Items with multiple uses – Lighten the BOB by using these!

What are some items that have multiple uses which can help cut down on the shear number of items to prep for or lighten a bug-out-bag?

Or what are some modifications you have made to some items to allow them to be used in different ways?

Here are some I have done:

  • Took a file to the back side of my knife so that it can be used as a ferro rod striker.
  • I have a Glock 22, which is normally a .40 caliber gun. I have a conversion barrel that I can swap out the stock barrel in less than 15 seconds and the gun will now shoot 9mm. 2 different caliber guns in one package!
  • Fresnel lens, can be used to magnify what you are looking at for like first aid or used to start a fire. I have a small credit card sized one in my wallet, and also got a large sheet sized one at Dollar Tree for a dollar. 
  • Tarps! I love tarps! I have like a dozen from when Harbor Freight gave them out as a free item with every purchase. Shelter, protect the car seats from pet hair, used to signal, collect water, and so many more uses! 
  • I’ve thought about replacing my shoe laces with paracord, but heard that it is too slick of a rope to hold a shoe lace knot well. Have any of you done this?
  • Another one I like is the alcohol wipes in your first aid kit can be used as an extremely flammable fire starter, sanitize your knife, or clean up your eating utensils. I love these little things.

  • Comments (22)

    • 4

      Totally missed this post. Glad I was scrolling through old ones as I really love multitaskers and ways to get more from what you pack. 

      • Increased the emergency blanket to the XL size so it could be a ground cloth, folded into a bivvy, or cover a couple people in a first aid situation.
      • Added a Snowpeak hotlips so the small pot could also be a tea mug.
      • Chose the Eneloop BQ-CC87 AAA/AA charger as it also works as a power bank even with alkaline batteries if available.
      • Using the magnesium block/ferro rod with a short hacksaw blade striker. None of my other tools had a hacksaw blade. This is a very small advantage as it’s short, but could help carve a key or the like.
      • 4L sea-to-summit dry sack: protects electronics, could be a bucket to carry water, or serve as a vessel to do laundry; A very small flotation device:  2 could be swim wings for a child.  
      • Six Moons Gateway Cape serves as: Tent, rain poncho, pack cover, privacy changing ‘robe’.
      • QiWiz FireFly wood stove: it’s the windscreen to the primary alcohol stove and functions as a wood stove when the fuel runs out. Can also just be a fire for comfort/heat if sticks are available.
      • Buffs: these are multi-functional per design.  I got the 2 Chaos Tubes from REI on clearance and sewed on snaps on two ends so they could connect and make them longer to wrap around my neck more loosely like a scarf and other options.  
      • Trowel:  Included a Deuce 3.0 which is very light and can be used as a shovel for other than a cat hole for which it was designed.  I also still want to leave no trace.  I think it could be a pry bar and spare other tools from potential damage.   
      • Fresnel lens – credit card sized because I can’t read anything without magnification and all the reasons you mentioned.  

      I hope my post brings this to recent and triggers more inputs.  

      • 3

        Thank you for resurrecting this forum post! It’s a valuable skill to be able to look at your gear and see all the potential uses it has. Paracord can be used as a belt, to make a fly for fishing, construct a shelter, repair gear, and many other uses. If you just think of it as rope than you are missing out on many potential uses and may have other things in your bag weighing you down that are unneeded because your paracord can meet all those needs. 

        I like your idea of carrying some buffs. I have a few of them and they really do have so many uses. Eye shades, sun protection, scarf, rag, hot pad for getting your pot out of the fire, and many other uses.

    • 5

      Good morning Robert,

      I also missed this thread perhaps because wasn’t a forum member at time or just missed it by my oversight.

      (My BOB is load-bearing suspenders attached to a pistol belt loaded with pouches and modified tarps.)

      Ref some mods for use in different ways:

      To “soften” the suspenders’ should straps section … they’re about the same as a back pack … I added some additional soft material.  Not by coincidence, the material is fluorscent white. Folded along vertical axis, the 2 long strips are added to straps. In case of a needed air SAR, will do some stitch ripping and use the white fabric to make the recommended “X” on ground for air observation. Knowing fate, the ground might be snow-covered ! Have thought of this in planning.

      Some hardware on my suspenders changed over from heavy Army brass to aluminum fittings sold at the big box stores. The aluminum ones can be used for various purposes whereas the original brass ones had only 1 use and in realistic terms could not be removed in a field setting during emergency conditions.

      A couple of attachments to the suspenders rig had drawstrings. All replaced with with tripled 107 lb. test braided fabric fishline.

      I could omit some extra batteries and flashlight on belt.  Had thought of this but still there. My helmet light is strong and uses a single Lithium 123 battery. A 2-pak of extra batteries weigh less than a mini-maglight’s AA pack of 4 or 6. Much of my lighting preparedness depends on situation, scenario and season. Going out alone will be carrying more than 2 flashlights w/ extra batteries.

      No, had not replaced boot laces with paracord. Laces are frequently checked and kept at near-new level in case of need for other use.

      • 4

        An addendum;

        Had forgotten to mention something.  Wrote about it on another thread. Just remembered when adding something to my med kit.

        To save weight if having to walk out of here, I would only carry one mirror.  Had (past tense) in my basic loadout a signaling mirror in pouch next to strobe light and in medical kit have (current tense) a small 2 sided mirror.  It has one side with 12X magnification and other side with regular sized display. (The 12 X side justifies any vacation I need – and I do need a long one after this COVID quarantine !)

        The 2 sided mirror is in medical kit and it gets priority over the more formal signaling mirror.  My medical kit mirror can do some signaling.

      • 1

        Do your suspenders loose their elasticity over time? How often do you replace them?

        Is your signal mirror made of glass or polycarbonate (plastic)?

      • 5

        Good afternoon Robert,

        The suspenders are not “hold up the pants” type. They are actually called “load-bearing suspenders” that attach to the thick Army pistol belt. Both are heavy cotton web.  The newer version was of heavy nylon. Believe both since replaced with intro of MOLLE vests.

        My signal mirror probably of poly plastic.  It’s whatever sold at base exchange Langley AFB south of here. It’s packed away now so can’t get to it to confirm. My other 2 side mirror is definitely poly plastic. 

      • 3
    • 4

      Great topic! It must have posted originally before I found the site. I love the little Fresnel lenses! Bought a multi pack on Amazon & have handed out quite a few to friends. Always enjoy the startled looks I get when I tell them it can start a fire too. Plus my hubby uses his in restaurants since he never has his glasses. They’re the best: cheap, tiny & effective. Tarps are great too, lots of uses, don’t take up much space. I’m also a fan of the Gerber machete Jr.  I use it in the garden all the time, and would consider it to have a lot of uses both at home and in the bush. I’m not very big, so it’s a manageable size for me to carry & swing, unlike a full machete. Adds a nice Walking Dead vibe to the weed management too, of course.   

    • 3

      I have a Glock 22, which is normally a .40 caliber gun. I have a conversion barrel that I can swap out the stock barrel in less than 15 seconds and the gun will now shoot 9mm. 2 different caliber guns in one package!

      Curious how having a conversion piece lightens the load?  I understand it gives you two calibers but why would you need two calibers in a BOB… especially two calibers so similar?  I also understand you should also have the proper 9mm magazines when you change barrels.  On top of that, you would need to carry two different ammos.

      Seem to me, in a survival situation the 9mm is a far superior choice between the two calibers, for the simple reason 9mm ammo is much easier to find.  So if you want to lighten the bag & simplify, why not simply carry a 9mm?  By doing as you suggest, you now carry an additional barrel, an additional magazine & two types of ammo.

      IMO, the Bear Grylls survival knife is a good, multipurpose item to have handy.  The sheath has a built in sharpener plus also has a fire starter. It has a stainless steel pommel on the base of the handle to be used as a hammer Plus a whistle is attached.  Also has holes in the guard to allow you to tie the knife onto a stick.


      • 2

        The weight of an additional barrel is minimal to the amount of versatility that I’ll be able to gain with it. I can see myself packing all my ammo in a car and bugging out and if I was low on one I could turn to the other caliber. Also if I switch to 9mm only and go out and find some .40 or a friend has some, then I can use that, otherwise i would have to leave that ammo because I couldn’t shoot it. 

        I’m on the same page as you that 9mm is the best round out there. Most common, cheap, small, decent knock out power, lighter. So if I had to only bug out with one I would switch it over to 9mm because my wife also carries 9 and I have another gun in 9. 

        I don’t know, maybe I need to think about it some more but the few ounces of the additional barrel is worth the doubling of ability to shoot various rounds that I may encounter.

        I’ve been eye balling the bear grylls knife for quite some time but need to try and control myself. Sorry to be sexist here, but (some) girls love shoes and will have dozens of pairs. I love knives and have more than I’ll use. I’ve been going through my collection and selling them on eBay because they just sit there all the time. 

        The Bear Grylls knife is a good example of what I was looking for on this thread though. So many features and functions in a small package. Do you have one? How do you like it? I was watching some YouTube videos about it actually two days ago and heard many knife enthusiasts hate it, but for $50, you can’t beat it. Are there any changes you would make to the knife?

      • 4

        IMO, the odds of you encountering .40 ammo out & about during a crisis is somewhere between slim & none.  This is especially true now that the FBI, who initially were a leader in developing the round, dropped it & went back to the 9mm… as are other law enforcement agencies.  9mm is the opposite.

        Yes, I have one & keep it in my truck between the center console & the passenger seat.  I keep a set of throwing knives between my seat & the console.  For $50 I think it is a great knife.  I’m sure it wouldn’t hold up for a lifetime of hard use but that is not what I intend it for.  I’d prefer it to have a full tang but for what it costs & how it will be used, it isn’t a deal breaker.

      • 2

        Just curious as to why the throwing knives as an EDC thing?

        Also I totally agree with you redneck, imho scavenging for ammo in the post apocalyptic wasteland of your dreams isn’t really gonna happen unless you somehow stumble upon an empty house with an ammo stash. Most all of the places that have ammo are going to be hot areas you want to avoid to begin with. 

        On top of that a barrel swap isn’t going to be as dead nuts reliable as the caliber the gun is originally built for. I would rather have the unquestionable Glock reliability than have any doubt in exchange for 2 calibers. Just something to consider in your planning, everyone has a different approach to this stuff.

      • 2

        Just curious as to why the throwing knives as an EDC thing?

        I just like them.  I bought them thinking I would teach myself how to throw, but I never got around to doing so.  But they are exceptionally sharp & all 3 fit into the same sheath.  Having a circle on the handle makes them very easy to remove quickly from the sheath, when jammed between my drivers seat & the center console.

        For some reason I just like the idea of having knives very handy while driving, so having these three on one side of the console & my survival knife on the other makes sense to me.


      • 2

        If I saw a man running at me with three throwing knives, I would high tail it right out of there! 

        You should practice with them on an old stump though, I threw some of those and some throwing axes at a scout camp before and it is hard to impale it in your target. 

      • 6

        Thought starter for folks.  The idea of 9mm as “the best caliber” made complete logical sense to me and so is how i have personally prepared, but I do challenge that assumption a bit now after watching peoples behavior throughout the pandemic.

        I would suspect the majority of SHTF scenarios are not a switch that gets flipped, but more a crappy situation that gets progressively worse over time. Looking at the last year+, 9mm ammo was gone almost immediatley, and for the most part stayed that way for an extended period of time (at least around me).

        My point is 9mm ammo was no where to be found BECAUSE it was the caliber everyone was looking for.  However, there were still some less popular calibers readily available on shelves… because no 9ne was looking for those.

        Net, the same logic that says 9mm is the best (most common) also could seemingly be why it may not be the best.

        I suppose the odds of scavenging would be higher longer-term but feels like either way, you can only count on what you have in hand.

      • 3

        I recommend having at least two guns in two different calibers. Using Robert’s example, .40 and 9mm. 9mm will be popular and be a good bartering item or maybe more easily bought off of people trading. Where as the .40 might come back into stock after a rush because it is a less popular option.

        Have one common caliber gun, and one less common caliber gun. Avoid the extreme exotic calibers unless you are able to reload. While they might be the only thing still on the shelves because only a few people even carry that round, it may not be the most reliable source and could easily not be carried.

    • 4

      Spoon+Fork=Spork – No need to carry two utensils

      • 2

        Good morning Captain Peanut,

        Re good point re the Spork.  Definitely must keep the loaded weight down.

        Some newer versions of the spork also have a “built-in” P-38 type of can opener. 

      • 2

        Good suggestion Captain Peanut! And thank you Bob for the suggestion as well with the built in can opener. Not only will it cut down on weight but also the amount of dishes you have to do 😉 I hate washing dishes…

      • 3

        Good morning Robert,

        I made a mistake re the spork with P-38 being a “newer version”.  It was developed and issued to Aussie troops in 1943. We contempories are slow-learners.

        Had attempted to post a picture of one here but obviously the link wasn’t posted.

        Besides the weight reduction, it saves precious energy and minimizes light use.  I am security conscious.

        Real weight reduction is by removing the tags on the Lipton tea bags.

        Here, too, I hate washing dishes.

      • 3

        The Prepared has an article on the best sporks. While this article was released before I joined the team, I do have to agree with their findings and it just makes sense as you read it. 

        The tactical and other ones with 5+ features built in are pretty gimicky. And I hate sporks with spoon on one end and fork on the other. If you want to switch sides, you now are touching the messy side you were just eating with. Yuck!

      • 3

        Good morning Gideon,

        Just read the linked spork document John prepared.

        I keep one in my BOB for the first and perhaps the only real meal of one can of something I’d have after an evac.

        My governing requirement is generated by having hand injuries and arthritus … especially when wearing gloves. Frequently, can’t open a blade on a multitool.

        Had missed this comprehensive review.