I’d like to be able to tell people that I’ve never been lost, confused, misplaced or just stuck out overnight away from my camp before but that would be a lie! If the truth were to be told, I find myself stuck out overnight a few times each year but it has been a long time since I’ve been stuck out overnight without having my pack and survival gear with me. This is due to the fact that the only time I now spend a night in the woods away from camp is because I’ve downed an animal and it’s easier just to stay on it for the night. So this is more of a choice and not a survival situation.
Just to make things clear, when I say stuck out overnight I’m talking about staying the night in the wilderness away from camp with whatever day hunt gear I have in my pack and no tent/sleeping bag/sleep system. In this scenario I’m living life pretty well, as I have enough items in my backpack to stay in a relatively high amount of comfort. But what if I didn’t have my pack and all I had was what I had inside my pants pockets? Could I make it in comfort like the mountain men of old or would I just make it like a modern day city slicker and tell everyone about my near-death adventure in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains when I returned home?
Unless you’re dealing with a major injury or extreme weather conditions, just about anyone can suffer through one night in the wilderness. But, suffering sucks and I prefer being in some amount of comfort even when stuck away from most of my gear for the night.
So what would happen if you or I were stranded away from all of our gear and had to survive for a night or two in the wild? I can tell you from firsthand experience that the comfort level of this overnight survival experience would highly depend on what items I’ve got in my pockets at that time. For example, as I sit at my desk and type this article I don’t have much for survival gear – wallet, Copenhagen, knife and chewing gum. The knife would obviously be a huge benefit and the Copenhagen (if you ask my friends) could be something I need to keep me alive but after that I’d be in deep caca. Let’s face it, less than 1% of the planet can sustain themselves with just a knife for long periods of time, so if you were stuck out overnight with just a knife, you’d basically be a guy suffering with a knife in his pocket for 8-12 hours.
Since most of us aren’t MacGyver and starting a fire with a couple sticks is probably not an option either, what would be your five items of choice to have in your pants pockets when stuck out overnight in a survival situation? To keep things simple, lets say it’s just one night and you’ll be able to hike back to your truck in the morning. This means there’s no need for search and rescue and you’re just looking for the most comfort you can get out of a crappy situation.
Flint & Steel (Heat/Warmth) – You’re wanting to stay as comfortable as you can and a fire is always at the top of my list for that. My primary method that never fails me for building a fire is a flint and steel combined with a Trioxane tablet. The flint and steel will start the Trioxane and the Trioxane will start the fire.
Multitool/Knife – For obvious reasons, you want to have a knife or multitool on you at all times anyway but they can be really handy in survival situations. They can be used for anything from field repair to firewood and just about anything else you can think of.
Food – You won’t be able to fit a five-course meal in your pockets but a protein bar or some jerky will fit just fine. Eating not only helps with energy, but does wonders for your metal state as well.
Headlamp – In this scenario you’re going to be hiking back to the truck when the sun comes, so you won’t be using the headlamp for nighttime navigation. You will however, be using it for gathering firewood and it will also be of great value to your mental stability and emotional state of mind.
A few things that you should always have with you, and these items take up no space in your pockets, are the will to live, common sense and a good attitude. These three things in any survival situation will be as or more important than anything that you can fit inside your pockets. As long as you stay calm and make the best of the situation you’re faced with, you’ll be just fine when the morning comes.