What do you carry when out in the wilds?

Some basic items should always be in the woodsman’s gear bag at all times.

Here are my thoughts on what you should carry in the wilds.

Wandering around in the wilds we may find ourselves many miles from supplies and help in a bad situation. What you have in your pockets and in your pack might be the difference between life and death. In a not so serious situation, the trip out to nature might be a whole lot more enjoyable when properly prepared. I have been an outdoorsman running the wilds for well over 3 decades and have learned a thing or two from experiences good and bad alike. I will break down my ideas for a proper gear list in different outdoor scenarios typically associated with our pursuits when in the wilds.

Out for a walk

When out simply for a walk I look at the longest distance I will travel and how far away from help it may be. First off always bring a fully charged cell phone. Next a small poncho is great for keeping the rain off during a sudden downpour. It also doubles as something to sit on or a makeshift shelter. Cordage packed often is in the form of the ultra tough 550 paracord. The multiple strands inside of the outer sheath itself all make great use while out in the bush. A dependable compass must always make the trip with also a GPS with fully charged batteries and spares too. Remember you might know your way around the woods but a GPS is great for marking finds for later visits. Always have multiple ways to start a fire. Carry a magnesium firestarter, Zippo lighter, butane lighter (my favorite), waterproof matches or some other such means to light a fire in emergency situations. Be sure you practice with fire starters you bring to be prepared. A Swiss army knife, multi-tool or other handy edged knife is always a must have anywhere off the pavement. Oh yes and always carry a plastic shopping bag for whatever you find on your walk (nuts, berries, etc.). Make sure snacks and drink also are on your gear list. Bug repellent and a head net in the summer is a life saver. A whistle can signal help when your voice is done. Pack these items in a light shoulder bag, backpack or waist bag (fanny pack). Think about a means of protecting yourself also with pepperspray or a handgun. Check all laws before packing your personal defense items.


Hunters require the above items but with some added gear. Along with the usual bow or firearm you carry be sure to bring extra arrows or ammunition. Running out or arrows or bullets on a hunt would be very embarrassing. An extra jacket, a warm hat and gloves are a must for the stand hunter. Only put these on when in the stand to avoid overheating on the walk in and developing the heat sapping sweat that will plague you later. A proper butt cushion will keep your butt warm from the cold and wet ground. Binoculars or at least a monocular allow for eagle vision. Remember concealment from game is key in many hunting pursuits along with blaze orange safety clothing for hunter safety. A sharp skinning knife is a must have along with bags or a game bag for your harvest. Hand wipes are great for quick and easy clean up after dressing game. Get the scent free wipes of course.


If you are a shore fisherman nothing beats the old five gallon bucket. Get one with the screw top lid for slosh-less carry. It’s great to sit on and bring home catch in. Do you have a long walk to your fishing hole way back in the woods? Pack light with just a light assortment that covers what you will need just for that location. Leave that big boat tackle box in the truck. A collapsible fishing rod is great to pack in and out and is out of the way when not in use (and not broken).

Other activities

This classification would go for camping, trapping, birding and geo-caching among others. Use the above gear picks as a beginning point.

You will notice I did not include hatchet, bowie knife or other heavier item. For most of our outdoor adventures such heavier equipment choices are not a joy to pack for the occasional use. If you are in the deep northwoods of Alaska I would change that thought but for the rest of us it works out well. Pack light and useful, then you will enjoy your wilderness experience without a sore back from an over packed rucksack. You can fine tune your selections with use. Get outside and enjoy our great outdoors no matter what sport you pursue.

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