Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Worth Its Weight? The Pocket Ref

In an earlier post I discussed the utility of the Pocket Ref, and the question of whether that utility was worth the weight and space it takes in a BOB or similar. Now that I have mine in hand, let's settle that question.

Amazon's listing says that the paperback version of the book weighs roughly half a pound, and measures 3x5x1 inches. To put that into perspective, it's roughly the same footprint as a modern smartphone, but 2-3 times as thick. Ironically, it will actually fit in any of the main pockets of a pair of slacks or khakis, or the back pocket of a pair of jeans.

The Pocket Ref crams more raw information into an inch of paper than I would have ever believed. It covers a vast array of topics including Automotive information, Construction, Lifting and Rigging, Geology, Chemistry, and General Science, just to name a few. All of it is information that can be useful in your life. However, a massive portion of it -- the vast majority even -- won't be that useful on the road or in an emergency. What you need is a way to pare out the information you need so that you can take it with you while leaving the handheld library of data at home.

I was clued in to a solution for this problem by the dimensions of the book itself. What if I copied down the data I thought would be useful on the road onto 3x5 index cards? That way, I can carry just the information I find useful, taking up far less space and weight in my bag. If you're handy with your printer and word processor settings, you could also type up and print all the information on your computer, for neater and more compact text.

The problem with index cards is that they're fragile, just like all other paper products. This problem is also very simply solved. Laminating sleeves are roughly $0.10 each and Prime eligible. The 4x6 size is a bit large for index cards, but can be trimmed to fit. Normally these require a machine to set the lamination, but a simple clothes iron can also be used.

Personally, I'd start with parts of the First Aid, General Science, Lifting and Rigging, and Automotive sections, but you can grab whatever information applies to your life and situations. Stick your laminated cards into an envelope to keep them together in your bag, and have all sorts of useful information ready at hand.


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