Yep, aside from being multi-use the good 'ole trashbag definately has been a great life saver indeed. Remember that humans can survive for weeks with
little to no food, and a few days without water, but can succumb to the elements rather quickly. A wet and cold body is not a good thing to have in
the backcountry for sure.
Here is a few essentials I always have in my pack/bob.
With regard to the original post, and for clarity.. many items are omitted from this list, as said below.
By any means do not accept this list as "what you should have" just because I do. Remember every individual and needs may differ, so do the
situations and terrains.
Shelter is always one of the top priorities in most situations, so it makes sense to carry something that can be conformed to a wide variety of needs
depending on the climate and terrain. (assuming there is no chances of finding a natural shelter nearby) That is why I myself stick to the tried and
true tarp system. This can be as simple a an inexpensive 8x10 poly-tarp found at almost any hardware store, to milspec combination poncho/tarps to
more costly silicon coated nylon tarps designed specifically for shelters. I haven't had much experience in the latter category, simply because I'm
a pretty cheap guy, and I try to think lightweight and multi-purpose with all my gear. That being said, mind you... the downsides of a tarp is it's
no easy affair to the novice (and I'm not a pro either) to pitch properly to give good protection from elements, tarp shelters are a bit less
forgiving than a high zoot expedition tent. I probably wouldn't want to have a tarp shelter if I'm in an extreme winter zone, but it will be better
than nothing for sure.
It also dosen't give you alot of protection from creepy crawlies and flying critters... but if it is a SHTF scenario, those mosquitos might be the
least of your worries.
The upsides to the tarp as a shelter are many, it's light, easily stowable and can double in purposes depending on the situation. If it gets soaking
wet during a torrential downpour, it is pretty easy to dry out... and you can stash it somewhere it won't get the rest of you soaked in the process.
Tarps can be set up in some very awkward places, and depending on the natural terrain, one might use it to enhance a previously existing natural
shelter. The tarp can be folded up and battoned down if the weather is extreme, or open and airy if it is clear, it is also much easier to break camp
when needed and the tarp also presents a low-profile if set up properly. I have slept under a tarp shelter many times, and have sucessfully cooked
dinner on my campstove in one. With some practice the tarp provides some excellent opportunites for shelter, and if the situation arises and you have
an injury of some sort, you can erect some decent cover with minimal effort. Try any of that with a high zoot (high dollar) expedition tent. If you
can't find your poles.... what do ya do? Find a couple sticks to pitch with, and what if you don't have anything to stake it with? Carry a bit or
cordage and tie the tarp around some heavy rocks to use as anchors. By the way, I'm not a gram shaver here, but did I mention it is lightweight?
As always, do your research first... field test it later, make sure you aren't without a backup plan and see if it works for you. Look up tarp
camping on the net if you want to get into it. It all comes down to ingenuity, skill and usability IMHO.
[edit for speeling and grammer]
[edit on 29-11-2007 by telemetry]