One Highly-Evolved Belt Kit

Unlike a lot of tool-heads, I don’t live on my belt. I’m a pocket guy; I like pants, shirts, and jackets with lots of pockets, where I keep my knife, light, pens, phones, cameras, and so on. Others hang everything on their belts. Stewart Brand is a belt guy. It’s always instructive to have Stewart give a tour of what he currently packs around his waist. His latest refinement is making me re-examine my fashion sense. I may have to try the belt-mode after all.

Stewart Brand writes:

I’ve been refining the tools I wear on my belt for 30 years. The current kit is on my bod at all times except in bed and on airplanes. I use some of what’s in it every day and probably all of what’s in it every month. Each device is exquisite in its own right. In combination they surround nearly any problem.

The whole kit weighs 12.1 ounces and cost me $282.

Handyman Belt Organizer

Start with the Handyman Belt Organizer from Brigade Quartermaster—$13. Made of Cordura, it has a couple more loops and dividers than you need; cut them off. The remaining main pocket is perfect for the Nikon 7×15 Monocular and Workchamp Swiss Army Knife next to each other. The pocket flap carries the Brunton Classic Compass. The belt loop can unfasten independently, which is handy when preparing for air travel without disrobing. Weight: 1.4 ounces.

Belt Organizer
$12
Available from Brigade Quartermaster

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Workchamp Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army Knife I now favor is one of the larger ones from Victorinox—larger in length, not fatness, so it meets the hand without feeling miniature. The Workchamp has all the tools I want, with none of the usual Swiss Champ ones I can do without—small blade, fishhook disgorger, packet hook, magnifying glass, etc. Here’s what it does have: quite large blade with lockback feature, pliers, file & metal saw, wood saw, scissors, bottle opener with large screwdriver, can opener with small screwdriver, large and small phillips head screwdrivers, awl, corkscrew (with the crucial tiny screwdriver for glasses), toothpick and tweezers. I’m going to get a drill and hotrod my Workchamp to carry the wonderful pin (for splinters) and ballpoint pen from my now obsolete Swiss Champ. And I’m thinking of grinding the tweezers to make a sharp point—also good for splinters. The whole weighs just a half ounce more than the Swiss Champ: 7.2 ounces.

Workchamp Swiss Army Knife
$50
Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Victorinox

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Brunton Classic Compass

Most compasses are way too fancy and fussy. All you need is something that is stable and sensitive, well marked, and has the ability to adjust its declination so you can read off true north directly anywhere you travel. All that at a great price is in the Brunton Classic. It’s big enough for hand and eye but only weighs: 1.1 ounces.

Brunton Classic Compass
$12
Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Brunton
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Nikon Monocular

For decades I treasured my old Zeiss monocular, long discontinued, but I finally retired it because it’s been surpassed by a new wonder from Nikon, the 7 x 15 monocular ($195). It is light, small, robust, and powerful, perpetually handy for identifying a distant bird or the small-print citation on a distant PowerPoint slide. Used backwards, of course, it is an admirable little microscope. It comes with a particularly intelligent neck-string, which I use when hiking. Weight: 2.45 ounces.

[This tiny telescope/microscope is really quite amazing. Worth carrying even if you are beltless. --KK]

Nikon Monocular
$197
Available from Binoculars.com

Or $215 from Amazon

Manufactured by Nikon