A couple of months back, I bought a nice little olive green range bag from a military surplus store called Montara Army Navy in Montara, CA, a city with quite a view of the ocean. I’d been looking for a nice bag to carry my miscellaneous items around from place to place. After browsing a couple of bags, I settled for a $20 bag with more than enough pockets. From my talks with the store owner, the bag was meant to be a range bag. The 6 pockets in the front and back of the bag are the perfect size for holding AR magazines or tons of pistol magazines. In addition to a shoulder strap, the bag has revealable carry handles, which I make use of regularly. With the amount of stuff I carry, using the strap would put quite a toll on my shoulder.
I repurposed what was designed to be a range bag as a mini multipurpose bag I toss in the truck. It serves as a range bag, an emergency bag, and a storage bag. I bring it to work every day, bring it for all my short trips, and take it home to restock all the time. Here is the rundown on a few of the things I keep in the bag:
- I go to various different ranges all the time and I don’t want to rely on the hearing protection that is provided. That’s why I bring my own and extras for other people. You never know when you’ll need them. I want to maintain my perfect hearing, so I always use hearing protection. That’s why I carry both foamies, a pair of 3M Peltor Combat Arms Earplugs for indoor/outdoor situations, and my 3M Peltor H10A Optime 105 Earmuff
complete with a Safariland Hearing Protector Holder. It’s a beautiful little piece of plastic, which allows me to hook my ears to my belt when I’m not using them, but keeps it handy if a shot startles me.
- I’m not superhuman and when it comes to looking at rifle targets downrange, like most people, I resort to binoculars. I use this pair of cheap Humvee binos for sighting people in. It works great for bird-watching, people-watching, and looking at street cleaning signs too. That reminds me, I carry one in my truck’s glove, but then again, I believe in redundancy.
- Range maintenance is kind of my thing. Working with splintering wood, rusty metal, and sharp objects aint always a party. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with all these raw materials – the way they feel and smell and all the cutting and moving around. Sadly, I don’t want to get tetanus or any more metal shards in my hand. Thank goodness I got issued heavy duty ironclad work gloves that I keep in my bag. Oh and I keep a bunch of black plastic zip-ties handy too. You never know when you’ll need them for something.
- It’s not secret that I wear glasses – nothing fancy or expensive. As a matter of fact, they’re pretty flimsy metal flames and that’s why I carry a backup pair of issued plastic glasses. I’ve had experiences where a flawed basketball pass would break my glasses, leaving me floundering about, blind as a bat. These military issued glasses are thick plastic and I feel a bit safer knowing backups are just a few steps away.
- I like tools. I say better prepared than sorry. That’s why I also have a titanium spork (my friends call it the tactical spork) for eating, a knife complete with a seatbelt cutter, a swiss army knife, a generous amount of black paracord, and a firestarter. I also have a lighter and two flashlights which aren’t pictured.
- My mind wanders fairly frequently and it gets difficult to keep track of everything. That’s why I carry a memo book and an all-weather Rite in the Rain Notebook in my bag, accompanied by a #2 pencil and a black ink pen with a comfortable grip. A few dollars in emergency money doesn’t hurt either.
- Speaking of emergency money, I’ve found that quarters are extremely useful. They feed meters and it isn’t that hard to grab a few and make a few bucks. I like to store them in old film canisters. I also carry a few tubes of Mentos gum for times when I need it. Along the same lines, I carry a mini bottle of cologne. Gum and cologne go hand in hand.
- I’m a big hiker and I want to both document my progress and know exactly where I am in unfamiliar territory. I find that physical paper maps work well only to a certain degree. That’s why I carry a handheld GPS, the Garmin eTrex 20 to be exact. If you want to enjoy yourself, prior planning is critical for long hikes. That’s why every time I bring my range bag home, I upload a few waypoints and tracks to the GPS. I also carry spare AA batteries for the GPS.
- One of the key components of my bag is the mini first aid kit. It has all the essentials: bandages, wipes, insect bit relief, burn relief, pain medication, and gauze. It also contains a few other nonessential products like sunscreen and lip balm. It really packs a punch. I have a bigger and more impressive one in the truck. I also keep hand warmers in the first aid kit just in case.
- Perishables. I get hungry on road trips and sometimes even on short trips. That’s why I pack all sorts of goodies to eat. I have a lot of sugary items like peanut brittle and chocolate, but also canned fruit and plain jane Ritz crackers. I only have room for one bottle of emergency water, but that’s enough. When I’m out and about, I usually bring a huge thermos filled with hot water, especially if it’s cold. That’s why I also pack tea bags and instant coffee.
That is a basic summary of what I carry. I’ve use many of the items in the bag regularly and the ones that I don’t use much still stay in the bag, just in case.