Know where you're going! You may be so familiar with your area that you don't need a map, but carry one anyway.
You might meet (and remain with) others who know the area less well. Your plans may change, and you may have to go
to an unfamiliar area. Topo (topographic) maps show you the terain, like 3D - very useful. Things to carry:
1. Compass - more useful if you learn how to use it correctly. North is not really north, you know?
2. Map of area - TOPO is great and street map also - why not carry both?
3. GPS - lets you mark 'waypoints' (all three, X, Y and Z coordinates: latitude, longitude and altitude) and
guides you back to them, in the dark, in fog and even on water (lakes and oceans). Very useful, but due to its
battery power, it would be unwise to depend on a GPS completely. Batteries fail or wear/run out. Then what?
4. Binoculars or telescope - even a cheap $15 pocket binocular is better than nothing. Folding telescopes are
also useful and compact. I use a Nikon Trailblazer waterproof binocular in a belt pouch, 10 x 30, great optics.
Close to $100. Amazingly wide field of view and very clear. Small enough for a pocket. I'd like to find a monocular
like the one Jason Bourne used.
5. NVD/FLIR - A monocular NVD (Night Vision Device) is easily within most budgets, at about $150 for the 1st
generation cheapies from Russia, green on green. Not spectacular, but hey, you can actually see in near dark (star
and some moonlight), and using the IR illuminator button, you can see in total dark for about 30 yards - not too
shabby. And it runs on two AA batteries. If you can see in the dark and not be seen, you are empowered. Update:
Sportsman's Guide catalog has a NVD for $108, and it's 1-3x.
You can get second and third generation (best and costly) NV rifle scopes, some military surplus, and they can
be used on or off a rifle. This kind of gear could be a real game changer. If you are facing dangerous people at
night, having a NV scope on your rifle could give you a big advantage. Sportsman's Guide has a Gen 1+ (still green)
4x NVD rifle scope with illuminator for about $400, haven't tried it though. Says the illuminator's good out to
1640 feet. Holy moly.
FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) devices see heat (long wave radiation) and show you in various ways (black and
white, color, etc.) what's out there in warmer and cooler colors or whatever. At about $2000 for the low end, it's
still on my wish list.
If you have the money, this gear could be really useful. To be able to see anything warm-blooded - awesome. I
watched some YouTube videos of the war in Iraq, helicopters with FLIR scopes targeting 'hostiles' on the ground
from far away. Each person on the ground was a bright yellow or red figure, against a dark background - a sitting