my backup items are often smaller/lighter than the main item, and almost as functional, so they don’t add a huge amount of bulk or weight. The backup items are not always exactly the same the original, nor do they always need to be (i.e. I don’t feel the need to carry two fixed-blade knives etc.).
While doing this check, I noticed one glaring redundancy omission: first-aid kits. I have one in my shoulder bag, which is almost always with me, but I think it would make a lot of sense to have a second first-aid kit in my backpack as well, in case I lose my shoulder bag somehow. So before my next outing, I will put together another first-aid kit and include it in a small dry bag in my backpack which already contains a few other items. Another change will be to move my Swiss army knife from my belt pouch to my shoulder bag so that both my knives are not attached to my belt.
Do you have redundancies built into your kit? I highly recommend making sure that you do!
EDIT: Please check out the comments and my responses below, as they provide some more insight into why I think some gear redundancy can be crucial.