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Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who gets to work from home every day, you probably work in an office, out in the field, or at some other remote location. I work approximately 14 miles from my house, and am lucky that between myself and home is my wife’s office and my children’s school. I like to think of these places as “checkpoints” along my route. In the event of an emergency that doesn’t allow me to drive to these places, I have the plan of walking or borrowing a bike. For this every day scenario, the Vertx Gamut 2.0 makes the cut for an escape pack to get us home.
The contents of this bag are designed to help me along the way, where I’ll be traversing a multitude of environments that include large agriculture fields, trailer parks, subdivisions, and industrial complexes. All these spaces are taken into consideration for ease of movement, potential resupply points, and possible threats. Route planning became an important aspect of this with several alternate routes. The shortest distance is the last leg, where I’d have children in tow.
The base of the kit is a Vertx Gamut 2.0 Backpack in gray to maintain a lower profile in the urban jungle. At 25 liters, the backpack is just the right size to not overload myself and to keep some maneuverability. The straps are comfortable for long-term wear, and there’s a waist belt. The thin waist belt offers little in weight management, but will keep the pack from bouncing around during strenuous movements. I also prefer a pack that has a decent amount of internal organization, and this one delivers. Completed, this backpack kit weighs 22.2 pounds. Usually the pack sits in the back of my SUV, so its compact size is a plus for other cargo considerations.
Externally, both sides contain water bottle pockets. These are left empty — instead, I use the pouch directly behind them to keep two 700ml Smartwater bottles (one per side). Keeping the bottles inside the pouch helps prevent them from falling out and the backpack from being too wide. Within the back panel is an empty 50-ounce CamelBak bladder that can be filled along the way. The top pocket has quick-access items that include spare prescription glasses, wrist-mounted GPS, Gorilla tape, and a headlamp. Lastly, the front compartment has a small lightweight shelter kit containing a Bushcraft Outfitters 10×7-foot tarp, four aluminum tent stakes, and varying lengths of 550 cord.
Internally, the pack has a few zippered pockets and is mostly lined with loop Velcro. I affixed a Blue Force Gear Ten Speed Triple M4 Mag pouch to the top to keep more items close at hand without having to open up the entire bag. This includes a spare Glock 9mm 24-round magazine and a Yaesu FT-60R handheld ham radio (yes, I have my license). The radio has a small antenna and a large slim-jim antenna nearby. In the middle is a SOF-T tourniquet. Opposite in the pen pouches is a Leatherman tool, glass breaker, Sharpie marker, and lighter.
The inside portion has two small zipper pouches that include spare batteries, zip ties, ExoTac Rip Spool, sillcock key, small mirror, notebook, and a Southord PXS-14 lockpick set. The lower pocket has wet wipes and an Aquamira Frontier Pro water filter. This filter works in conjunction with the Smartwater bottles and CamelBak bladder to keep me hydrated while on the move and resupply from the river or using the Sillcock key at commercial buildings.
In the main bag compartment is:
This bag is meant to sustain myself for movement to my wife, then to our children on an abnormal workday. It supplements my first line of gear carried on my body — Glock 19, pocketknife, bandanna, ankle trauma kit, and SureFire Stiletto flashlight. The radio is for the link-up between my wife and myself, as her bag has a similar one, as well as listening on the local stations for more information. The radio battery is checked weekly during the local net call.
The loaded bag is a comfortable weight for either my wife or myself to carry individually for the entire trek, in the event that we need to switch out the load. The purpose of three water storage items is to be able to drink on the move and have the ability to hand a bottle to my wife or the children without needing to stop. The included on-the-go snacks are mainly for the kids, but all are high in sugars, and Mountain House Mac & Cheese is their favorite in case we get stuck somewhere for an extended period of time and are able to boil some water with the small cook set. Having desirable snacks, such as candy, makes for a good bribe to keep the kids quiet and moving.
Overall, the Vertx Gamut 2.0 and contents are no-frills and are meant to sustain me, my wife, and two children for a day-ish-long hike, over not-so-difficult terrain. The children’s school is the closest checkpoint to the house at 5.5 miles. It’ll be slow moving with them in tow, but the gear we have will make it somewhat easier. Still, route planning, physical fitness, and family communications are the most important elements in our plan to make it home safely.
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