I am a huge fan of the survivalist scene. I love to read just about everything I can on it and watch a ton of videos. Most of them it is sad to say simply have no clue. The way I grew up we didn’t call it survivalist training or prepping. We called it life. Growing up relatively poor in the South you learn to prepare for everything.
I have often given advice on knives and tools for the survival minded person. I have even taught a few classes on surviving in the woods with minimal gear. Being a hunter and one who enjoys being in nature as far away from people as he can get I must by necessity be a knowledgeable survivalist as does any serious outdoors person. The chances of accidents are far too great when you are in the field. A hundred yards away from the truck might as well be a mile if your leg is broken or you are bitten by a Timber Rattler if you are not mentally and physically as prepared as you can be. But equally as important as your mental and physical preparedness is your gear you have on hand. If saddled with a serious injury or even just becoming turned around in the woods and lost can be far less stressful if you pack a few essentials in your day pack. Now I must stress to everyone that you should never venture out for a hunt or hike without at least a minimalist pack.
When I set up a minimalist pack I start with my first aid kit. Picking the right first aid kit can be difficult. I prefer to make my own but there are some great commercially available ones that are very affordable. I start off my kit with my medications. Before heading out I always put a 2-day supply of whatever prescription meds I am taking in a water tight container with a slip of paper in it with the medicinal information on it. Being without blood pressure or diabetic medications can be fatal. Also this may be a life and death situation if you are rescued and unconscious. You don’t want to be given emergency care which will react adversely with your meds. Next, I like to put a good number of adhesive bandages of varying sizes along with alcohol wipes and an antibiotic ointment. This can be a game changer. Small cuts and scrapes can become infected allowing a small scratch to become a big problem.
I then like to put a few paper towels in a baggy. Paper towels can be used for any of a dozen things including wound compression amongst its obvious usages. I carry both a cheap butane lighter and waterproof matches in a baggy. In another baggy I like to have some petroleum jelly and cotton balls. I like to saturate the cotton balls with the petroleum jelly. These make starting a fire easy. You never realized how hard starting a fire can be until you try it with a broken arm or leg or maybe while soaking wet in 40 degree temps.
Next up I always have 3 space blankets with me. They only cost a few dollars and take up almost no room. You may ask why pack 3? Wouldn’t one be enough?
I pack 3 because it is common sense. If you must shelter up for a night you may have to use one blanket to facilitate a covering to keep rain or even just the night off of you. More than that, having a shelter even a space blanket tied between two trees is a huge psychological boost. Then the second blanket can be used to lay upon to shield your body from the cold and possibly wet ground. Which can quickly rob you of critical body heat. The third blanket can then be used to cover ones self with. Other than these reasons you also may need to use one to make a signal for rescuers etc.
My next day pack must have is a poncho. You can buy cheap throw away ponchos for less than 5 bucks at any sporting goods store. Many times I have been caught in an unexpected rain shower. You don’t have to be in a thunderstorm to be damp and dangerously miserable. Even a small light sprinkle can get your clothing wet enough to allow hypothermia. If your body temp drops below 95 degrees then you are in serious danger.
My last few items are no brainers in any pack. I like to put a small folding knife and sharpener along with a fixed blade knife capable of rougher service. A roll of nylon twine like we use for trotlining or some paracord goes in as well. A bottle of water and a few energy bars go in next. I like to buy the bars in the body building department of my store. They generally have far more calories, vitamins and minerals in them than do just plain granola bars.
This is just a few things I put in a day pack for when I am not expecting to be out more than a few hours. my packs for extended stays in the woods are far more detailed. You can customize your packs as you want or need. Terrain and climate play a huge part in what you carry with you. I carry other things in my pack so this is just a quick rundown of some of them to give you an idea about what you might think about keeping handy for those OH CRAP situations.