INCH Bag: Not one person could survive long term and thrive using an INCH bag, but a group could do it. This is the ultimate guide and gear list for your INCH bag. INCH stands for I’m Never Coming Home. An INCH bag contains only the essential items needed for a long term wilderness survival situation, nothing less, nothing more.
This is how it is different from a bug out bag. A bug out bag is meant for a temporal situation, whereas an INCH bag is meant for a long term scenario of months or years.
In 2016 I prepared and embarked on a six months survival expedition in the boreal forest. That adventure was a big reality check on wilderness living.
Last Updated Feb 15th, 2019
Who needs an INCH bag?
Who could manage to survive for a long time living off the wilderness using only what’s inside a INCH bag? It depends. The first long term survival principle to consider is if there is a location you could go to where you would find abundant fish, acorns, wild rice, seafood, or big game for example. Food is the name of the game. The realities of gathering wild foods are that it’s very different from recreational hunting, fishing, and gathering.
So if wild foods are very abundant in your area the next question is who’s coming with you? If you think you can handle the wilderness by yourself I’d say you’ve watched too much television. Have you heard about the rare solo hunter-gatherers of the past? Me neither.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t live on their own. They relied on others. Clueless people would say that an INCH bag is a young man’s game. An INCH bag would only make sense in a group context, yes being young would help, but only if you are part of a group. If you don’t believe this then ask yourself: what would you do to gather food after a month of semi starvation, if you broke an ankle due to being lightheaded and not thinking straight?
So far we’ve talked about having an area with abundant food and being part of a group to even consider the use of an INCH bag. Now we’ll consider your potential. Have you camped in a tent for more than 7 days straight? Have you hunted, trapped or fished before? Have you hiked 100 miles with a heavy pack? Do you hear the call of the wild? Are you slightly crazy? If you answered yes to all the questions then you could consider packing up an INCH bag, otherwise it’s a no-go.
To begin, you must realize the difference between short term and long term wilderness survival. In the short term the priority is being hydrated, avoiding exposure to the elements, self rescue, or signalling and searching for help.
Food procurement is the main priority in the long term! You still need a shelter, means to start a fire, hydration, clothing etc. But being warm and cozy won’t matter if you starve to death. Realize that long term survival is about FOOD.
You’ll have to trap, gather, hunt, or fish everything you eat. You will spend countless hours processing, cleaning and cooking food. So you need to be very efficient. Research what the local past hunter-gatherers did to forage. Focus on their staples. If you live near the coast it would have been seafood. If you live near the big lakes it could have been wild rice and fish. If you live near the rockies it might have been acorns.
Why haven’t I mention small game? Everyone says focus on small game for wilderness survival. Yes, for short term survival you can survive on snacks. You can live quite a long time off your fat alone. But I’ve researched what hunter-gatherer tribes ate and guess what? Their staples were anything they could catch in big quantities, as in drive off a cliff as many buffalo as you can. Or dam up that river with a weir and get thousands of fish. Gathering food is a numbers game, you need a ton.
You won’t make it catching a fish or two a day: how would you get through the winter! And if you check how many calories are in wild foods you will quickly realize that hunting 10 squirrels a day with your .22 won’t cut it.
Something else to consider is that wild foods are seasonal. They come and go, fast. Timing is everything and you must work hard and long hours. You hunt a moose; you stay awake for the next 2-3 days cutting and drying the meat. The berries don’t stay hanging in their bushes for long either. And the squirrels won’t wait for you to gather those nuts.
Redundancy and durability are two super important principles for assembling an adequate INCH bag. Redundancy means that if you lose your axe you can still make a long term shelter with a different tool. Mountaineers carry two pairs of gloves for a reason; they like their fingers. If your item is absolutely essential like a knife or a fire starter you must bring multiple ways of getting the job done.
Durability is also extremely important: there is no place for toilet paper, soap, or toothpaste in an INCH bag. If your consumable won’t last long term then why bring it? All the items must last at least 6 months of moderate abuse. Durability comes with a huge drawback: weight. This is why there won’t be space for your ham radio, solar charger, batteries etc. Think about the ultimate priority: food. Would you rather carry 200 extra fishing hooks and 300 yards of line or a radio? Make sure your gear is as simple as possible, and consider reinforcing its weak points. Sew patches on your pants, for example.
Practice with your equipment and imagine its use during long term conditions.
Something that is hard to foresee is how your gear would perform in a I’m Never Coming Home scenario. Specially a long term situation after being chronically stressed, exhausted, starved, and under-performing. Excuse my lack of optimism, but you must prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
When I chose my gear for my 6 months in the wild I didn’t pack many warm jackets, I brought some and thought it would be enough. No way, when you lose a lot of weight your body shifts gears and lowers its metabolism. So in addition to having less fat a.k.a. insulation, your body lowers its temperature. The sleeping bag I had, worked well for three months in the Pacific Crest Trail and my canoeing trip to the Hudson Bay. But it definitely didn’t keep me warm after being food deprived. I made a gear list article about what worked and didn’t.
INCH Bag Gear
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A 70 to 80L backpack should be enough. If you want ultimate durability look for a military pack made of 500-1000 denier cordura nylon. It should be the last item you buy so you can see if everything actually fits in it. An external frame would distribute your weight better if your INCH bag is heavy. But your INCH bag shouldn’t be super heavy! Internal frame packs also work great. Having pockets on the hip belt is nice. Having a water bottle pocket at the side is also a great feature, although not great for bushwhacking.
An air filled or induction compass will not develop a bubble; a compass with bubbles is useless. Either a lensatic or mirror compass would be great for advanced navigation techniques. Waterproofness and impact resistance are important. Also consider an air filled button compass or two as back ups.
A watch is an optional but excellent tool to have. My Protrek solar watch has an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass, and a durable wristband. The wristband shouldn’t be made of resin like most G-shocks because they deteriorate quickly.
You should have 1-2 topographic maps (1:250,000) covering the entire area where you could be travelling in. And 2 or 3 detailed maps (1:50,000) of the most promising areas. They should be plastic, paper ones don’t last. Mark all the man made structures in that area. Gather intel on your wilderness location, draw trails that aren’t marked that you discover using satellite imagery. Notice traplines, cabins, and wild edible harvesting areas.
Tent or Tarp
Depending on how many bugs there are in your area you might want to bring a tent instead of just a tarp. A 3 season tent would last years if properly cared for and kept in a shaded spot. It could be your temporary shelter while you build a permanent one. It is worth considering the extra weight if mosquitoes would make your life miserable. If you choose a tarp consider a 10ft x 13ft silnylon tarp. They are 1.9lbs. You must really take care of your tarp, and be careful with fire. It would be a great component of a permanent shelter.
A down bag is more compressible and lightweight, but has no place in a long term situation. A synthetic bag is bulkier and heavier, but retains insulation much better when moist. A hybrid bag would be a good compromise. I really think a synthetic bag is the way to go for a long term survival sleeping bag. The important thing is to bring a bag rated to the lowest temperature you would encounter. If there is only one day in February when the historical average is -4°F, bring a bag rated to at least –4°F. Remember that it is one thing to winter camp with a full belly, and another thing is to winter camp for 3 months in a survival scenario. Also consider a two bag system like the Snugpak or US military bag.
Sleeping bags are designed to be used in conjunction with a sleeping pad, particularly their the temperature ratings. They are a must during winter. A closed cell foam pad like Therm-a-Rest Z lite would be the most durable. A durable inflatable sleeping pad like the NeoAir Xtherm could be an option too but it could delaminate or puncture in the long run.
You should try to use a magnifying glass as much as possible. Fresnel lenses are super light weight, but don’t last as long as a glass lens and they aren’t as powerful. So either bring a 6 inch glass lens or 3-5 credit card sized fresnel lenses.
A 1/2 inch ferro rod could start up to 10,000 fires. They are super durable and reliable.
Bring 2 or 3 full sized BIC lighters. Each of them can light up to 3,000 fires. And they are the easiest way of starting one. They could lose their liquid if they are pressed accidentally so tape the button to avoid this.
A shallow and wide 1 liter pot would be the most versatile. It should have a lid and a handle that won’t melt near fire. Either titanium, aluminum, or stainless steel would work. A titanium pot is light and strong but costs more. Aluminum could melt if left empty, and stainless steel is heavy. It shouldn’t be teflon coated inside; for it taints your food if it overheats.
A plastic spoon and a fork would be nice to have, and they don’t weigh much. Plastic utensils allow their use inside the pot.
Pack a wide mouth stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium bottle. It should hold at least 750 ml. A metal water bottle will not break if it freezes and will allow you to boil water in it if needed. Think about installing a bail handle to the bottle so it is easier to use over a campfire. Hydration packs are not sturdy and practical enough for an INCH bag.
If you will have to drink water downstream from civilization on your way to the wilderness you might consider bringing 50 tablets. Those could purify 50L. They can be used if you are in a hurry and don’t want to wait 7 minutes by a fire to boil some water. The long term way of treating water is to boil it anyway.
Either a takedown, recurve or a longbow could do. A 45 lbs survival takedown bow would be the most practical. A traditional bow is lighter than a compound, and you can fix it in the field. You’ll shoot instinctively, so you don’t need sights. Check my article on the best survival bows.
Bring at least 2-3 spare strings; they don’t last much. Consider packing a lightweight armguard and a finger glove or tab.
At least bring 6 carbon arrows. They are strong and light. They should be feathered if you will shoot off the shelf. I would bring 12 or 18 arrows.
Bring as many small game points as you have arrows and at least 4 big game points. Fixed broadhead arrow points would be more durable for large game. Tryr to maintain consistent grain weight across your different points.
Bring a bow hunting quiver or a belt quiver. Or make your own light weight bow quiver.
Gill Net or Cast Net
Depending on your area: lakes, sea coast, or river will be more prevalent. For a lake, coast, or really slow river a cast net would be better than a gill net. Gill nets are great but work better where there’s current; If there are rivers in your area bring one. Keep in mind that most are made from monofilament line; so they will degrade with time. I would honestly make my own with braided line for durability.
Don’t pack monofilament line. Braided line is more versatile and easier to handle. Bring 300 yards of 35lbs strength line and 300 yards of 65lbs braided line. Use it for trotlines and fishing etc.
Strong and big hooks would last longer. Small hooks could break easily if a bigger fish gets hooked. Having circle hooks or barbed treble hooks would increase your chances of finding a hooked fish if your line is left overnight (illegal in some places).
Having a lightweight pack is important, but having a fishing rod could mean more food on the table, specially when travelling. The backpacking Emmrod fishing poles are the best for this purpose. They are compact, durable, and simple.
A 10m roll of duct tape should be kept for emergency use only. It can be used for attaching bandages, closing wounds, improvising a sling etc.
Israeli Compression Bandage
The best emergency bandage out there to compress a wound and close it to stop bleeding.
Pack different antibiotics for emergency use like cephalexin for example. Ask your doctor!
Suturing line and needle
Suturing wounds in the field is bad practice. But if there is no alternative, the wound has been cleaned properly, and you have taken preventive antibiotics: you could use a an absorbable suture and needle (3/0 or 4/0) at your own risk.
A fixed blade, full tang knife that is comfortable to use extensively would be best. I prefer a stainless steel knife because it holds its edge longer, but a carbon steel knife that is sharped more often would be great as well. Don’t choose a serrated knife; you won’t be able to sharpen it in the field using local materials.
Axe or Hatchet
Choose a 30 cm long survival hatchet with a sheath. A 60 cm axe is another option and would be great for shelter building, and felling trees, but they are much heavier. Your group should have both types.
Pack around 250ft of 550 type III nylon paracord.. Also pack 250 ft of 2mm cord for use when breaking strength is not important.
Duct tape, rubber cement, wire, epoxy, sewing kit, waxless dental floss, zip ties, and fabric for patches should be part of the small repair kit you’ll use to keep your gear repaired while you transition to using natural materials.
A packet of seeds could be worth it’s weight in gold. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, beans, squash, and carrots could add calories, nutrients and variety to your food. The Lykov family spent decades isolated in the Siberian wilderness, and their main food staple was potatoes.
This is the one electronic item that I would definitely take. A waterproof, rechargeable headlamp like the Zebralight would be super useful. I would take a few AA lithium batteries for it and only use it in the lowest brightness when I really needed it (2.9 lumens for 4 days, or 0.36 lumens for 3 weeks).
Think layers, think durable, and think versatile. Visualize torrential rain, snow blizzards, intense desert heat, -4°F cold, and wet muddy trails according to where you live. And don’t forget about winter! No cotton, no down; pack wool or fleece. Layer like special operations forces do.
Another reason to bring only the bare essentials is the amount of clothing you would need during a long term scenario.
The rain jacket should be made of 3 layered Gore-tex Pro. The best waterproof breathable membrane in the industry. Backcountry skiing jackets are ideal because of their durability. You could make do with other lower cost, 3- layered waterproof breathable membranes, but make sure the face fabric is at least 40 denier nylon or equivalent. The 3-layered construction ensures your jacket won’t delayer after weeks of heavy use. Having armpit vents would reduce moisture build up inside. You should minimize the use of this jackets because unfortunately Gore-tex is not the most durable material. Make sure you can wear all your winter jackets underneath this jacket, so that you can use it as your outer shell in winter too. Having a silponcho could also be an option.
It is super important to have strong durable rain pants. You might be bushwhacking, crawling, and repairing them. Waterproof backcountry skiing pants (non insulated) would be the most durable. They must have side zippers for moisture venting. Something around 80 denier to 100 denier would be durable enough.
Fleece or Wool Jackets
You should have a medium and a heavy jacket made of fleece or wool. I don’t recommend down because it loses its loft if it gets wet and if you sleep wearing it for many days. Besides wool or fleece is much more durable than the face fabrics of most lightweight down jackets. They are also cheap and you could even buy a good one at the thrift store. Do not underestimate the cold. Having two separate jackets allows you to have a backup and regulate your temperature by adding or taking one off to avoid sweating. This Mountain hardwear fleece jacket is very light.
Base Layers and Underwear
The top and bottom base layers are an integral part of your clothing system. They should be wool or synthetic. They will transfer your sweat to the outer layers. They help hugely to add insulation, specially underneath your pants. Don’t use cotton layers because when wet, they extract heat from your body much faster. Wool stinks less than synthetic layers. Follow the same guidelines for underwear, but make sure it’s durable: you might be bringing only one.
If you want versatility go with a durable hiking shoe, if you want durability go with an urban leather boot. A third option for summer and fall is a sandal/shoe hybrid like Keens H2. It would take an entire article to talk about shoes. But I will just say that focus on durability and versatility. I encourage you to pack a second pair or an overboot for cold weather if you live north, for it is impossible to have a 4 season shoe that performs well in below freezing temperatures.
Another point on shoes is that they will not last more than a 1-3 seasons depending on the shoe. You better get used to barefoot walking and making your own moccasins.
I love Buff bandanas; they are awesome. You can use them in so many ways that I’m not going to bother listing them. Just know that 2 of them could turn into a balaclava or fingerless gloves. They are great for hot and cold weather alike.
After having my pants ripped so many times in the forest last summer. I bit the bullet and bought the Fjallraven gaiter pants. I chose those pants because they are reinforced near the ankles, over the knees etc.
After a year of use they ripped. Now I think the best option is to buy prana zion pants and reinforce them myself.
The fabric were the knees touch is the weakpoint of convertible pants, not the zippers. You could also buy some pants and reinforce the weak points yourself. The option of wearing shorts or jeans is great and many convertible pants have nice cargo pockets too.
Long Sleeve Shirt
A synthetic shirt that you can use with its sleeves rolled up would be invaluable. The one I have has mesh at the sides increasing breathability. When there are tons of bugs you can roll down the sleeves. It should be loose so that insects can’t bite through.
Bug Head Net
If there are many bugs in your neck of the woods a head net is a must. There are many lightweight options out there and they are easily repaired. You will appreciate having one.
Having a boonie hat or a cap would help you keep your head cool, literally. It also works in conjunction with the hoodie of your rain jacket to keep rain off or with your net to keep insects from biting through the net. The hat I have has mesh on the sides which adds breathability. There are some rainproof hats out there but I don’t recommend them because the waterproof membrane won’t breathe much and your head will get hot.
During fall you might want to have gloves on for the cold weather. Durable thin leather gloves would do the job. They can have insulation in the back of the hand as long as the inside of the palm is made of leather for durability.
You are going to need something to hold your pants, and keep track of all the extra weight you have lost. Besides it is handy to carry a knife or hatchet attached to your belt. Pack a durable but lightweight belt.
Look for durability, and keep in mind that you might have to do without. Pack one or two pairs of different thickness for hot and cold weather. Look for extra padding at the weak points.
Depending on your local climate you’ll probably need extra clothes for winter.
Modern snowshoes would be more convenient and durable than traditional snowshoes made in the field. If your area gets lots of snow then you should bring snowshoes, The MSR Evo are a great option and you can buy tails separately to increase flotation depending on snow conditions. Pick lightweight but sturdy ones. Mountaineering snowshoes are a great option if your area has mountains otherwise regular snowshoes would do.
You’ll probably need a third fleece or wool jacket for those long cold nights in winter. Follow the same guidelines as already stated above. You should be able to wear it on top of your other two jackets. Ideally it has a hoodie and it can be zipped and unzipped for temperature regulation. Having a synthetic insulated jacket would be another good idea depending on how cold it gets.
Neck Gaiter and Warm Hat
I have yet to discover a better system for keeping my head warm than a thick fleece neck gaiter and a thick fleece or wool hat. The beauty of it is that it works like a ski mask keeping everything covered except your eyes. But you can use them both the hat and the gaiter or only one of them, unlike the ski mask. Another benefit is that you can rotate the gaiter if it gets moist from your breath. You can’t do this with a ski mask.
You might consider bringing gaiters for the snow. Gore-Tex gaiters work great, but other fabrics would get the job done too. If you already have overboots or pants with loops to act as gaiters then you won’t need this item.
I love fleece pants, I wear them underneath my pants when it is really cold and they greatly increase my insulation. Avoid gym pants that are cotton. They are a must for winter camping in sub zero temperatures.
I already talked about having extra boots for the cold. They should be durable, and most importantly they shouldn’t constrict the blood flow to your toes. They should be roomy and should fit comfortable with thick socks. You probably will need two boot liners.
If you spend a long time outside in sub freezing temperatures you’ll quickly learn that big mitts are just the best option for really cold weather. Military arctic mitts are good. The back of the mitt can be used to wipe and warm your face and nose, and they are long to keep snow out. Canadian military mitts are even better.
If you area has blizzards having goggles that will protect your eyes from the cold and UV light bouncing off the snow is a good idea. Snow blindness hurts and paralyzes.
Something I haven’t talked about is transportation. I wouldn’t go into the boreal forest without some type of boat. The lakes and rivers are the trails of my area. And the main food supply is in the water. If I had to restrict myself to the contents in an INCH bag I would take a packraft that can handle some whitewater. Other ideas for transport in different areas are kayak for coastal areas, expedition canoe, or a cart.
Also check my article on realities of gathering wild foods if you are building an inch bag.
INCH Bag Gear list: Long Term Wilderness Survival
Not every item is required but most would be a great aid. This gear list is specific for the boreal forest; your mileage may vary.
|Bags||Rugged Backpack||Karrimor SF 60-100||1000 Denier nylon, 60-100L pack volume||Durable, adjustable size and volume|
|Pack Liner||Karrimor 90L Drybag||Waterproof pack liner 90L volume||Protects against submersion, snow and rain|
|Rugged Sack||Ursack||Kevlar fabric sack||Durable bearproof, hang food / multi use|
|Navigation||Lensatic Compass||Cammenga Compass||Military tritium, air filled, clicks for night navigation||Night navigation, if not a Ranger Silva works|
|Pacing Beads||Ranger Pacecounter||Light, dependable pace counter||Counting steps for navigation|
|Solar Watch||Casio Protrek||Solar, altimeter, barometer, temperature, compass, fabric wristband||Time, navigation aid and weather watching|
|Smartphone||Samsung S5 Neo||IPX7 Waterproof, removable battery, large screen||GPS, topo maps, ebooks, sat.imagery, lamp, optional|
|Smartphone Case||Lifeproof Case||IP67 Waterproof||Shock proof and waterproof redundancy|
|Plastic Topo Map||Waterproof 1:50,000 or 1:250,000 scale||Travel and Navigation|
|Sleeping||3 Season Tent||Seedhouse SL2||Ultralight, green, 2 person||
Bug shelter a must in my area, stealth camping
|Sleeping Bag 22F/-6C||Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z||Mummy style, syntethic insulation, lightweight||Insulation won’t degrade as much w/ moisture|
|Sleeping Bag dry bag||Outdoor Research Dry bag||Lightweight, waterproof||
Protects against submersion, snow and rain
|Sleeping Pad||ThermaRest Z lite||Closed cell, full length||Integral part of sleeping bag ratings|
|Poncho Tarp||Sea-to-Summit Poncho tarp||Ultralight silnylon, high quality||Rain tarp, and waterproof clothing|
|Large tarp||Aqua Quest Guide Tarp||Ultralight silnylon, high quality||Large rain/snow tarp for main shelter|
|Clothing||Waterproof Shoes||Salomon XA Pro Mid GTX||Mid cut, waterproof(Gore-tex) hiking shoe||Mid cut keeps snow/mud out|
|Rain Jacket GTX||Arc’Teryx AR Jacket||3-layered, Gore-tex Pro jacket w/ zip vents||Durable, rainproof jacket|
|Rain Pants GTX||Burton Men’s AK 3L||3-layered, Gore-tex Pro pants w/ thigh vents||Durable, rainproof pants|
|Fleece Jacket||Gen III Polartec Fleece Jacket||Polartec Fleece Jacket||Light, durable, warm when moist|
|Fleece Jacket||Monkey Man Jacket||Polartec High loft Fleece Jacket||Light, compressible, warm when moist|
|Base layers Grid||Helikon ECWS Level 2 Underwear||Grid wicking layer||Base layer For very cold weather|
|Base layers thin||PolarTec Silk Weight Long Underwear||Thin wicking layer||
For cold weather, may also wear over other base layer
|Thin Hiking Socks||2||Darn Tough Socks||Durable, merino wool||Spring/summer socks|
|Medium Thick Socks||2||Darn Tough Boot sock||Durable, merino wool||Fall/Winter socks|
|Bandanas||2||Buff bandanas||Polyester||Multifunctional headwear|
Reinforced Convertible pants
|Fjallraven Keb Gaiter||Convert to shorts, rugged, cargo pants w/ gaiters||Durable, all seasons pants/shorts|
|Long sleeve shirt||Outdoor Research Wayward||synthetic shirt||Bug protection, all seasons use|
|Mosquito net||Sea To Summit Head Net|
|Hat||Outdoor Research hat||Breathable cap|
|Durable light gloves||Mechanix original gloves||Leather palm, not insulated||general mild cold gloves|
|Filleting/skinning gloves||waterproof, cut resistant||for hygiene and warmth in cold weather|
|Waterproof gloves||Neoprene gloves||waterproof and 3mm thick||for wet and cold weather|
|Belt||Webbing Belt||hidden pocket for cash||weight loss, holding tools/sheaths|
|Fire||Magnifying lens||magnifying lens||Glass, circular||potentially unlimited fires|
|Fresnel lens||4||Fresnel lenses||Credit card size||potentially unlimited fires|
|Ferro rod||1/2 inch ferro rod||1/2 inch thick ferrocium rod||could start 10,000 to 20,000 fires|
|Lighter||3||miniBic||bright colored||each could light up to 3000 fires|
|Cooking||Pot 1L||MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot||Wide 1 liter stainless steel pot w/handle and lid||
boiling, frying, baking, roasting and food storage
|Spoon and Fork||plastic flexible spoon and fork||plastic yet durable||won’t scratch the pot|
|Hunting||Bow||Folding Survival Bow||light, simple, durable 50lbs draw weight||small-big game hunting|
|Bowstring||3||Strings have a limited life span|
|Armguard||minimalist arm guard||light|
|Finger glove||finger glove||leather|
|Arrows||16||feathered arrows||carbon fibre, feathered for off the shelf shooting||Durable|
|Quiver||DIY||compact, quiet, hunting points capable|
|Big game points||broadhead arrow points||fixed blade|
|Small game points||judo points||make arrow easier to find|
|Small game points||washers|
|Trapping||Metal traps||2||280 conibears||Body Grip trap for beavers, racoons, muskrat||Medium game trapping|
|Fishing||Fishing rod||Emmrod||light, durable w/ spinning reel||For active fishing and travel use|
|Retrieving net||DIY||Just the net portion||build net at location, a must for survival fishing|
|Gill net||DIY||Braided line, custom net for durability||A must for survival fishing in rivers|
|Fishing line||braided 50 lbs strength||350 yds of 10lbs braided line and 350 yds 50lbs||For fishing rod and trotlines|
|Trotline kits||12||DIY||hooks, leaders, sinkers, bobbers, bag f/anchor||For passive fishing|
|Weedless hooks||20||Gamaktasu||size 1/0||For fishing rod in weedy areas|
|Lures||10||High quality lures||For fishing rod use without bait|
|Treble hooks||100||strong barbed hooks.||stainless steel, size 1/0, barbed||Three hooks in one (if they brake)|
|Casting bobbers||12||Bobbers||For fishing rod use in snaggy areas|
|Garden||Seeds||Survival Seed Vault||Potatoes, butternut squash, beans, maize||permaculture garden native plants are best|
|Water||Metal water bottle||Stainless steel nalgene||Wide mouth stainless steel||boiling water, tea, snow melting|
|Water treatment tabs||50||Aquatabs||Enough to purify 50 Liters||For treating water near urban areas, optional|
|Israeli Bandage||For bleeding wounds|
|First Aid Kit||Adventure Medical Weekender||Backpacking First Aid Kit|
|Aluminum Splint||Sam Splint||Much better than any improvised splint||For fractures|
|Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel||durable, simple, light||shelter building, wild edibles, gardening, winter|
|Knife||Mora Companion||Stainless steel fixed blade full tang(rat tail)||carving, filleting, cooking, skinning|
|Hatchet||Schrade Hatchet||Full tang hatchet w/ sheath 11″||For temperate forests full axe not needed|
|Saw||Silky Big Boy Saw||Curved, 14-1/5-inch, large teeth saw||Quiet cutting, optional|
|Multitool||Leatherman Wave||Multitool w/sheat||Very useful when fishing|
|Sharpener||DMC Diafold||Fine and coarse pocket sharpener||Light weight|
|Electronics||Solar panel||Suntactics S5||5w, 5v output, waterproof, folding, ultralight||Optional, For charging all electronics|
|Battery pack||Kodiak Plus 2.0||10,000 mAh battery, waterproof, lamp||Optional Charges w/ s.panel, then charges electronics|
|USB Cables||3||Short to minimize twisting||Redundancy|
|Headlamp||E03H Manker||Waterproof white/green adjustable intensity 1xAA||Low output for max battery life|
|AA Batteries||2||ZNTER AA||USB rechargeable Lithium batteries||For headlamp, if no charger substitute for lithium non rechargeable batteries|
|AAA Batteries||3||ZNTER AAA||USB rechargeable Lithium batteries||For radio|
|Radio||Eaton Mini Radio||Shortwave, AM, FM radio||Optional, weather forecast, news, combating loneliness|
|Miscellaneous||Paracord||550 type III nylon paracord||250 ft milspec||Bear hang and multi pupose|
|2mm Cord||Type 1 Cord||250 ft 2mm nylon cord 95lbs strength||Multipurpose|
Rubber cement, snare wire, epoxy, instant glue, sewing kit, fabric, waxless dental floss, zip ties
|Duct tape||100 MPH||Multipurpose|
|Notepad and pencils||2||Rite in the Rain||waterproof notepads and 4 pencils||Journaling and notes|
|Assorted Ziploc bags||12||Multipurpose|
|Cash||You never know|
|Monocular||Barska||10×25 waterproof monocular||Scouting|
|Passport||ID in 3x ziploc bags||Optional|
|Carabiner||Camp Nano Biner||ultralight climbing biner (22g)||Bear hang|
|Pulley||Petzl ultralegere||ultralight climbing pulley (22g)||Bear hang|
|Auger||Bushcraft Auger||1″ auger for use with improvised handle||for woodcrafts|
|Area Specific Gear||Canoe||Nova Craft 16′ 6″||TuffStuff whitewater tripping||Expedition rugged|
|Paddle||Carlisle||Aluminum plastic, T-grip for whitewater||Expedition rugged|
|Sandals||Keens H2||Durable, protected toe sandals||Water shoes|
|Burlap Sacks||2||Potato sacks||Drying and storing wild rice|
|Winter||Sleeping Bag||Snuggpak Softie Elite 3||Synthetic bag: Comfort 23 F / Low 14 F||Works as overbag for extreme cold|
|Sleeping Pad||NeoAir Xtherm||Expedition quality pad with 5.7 R-value||Adds insulation for winter|
|Winter Boots||Canadian Army Winter Mukluks||Breathable, durable, removable liner boots||Cold weather water-resistant boots|
|Extra Boot liners||DIY||To have dry liners while wet liners are drying|
|Winter Socks||2||Wigwam Minus 40C||Merino wool, heavy winter socks|
|Shemagh Scarf||Shemagh||Fire resistant headwear||multipurpose|
|Warm hat||hat||Fleece hat|
|Neck warmer||neck gaiter||Fleece|
|Gaiters||Gore-Tex gaiters||Waterproof, breathable gaiters||To keep snow out|
|Mitts||Mitts with weatherproof shell||Removable liner, leather shell||All purpose mitts|
|Arctic Mitts||Arctic mitts||Removable liner, cheek warmer, full sleeves||Extreme cold Mitts|
|Snowshoes||MSR Evo 22||Expedition snowshoes w/ removable tails||For offtrail snowshoeing|
|Ice chisel||Removable Wood handle||For ice fishing|
|Full length Axe||Estwing Camper’s Axe||Durable all-steel axe, resistant to weather||For gathering firewood in cold climates|
Great article………one thing, item, not mentioned here and rarely anywhere else, are steel traps, the kind used to catch animals. Being a long time trapper, I know how easy it CAN be to catch a beaver weighing between 25 and 100 pounds, raccoons of varying weights, and muskrats by the bucket. All of these, and many other animals, are edible, even considered a delicacy. And other than food they provide furs. When big gae has been hunted out and small game is in short supply, many water dwellers such as the beaver and muskrat, and in many areas the nutria, will still be plentiful by virtue of the fact they are not readily visible. A few steel traps of various sizes,a couple of snares and some knowledge of what you are after can go a long way in keeping your belly full! Traps and snares are relatively silent, they work 24/7, they are light and easily portable, and they open up a “survival arena” usually overlooked by most people. And while knowledge and experience are needed to get the most out of them, preppers are all about learning, right>
I would definitely add a multi-tool and sewing awl for your repair kit. Metal wire for stronger repairs too, the floral arrangement wire sold at the dollar store will fit on a sewing bobbin pretty handily. In fact, I keep a bobbin of G.I. trip wire with a spark rod stuck in bobbins center hole to act as a handle for the rod. Works well and its multi-use.
For those marshy buggy locations, a mosquito net shirt would also be worth it.
Thanks for the tips above !
I am the inventor of this concept, and I was young when I came up with it, but you are wrong, age has little to do with it. I am 47 now and I can still do it. You need to be in shape, this is not a way to go for people who are not active and don’t know what they are doing.
Yes one person can survive out of a properly equipped INCH PACK, PRETTY MUCH FOREVER, but the problem is most people don’t know what to pack are why. I worked on the contents for decades, this is something you figure out in a year or two people.
“If you want versatility go with a durable hiking shoe, if you want durability go with an urban boot. A third option for summer and fall is a sandal/shoe hybrid like Keens H2.”
The above is one of many mistakes you made in this article, sorry but the only choice for carrying a heavy pack is a ten inch leather boot such as a Matterhorn Ranger boot, you need the support.
There are better choices than others, simply saying you should carry a traditional bow don’t cut it, I have looked at everything and narrowed it down to just one particular bow, that’s how complicated this really is if you want to do it right.
Snow Shoes, things like that are not even in my kit, you can make those if need be. They take up too much space and bulk.
The pack, 500 denier is not what you want, your pack holds everything, it is one of the most important pieces of gear believe it or not, because if it fails you can carry little to nothing, accept nothing less than 1000 denier with reinforced stitching.
Sorry, but you left out key gear and added gear you just don’t need. You are not going to survive with that gear alone, and 80 pounds is not going to do the job. This isn’t a hike on the AT, nor is it a race. I can’t stress this enough because people don’t seem to understand this.
Some items you can pick and choose, and then with proper research that takes decades you finally know what exactly you need and then you understand some items are just the best choice, and others are sub par, and why would you take this one item when you can take this other item that packs more compact, is more durable, and a way better choice?
So the problem is really 2 fold, it’s not that one person can’t survive out of a proper INCH PACK, it’s it has to be the right gear in the pack carried the right way, and by a person who has carried it and is in shape to do so, age is just a number. That 25 year old may beat you to the woods, but so what? It’s not a race.
The main mistakes people are making is s follows:
(1) Not knowing what to pack and why, thinking they can just buy some gear and that’s it. Gear is supplemented with knowledge and experience and survival skills.
(2) Not carrying their pack regularly, let me tell you a secret, a 100 pound pack is lighter on a horse than a dog, if you carry a 100 pound pack regularly, then it’s no harder to carry than that other guys 40 pound pack he packed and never carried more than twice. The burden is relative to your capacity to carry it.
When I first went into the Army they gave me gear and an SOP to pack it, that’s really where this whole thing started. Pack weighed 80 pound packed to SOP, and I was issued an M60 machine gun too. I spent 6 months out of the year in the field as a Combat Engineer. The first year the pack weighed heavily on me, but I never once did what others were doing and take gear out.
Second year I was keeping up with everyone no problem in spit of the fact I had a heavier pack then most of them, and a much heavier weapon than most.
Third year I was running circles around all of them with an 80 pound pack on my back, and even jumping out of the back of dump trucks with pack on and weapon in hand, flack jacket Helmet, etc, and hitting the ground running.
If you can’t carry 100 pounds in your pack, you need to work on it, that’s the first thing you need to fix.
I’m going to write a book, too many people think they know but just get it wrong. I will give you this, your packing list is better than a good part of the ones I have saw, at least you made an effort.
did you write your book yet? or do you have a list? I’m very interested to hear what you have to say in regards to what to bring because it seems like you really really know your shit and way more than probably 95% of people on this topic.
Hello, would you mind emailing me? If so, I’ll give you my email in a new post. I have some questions and would like to be educated on how to build a seriously legit INCH pack to survive. I have a little boy, almost 2 and I’m starting to worry we are completely unprepared for the worst that may come sooner than we all expected. I’m a worried mother, and dad thinks I’m crazy for wanting to be ultimately prepared to survive this way. I grew up camping, but that is nothing like what we are talking about here. Thank you so much.
A few points for my 0.02 adjusted for inflation: 1) Have a place to go; either land you own, or an area you are familiar enough with to exploit 2) Cache items enroute and/or at your destination 3) 2 specific items to look into:a Sven collapsible bow saw and a Klepper collapsible kayak. The saw is both quieter and quicker than an axe or hatchet. The Klepper was used by RLI and Rhodesian SAS during their interdiction campaign. 4) Rugged individualism is best practiced in groups.
Just like to say thanks very informative and more importantly thought provoking. Shame some just try to see the negative. Every pack should be tailored as you said to the individual and mostly the environment your entering. And of course the more people you have in your tribe the more packs you can have so more diversity in some of your gear ie 1 person has a saw 1 has a hatchet one has an axe etc. Brilliant article look forward to reading more from you.
Great stuff! Strength definitely comes in numbers (family and friends). Nets and traps are a must that I hadn’t put a lot of thought into. Different strengths, ideas and knowledge from many is better than you can come up with on your own.
In my opinion, someone in the military is usually the first to negate based on their own experiences in a far away land. The circumstances in which anyone would even need an inch bag varies from person to person, The initial disaster, The area in which you live, and what YOU determine will get you through a long term survival situation. No two people are the same. That does not make either of you wrong. I am nearly 60 years old. I am a woman. I currently drive an 18 wheeler, but plan to retire soon. If my pack weighed 80 lbs, I would find a way to take it with me. Even if it means hiking 2 miles per day. I also live in the Arizona desert, which in turn makes a huge difference in what I made need to survive. I think your article was well thought out. It covered most everything. And if ever shtf, you will make it! I’m certain. Good luck!
While the concept of an ‘INCH’ bag is rather ‘new and unique’, reality actually screams ‘the more you know, the less you carry’…and to prove this, a great example are the ‘survivalists’ who lay in thousands, even millions of rounds of ammunition…planning to ‘out-equip’ armageddon events that may-will come…when in reality, any trained Scout or Special Operator knows…all you need is a knife, or rifle with one-round…because from there, YOU TAKE from your vanquished aggressors. Likewise, there are many things here that you would NOT need, and a lot of things you do. A good stainless mess kit (compact, well-stowable, well-made and complete as a kit) can’t be over-rated…nor can a simple military-style 1-qt canteen or packable micro-distilling system. BUT…this is where knowledge kicks in…knowing that cooking can’t take EVERYTHING out of your food (wasting disease, or prion disease is NOT killed by cooking or boiling, but only by chemical sanitation…chlorine or iodine), and viruses aren’t filtered out by water filtration…only RO or distillation.
A simple casting net is a one-stop answer for smaller fish and shellfish, but knowing how to build a fish trap trumps ANY ATTEMPT at carrying ‘fishing kits’, and how to identify flint or how to make a firebow beats a ton of Bic lighters every time. Items like Tinder Quick cost $10 for a tiny pack…but with some 1/4″ cotton cordage and a jar of Petroleum Jelly, you can make all the ‘fire starter’ you could ever need for pennies each…
What you need to pack FIRST, is knowledge…so that you don’t end up living-and-dying by the ‘nearest Wallie-World’, because as the old saying goes “give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day…teach a man to fish, and he’ll feed himself for life’…
First assemble all gear. Then evaluate fix and maintenance parts AND custom code multi tool or tiny tool kit to address all that. If there’s a file on the multi tool, that will address finger and tire nail care. Tweezers are a must.
Food seasoning and salt are critical.
A few rat traps are well worth their weight. Add a few spikes to the trap to keep squirrel size game on trap. Cord trap to a tree. If wood breaks, make another platform.
Hammer is critical… On hatchet is fine. Saw is a must too.
One thing I often see missing in lists like this is nails. Failing that an auger. Or both. With adequate food I can find the time to make cordage. But with a good axe, saw and hammer and nails or auger you can build a cabin a lot better and a lot faster than without. Being able to build a shelter that lasts is a plus in my book.
It all sounds very much like gear mongering designed for backyard camping. Unfortunately most people haven’t come across “The Survival Book” by Paul Nesbitt, Pond, Alonzo. 1958. After reading the book, they’ll be no complication to the eye as regards to survival gear.