“Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity” (Seneca)

There is something strangely compelling about putting together an EDC (every-day-carry) pack, or a bug-out-bag (72 hour survival pack) and there are plenty of Youtube videos out there showing different people’s approaches.  The trick, to my mind, is not so much what you put in them as what you leave out.

If your edc pack becomes too heavy and bulky and full of items that will only ever be used in an emergency, chances are that sooner or later you’ll end up leaving it at home.

With the purchase of a new lumbar pack I decided to redo my own day-pack/edc and this video covers what I’ll be taking into the jungle with me on day trips.

There are two key elements to pack: first are things you will use everyday (parang, knife, camera, cook pot etc) and the second are items that will help you out in the case of an unplanned overnight stay (or few!) in the jungle (food, shelter, whistle, first-aid etc).  Ideally items will overlap – i.e. be useful on everyday trips and key to helping you out in an emergency (for example the tarp, parang, knife etc).

Another key aspect to your edc is that it should contain kit you are very used to using. For example, if you set up a tarp on a daily basis (for, say, a base camp on a day trip) you will find that it becomes a very quick and easy process if, on the other hand, you pack a tarp as an emergency shelter only and never practice using it then, should that unplanned overnight in the jungle occur, setting up the tarp will be yet another unwanted aggravation in an already aggravating situation.

When it comes to planning for an emergency scenario it is easy to get carried away and take in back-ups to back-ups (e.g. what if all three of my lighters fail?…I’d better take in an extra one) or items to cover every possible risk (your first-aid kit could fill the entire pack on this basis) and the jungle (particularly for those new to it) seems to encourage people to pack all sorts of stuff for all sorts of emergencies.

Why is this?  Well, think of almost any TV programme on the jungle and they almost inevitably start with some very serious, deep voiced narrator informing you that “the jungle is one of the most hostile environments in the world”.

Is this true?  My own view is that ‘aggravating‘ is a better adjective to describe the jungle than ‘hostile‘.  The desert better deserves the term ‘hostile’: in the desert water is a problem, heat stroke (during the day) and hypothermia (at night) is a problem, finding food is a problem…

But the jungle?  Water is usually easily found, food is there if you know where to find it, shade is plentiful and the nights not too cold, there’s plenty of firewood around, loads of cordage and materials for shelter building…

So why does this hostile environment image persist?  Partly it’s because of disease (malaria, dengue and nasties in the water that can lay you out), partly it’s because of the thorny rattans and insects that can bite the unwary but mainly, I suspect, it’s because the jungle simply looks like a hostile place and the sense that you are part of a massive biosphere full to the brim of living organsims more skilled at jungle survival than you are.

But if you can see the jungle as a massive resource that can help you (rather than a hostile entity trying to wear you down) – you are much better placed to face an unplanned overnight stay or the alarm that accompanies that sinking feeling that you are well and truly lost.

The key to jungle survival (as is the case for most survival scenarios) is to keep a positive frame of mind…and this is where the jungle can sometimes get you down.   Imagine you’re lost, wet, tired and you get snagged by yet another rattan, or bitten by another mozzi or tripped by another root and you get completely fed up…this is the jungle wearing you down and is the time when poor decisions are made.  However if you stop and think about it you’re at no immediate risk….it’s just all got a bit aggravating.

This is the reason I take shelter to be an important element in an EDC.  Could you do without that tarp and sack chair?  Yes, you can (and I have): you can simply sleep on the forest floor and make a roof out of leaves.  Will you be comfortable?  Not really.  But if, at the end of an aggravating day, you are swinging comfortably in your sack chair, off-the ground and out of reach of the leeches and bugs, and protected from the torrential rain by your tarp…well, things don’t look so bad after all.

Equally being able to ‘cover up’ (long sleeves, hat, net etc) can you give you a much needed ‘time-out’ from jungle insects that seem to have no respect at all for personal boundaries.

If I got lost in the jungle and was forced to camp overnight then my psychological state of mind the next morning would very much depend on how well I slept (and whether there was coffee in the morning or not!) and, with a positive frame of mind you are much better placed to make the right decisions on what to do next.

So, when it comes to putting together your own edc, try to imagine actually being in a situation where you had to camp overnight and decide which items you really, really, really  need…. and then leave out those you don’t.

And bear in mind that for the Orang Asli an EDC is simply known as a parang!