Carrying a Possibles Pouch

Whenever we’re taking a hike or backpack, I always make sure to pack my Possibles Pouch. ¬†A “possibles pouch” or “possibles bag” derives its name from the bags originally carried by the fur trappers and mountain men of the early nineteenth century. Their pouch contained all the small daily essentials that were used on a regular basis. Those items, carried in a pouch, were readily at hand. A pouch might have contained items such as flint and steel, various knives, black powder and lead balls, twine, cloth patches, etc. Pretty much anything that might have come in handy in a pinch. The pouch was generally made of leather.

I first heard about a possibles pouch from the original founder of Mountainsmith backpacks, Patrick Smith. I remember hearing him, in great detail, expound on the list of essentials that he took everywhere with him. As he’s a first class¬†Outdoors-man, I took his words to heart and soon after created my own possibles pouch that I continue to take with me on all our outdoor excursions. I use an old rip-stop nylon Mountainsmith pouch rather than leather, but it’s the same idea.

The contents of the pouch can vary. What you’ll take will be dependent on many factors such as the region you hike in, the time of year you’re out, the types of trips you take, medical considerations, etc. Although the contents may vary, there are some essentials that every pouch should have. Those would include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Flint and Steel/Fire Starting Stick
  • Candle or Headlamp (with extra batteries)
  • Waterproof Matches
  • Small Role of Duct Tape
  • Sewing Kit
  • Rope or Cordage
  • Multi-tool
  • Extra food bar or endurance food

There are a number of other items you could include. Those might consist of water treatment products such as iodine tablets, first aid items or survial gear such as space blankets or a wire saw. As I always carry a stand alone first aid kit and iodine tablets in my water filter pouch – I haven’t consolidated all those items into one large possibles pouch. For me, having a few smaller pouches makes for easier packing and organization. The point is – I always take the essentials.

Overall, the idea behind a Possibles pouch is having a bag that contains all those small items that would be essential for survival or of great assistance in getting out of a jam. It’s also a place to store those items you know you’ll use again and again on the trail. Rather than looking for all those items before each trip, plan on storing them together. A quick toss of the pouch into your backpack prior to the trip will give you a greater sense of confidence that if it’s needed – it’s in the bag.

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