You’re Lost In Wilderness With One Piece Of Gear. What Is It?

Gear
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment inspect model survival shelters during Mountain Exercise 2014 aboard Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Aug. 28, 2014.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

You’re in a plane bouncing through a rough storm when the unthinkable happens and you begin to plunge toward the wilderness below.


It’s okay, we’ve all thought about it. Something horrible happens and you’re stuck in the wild with just your wits and a few precious items to survive. What should you have and how do you make it through?

For help answering this question we turned to Mike Glover, an Army Special Forces veteran and  the chief executive officer and co-founder of FieldCraft LLC, which teaches civilians how to survive natural disasters and extreme situations.

Related: A survival expert lays out what you need in your bug-out bag »

For this hypothetical scenario, we let Glover choose the locale before declaring his survival gear.

The place?

Sierra Nevada. Home to the infamous Donner Pass, this vast mountain range in the western United States is defined as much by its beauty as by its rugged terrain.

The item?

A hatchet, specifically a Daniel Winkler combat axe.

Glover, who's gone through Special Forces survival and urban survival training, said, “If I was in a situation where this is the one thing I had to survive, I could do what I need to survive, with a combat axe.”

What’s the first thing you should do?

“Your number one priority is finding a water source,” said Glover, explaining that your second priority needs to be finding or building shelter.

“As time goes by, you’re getting more and more dehydrated,” said Glover. “The first hours are critical.”

Your priorities are finding water to fend off dehydration and building a shelter to protect you from the elements.

Fortunately, Glover is in Sierra Nevada, and while the environment can be unforgiving — with 70-degree days turning into freezing nights — there are resources aplenty.

“There’s water everywhere, there’s snow peaks, there’s wood everywhere, there’s caves and rocks, so the first thing I would do if i had a combat axe is focus on building a shelter,” explained Glover.

Time is critical, so Glover recommends moving fast.

“If I don’t get to a point where I can build a fire and get my body heat under control before nightfall, I’m going to get hypothermic,” he said.

How do you build your shelter?

Mike Glover uses his combat hatchet to chop wood for a temporary shelter.Photo courtesy of FieldCraft LLC.

Once you’ve chopped enough wood to arrange a simple shelter for warmth, you should plan on building insulation to fill in the skeletal frame.

“I’m also building insulation with the axe by cutting off pieces of oak or pine,” said Glover, who stressed that you cannot overlook an opportunity.

For example, you can notch out pieces of wood to act as containers for water, and when your shelter is completed, you should begin gathering firewood.

Now that the most critical elements are taken care of, what else can you do with the axe?

“Having a weapon is the key to hunting, but having an axe that can actually make weapons is more important,” said Glover. “You’re not going to take down a large animal with a combat axe because you’re not going to get close enough.”

So put those day dreams of stalking and felling a deer with an expert axe throw to rest.

In addition to making spears or even a bow, you can also cut cordage to make snare traps, explained Glover, which brings us back to why the combat axe is such a good choice, especially in a wooded environment.

But in the end, simply having the right item doesn’t guarantee your survival.

“People die in survival situations because of their inability to think through situations and because of their lack of equipment and training,” explained Glover. “If you’re in the mountains and your go-to item is a combat axe and you don’t know how to use it, it’s useless.”

Saudi air force Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani (NBC News)

The Saudi military officer who shot and killed 3 people at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday reportedly hosted a "dinner party" the night before the attack "to watch videos of mass shootings," the Associated Press reports, citing an unnamed U.S. official.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) hold folded flags before military funeral honors. (U.S. Army/Elizabeth Fraser)

The Minnesota National Guard has released the names of the three soldiers killed in Thursday's helicopter crash.

Read More Show Less
Joshua Kaleb Watson (Facebook via Business Insider)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Joshua Kaleb Watson has been identified as one of the victims of a shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, CBS News reported.

The 23-year-old Alabama native and Naval Academy graduate was named to the Academy's prestigious Commandant's and Dean's lists, and also competed on the rifle team, Alabama's WTVY reported.

Read More Show Less
The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola is seen on Navy Boulevard in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. March 16, 2016. Picture taken March 16, 2016. (U.S. Navy/Patrick Nichols/Handout via Reuters)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy pledged Friday to find ways to upgrade security procedures and prevent future attacks following two shootings and a fatal gate runner incident at naval bases in Virginia, Hawaii and Florida in the last week.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper also announced he is "considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families," although he did not give details.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Jamarius Fortson)

The Navy has identified the two Defense Department civilians who were killed in a shooting Wednesday at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.

Read More Show Less