Inspired by another fellow blogger, I’ve decided to finally get a proper EDC (every day carry) bag for my ostomy supplies. This new bag is replacing a MUCH LARGER tactical shoulder bag, which I may still use for hikes or whenever more supplies are needed.
When I was pooping like most other people, I’d often carry several supplies that I might need in case I had an accident (which occurred quite often with active Crohn’s disease). Those supplies often included a change of pants and underwear, adult diapers, and pads to help manage my perianal fistula drainage. It was quite bulky, but it was the minimum I needed in an emergency. But now, the supplies have changed, and I’ve focused more on ostomy maintenance. I still feel the need to carry these supplies, rather than be stuck with a leak and have no acceptable options at my disposal. Considering my last major leak was contained at home without much drama, I’d like the same assurance that an emergency can be handled easily while I’m out.
I had specific considerations while deciding on my ostomy EDC bag.
- It has to be light and compact. My tactical bag, while extremely useful, weighed over 10lbs and after a long outing, the weight can definitely be felt on the shoulders.
- It had to hold at least enough supplies to handle TWO full changes. “Better safe than sorry” applies here. Imagine having done a full change and the one wafer or pouch you brought has a tear or is damaged… two of everything is the minimum I’m comfortable with.
- I have to be able to attach a water bottle to it. Ileostomates have to worry about hydration more than the general population, since we don’t absorb as much water as someone with a colon might. Plus, it’s always nice to have a drink handy for those long outings.
- It has to be expandable. The Molle system is a wonderful way to be able to add extra storage to any backpack or bag. If I ever feel like I need some extra space, I can easily attach another pouch to a molle-compatible bag.
- Must have a shoulder strap. A fanny pack, which goes around the waist, isn’t a good option for storage anymore since I find that it interferes too much with my ostomy. A shoulder strap is a must.
- It’s got to look nice. My first priority is function, but you can’t ignore fashion!
- It has to be good quality. One of the easiest ways to be environmentally friendly is to purchase high-quality products that won’t need to be replaced often (or ever).
- It has to be reasonably priced.
- It has to be versatile/easy to access. If you have to change an ostomy appliance in a public bathroom stall, you better not be fumbling around with your supplies. Look for a bag that can be hung at the very least and allows easy access to all the contents.
During my search, I came across a few bags I really liked. One was the Maxpedition Tactile pouch (medium), which offered much of what I was looking for, but the way it opened really turned me off. So, I headed to a local army surplus supply shop and began looking for bags I can see and touch. Knowing that they specialize in bags that are quite functional, I was confident that I’d come back with something special – and I did.
I found a product from Condor Outdoors called the Multicam T&T pouch. It cost me CDN$39 + $6 for a shoulder strap, but I absolutely love it.
As you can see in the photo’s below, the pouch is quite compact, but it holds a lot of stuff!
The back came with straps attached to it (not shown in the photo), which would allow you to put this pouch onto a larger backpack using the molle system. I may find another use for the straps as my needs change.As you can see from the front of the pouch, it’s a molle system with velcro on the face. This would allow me to add a smaller pouch (for a cell phone, glasses, etc.) quite easily or a “moral patch” to the face. I’ve attached a 500ml water bottle to the bottom of the shoulder strap using an “S”-shaped carabiner. I may replace that water bottle with one that has a wider mouth since I find this one difficult to clean.
From the top, you can see that there’s enough access to get to some important items (keys, hand wipes, garbage bags, wallet).
But here is where this particular bag really shines. You’re able to open it into a foldout configuration and you have access to everything you need. There’s a paracord which you can adjust to allow the pouch to open more (or less) than what’s shown in the photo, but by hanging this pouch off a bathroom door, I now have a “workbench” of sorts.
As of Feb 2014, here’s what this pouch contains. I may add/remove things as the season’s change or my ostomy needs change.
- Strip paste x 2.
- Disposable breast pads x 4. I’ve used disposable breast pads as a way to help with drainage I had because of fistulas. Until my current rectal wound is completely healed (almost there!), I’ll be keeping these handy.
- Flushable wipes in a resealable Ziploc bag x 10 (approx.).
- Trash bin bags x 2. These are scented and can be used to put soiled supplies in during an appliance change.
- Coloplast Brava Elastic Tape x 2. Used as a wafer extender.
- Pouches x 2.
- Wafers/flanges x 2.
- Filter stickers. If you use pouches with filters, these are handy to keep around. I usually put them on with every new pouch change or I use filterless pouches.
- Gelling sachets x 5. If you’re prone to having liquid/loose output, these will come in handy. You can use any similar product, but I happen to have the ConvaTec Diamonds on hand (which come with a handy little Ziploc pouch).
- Marker. Used to mark a hole on the wafer before cutting.
- Curved scissors. To cut a stoma hole in the wafer.
- Victorinox Swiss Army Signature knife. Has a pen, tweezers, scissors, nail file and small blade.
- Q-tips x 4. Many uses.
- Bandages x 3.
- Flushable pouch liners. I currently don’t use these, but I may if I’m out for the entire day or know I’ll be someplace that has poor washroom access (or has porta potties).
- Pouch deodorizer. The photo shows the Hollister M9 drops, but that bottle is actually filled with Coloplast Brava Lubricating Deodorant. You can also get sachets of deodorant like the one from Coloplast.
- Water. Just a small bottle filled with regular tap water. If you don’t have access to a sink, this will be a huge asset, since it can be used to soak quite a few gauze pads for easy cleanup around the stoma.
- Wet-wipes. To clean hands when a sink isn’t available.
- Adhesive remover wipes x 4. I use the Niltac adhesive remover spray at home, but in an emergency, wipes would be fine and take up a lot less space.
- Portable mirror. This one, courtesy of Hollister, can open up and stand on its own. Very handy.
- Medical tape. Many uses.
- Earbuds. Not an ostomy supply, but great to have in my pouch.
- Car keys, house keys. Again, nice to have in my pouch.
- Minimalist wallet. Just the basics, including my health card.
- Gauze pads.
- Mini Ziploc bags x 4.
- Large Ziploc bag x 1.
- Stoma measuring guide.
- The two-piece pouching system could be swapped with a one-piece. Since I don’t expect to use these unless it’s an emergency, I’d have no problem using a one-piece.
- I could replace the marker and scissors (items 10 and 11) with the swiss army knife since it has scissors and a pen built-in. If I used pre-cut wafers, these wouldn’t be needed anyway, and the stoma measuring guide (# 28) wouldn’t need to be in this kit either.
- I could (should) replace the medical tape (#21) with a waterproof tape like Hy-Tape or Opsite Flexifix. In order to save some space, I could even wrap the tape around something small like a pen or stiff card, which is an EDC trick to help save space. Including enough Opsite Flexifix could replace the wafer extenders (#5) if needed.
- As mentioned above, the filter stickers (#8) can be excluded if I had filterless pouches included with this kit.
- The bandages (#14) in this kit, while thin, take up more space than they need to. Smaller bandages would be fine or even entirely excluded, since they aren’t really an ostomy necessity.
- If I were to be traveling away from home for the day, I’d likely keep a change of pants/underwear in the car. I’m not prone to leaks, so I feel confident that bringing clothes around to run errands isn’t necessary.