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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Reader’s Bag Drop: Winter Survival Pack Loadouts

Editor’s Note: In Issue 34 of our magazine, we introduced the new Bag Drop column. In each edition of the column, our staff and contributors share survival pack loadouts and explain the logic behind the items they contain. No two people will carry the exact same gear or have the same needs, so Bag Drop offers some food for thought that can help you consider the gear you carry and the reasons you carry it.

We also asked you to share some of your own bag setups with us. The following is a submission from a reader named Richard Weiss, who lives in a cold part of Michigan between two of the Great Lakes. If you’d like to share your own survival pack setup, send me an email.


Here are some of my survival packs — I’ve got so many. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Up in Calumet, their record is over 30 feet of snow during the winter, and generally all over the Upper peninsula below zero is the norm in this season. Blizzards are not rare, and we drive 30 minutes to get to Walmart.

My car emergency go-bag contains the following items:

  • Mittens
  • Scarf
  • Below-zero emergency bag (like an ultra-compact sleeping bag)
  • Hand warmers
  • Cree LED flashlight
  • 4 mags for HK VP9 handgun
  • 2 boxes of 9mm ammo
  • Kershaw folding knife
  • iPhone backup battery

For long trips, I also add a gun to the pack as a backup to my carry pistol. It’s a S&W Governor revolver with 2 boxes of Critical Defense .410 shells.

When hunting in the Rockies, I carry a digital camo backpack with water reservoir. It also contains the following gear.

Side compartments:

  • Headlamp
  • Cree flashlight
  • Blood tracking light
  • Various spare batteries
  • Nalgene canteen

Lower compartment:

  • First aid pack with extra Ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Small roll of toilet paper
  • Small pack of wet wipes
  • Mini bottle of anti-bacterial soap
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Waterproof matches
  • Long-flame butane lighter
  • Fire starter cubes
  • Mini roll of red duct tape

Middle compartment:

  • Leica binoculars
  • HD Thermal monocular
  • Heat packs
  • Kershaw folding knife

Deep top compartment:

  • Gutting gloves
  • Jersey cotton gloves
  • Chocolate bars and bagels
  • Bandanna
  • Coil of paracord
  • Reflective-face heavy-duty shelter tarp
  • Small roll bright orange surveying tape
  • Chill choker, reversible color
  • Chuke hat, reversible color
  • Extra mitten gloves

Cinch straps on the outside of the pack retain outerwear while hiking. I remove excess layers while walking uphill to avoid sweating. The top of the pack also has a handheld GPS w/ OnX Maps and 2 carabiners.

I wear a separate gun belt while at my hunting property here in the Yoop. This offers a means of protection from wolves and bears. It consists of:

  • .44 cal Ruger Super RedHawk
  • Rifle ammo pouch
  • Handgun ammo pouch
  • Sheath knife with gut hook
  • Rangefinder pouch

– Richard Weiss, St. Ignace, MI

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