Emergency bag repack

Like many folks, I keep an emergency bag in the truck for that occasion when the only thing standing between me and an embarrassing death is whatever I managed to tuck into the bag. In Montana, your choices of how to shuffle of the mortal coil in a vehicle related stranding are pretty easy – you either starve to death, freeze to death, or dehydrate to death. (Or any combination of the above.)

If you’re smart, and I hope you are, you’ll pull that bag out every so often and check the contents for any problems that may have arisen from being stored in a vehicle where temperature swings can easily span 120 degrees.

Case in point: my flashlight. For personal use, I like small LED flashlights that run off of lithium batteries of some sort…either AA or CR123. They are far less sensitive to temperature swings and self-discharge than the usual batteries. For vehicle use, I prefer the Mag-Lite (Yes, it’s actually hyphenated…says so right on the light.)

What I like about the Mag-Lite is that, in the LED version, you have an essentially bomb-proof flashlight. You can drop it and not worry about bulb breakage, it resists mosts damage, and it can always be used for ‘percussive persuasion’ if the situation calls for it. Problem is, the ones I like take D-batts and finding lithium D-batteries is virtually impossible and when you do find ’em….they ain’t cheap. Interestingly, lithium 9v. batts are available…I suspect for smoke detector usage.

When I put the Mag-Lite away in the bag I made sure to load it up with fresh Duracell batteries. I then set aside two extra sets of batteries as well. So they’ve sat out there in the heat and cold for over a year. I turned on the flashlight and compared it to a similar Mag-Lite with fresh D-batts and the results were…illuminating.

20150802_113830Clearly the batteries has suffered over the course of the year, what with the huge temperature swings that make Montana such a delight to try and dress for.

Now, yes, i could avoid this problem altogether by simply going to a flashlight platform that uses AA lithium batteries, which are easy to find. But I want the big, reassuring heft and handling of the large Mag-Lite.

So, the moral of the story here is – change out those in-vehicle flashlight batteries at least every year. And if you really wanna go the suspenders-and-a-belt routine do it like you’re supposed to do with your smoke detectors and change the batts every time you reset the clocks for Daylight Savings Time.

17 thoughts on “Emergency bag repack

  1. Isn’t there some sort of adapter that allows a bunch of Aa batteries to be used in D battery devices? I think Amazon had them.

  2. Check out those 9V lithium batteries. I’ve purchased some – only to find they are a little too big for devices with minimum sized battery compartments.

  3. Speaking of LED Mag-Lights, do you have any experience with those conversion kits that you see from time to time? I have several old, conventional ones lying around, and I’d hate to simply replace them if a decent method of upgrading them were available…

    • Yes. They suck. The reason is because there is more to the LED MagLites than just swapping the bulb. The geometry of the reflector is totally different. You can swap an incandescent bulb to LED and it’ll work, but the effect won’t be as good as the LED MagLite with the proper reflector.

    • I have upgraded conventional Mag-Lites twice. Once with a cheap no-name kit, it did indeed blow. The other upgrade was a 3 “D” cell Mag-Lite and on that one I used Mag-Lite’s own conversion kit. That one turned out to be great. It had all the parts to make it work right. It cost more but it was worth it.


      • I find that the cost of a Maglite LED conversion kit is about the same as buying a LED Maglite

  4. I don’t know the physics of this, but would storing supplies in an insulated box help reduce temperature fluctuation?

    • Unless the item stored inside the insulated box had a means of producing its own heat, the only impact of the insulation would be to cause the content of the box to change temp more gradually than the conditions outside of the box. Over the course of a year in Montana, the interior of the insulated box will still reach the same high and low temperature extremes, but the rises and drops may be very marginally more gradual.

  5. and change out your ammo. i had some in my truck gun for about 6 months. just for giggles i decided to pop off a few upon arrival home from extended duty. clicking sound, ratchet, click. heat and cold did a number on them. i imagine food items are the same way. i switch mine out every spring and fall.

      • i don’t. its been about 15 years but i usually run hornady xtp in my truck guns.

    • I can’t think of why that would be. Logic would suggest that any quality factory ammo would be unaffected by temp swings between -40 and 140 F.

    • +1 on the ammo checks. The reason I keep a rifle in my trunk now rather than a shotgun is the 120 degree Phoenix heat makes the shells expand, which makes misfeeds more likely.

  6. I’m not claiming to know anything from a position of authority but would storing rechargeable batteries and a small charging station be a worthy change? If you were in a position where you needed it I would assume that you could charge off of the vehicle battery/alternator with a small inverter (or use a small solar charger?).

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