Maybe you’ve got it all figured out. When you’re headed about town on errands, you grab your wallet, keys, cell phone and knife. Then, you tuck a slim .380 or singles-tack 9mm into a pocket holster. It’s simple. You’re good to go. Anything else you need, you can pick up along the way.
Most likely, the only survival situation you might face would be one of self-defense. But for the outdoorsman, it’s more complicated. Yes, in remote areas, survival might be a matter of self-defense, too. Just as likely, however, survival could be a matter of a sprained ankle that forces you to spend a night in the woods.
There are no convenience stores in the backcountry. You have to bring more with you. For someone who spends a good deal of time hunting, fishing, backpacking, hiking, biking or kayaking, EDC choices can be a little different. But that doesn’t mean you have to be weighed down with gear.
CARRYING THE BASICS
My travels take me in and out of populated areas. I need to be prepared for wilderness situations while still wanting to be discreet when among other people.
When traveling light (no daypack), I have to make the best use of my pocket and belt space. I always want items with me that cover the basics of improvising, fire-starting, navigation, communication and protection.
For improvising, I might choose a Swiss Army knife or a multi-tool such as a Leatherman Wave with a saw blade, among other tools. These allow me greater capabilities in improvising what I might need, such as shelter. I will have a lighter and maybe a ferro rod for starting a fire, a small compass for navigation and perhaps a small whistle for signaling.
I still have my cell phone, but I don’t depend on it in the backcountry for either navigation or communication, because reception might be hit or miss. And I can’t forget a small flashlight, either—you never know when a short hike could unexpectedly turn into an overnighter due to injury.
On my belt, I might attach a pouch containing a Nalgene bottle nestled in a steel cup. The cup allows me to purify water through boiling and also serves as an emergency vessel for cooking. In one jacket pocket, I might carry a couple of high-energy snack bars; in another, a small bottle of insect repellent. Often, I opt for a walking stick to ease the impact on my knees going up or down hills and to steady myself on stream crossings. I can also lash my knife to it to form a lance or spear.
I can top it all off with a brimmed hat for protection against sun, rain and insects, as well as a pair of hiking boots with strong laces that I can use as cordage.
WHAT ABOUT A GUN?
I thought you’d never ask. Whenever I’m legally able to do so, I carry a gun. But when my plans involve far-away places, that gun might be different and/or more versatile than usual. Here are my requirements:
It must carry concealed reasonably well. On a hunting trip, for instance, I’m not going to take more than one handgun. Traveling to and from a hunt or stopping in town for an evening during a hunt requires me to carry discreetly. And when I’m hiking, people I meet along a trail don’t need to know I’m armed.
This handgun must have a wide power range. It needs to handle low-recoiling defensive rounds for town carry and powerful hunting rounds to take down game and for protection from predators.
I need to hit with it at longer ranges. Most self-defense situations are at near contact distances. When I’m hunting with a handgun, I normally limit myself to shots at about 40 yards. But in a wilderness survival situation, I want a handgun that can make killing hits out to 100 yards. And I want confidence that I can make those hits with it … that eliminates that .380 pocket pistol.
SOME GOOD CHOICES
To decide which of my handguns would be the best balance of power, performance and concealability, I first eliminate the tiny, short-range guns and any large hunting guns too big for practical concealment.
Then, I look at cartridges. Among my favorite guns for outdoor carry are those in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and 10mm Auto. The .357 can also chamber the .38 Special, and the .44 Magnum can also chamber the .44 Special. The 10mm is available in conventional bullet weights from 135 to 230 grains (check out Double Tap and Buffalo Bore). This gives them great versatility for defense, hunting and survival.You can pencil in your own favorite here. The guns that remain are my 4-inch Ruger GP100 revolver in .357, 4-inch Smith & Wesson 629 Mountain Gun in .44 Magnum and Glock G20SF Gen 3 in 10mm.
A gun I’m testing now that might be the best of the lot is the new Ruger SR1911 in 10mm (reviewed in the September 2017 Gun World by Editor Robb Manning). It’s accurate, powerful, reliable and not bad to carry with the right holster. What more do you want?
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.