When heading into the backcountry there are some essentials you should always have with you. Even if you only plan to head out for a day trip you need to bring these essentials incase something unexpected occurs.
1. Navigation: This could be one of the most important backcountry survival essentials. You will want to always have a compass on you and it would be beneficial to have a map in the area as well. Getting lost in the wilderness is where a lot of people get in trouble, these small but important items can stops backcountry problems before they even occur. We recommend the Cammenga Model 27CS Olive Drab Lensatic Compass, this is the compass we use anytime we travel into the backcountry and have found that it really holds up well to a lot of abuse.
2. Insulation: It might be 70 degrees and sunny when you set out but as everyone should know by now, weather can change drastically and can change very fast. You will want to have some extra layers in your pack that will allow you to quickly adapt to many different weather conditions. Some of these items would include, rain gear, a fleece jacket or vest, and some sort of wicking long underwear.
3. Fire: If you get stranded out in the backcountry you are going to need a fire. You will want some sort of fire starter in your pack and it is also recommended that you keep something in a pant or shirt pocket as well. We like to always carry some waterproof matches on us but never rely on them alone. We always have a secondary way of starting a fire as well. Remember fire is important, don’t forget your starter!
4. Knife: This one is a must no matter how long you are heading out for. There are so many different uses for a good knife in a survival situation that it is a must carry. And when we say carry we aren’t talking about in your pack. Your knife should always be on you and never stored in your pack. Your knife is something you shouldn’t try to “save” on, it is one of the most important survival items you can carry and a cheap one could do you more harm than good. We always carry the A1 Army Survival Knife, it is one of the best knives on the market and you can’t go wrong with it in a survival situation.
5. Emergency Shelter: If you are taking more then a day trip into the backcountry than you should always have a decent tent and sleeping bag with you. However, for both extended trips and day trips you should always have some sort of backup shelter with you. When we say backup shelter we are talking about an Emergency Reflective Blanketand possibly even a tarp if you have the space.
6. Food & Water: These items are very important and should always be with you, even if it is just a short couple hour trip. You will want to bring water with you on the start of your trip for sure, but you also need to bring some sort of water filtration for any survival situation. One thing to remember, if you want to skip the water filtration you can go with the easiest method of them all, Boil your Water! You also want to bring some emergency food supplies with you. A great item to bring is some Mountain House Freeze Dried Food, this food is not only light to carry and easy to cook but it is actually pretty tasty as well. Included with your food and water should be something that can be used to both gather water and boil it.
7. First-aid Kit: If you are out in the backcountry and get hurt in someway you want to make sure you have at least a small first aid kitto take care of whatever injury you may have. Most first-aid kits are relatively small and can be purchased for a decent price. Make sure to include this in your pack.
8. Everything Else: These are extras that are good to have and could come in very handy. Paracordis an item we always have in our pack. There are so many uses for paracord in a survival situation that it should really be listed as its own category. Sunscreen is another item that a lot of people like to take out with them in the backcountry. Sunburn is not something we would want to be dealing with during a survival situation. And one last controversial item would be a small firearm. Some people hate the idea of going backpacking with a firearm while others never go into the backcountry without one. We happen to believe that it is an essential survival item and something that could really help you in a survival situation.