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Level 2 - Go Bag
This level is qualitatively different than levels 1.5 and 3.0, which are more focused on tuned plans for a well understood backcountry trip. It is more about carrying open ended tools to build solutions to a variety of unexpected circumstances than it is on carrying elegant purpose built solutions to expected circumstances. It is well suited to full day backcountry trips, and is also a good choice for vehicle and international travel. It is often used in conjunction with level 1.0, but also typically duplicates everything in that level as a backup.
forum dedicated forum thread
Level 2 List

This level is a ticklish one. On one hand, it is a heavy "be prepared" day load. That's an easy list to draw from our personal experience. Maybe the easiest. On the other hand, it is a little bit of a foray into generalist prepper land. With such an open ended goal, it is easy to go overboard. We took a page from our friend Bart Combs of SOLKOA's book. We noticed that he always starts with the form factor (container) he wants to fill and works backwards from there. Since everything has to fit, you end up making trade-off decisions about what you think would be most useful with the final arbiter being a certain size of package.

In our case, we chose to use the Umlindi pack as a container. It is the perfect size for a day load, works very well belt-less for  throwing in the back of a vehicle, but can be plussed up in load capacity with the addition of a Prairie Belt. It is an innocuous and useful size. We built this list up as everything we'd want for a day trip in the backcountry with an emphasis on being able to care for a group. In some cases we chose an item that had more general 3rd world applicability than 1st world backcountry applicability (for example, a water purifier instead of just a filter). Then we added a couple of additional items / modules that you wouldn't choose for just a backcountry trip to be more prepared for general 3rd world conditions. For these, we leaned heavily on Ken Galbraith's years of experience operating in 3rd world countries with a minimal supply chain. On a given trip, you can leave the "3rd world" items out or not as you see fit. Remember, if you're carrying more than you need to on a day trip, it's either too much or simply training weight.

Training  All of the previous levels of training apply. In addition:

  • Preparedness - Pat McNamara's "Sentinel" book has a good section on this type of preparedness.
  • 3rd World Conditions - Fernando Aguirre's lessons from Argentina has some serious warts and things we disagree with. However, it is still a valuable chronicle of a 1st world country's descent into 3rd world conditions and some reality based observations on getting along in that type of situation.
  • Riflery - We recommend carbine classes from Larry Vickers (taken several) and In Extremis (know the principals). We recommend practical rifle classes from Randy Cain (personal experience) and In Extremis. If you get to the point with Larry that you can get some clearing instruction from him, do.

Tools - Expected Use

  • TP - Toilet Paper and large hand sanitizer bottle in ziploc bag. Use LNT principles, burying your scat about 6" deep. The sanitizer is large because you want that to last as long as possible.
  • Headlamp - They get better every year due to the rapid improvement in LED technology. We like something that has a couple of different brightnesses, a red bulb or filter, and both flood and spot settings.
  • Fire Starting Kit - At least two different tinders or accelerants and two different sparking methods. Ours has lighter, flint & striker, a bunch of 1.5" square pieces of bicycle innertube, and SOLKOA Fastfire. Ninety per cent of the time, the lighter and a piece of inner tube is what we use to start a fire.
  • Knife - Keep it small if used in conjunction with our suggested hatchet.
  • Sunscreen - The small tubes are usually available in the travel section of the local supermarket.
  • Bug Spray - It's better if this is in the contingency list. Realistically, there are lots of places where it is in expected use. DEET is the real deal and works. The higher the percentage of DEET the better.
  • Water Storage - Dual 1qt GI size water bottles such as the Nalgene Oasis.
  • Water Purifier - On a longer day trip, this is expected use. The only real choice is the First Need XLE Elite Purifier. And yes, it is a purifier suitable for use in third world conditions.
  • Area Map / Compass / GPS

Tools - Backcountry Contingency

  • Hatchet - Shelter construction, fire construction, self defense. Fits fully inside of an Umlindi. A nice wood hafted one has classic appeal, but an Estwing is probably the best choice for it's unbreakability.
  • Water Bladder - A 4 or 6 quart MSR dromlite gets our vote.
  • 1 quart pot - More than you need for one person, but better suited to cooking for a group or melting snow. The tarp will fit inside of it.
  • Alcohol Burner - A Trangia burner gives you a way to heat water or food without having to worry about creating signal smoke if that's an issue.  Also quicker and easier than a fire if you don't want to mess with a fire.
  • Small Grate - For use with the alcohol burner, cooking small game directly on, or as a useful addition to a longer term camp hearth.
  • PLB or Satellite Communicator - We like the DeLorme InReach original.
  • Mug and Spoon - A personal size insulated mug is a nice touch in conjunction with the 1 qt pot.
  • First Aid Kit - A beefed up version with reference guide and broader selection of medicines. Antibiotics and prescription painkillers if you can source them.
  • 50 ft 6mm accessory cord - Can be used to rappel in a pinch, plus all of the other uses a good rope has.
  • Locking Carabiner - Assumes you have either a rigger's belt or Prairie Belt HAK (High Angle Kit - not currently made). Can be used as friction device.
  • 100ft 1-2mm accessory cord - Parachute cord is really overkill for most fieldcraft uses and cutting down on thickness allows you to carry a *lot* more cordage.
  • Signal Panel
  • Signal Mirror
  • Pen Flares - signalling, self defense
  • Water Tabs - backup for the purifier
  • Speedhooks - 3 of them are easy to carry and allow you to run a modest trapline with minimal fuss
  • Fishing Line and Sewing Needles - fabric repair
  • Clear Garbage Bag(s) - shelter, water collection (transpiration bag method), sanitation, etc.
  • Spare Batteries - appropriate to your devices
  • Carbine - food procurement, self defense
  • Spare Ammunition
  • Weapon Light - If you typically carry a light capable pistol without a light on it, having a weapon light always in your pack is handy.
  • Stuff Sack - An empty 815 Stuff Sack gives you some nice overflow capacity.


  • Mountain Serape - Very versatile for one, and can be useful for 2-3 as well.
  • Spare Socks
  • Newspaper Bags - For use as VBL in a pinch
  • Warm Hat
  • Light Insulative Layer - Something you can move in without over-wetting such as a medium long underwear top or very lightweight softshell.


  • Large Tarp - A silnylon 8'x12" will create a nearly fully enclosed shelter for 3 or the roof of a longer termed camp for more than that.
  • Rain Coat - An oversize mountain parka is a good choice. Looks civilian, lots of insulation can be worn underneath it. eVent or Dry Q Elite if you can get it.
  • Leather Gloves - For straight backcountry use, some other kind of glove might be a better choice. The protection afforded by leather gloves is useful in a lot of more frontcountry cases.
  • Sun Protective Hat


  • Lunch - If it's a day hike, take something nice
  • Rations - Long term storage at low weight starchy foods such as instant oatmeal or rice. Also, fats. Peanut butter is inexpensive and efficient.
  • Spices - Salt for sure and others to be used in conjunction with procured food.
  • Electrolyte Drink - In addition to helping you keep moving in hot conditions, if you get some sort of stomach bug it may be the only way to keep liquids down.
  • Alcohol - A spare flask for the alcohol stove might be useful. You can also re-supply a variety of ways including HEET additive from a gas station or any other type of high test alcohol.

Tools - 3rd World contingency  This set of items can be left out for normal day hikes (along with the hatchet) and then kept in the pack at other times for a grab and go option.

  • General Map - A useful map of the area you might need to travel in. For example, a regional road map with details of major metro areas.
  • Kwikpoint Pointy Talky - Pictographic language-less translator
  • Flash Drive - With scans of relevant personal documents and data, encrypted.
  • Debit Card - Pre-paid disposable type
  • Cash
  • Silver
  • Hand Tools - Again, we had to start with form factor (First Spear large GP Pocket) and work backwords. The 2lb 3oz kit (including pocket) we ended up with is below. We'll probably add more items to this hand tool kit up to the capacity of the container which is only about 2/3rds full as we reflect on it.
    • Vice Grips - 6". You might also consider the Leatherman Crunch. A vice grip can be used as pliers, wire cutter, box wrench, and more.
    • Crowbar - Small. Hopefully mighty.
    • Center Punch - For use with hatchet. Sharpened on a bench grinder to make a heavy duty awl suitable for leather, wood, plastic, and light metal. Think of it as a primitive drill bit. 
    • Saw / Screwdriver Handle - This is a great concept. A general purpose handle that can take both standard shank sawzall blades and standard hex bits. SOLKOA makes a very nice compact one. We opted for a larger and more ergonomic one from the local hardware store. Both are capable of being configured in an L-shape which we think is essential for sawing and torquing in hex driver mode. Supply with one long 6tpi wood blade, one shorter metal blade, and a small selection of bits (both options come with some bits).
    • Baggy of Fasteners - screws - stop nuts - washers in 10/24 and 1/4-20 sizes; nails; long exterior screws
    • Zip Ties - heavy duty
    • Bailing Wire
    • 6" Mill Bastard File
    • Hose Clamps
    • Bicycle Inner Tube Section
    • Sharpie - wrapped with electrical tape and duct tape

Containers - Kind of a tautology since we've defined this as "what will fit in an Umlindi". You could put this load in a Ute as well. Other daypacks might work, but beware that this is a 40+ pound load not including rifle. Very few packs the size of the Umlindi will reliably and comfortably carry that kind of weight. We don't think you want this in a duffel bag because you need to be prepared to carry this load on foot.


The HPG equipage taxonomy is a systematic approach to thinking about backcountry living systems -- what you need to carry and when. For seasoned backcountry travelers, it may serve as nothing more than a way of understanding under which circumstances each piece of gear we produce is most useful. For everyone else, we hope it serves as a good introduction to their own integration with a backcountry or austere environment.


explore Overview Level 0.5 - Pocket Level 1 - Kit Level 1.5 - Light Day Level 2 - Go Bag Level 3 - Sustainment