As much as it is the big things we discuss when we're talking about bushcraft or survival, the little 1% items do add up to making a big difference.
Typically these are things which make up the contents of my pockets; my every day carry items (E.D.C.). These items are not all a big deal but as with so many things, “the devil is in the details”
From the Soles of My Feet
It's an old truism that warm feet make for a warm body and there are 2 main ways which you loose heat through your shoes. The first is through conduction through the soles of the shoes into the ground and the second through faster conduction over the whole foot when it gets damp. An easy way of reducing the effect of both of these is to increase the insulation around your foot – especially the bottom of it. I've found that felt insoles are very effective in this, adding comfort as well as insulation from the ground. They also provide insulation against any moisture condensing on the impermeable shoe soles.
A Square Foot of Cotton
As with many people who wear glasses, I'm a fan of cotton handkerchiefs and always have a clean one or two in my pockets. Aside from the obvious functions they have a few extra uses. A fresh handkerchief provides a ready made dressing for any cut or injury (remember to boil wash them if you've been blowing your nose!) a bit of extra insulation around your shirt collar and, if cut up, some emergency cordage.
Protection from Ice and Wind
Chapped lips, split fingers or chafed shoulders are never a lot of fun and if you're spending a decent amount of time outside then you need to make some allowance for these things. Protecting yourself from these things is just about forethought, a small pot of vaseline or Carmex fits easily inside your pocket and can make a big difference to your comfort.
Navigation is a question of finding your place. It's not just a question of direction but also distance and sometimes the easiest way to measure distance is in time. As I have previously mentioned, time can be used in relation to walking speed, to figure out how far has been travelled in a given direction. If you are travelling through flat, fairly open, terrain then you can be fairly comfortable that an hour in one direction I going to be the same distance as an hour back again. In the winter months of shortened daylight it is also well worth keeping an eye on the time to ensure you don't get stuck out in the woods in the dark and facing an avoidable overnight stay.
It's only a ten minute walk from our flat to the woods and on the way I typically grab a drink in the shop. It's sensible to be well hydrated when your out as you'll feel happier and healthier – at the moment when we've got six inches of snow on the ground we've got no danger of not being able to find water. A handy container makes it a lot easier to melt snow and avoids any blistering or waste of calories through lost body heat when melting snow.
Fire and Light
Another little thing I tend to pick up in the shop, particularly at the moment when I don't have access to my full range of kit, is either a lighter or a box of matches. I'm sure you all know how important the ability to make fire is and neither of these methods ways more than a few grams and is pretty cheap as far as insurance policies go. I also keep a fresnel lens in my wallet, not a great lot of use when there's 90% cloud cover but useful for examining things and removing splinters too.
A Friendly Folder
As American Bushman has recently been talking about, some knives are more “sheeple friendly” than others (The Moose 06/01/10). The knives tend to be the old fashioned ones, slip-joint folders, swiss army knives or perhaps the British army folding knife. All good, non-locking, everyday knives which are fine for a wide variety of tasks. The knife is most definitely a question of personal preference – my choice is for an SAK Electrician Plus – a large blade and a small blade enhance the whittling possibilities whilst a saw and awl really add to the number of things you can easily craft.
It's a tool that can ride in your trouser pocket without wearing a hole through them or requiring a big tactical belt to hold them up. A little folder will handle the majority of everyday chores without offending anyone. I admit, I'd rather take my Leuku or Mora for serious carving, fire building or shelter building but my SAK is a lot more practical.
A Little Extra Makes a Big Boost
I'm sure none of these items is a real shock to you, it's always worth looking through the every day contents of your pockets and thinking of the benefits and possibilities they offer you.