If you could only carry two things in the bush, what would they be?

Now I mean: if you suddenly found yourself there, having fallen out of a boat, after a plane crash which you miraculously survived – or if you were just magically transported there from your living room in just your shorts.

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Hauroko Burn Dusky Track Fiordland NZ.

I think they should be things which you could just always have in your pockets if ever such an eventuality happened. So helicopters, motorbikes, flamethrowers, satellite phones and delectable members of the opposite sex are out – OK?

I’ll just leave you a minute to think about it…

There are lots of things which might come in handy, aren’t there?

Many of you will have read the (children’s) novel ‘Hatchet’ by Gary Paulson or seen the film based on it (‘A Cry in the Wild’ 1990). A hatchet might be handy – or a knife? What sort of knife? Folks of my generation no doubt recall ‘Hatchet’ was (loosely) based on Robert Heinlein’s novella ‘Tunnel in the Sky’ about a group of future scouts sent to a wilderness area on a far planet as a survival test – both excellent reads – as well as providing various suggested answers to my introductory question.

Heinlein would have voted ‘knife’ pretty high up any list. If only I had said ‘five things’. Or ten! This is how your pack gets filled up with all sorts of junk and ends up weighing half as much as you do!

By now you are all recalling all the other ‘castaway’ books and films you have known. It all started with Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ (a must-read if you haven’t yet) or maybe with Mesopotamia’s ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ (likewise). There have been so many versions. The theme is clearly a primal plot-line. ‘Robinson Crusoe’. ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. The list goes on and on…We all love these wilderness tales.

You might say, ‘It all depends on the season’. Well, No. It does not. Your experience may be different in different seasons it is true. More folks die of cold in the wilds than from any other single thing. Exposure can strike in any season. We nearly lost some clients a few years ago who decided to come down to buy some sheep by coming over the ‘hump’ from Jamieson to Licola in midsummer. They found themselves bogged in a 60cm snowdrift! Blizzards can occur at any time in the High Country. Fortunately for them they were smokers. Be careful. You might not survive giving up the durries.

If it comes in cold and wet you can suddenly be very cold. The coldest I have ever been was when I was 16 coming back from a droving trip in Western NSW for Xmas at Lake Macquarie. I had for several months been following a vast mob of sheep all over Western NSW on my horse camping each night on the roadside (the ‘Long Paddock’) or in the travelling stock reserves under the ‘supply wagon’ – with ‘at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars’ as Clancy of the Overflow opined. Coming home for Xmas over ‘The Range’ west of Murrurrundi it was snowing. Hard. Only the second time I had ever seen the white stuff. I was riding home on my 90cc Bridgestone motorcycle. Remember them? I was wearing only shorts and a Tee shirt! When I got to Murrurundi I bought a big bag of hot chips to thaw out my frozen hands which were very close to being frost-bitten (it was the only thing I could think of!). Then I was able to eat them. Multiple use. A very important quality.

Very few get a chance to starve to death. It takes too long. Six weeks. Some die of thirst. A week? Some are killed by fire. Many fall, or drown. Others (a tiny few) are attacked by wild animals. The greatest number die of stupidity – or ignorance. They are the same thing, really.

A bazooka might come in handy if you just suddenly find yourself on the planet of the carnivorous elephantine monsters – but it might be better to hide! You will run out of ammo eventually anyway. Should you carry a gun? But what if it rains? What if there’s a fire? A warm coat perhaps?

Remember though that people have lived on this continent for many thousands of years carrying much less than you could probably easily fit in your pockets. And they didn’t even have pockets! But carrying some essential knowledge between their ears which you might not have. Perhaps a book on survival? Well, read one anyway. Nothing you carry in your head will be cheating.

I recommend Ray Mears’ ‘The Survival Handbook’. This guy has trained the SAS for years and years. He has taken extreme trouble to really work out how to do it. All. He has also made a number of TV programmes about related matters. Get hold of them. So much better than Bear Gryls. In one episode he makes a long bow (with stone tools which he first makes), a string for it, then the arrows, arrow heads, glue and binding for the arrow heads, then the fletching. Then he stalks and harvests a red deer, butchers and cooks it with a heap of other things he has collected from the wild. This guy survives with style!

So what would I take?

I would opt for a mini Bic lighter and a mylar poncho. The ability to light a fire (either to keep warm or to backburn to create a refuge during a wildfire) is really essential. Remember more people die of cold than anything else. Again the mylar poncho. Coghlans have one. (http://www.coghlans.com/products/emergency-survival-poncho-1390) So should you, ever in your daypack or pocket. It will keep you dry and warm. If you have to stay out all night you can hunker down in it like a mini tent (as illustrated here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/) – with a warm fire out the front to make your disaster experience just about perfect! You will have plenty of time to figure out food, water, finding your way home & etc whilst you sit dry in front of a warm fire. Tomorrow is another day!

The Coghlans poncho comes in a snap-lock bag to keep your lighter dry. Make sure you have bought teh reflective silver foil one which will retain 80% of your body heat as ell as keeping you dry. There is also some card to act as tinder. If you should find yourself in this position you should immediately begin to collect other dry  tinder and fire starting materials, and seek/or construct a shelter

Oh, and my third thing would be a knife! http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-felt-quite-rich-when-i-found-my-knife-flint-and-steel-in-my-shot-pouch/

Some other useful posts (in no particular order):

Improvised Bow Saw: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/improvised-bow-saw/

Finding Your Way: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/finding-your-way/

Foot Care: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/foot-care/

Carry a Knife: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/

How to Light A Fire In the Wet: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/

Insects can ruin a camping trip: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/

River Crossings: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/river-crossings/

How to avoid being wet & cold while camping. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-avoid-being-wet-cold-while-camping/

An Open Shelter: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/an-open-shelter/

Catching Your Breath – Walking Uphill: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/catching-your-breath-walking-uphill/

Cookset Woes: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/

Ultralight Pack: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack/

The Egg-Ring Ultralight Wood Burner Stove: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/

A Soft Pillow and a Warm Bed Under the Stars: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-soft-pillow-and-a-warm-bed-under-the-stars/

Tent Stakes and Tricks: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tent-stakes-and-tricks/

The Importance of a Roof: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/

Rope – Don’t leave home without it: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rope-dont-leave-home-without-it/

We can choose to do anything: Free Will/Determinism: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/free-willdeterminism/

Inflatable Insulated Clothing: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/

If you could only carry two things in the bush, what would they be? http://www.theultralighthiker.com/if-you-could-only-carry-two-things-in-the-bush-what-would-they-be/

Hole-less Poncho/Shelter/Hammock Tarp: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/

Pitching the Poncho: Warning: This may save your life: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/

Why you should get your feet wet when hiking. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/why-you-should-get-your-feet-wet-when-hiking/

Ultralight Personal Hygiene: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-personal-hygiene/

Get Lost. Get Found: Best Plb/Epirb: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/get-lost-get-found-plbepirb/

You Will Not Live Forever: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-will-not-live-forever/

How to Treat a Gunshot Wound: Part 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-treat-a-gunshot-wound-part-2/

This Book May Save Your Life: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/this-book-may-save-your-life/

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