An introduction to ‘Ranger Bands’ and turning your Pack Sheath into a shoulder bag
Carrying a machete from a shoulder strap and sheath is still a very common system used around the world today. Ranger Bands are also not a new concept. Put these two ideas together and your effectively converting you're Pack Sheath into a modular carry platform that you can adjust and change easily on the fly.
Being an old Scout, I never forgot the motto ' Be Prepared'. Nobody ever thinks they will be the one that gets stuck out in the bush... until it happens to them. It can happen to anyone no matter your skill level! Having some gear with you is always a smart move.
A quick note about Ranger Bands. It's just code for 'tough black elastic bands cut from inner tubes'. Pretty simple! Up-cycling discarded inner tubes is a great place to start looking. Most sizes of inner tube can be used as their applications are very diverse. The two sizes of tubing used in this photo are: Bicycle inner tube 2-2.5 inch wide, Motorcycle inner tube 2.75-3 inch.
Here is an example of one of the many ways you can rig up a sheath into a carry platform.
What To Carry?
Well this really is up to you. Using Ranger Bands to mount your gear is incredibly flexible. In this example we just tried to cover the basics of fire, shelter, food and tool maintenance. It took us less than 15 mins to set this up and that included cutting the bands and finding some useful gear in the workshop to strap to the sheath! Here is a breakdown of what's on the platform in the photo.
- Companion knife with poly sheath
- Flat chainsaw file with poly sheath
- Ferro rod
- 11 Ranger bands
- 1 motorcycle inner tube slip 300mm
- Paracord: 10m wrapped and 4m bundled
- 4 waxed cotton makeup pads (fire tinder)
- 4 squares char cloth (fire tinder)
- 4 waterproof blister band-aids
- 1 single serve betadine
- 2 single serve Vaseline
- 6 small zip lock bags
- 4 tiny bait hooks
- fishing line 20m
- Emergency foil blanket
Big items that are used more often are strapped to the outside. A lot of the small items that can be stored flat are hidden in the two pockets created by the big inner tube slip. Access to these is easy, you just stretch the top of the pouch open.
Why a companion knife? Their are two reasons why a decent quality hard steel knife is a great companion for a machete. The first is size. Sometimes it's easier and safer to use a small knife for some tasks. Generally we tell people who are just starting out using a very sharp machete that if you're holding what your cutting, you are in the danger zone! Their is a lot of information on the net from reputable sources that can explain how to use a small sharp knife safely.
The second reason is edge retention. Machetes are heat treated to be a little softer than a hard steel knife and are used in heavy cutting. That razor sharp edge that you put on your machete will not last as long as a knife without touching it up regularly. With a companion knife, you can separate the tasks. Heavy work for the machete and finer tasks for the knife. Alternatively, you use the end of the machete's edge for heavy chopping and save the edge closer to the handle for finer work.
The photo on the left is showing the first layer of paracord (10m) as well as the pockets that are created by the motorcycle inner tube. These pockets are very useful for storing small flat items in zip lock bags. The top pocket at the front can take the most items but there is space on the back as well. There are two gaps at the bottom that can store a bag each.
The photo on the right is of a the little Ranger Bands setup on a small knife. It's a very cheap and simple poly pipe sheath with a lighter, torch and ferrorod strapped to the outside.
In an emergency, Ranger Bands can burn for a very long time. They can be used as a fire lighter to get wet kindling to dry out enough to get a campfire going. The smoke is toxic so its best to remove the bands from the area safely or let them completely burn out before you cook on or stand around the fire.
Their are so many other uses for Ranger Bands and its worth a search on the net for more examples.
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