Introduction to Pragnat 4: Tactical Toiletries

The basis, not the basics of packing a bag for real world expectations.

The ability to move with the flow of life, deal with the ever changing tactical environment or travel to a destination unnoticed is paramount in this modern day. Few can do it well, as we grow ever more stagnant and sedentary the appeal of doing it willingly fades with the masses. Few will ever know the adventure of travel with a rucksack, or will it return to us quicker than we think? Over half of the workforce in the depression was thought to be transient. Today many rural workers are living in vans and cars as they follow the work around with the seasons, tourists are also increasingly doing so and not to mention the ever growing return to van life. Its like there is a move back to the 60’s and everyone, especially the youth know that change is coming.

In this article we will look at the basis of luggage, be it a military rucksack, a Samsonite suitcase, overnight bag or something more exotic like a bug out bag. They all have one common foundation, and that is the Dopp bag / wash kit. For good reason too, cleanliness is next to godliness after all but it is our hygiene that forms the basis of how we appear, how long we can sustain ourselves in the field and if we fit in to the room where we find ourselves standing. I’m sure we have all smelt a homeless person before, but there are dozens we haven’t because they have mastered the art of blending in at a hygiene level.

A good toiletry bag is akin to a good medicine cabinet, possibles pouch, repair kit, first aid kit and a day at the spa all rolled into one. Whether it is in the field, or in general life a Dopp kit is essential. Spending a night with a special someone, or traveling, using a hotel, gas station rest room or even a restaurant restroom. In my experience your comfort levels and ability to perform are impacted by the lack of foresight into possible needs or greatly enhanced by having made appropriate steps. That old saying “failing to plan is planning to fail” rings true again.

For the most part, your Dopp kit should be able to sustain your normal routine and any likely eventualities. A night or two away, a small medical incident, a broken item in need of repair etc. If it is paired with your vehicle it allows you to continue life in seemingly adverse conditions. Lets you maintain hygiene and appearance and appear as everyone else does no matter the individual stress or complexity you may be under at the time. In my movementarian days, I must confess dealing with hangovers was the mainstay of my Dopp kit, as it seemed any large event usually culminated with an excess of drinking and cheap motel rooms before the long drive home. They were bound to the same fate at the next event, but again so was I bound to the cycle of temporarily repairing the unrepairable.

In the field it will extend your capability and operational window. Being able to treat afflictions as they arise and preventing them from creating an avenue of infection, irritation or illness that would have otherwise ended your time afield. Perhaps worse case scenario, it could be used to alter your appearance with changes to complexion, hair and the like. The following list is by no means complete, nor should it be as this article is designed to make you consider your own needs, skills and likely scenarios that may eventuate when the system is ready and you are not.

Basic first aid kit : To compliment your skills, burns, blisters, blood loss. Also remember pain relief as it will assist sleeping or stop the ringing in your ears if its a companion. Insect repellent, heart burn relief, indigestion relief, Potassium Permanganate can be used in light doses as a treatment for contaminated water, in heavy doses as a disinfectant, can also be used to harden the feet for long walks in boots and if mixed with sugar will ignite, just for reference of course. I also carry an asthma inhaler and epi-pen even though I am not asthmatic nor allergic to anything to the best of my knowledge, for both items their ability to instantly save a life and ease of use allows me to hand them over to the potential patient for them to self help or if patient is known to me can apply myself knowing how their odds of survival have changed drastically for the better.

Basic Hygiene : Shit, shower, shave. Soaps, Shampoos etc, micro fibre towel, shave gel and razor. Be sure to include in your oral hygiene kit things like listerine strips, tooth picks and dental floss not just tooth paste and toothbrush. For your skin kit be sure to add Vasolene, lip balms, sunscreens, moisturisers especially if you have a female in your party or likely to encounter one in the wild. Deodorants and colognes have their place, also look for antiperspirants used for hunting that are charcoal based as there may be times you do not wish for a strong scent, there is also activated charcoal toothpaste for this purpose. I will also include a mirror in this part, although a mirror also has a place for signalling but will make shaving and general appearance setting easier, but everything in this kit is meant to have many uses and must make its weight and size worthy of being carried.

Basic Presentation : Combs, brushes, hair ties, hair pins, hair gels, mouse, coloring agents (not just if you are greying) mascara, eye liner, shadow etc. Obviously some products may not apply to all reading this. Include nail clippers, small scissors and clippers if you may trim beard or hair whilst travelling.

Basic Hydration : Life straw, water treatment tablets, 1 quart collapsible bottle or drink bag, hydration tablets, any water diluted medicines deemed appropriate. Be sure to include some hard candies of some variety to bring your glucose levels up and consider possible interactions with diabetics and being able to assist them.

Basic repair kit : Leatherman type tool, sew awl and stitching gear, glues, 100mph tape, D’s and rings for straps, webbing and slings. In general this also means keeping your kit serviceable so you may include a small sharpening stone and lubricants for daily carried items. I will also include a cigarette lighter in this kit, as often having a candle and hot melt glue will be used for repairs but also form the basis of a fire kit if in the wild. A ferrocium rod can also be included and tinder tabs like cotton wool, mixed with your Vaseline etc can be assembled. You can also use the ferro rod at night to signal several miles. As far as repairs go this area is one that is limited to what you can reasonably do yourself. It is a sad reflection on consumerist tenancies to not be able to repair what we own.

Basic illumination : Headlamp or torch, rechargeable, magnetic based if possible for area illumination or to assist when working under bonnet. Adding a photon light to the zip of the bag itself will help you locate the item you need inside it in the dark. A whistle can be included and a card for morse code with waterproof notepad should you have a reason to suspect you may need it.

Basic power kit : Battery bank, charging cables, 220v usb charger, spare car 12v cigarette to USB charger. View this kit as a way to source energy not just charge from, if you are driving be sure to use the opportunity to recharge your battery bank and devices as part of routine and best practices to be in. You never know when you are going to have to rely on them as your sole source of power.

The list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it elegant. The travel that awaits may not be elegant either, but alas when it comes we should be ready for it and willing to accept the challenges we may face. A word of advice when you start to assemble it, have a look around your home first, you may find you already have enough spare items to completely assemble a kit and your half used tooth paste will take up less room than the new tube you have in the drawer at the moment. Once packed, it is best to keep it that way, if you commute to work via vehicle add it to a gym bag with some basic clothes for an overnight away or if you get rained on and have to change, whatever is likely I am sure you will be better prepared for by having it close.