Before you even start to stuff your pack with the supplies, gear and materials you think you need to survive you will need some wilderness survival training/knowledge, and be able to exercise good judgment first.
Furthermore, you must be able to accept the fact that you will make mistakes, which brings us to having and needing, the ability to adapt when your first set of plans has gone off the rails because of a mistake made or due to circumstances beyond your control.
If you cannot adapt, or refuse to adapt because of stubbornness, pride or from the lack of knowledge or training then you are setting yourself up for failure, and failure at this level can mean death. No gear in the world will save you from a mistake, a mistake you may be reluctant to admit. Failure to admit you made a mistake, or had overestimated your own abilities means you are not correcting the problem.
Not everything should go in your pack. There are certain core survival tools and materials that should be carried in your pocket or lashed to your body in some form or fashion. A pack can be lost if you fall in a river or stream, or are caught in an avalanche. The pack can be lost if you take a tumble and a strap or harness breaks and then your survival gear is over the cliff and riding the rapids toward the warm waters of the Gulf.
Anything can happen, so it is important that you have a compass, a map that is waterproofed, fire starting materials in a waterproof container, communication devices, knife, cordage, thermal blanket (s), and water purification pills in pockets or hooked to your belt. Also on your belt, you should have a full metal canteen and a small quality flashlight. A metal canteen means you have a metal container for collection and purification of drinking water.
Failure to do your research can be deadly. We have stated this time and again. You must, to the best of your ability, know the area in which you are traveling, hiking, camping, or hunting. Know the terrain, likely weather conditions, wildlife, insects, and reptiles you may encounter, as well as flash floods and fire danger.
Some might say, “Well I had no idea I would be in such and such a place”. Well, how could you not know? You started out from somewhere with a destination in mind. You want to go hiking, so you know where you want to hike, the same goes for camping and hunting, you start from somewhere and end up somewhere and the areas in between, as well as the destination should be well researched.
You have to know the route and likely dangers, resources and so forth before you start out. Planning an outdoor adventure is not a random thing where you start out driving with no destination in mind and then decide a path through the underbrush looks good for hiking, or simply drive aimlessly until you find a spot that looks good for camping or hiking. These things have to be planned. Impulsiveness when it comes to the wilderness is deadly. Mother Nature is unforgiving of those that do not show the proper respect and of those that lack a certain level of expertise or common sense.
Gear, gizmos, and gadgets are fun to play with but do you need all of it. Batteries die, and gadgets malfunction, so do not stake your life on either one. If you cannot read a compass and a map, you had better stay home and play in the tree house out back.
Electronics can be a lifesaver in a crisis, but if they don’t work, well, do you die then? If they can save your life and they don’t work, you have problems. Carry your gadgets, but have a map and compass, as well, and make sure you know exactly how to read both.
There is no magic formula when it comes to your backpack weight. The 25 percent of your body weight is simply a general rule. You may be able to carry more or maybe even less comfortably. Remember, out on the trail is vastly different from hiking up and down the sidewalk in front of your house to see how much you can carry.
You should know immediately if you can handle the weight. If you know you can’t, then do not convince yourself things will change once you get out on the trail. Things will change but not for the better.
What weight you can handle depends on many things, so a subjective number you read on a chart somewhere about body weight to pack ratio, means nothing, the reality of your situation is what matters.