Level 0.5 - Pocket
This is the minimum stuff you carry in your pockets. Chances are that it's the same list either in the front country or the backcountry. This level is additive - you can be assumed to be carrying it regardless of what other levels you're carrying.
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Level 0.5 List


  • Pistolcraft - We can recommend classes by Larry Vickers from personal experience.
  • Medical Trauma - Something based on the TCCC military training is the way to go here.
  • Situational Awareness - Pat McNamara's "Sentinel" book is a good starting point.
  • Fitness - Get some.

Tools - Expected Use

  • Pocket Tool - We're big fans of the long discontinued Leatherman Sideclip (4oz). If you can find a used one for a decent price, get it. The closest current equivalents are the Freestyle (4.5oz, lots fewer tools than the Sideclip) or the Sidekick (7oz, same tools as Sideclip but with the nice addition of a saw)
  • Pocket Light - The Streamlight Microstream is the only pocket light we're aware of that matches all of our requirements. It is a 1 (AAA) light with a single on or off mode that is activated by a stiff tail cap. The tail cap supports momentary on and click for constant on. Small enough to carry in your pocket or hold in your mouth for hands free, bright enough to use in the Harries Technique. It really does everything you could ask of a pocket light.
  • Handheld - Yes, it's a mobile phone and that's important. But it's also a stand alone GPS unit with topo base maps of all of the mountainous terrain we might possibly find ourselves in. And a very good compass. And some other tools. Read more here...
  • Knife - We've experimented with fixed blades and folders. Mostly it's been beefy folders. Emersons are very good -- and pricey. CRKT folders are also good and not nearly as expensive.

Tools - Contingency

  • Pistol and spare mag - Or no spare mag if you're carrying a plastic 9mm. Or do. Lots of educated opinions on which pistol to go with. Even more uneducated opinions. Browsing our firearms forum might help.
  • Bandana - A silk bandana folded in a pocket doesn't take much space but provides rudimentary trauma response, shelter, and insulation. If it's a bright color, it can also be used for signalling. Western stores carry silk bandanas and also have them in larger sizes.


  • Lighter -  Your only choice is to start a fire to create the insulation you need from cold (the kind of exposure that people most often die from). Carry a lighter. We like the clear plastic disposables.


  • Coat - Never leave the house without some kind of layer in case you end up exposed to the elements. What you need is going to vary based on environment. Gloves in a pocket of the coat are a good call, and if it isn't hooded, so is a beanie in another pocket.

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