What you need, not what you want- Living in the Bush Pt 3
There have been a number of emails I’ve received asking about what I carry in the bush. Stay alive gear not the typical comfort camping items.
It doesn’t matter what you are doing off the pavement. You can be hunting, fishing, hiking, your job could take you away from your norm…..whatever you are doing and find yourself suddenly in a serious, life threatening situation.
I also am well aware a pack weighing 60 lbs is much more likely to be left in the truck ,which unless you are experiencing a vehicle break down, will likely be left behind.
This is not what I am talking about, at all.
My pack, I carry when I get out of my truck weighs very little compared to the couch potato BOB posted everywhere.
It is stripped down and naked, stay alive gear. No fluff, no frosting, just what I NEED if I’m stuck in the bush over night or longer.
I have stolen, blatantly, ideas from other people. I’ve tested and trashed a few ideas of my own, and of other people as well. And I ask those who I respect their opinion concerning surviving where
Some I’ve found works for me, some I’ve found in my environment is total crap.
What you need, not what you want
This should be obvious, but this is the number 1 killer out here. No one is exempt, I was working in my yard recently and felt the first stages of dehydration effecting me.
What was pointed out to me, which I had forgotten is water filters freeze in cold weather. My MSR would not do well frozen. I can’t find a filter in my research which would function frozen so an additional method of purifying water I feel is necessary when I am operating in cold weather.
Yes, Northern Az gets plenty cold enough to freeze a water filter at night. And Southern Az at high altitude does as well. During winter months anyway.
So my alternative method for purifying water is Bleach.
1-2 drops per quart( or liter) will kill all the bugs in clear water in 15 minutes. I use a small dropper bottle,
and it rides in a large pill bottle so if it leaks I don’t turn my pack or clothes orange. If you are operating in extreme cold carry the bottle in your pocket, inside your jacket.
Packed carefully, and kept upright for sanity, Bleach works well as a purifier and more important, everyone has Bleach in their household so there is no special purchase and storage needed.
How much water? I carry a minimum of 4 liters, which is double what other people recommend. The difference here is I drink water constantly, and I want a buffer if I don’t find a natural source while I am off the pavement.
The trick is to look for windmills, the old style on metal towers. They look just like the windmill in the Wizard of OZ, at the beginning.
Why? Because they work and are still produced. But sometimes they arent pumping water.
Three things are possibly happening.
1) The well is dry- you are hosed. This is why I carry a larger amount of water as a buffer. Never count on a water source out here.
2) The mill isnt pointing the right way. This happens a lot, not really a big deal. Carefully climb up and turn it by hand into the wind. The tail must be pointed downwind for it to work.
Be carefull. Most of these towers have been up since the 50’s at least, many are much older. Ranchers will deliberatly turn mills to stop pumping if there is no stock in the area, to conserve water.
3) If the mill is turned away from the wind and is locked, to keep from pumping, you arent done yet.
First, take a good long look at the platform for maintenance on the tower. Make sure its secure and not rusted through. You have a long drop and a sudden stop if you aren’t careful so get this through your head. In this case gravity is not your friend.
Turn the blade section manually until water starts flowing out of the pipe, keep turning until about 10 gallons have flowed from the down spout, so the water in the pipes which has been stagnant is pushed out and good fresh water has begun to flow.
Another thing, you can cut off your own fingers with one of these mills, if the wind catches the blades and gets them turning on thier own. Pay attention to what you are doing here.
I still use my filter on water I find in these wells, especially if I get water from the tanks under the tower. If it is flowing freely out of the well, you are probably safe, but it only takes a second more to run it through the filter, and is safer.
And again, 1-2 drops of bleach in clear water will make sure.
Disclaimer- If you are stupid and fall, get the shits from bad water, or just generally mess yourself up you are on your own. YOU are responsible and I am not a baby sitter.
You should probably not be off the pavement anyway if understanding this is an issue.
2) Maintain your body temperature
This comes with a few steps. Mostly avoiding Hypothermia, which I have pointed out in other posts happens most often in temperatures ranging from 50-70 degrees F.
Staying dry is paramount. So, a lightweight set of packable rain gear is a non negotiable item. Surplus Gore-Tex is literally so cheap in camo patterns you can get a complete set for under $60 online. There is no excuse if you are wet, its your fault.
Merino wool Underwear, kept in a small dry bag fits at the bottom of your bag in cooler temps, and is a life saver when you need it. It insulates when wet, doesn’t itch and is one piece of gear you cannot afford to be without. Poly pro is an acceptable substitute but I know wool is a better bet for my own life.
A knit hat and 2 prs of gloves round out this kit.
Dry underwear, a poncho liner and a Bivy sack will keep your body temp from falling dangerously low in MOST situations. A lightweight sleeping bag carried in cold weather, rated for Zero Degrees F compressed tight in a stuff sack, is my winter month option. If you don’t have a bivy, a poncho and bungees is the other option.
Without the bivy, your poncho liner should be tied inside a second poncho, so you have added wind resistance. A “Ranger Taco” is a good idea and never say I didn’t go cheap when necessary. A poncho, a heavy weight quilted space blanket, with grommets attached and then a poncho liner tied up as a sleeping bag configuration is an option for the knowledgeable.
For clarity because there is always that 10%. You get the wet clothes off, get into dry clothes in your shelter and get warm and have a hot drink. You can change clothes inside a bivy. Yes you can, you just need the right motivation to not die.
A cup, or small pot and butane stove to heat water. A hot drink will raise your core temperature, but if it is raining hard some type of cover for the pot will be necessary during heating the contents. Not a big deal but rarely seen on ” experts” lists.
Obviously a poncho hootch will preclude needing a pot cover, a bivy bag will make getting under cover faster. Try both and decide what works for you. This isn’t camping, its staying alive. Don’t mistake the difference.
3) A BOO BOO kit
This is not a trauma bag, does not contain sutures, IV needles etc . If you are in bad enough shape you need any of that, your responding ambulance will be well supplied….
Its a kit for you, when you have an oops.
Mole skin and Tincture of Benzoine if you are blister prone or just feel like it’s a good idea. I carry it, for what its worth.
Either roll it up in a freezer bag, then wrap in duct tape, or if you just can’t stand it, buy a small Otter box type container and run with that. You are carrying it, not me.
I carry mine in the arm pocket of my smock.
I like the 2 serving freeze dried meals you can get from everybody. I can carry 3-7 days easily. If you don’t want so much, get some power bar type food. Jerky, and nuts packaged in bags are another favorite of mine. Tea bags, dehydrated soup, hot cocoa, anything to warm your core temperature is good. I would avoid caffeine unless you just don’t have anything else.
You do not need more than 1 or 2 days equivalent. This is a stay alive bag, not a bob or whatever else you feel good about calling it. This is an unscheduled over night bag so whatever comfort food you like is a good idea.
Get real here guys. Stop making this a decision like you had when you got married. Find a pack you like, it holds what you need, not just want, and get on with your life.
Mine are 3V, Kifaru, ALICE Med and Large, and who knows what else. It depends on the load, the size and what I am doing.
This bag is an addition to your normal every day carry of a large blade and fire kit.
If you have a smock kit this makes it easier as well. Just grab your heavy blade with attached kit, your smock and pack. Your spoon and a roll of TP should not even be on the list, you should have it in any circumstance..
Things I left out? The most glaring is communication gear. Why? Because it rides in my smock already. Flashlight? In my smock. Compass? There are 2, in my smock.
So the list
1) Water and a way to purify it
2) Gore Tex set and a shelter, either a bivy or poncho hootch. Poncho liner or Ranger Taco and your long underwear. Add a small butane stove and fuel bottle. Less than a pound and no hassle heat.
3) Boo Boo Kit
4) Food, snacks and munchies. Comfort foods especially. Tea bags and sugar if you like in a heavy plastic bag. Dehydrated soup or hot cocoa. Remember you have to wash your cup somehow. A cup or small pot. If you carry freeze dried meals make sure your pot holds enough to rehydrate your meal with 1 filling. All of this will fit inside your pot when packing your ruck.
5) Pack- pick one for gods sake and get on with life.
THAT’S IT!!!!! Anything else you carry is just weight
So this is it, my off the pavement kit for every day carry.
What you need, not what you want- Living in the Bush Pt 3
My thanks again to the crew at USRSOG.net for their input and support. They are the real deal