How much gear do You need to bring with you for a day in the bush
Determining how much gear 1 needs to bring into the outdoors with them depends a lot on the type of outing you plan on having? Each situation is different and would require slight variations in deciding what gear to choose. Always having on hand a pack full of items you would always take with you is handy and cuts down on preparation time, then adding some of the not so used items depending on your activity is made easy prior to spending time in the outdoors.
So 1st things first
I’ll get into longer overnight adventures in another blog post.
1st – what time of year is it? For the purpose of this blog because it’s winter time I will mostly be describing what I take along on my journeys in the bush during the winter months
So 1st Determine what activity you plan on doing? Sometimes my day trip is just a hike on a well travelled path so I may just bring a small pocket knife with me on a trip like that.
Weather it be
⁃ a kayak trip in a remote back lake where there is no civilization or very little.
⁃ The same kayak trip, but on a lake full of cottages and other people most likely nearby
⁃ How many people are you going with? or, are you going alone?
– what is the expected weather supposed to be? Rain, heat, cold, snow, ect…?
⁃ Are you just planning on going for a hike on a well travelled pathway? Or are you going bushwalking where you expect no human activity other than yourself?
⁃ Ice fishing the back lakes
There are a number of possibilities to take into consideration when thinking of what to take with you for the day.
So let’s be honest. In the majority of situations. The majority of people choosing to take day trips or hikes, will be close or near to civilization. I say the majority, because the majority of the population of people live in or near cities along the 401 corridor in Ontario and most city folks, although they may love to get out for a hike, bike, and or even a day of Kayaking, whatever their idea of fun might be? They tend to stick around close to their respective city. Usually within a 1/2 hour to 3/4 hour drive of their city limits. Well here in southern Ontario a half to 3/4 hour drive doesn’t really put you even close to being in remote areas where you’d be hard pressed to truly be alone in the bush. There are always parts of civilization close by.
To be honest around here within that drive time frame, if you really try and drive to an area that you think you could get lost, and I’m talking truly lost, the reality is, no matter what direction you decide to walk, as long as you head in a straight line, then within a mile or 2 chances are you will stumble across some sort of civilization. Weather it’s a cottage, or farmers field, or even the next closest town.
That said, I’m not saying that you can’t find yourself in sticky situations, I get myself in those all the time lol. Just yesterday Jan 4th 2021 for example.
Ok fine, it wasn’t a “sticky situation” but it definitely had the potential to be.
I went Ice fishing with my friend Rob on what I would call a remote lake for this area of our province. It’s a small lake south of Westport Ontario and from where we parked our vehicles (off the main road) it was about a 2KM hike through thick forested bush and the Rocky Canadian Shield just to get to the lake. Once on the lake, there is nothing around except for a small cottage that gets shut down for the season on top of a hill off in the distance.
Right there I can feel the people that live in northern Ontario chuckling at me thinking that I’m calling this spot remote.lol
But like I said for this area of Ontario, it is. Ok before I get into what we brought with us for the day let’s go over the scenario I was faced with yesterday.
⁃ 2 people
⁃ Ice fishing back lake
⁃ 1 gentleman who is a bit older with bad knees
⁃ Both gentlemen not in the best of shape
⁃ Gear we brought weighed about 150lb total weight ( mostly robs gear)
⁃ No cellular phone network available where we were
⁃ Uneven terrain going in and out
⁃ Heavily forested area lots of birch, sugar maple, poplar, spruce, & pine trees everywhere.
⁃ At trail from main road to lake. Is 2 km (ish)
Ok so the items above are the majority of concerns I took into consideration before We headed into the bush.
So the day before leaving home to go on this adventure is when the planning stage takes place.
Do you have the right gear for this particular outing?. I’ll always do this (go over what I might need, for any outing) even if I plan on going for a hike on a well occupied trail close to home.
Even if you are just walking in the downtown part of any city Even a small folding pocket knife that can strike a ferro rod can be a good idea.
So my first recommendation for any outing is picking the correct knife.
For our outing to the back lakes I chose my new KA-Bar- Becker BK-16 (see my review blog on this knife for specs) https://mathiasbushcraftingsurvival.wordpress.com/2022/01/05/knife-review-of-the-ka-bar-becker-series-bk-16/
. I also wanted to test out this knife a bit more. Just so you all know yesterday I put this knife to regular tasks that I put my knives through, (stripping bark, cutting, Batoning & splitting up to 4inch wood, sparking ferro rod, cooking tasks, and prying) and it performed flawlessly.
The other items we chose to bring need to get categorized and prioritized
⁃ preparing for trip
⁃ Survival gear selection
⁃ Non survival gear
I chose these categories in terms of importance in my mind
1st as mentioned above
⁃ preparation for the trip
This includes picking out where you are going before you leave home
⁃ 2 letting your partner know where you plan to be for the day and approx how long you plan to be away ( incase you don’t come back, a loved one can tell authorities where to start a search) writing down the closest location on paper so if in the event you do not come home then your partner isn’t trying to remember where it was you said you were going.
⁃ Selecting the right gear for the trip. If you need any last minute items then planning ahead should give you the time to get those items. For example: yesterday on my outing I needed bait, so I had to run out and get some.
Also preparing in advance you can make a few food items the day before so your not in a rush in the morning.
SURVIVAL GEAR SELECTION
Ok choosing the right gear to take in terms of emergency situations is pretty crucial. Of course this is just a day trip to a fairly remote fishing lake so not as much gear is needed but still some important items should always be taken in my personal opinion when heading to the bush.
These day pack items include but are not limited to the following
⁃ day pack ( rugged enough to be in the woods) or bum bag to carry gear in
⁃ survival or bushcraft knife and sheath
⁃ Fire making tools. (Magnesium stick& flint) -(sure a lighter is always welcome but when they get wet or too cold then they are not great tools for fire making.) Magnesium can be soaking wet and still spark easily
( follow the link to check out my blog on Fire making to see what’s in my fire making kit). https://mathiasbushcraftingsurvival.wordpress.com/2022/01/05/fire-in-the-woods-with-my-family/
⁃ Plastic water carrier (canteen)
⁃ Metal cooking cup, (my canteen fits into my cooking cup) shown in front pocket of my pack in picture below
⁃ Some para-cord or some type of cordage approx 20ft in length should suffice 50 ft is best. In my gear, my sheath holds 20ft of orange para cord. Plus I have an additional 20 to 30ft in a small pouch along with another 30 ft of small gauge wire. (I use orange in place of bringing a bandana incase I need a distress signalling tool.) the wire is usually used for making log stoves (shown in one of the pics blow.)
⁃ And if you think you have the room a bush saw the bigger the better but a folding saw around 21 to 24 inch saw blade that folds into a stick easily tied to the outside of your pack or one that you can put on a belt are best. If you’re just planning on a hike then this item is not necessary. (Mine was not shown in pic above as it, and my spud bar are still in my car) below is a pic of my smaller folding bush saw I pack with me.
So as you know many of these items listed above are worn on my belt and my person and not in my pack accept for canteen and cooking cup and of course the back pack which is self explanatory lol.
These are the basic items I would normally carry on my person to head into the bush for a days worth of activity.
NON SURVIVAL GEAR
These will be the items you need to carry on your person for the day’s activities which are not crucial to survival. These items are generally pack items
⁃ wallet or identification
⁃ Car/house keys
⁃ A small fishing tackle box and license
⁃ Fishing Rod and holder, You can make these 2 items in the bush but if you have the room in your pack then it’s easier to bring it
⁃ A spud (not a pack item) ( A spud is used to check for safe ice) it can also be used as a walking stick and you can chip out a fishing hole in the ice with it in place of an auger. I’ve even chipped away at the ice with a knife before. It can be done but I do not recommend it.
⁃ Some aluminum foil possibly for a makeshift cooking pan if needed?
⁃ And a couple grocery bags (to take garbage and or fish home in.
As far as clothing goes the more layers you wear the better, if you can walk comfortably and if you have to strip layers off that you can still carry them easily. Then you are good, remember during winter conditions wool is the warmest clothing and will keep heat in even when wet. However can cause sweating easily. (Which can be very dangerous in cold weather and can cause hypothermia and lead to death. It is also itchy on the skin. so I suggest cotton next to your skin
⁃ cotton under shirt
⁃ Wool sweater
⁃ And weather resistant coat
⁃ Wool/cotton mix socks
⁃ And an extra set of socks for your back pack
⁃ A toque
⁃ Orange bandanna
⁃ Proper boots to the conditions expected
So far there is not much in your back pack yet and you should still have plenty of room with a 20L back pack
Up to now most of the items suggested are worn on your body or take up very little room in your pack. So f you want to keep it light then that’s all you need. Otherwise you can throw some extra items of food, or a couple other items in there for survival such as a tarp or folding shovel anything you think might be beneficial to your outing?
Ok now that you have most of what you are bringing all collected, you must know what type of transportation into the bush you will be travelling with? Do you have a vehicle? What size is the vehicle can I add carrying options to a vehicle to be able to take more gear.?
or maybe your just walking in. This will make all the difference in the world of what items you’d going to bring in with you.
If I had an ATV, UTV, Jeep, or snowmobile with us yesterday I would have considered so many other options like a chain saw or a fishing hut ect.. but for yesterday’s exercise we would be walking and carrying a homemade sled on skis.
With this added bonus of a pull behind sled my friend Rob and I carried way more than we should have but it was nice to have the added comforts on the frozen lake. (Like that auger)
You must now decide what food to bring, or if you plan on bringing any food at all?
I believe it is always smart to carry water on your person however food is a different story.
I think it’s always a good idea heading to the bush to carry some food, candy bar, energy bar, apples ect…
However yesterday, I carried in with me personally,pre-made sandwiches heated over the fire, a can of soup, coffee, and water. It was plenty of food for the day and fed the both of us for lunch.
In the past I have made log stoves to heat up a pan to fry fish on or even just to make some bush tea. It is the perfect little bushcraft idea that helps get something warm on the inside while it warms you up on the outside too. I usually do this if there isn’t a fire pit or an uneven surface to cook on.
If we had run into trouble we did catch fish and would have had plenty of food with us to tide us over for some time.
I don’t generally spend to much time on overnights outdoors in the winter, but because I do spend time in the bush on much of my time off work I do think it’s a good idea to know what you should do if you find yourself in a situation where you might have to spend a night or to stick in the bush. Would you know what to do? Could your survive if you had to?
Practicing these skills may save your life one day if your anything like me and love going on outdoor adventures any time of the year. one of these days I’ll be going into the woods again to practice so stay tuned for more outdoors adventures with yours truly.
This is not a blog about trying to be the next Less Stroud, Bear Grills or even YouTuber Joe Robinet, this is just about being prepared for the outdoors, some food for thought and with my personal experience of being an outdoorsman these are just some of the things I do to prepare for a day trip and spending some good quality time in the outdoors.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.