An improved belt pouch setup

Upon contemplating the gear I carry (something one or two of you out there might relate to ;)) I realized that my belt pouch wasn’t as well optimized as it could be. It contained a few frequently used items, a few “survival” items (I’m not fond of that word, but it’s what they are) and other possibles. It didn’t contain enough items to be called a “survival kit”, but it was more than just one or two things which could be thrown into a pocket.

So I decided to swap my belt pouch for a larger canvas pouch (15 cm x 10 cm x 6 cm, or 6″ x 4″ x 2.5″) made of very thick and rugged canvas which I had been using to hold several small items in my shoulder bag. I believe this is a South African Defense Force magazine pouch from the 70s.

Rather than add new items to my kit, I just transferred a few existing items from my shoulder bag to the new belt pouch. The new setup gives me a lot more functionality if I somehow lose everything except the pouch or if I intentionally only bring the pouch with me. I should mention that my belt pouch and knife never leave my belt when in the field except at night when I’m sleeping, so it’s something I always have on my person, whereas my backpack and, to a lesser extent, shoulder bag usually come off.

My previous belt pouch contained:

  • Matches in case
  • Twine
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Mini fishing kit
  • Flashlight
  • Swisscard
  • Sewing needle

The new belt pouch contains the above items, plus:

  • Metal canteen cup (fits inside like they were made for each other)
  • Small spoon
  • Space blanket
  • Swiss army knife
  • Mini ferro rod (this was not in my shoulder bag previously; it is located inside the match case)
  • Bandana

The additional items allow me to cook and to purify water (canteen cup and spoon), have emergency shelter (space blanket), have additional tools (Swiss army knife), have another means of starting fire (mini ferro rod) and more (bandana, many uses).

To me, this new setup validates my use of a belt pouch in the first place, as it now has a clear and designated role as more of a survival kit and possibles pouch. Some of you might be thinking that a first-aid kit is “missing” from this pouch, but honestly the pouch is just too small for me to also add any meaningful first-aid items, except maybe pain killers/antibiotics. In a pinch, the bandana can be used as a tourniquet. In any case, I have a first-aid kit in my shoulder bag, which I bring 99.999% of the time.

And yes, I do think about this stuff too much. 😉

EDIT: In the comment section below, Ross Gilmore commented about how this particular pouch is deep and can therefore make it tricky/annoying to remove things from the bottom without unpacking everything first. Here’s my response: “I know what you mean about it being deep, but I’ve found a solution to this. All the little bits and pieces (except the spoon, SAK and bandana, which are immediately accessible) fit in a firm plastic bag inside the cup. If I want to access something at the bottom of the plastic bag (where I intentionally put less-frequently used items), I can quickly pull the bag out, along with almost all of the pouch’s contents. If I want to remove something from the top of the plastic bag, I just open the pouch. If I want to remove the cup, I can pull it (and almost everything else) out, and then put the plastic bag full of stuff back into the pouch. 😀 Having several “containers within containers” makes it extremely easy and quick to access anything in the kit. This arrangement prevents there from being little bits and pieces all the way at the bottom of the pouch.”

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12 comments on “An improved belt pouch setup

  1. Bill says:

    I don’t care for belt pouches. That’s just my own personal feeling. I think that they get in the way when I move around. I carry a small flashlight in a belt sheath and it is constantly catching on my seat belt when I get into the truck. I don’t mind fanny packs or shoulder bags, but I want the things that I don’t want to be without to be in my pockets. To that end, more and bigger pockets are the way that I go. I have to be diligent in checking those pockets to be sure that the items that are supposed to be there are there. This just goes back to the idea that “whatever works for you” is the best for you. You won’t know whether you like something until you try it. Yours is a nice kit and should serve you well.

    • First off, thanks for the comments! 🙂

      Belt pouches are definitely not for everyone and every situation (I personally don’t like too much stuff on my belt, because I start to feel like Batman ;)). Your points are completely valid. Personally, I don’t ever wear any of my gear while riding in vehicles (I put it on when I get to my destination), so that’s not an issue for me. The main reason why I prefer pouches instead of pockets is because I like to keep my gear separate from my clothing. This way, I always know exactly where each piece of gear is, there’s less risk of losing/misplacing items and I don’t have to load and unload different pants/vests/jackets/etc. each time I go out. I just grab the appropriate pouch, bag etc. and go. Also, I have had things fall out of pockets (jacket pockets and pants pockets) multiple times, so that has made me hesitant to carry stuff in pockets.

      As you mentioned, each person has their own way that works for them based on a lot of different factors. Thanks again for the comments!

      • Bill says:

        When you keep a bunch of stuff in your pockets, changing clothes can be a challenge. I change from street clothes to work clothes almost every day. On the plus side, I know very quickly when something is missing. I almost always carry three pocket knives and a small multitool. The knives are all different and each one has its own specific purpose. When I get out in the woods, I almost always carry a shoulder bag or small pack. When I ride my bike, my gear goes in a fanny pack. My biking kit is specific to that purpose and only my keys and phone go into the pack from my street clothes.

        • I guess swapping things between pockets regularly would give you a lot more awareness of when something is missing. I work at home and almost never have anything in my pockets when I’m there, because stuff is always all around me. 🙂

          Like you, I almost always carry a shoulder bag or small pack when out in the woods (I think I purposefully carry only my belt pouch maybe once or twice a year), and that’s where I really prefer to have my gear.

          This exchange shows how different jobs, circumstances, preferences etc. really do make each person’s style valid for them!

  2. OZme says:

    separate that cup from canteen and use it like this way looks good idea. since it is not round, it packs nice and still has enough capacity.

    • The cup fits so perfectly in the pouch that it’s like it is not even in there. 🙂 I decided to switch back to using a different canteen instead of the Sigg for a few reasons (real cork became a bit moldy after being wet for a while, capacity was a little too small etc.), so I haven’t been using the cup and canteen together anyway. Now the cup is like a separate piece of kit in a different place from any canteen.

  3. Ross Gilmore says:

    This is great. I used the exact same pouch for my belt kit at one point. It works great. My only issue with it was that it is too deep, and it was hard to get out things from the bottom without unpacking everything.

    • I know what you mean about it being deep, but I’ve found a solution to this. All the little bits and pieces (except the spoon, SAK and bandana, which are immediately accessible) fit in a firm plastic bag inside the cup. If I want to access something at the bottom of the plastic bag (where I intentionally put less-frequently used items), I can quickly pull the bag out, along with almost all of the pouch’s contents. If I want to remove something from the top of the plastic bag, I just open the pouch. If I want to remove the cup, I can pull it (and almost everything else) out, and then put the plastic bag full of stuff back into the pouch. 😀 Having several “containers within containers” makes it extremely easy and quick to access anything in the kit. This arrangement prevents there from being little bits and pieces all the way at the bottom of the pouch.

      Thanks for the comments!

  4. Ron says:

    Looks good and well thaought out and yes, it does tend to look like a survivalkit.
    I must admit that I am starting to move away from beltpouches slowly as I personally do not see the use for them anymore and tend to keep my (small)stuff in my pockets for easy and immediate access.
    I also noted that pouches do have the tendency to catch in branches and related things, when I move through undergrowth.

    As for the bag and it’s contents; I think you might be able to add 2-3 of those sticky patches for small cuts and 1 bandage for larger events.

    • Yep, I can understand that there are advantages to not using a belt pouch, but to my mind, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. 🙂 I never have problems with mine getting caught on stuff and I like having a few essential items on me at all times. As with all such things, to each his own. 😀

      You’re probably right about being able to fit a few small band-aids. I will have to see if a bandage would fit (not sure about this).

      Thanks for the comments!

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