Most day-hikes in the mountains don’t call for more than a pair of treaded shoes and a perhaps a bit of food/water. Maybe some sunscreen if it’s blazing; A flashlight if you start the hike late in the day. Anything else is a luxury and a drag.
If you are along a well traveled path and will arrive at the same place you started before sundown, then there is no need to bring a pack… let alone survival gear. The risk/benefit ratio is nil.
If you are however doing a long road trip to a remote location or a multi-day excursion into the lonely wilderness, there are some basic pieces of survival gear that you are a great fool be caught without.
Until you’ve reached the end of a desert road or have trekked far out into the wild, you can’t really appreciate how easy it is to get lost. Nor how much of a pain it is to set up camp in the pitch dark. Nor how screwed you are if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
Lonely places attract me dearly for many reasons – silence, peace, solitude. Once you are ‘off the map’ for an extended period of time though, you’ll come to realize how many comforts and conveniences you’ve taken for granted. Warmth, shelter and readily accessible meals being paramount.
Regularly driving far out into the desert, camping in the woods or climbing mountains are some of the best things you can do for your mind and spirit. It inspires a clearing of mental debris, a re-ignition of the soul, and honest reflections on life and times.
If we are regular in these activities, it is smart to have a pack ready-to-go with the items listed below; something you can toss in the back of your vehicle whenever you head out for a long trip.
Of course… the most important things are left out of the list: food, water, sleep stuff & clothing. Those things should be loaded at your own discretion depending on the length and conditions of the trip.
It should go without saying that it is always good practice to bring more water than you think you’ll need, and to pack high-density food like nuts, slow burning carbs like fruit, and low-perishable foods that are rich in protein.
Additionally, it’s always good to have a gun (.22 rifle) w/ ammo and a fishing pole w/ tackle… just in case you need to make a meal for yourself. Check out cheaperthandirt.com.
Survival Pack Essentials
- headlamp + extra batteries; kept separate
- cloth bandana(s) – 101 uses in the wild
- large plastic trash bags – 3 or 4
- emergency blanket – traps your body heat or shields you from intense sunshine
- compact spade shovel – this particular model has multiple functions besides digging
- parachute cord – for hanging and pitching
- small coil of 1/2″ rope
- sunglasses – desert or snow, always have an extra pair
- leatherman tool – if you had to pick just one tool to be stranded with.
- large utility knife
- small utility knife
- emergency whistle
- 2 pair socks – one wool, one cotton
- waterproof matches – store in a waterproof container
- firepaste – idiot proof firestarter
- glowsticks / road flares – very useful for signaling help or setting up camp in the dark
- steel canteen
- tarp – be sure to buy a good one that doesn’t tear easily at the hook-points
- leather work gloves – w/ removable wool liners
- water purification tablets
- FIRST-AID KIT
- emergency poncho(s)
- signal mirror
- car jump starter
- folding camp saw
- BOOK ON BASIC SURVIVAL SKILLS
- insect repellent device – this thing is a life-saver for keeping mosquitoes off your back while hiking or camping.
- magnesium firestarter
- heat pouches
- wool army blanket – check out an army / navy surplus store
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