Go off the grid, and things can get ugly pronto. You need a kit that’s easy to carry and packed with everything you need to weather a three-day blow or a busted femur.
Pack It In: The 6.10 Vertical Pouch from 5.11 Tactical Jim Golden
The 6.10 Vertical Pouch from 5.11 Tactical is as straightforward as it is 1000-denier tough. Molded zipper pulls make for fast opening, and it’s MOLLE-compatible—which makes it easy to connect the first-aid kit to the outside for quick access (511tactical.com).
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter Jim Golden
Purifying water doesn’t get any simpler than a LifeStraw: Insert into a cesspool. Drink. The filter removes waterborne viruses and protozoa including giardia and cryptosporidium.
2. 3×5-inch glass mirror
3×5-inch glass survival mirror Jim Golden
Pack a 3×5-inch glass mirror for maximum flash.
Lash the Kinetic Gig Spear stainless-steel two-tine spearhead to a shaft, and the wild is your grocery store.
4. Sharpie Pen
Leave a note with a Sharpie pen, and the permanent ink won’t run in the rain. While you’re waiting for aid, use the pen to turn a sleeping pad or spare T‑shirt into a checkerboard. Stones and sticks stand in for the checkers. For good measure, wrap 10 feet of duct tape around the marker.
5. Parachute Cord
30 feet of parachute cord Jim Golden
Have 30 feet of parachute cord for the basics, and add 30 feet of No. 36 tarred bank line for increased utility. The slightly tacky marine line holds knots more tightly than p-cord and won’t absorb water.
6. SOL Survival Blanket
SOL Survival Blanket Jim Golden
Supercharge the space blanket category with a 5×8-foot SOL Survival Blanket. Pitch it like a tarp or wrap up burrito-style.
7. Kestrel Drop D3
Kestrel Drop D3 Jim Golden
The Bluetooth-enabled Kestrel Drop D3 environmental logger feeds temperature, humidity, altitude, and barometric-pressure data to your smartphone. Consider it an early bug-out warning system.
8. Cannded Wild Salmon or Mackerel
Canned wild salmon or mackerel tastes good and is rich in protein and healthy fats—perfect survival grub.
9. Morakniv Garber
Bash, gouge, and dig with the Morakniv Garberg‘s 3.2mm-thick blade. The handle is nearly unbreakable, and the ground spine’s angle shaves tinder like soap and showers sparks.
10. Hunter’s Trauma Kit
Backcountry travelers need more than bandages. The small Hunter’s Trauma Kit includes a battlefield-tested SOF Tactical Tourniquet, a nonadherent petroleum gauze dressing and pressure bandage, antibacterial ointment, smaller bandages, and lip balm. It’s a great foundation, but cover more catastrophes by adding a SAM splint from Sawyer Products, an antihistamine, and an epinephrine auto-injector to your first-aid supplies.
Power-Up Tip: Goal Zero Flip 20
Goal Zero Flip 20 recharger Jim Golden
Goal Zero’s Flip 20 recharger will rejuvenate most smartphones and USB-equipped headlamps at least twice (goalzero.com).
12. Garmin Foretrex 401 wrist GPS
Garmin Foretrex 401 Jim Golden
As a backup to your compass, bring a Garmin Foretrex 401 wrist GPS to point your way home (garmin.com).
13. Starbucks Via instant coffee
Starbucks Via Instant Coffee Jim Golden
Every situation seems a little less grim with a cup of decent java. Starbucks Via instant coffee packs are a backcountry godsend.
14. Spot Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp Jim Golden
The waterproof Spot headlamp sports finger-tap beam adjustments and a light-up-the-night 200-lumens beam. A fail-safe lock prevents the battery from draining if you accidentally turn it on.
15. The Cammenga Destinate Tritium Portractor
The Cammenga Destinate Tritium Protractor Jim Golden
The Cammenga Destinate Tritium Protractor is the Humvee of compasses. Six tritium microlights glow like kryptonite. There are four map scales, plus a map magnifying glass and waterproof and shockproof housing.
16. Titan Stormproof Matches Kit
Titan Stormproof Matches Kit Jim Golden
The Titan Stormproof Matches Kit contains wind- and waterproof matches that stay lit even after a dunking. Add a Pathfinder Glowing Survival Fire Steel as a 3,000-degree spark option; you can store tinder in the handle.
17. The Gen3 Stainless-Steel Cup
The Gen3 stainless-steel cup has folding handles and a perforated strainer lid; it serves as a pot you can set on a stove or hang over a fire thanks to predrilled bail holes.
18. Spot Gen3
The Spot Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger Jim Golden
When it’s bad enough to hail the choppers, the Spot Gen3 is a lifeline to the satellites. There’s one-button SOS to 9-1-1 responders, preprogrammed text messaging, and a tracking application that allows family to monitor your progress.
A pack full of lifesavers for the hardcore hunter.
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Styling by Beverly James Neel