The "Just In Case" Bag You Should Always Bring - Initial Ascent

The "Just In Case" Bag You Should Always Bring

Seems like the busier I get and the more time I spend in the hills chasing critters, the more I’m apt to either forget something, lose something, or have gear fail. So, to help with this, I decided to get myself a little more prepared.

A friend of mine that I work with occasionally always had a bag in his truck with an extra change of clothes, socks, a few needed extra layers, gloves, headlamp, neck gaiter, and beanie. It was as if he was prepared or something? After a few times of borrowing an extra layer or jacket from him because I didn’t carry one myself, I realized I needed a change. Enter the “Just In Case” bag.

What’s the Reason?

I loved the idea of it and it just made too much sense. However, I ended up taking it to the next level and used the bag of “extras” on hunts. This bag stays in my truck at all times for every hunt. It is there in case I have no choice but to hike back to the truck to retrieve a necessary item to be able to continue the hunt. Even if I’m back there 9-10 miles, I can do it in a pinch. 

What Items Go in There?

These will be items of post-hunt comfort as well as items that are essential to keep hunting. I’ll give you some examples later in the article.


For hunting, I’m going to make sure I have a clean comfortable change of clothes to change into when I come back to the truck after the hunt. That includes socks and underwear as well. Next, I’m going to have an extra pair of wool socks, an extra pair of insulated gloves, a set of bottom and top merino base layers, and an extra puffy. I will also have an extra pair of boots as well.

Rain pants are another item I typically leave in this bag. I rarely bring rain pants on a hunt if I’m in Idaho. However, with a pair in my “Just In Case” bag, they are at least remotely close if the weather man messes up the forecast.


As far as gear (not apparel), I will bring an extra sleeping pad. If yours goes down and won’t hold air in the backcountry, it’s extremely difficult to overcome the lack of sleep due to sleeping on hard, cold ground. Trust me, I had this exact situation on a recent bear hunt. It can happen. I will bring a spare can of fuel for a Jetboil. You never know when you might need it.

Next, I always have a spare headlamp. It’s just really hard to operate in the backcountry without a light. I’ll also bring a spare set of gamebags and a replaceable blade knife. Remember, all these items are backups but can save you in a pinch.

The next piece of gear I bring will be extra ammo for the rifle or if bowhunting, extra arrows with broadheads. Face it, if you don’t have these, the hunt stops rapidly.

How about a spare long spoon? I recently had a situation when I got deep in the backcountry only to find that I’d forgotten my spoon (hand to forehead). Here I am writing articles about being prepared and I forget my damn spoon. Well, a clean stick with which to stir and basically drinking you dehydrated meal, one can get by.

I also bring a SteriPen and an extra first aid kit. You never know when you’ll need another way to treat water for safe hydration and although I bring them in my pack, I’m not a big fan of iodine tabs. You should carry a first aid kit in your truck anyway. Last but not least is an extra shelter. I’ve had extremely high winds damage my tent and poles on a trip before and had to hike out.

In conclusion, this “Just In Case” bag can be a hunt saver and possibly a lifesaver. I will always have this in my truck from here on out. It covers basically all the essential items you'll need. Hey, it’s a much better option than going home prematurely.

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