Happy Friday everyone! As the summer air cools, heralding the start of our annual descent into cold weather, now is about the time to give some thanks for modern conveniences like indoor heating, and careers that don’t involve 100-mile treks through snow, ice and dangerous critters. Once upon a time however, the state of affairs we have come to know, love and rely upon was not the case. In fact, the exact opposite was the norm: 2016’s hit film The Revenant explores the life of 1820s fur trapper Hugh Glass, and his struggle for survival and revenge after a brutal bear attack leaves him badly injured. One has to wonder, how much better would the movies’ protagonist have fared if he had a few modern conveniences to help him out? Yes, that’s right. Just when you thought you had found a well-written article with a thoughtful topic, I’m afraid you’ve instead stumbled into my latest, Fun Friday EDC: Bears Gone Wild Edition.
While the bear attack is obviously the primary draw here, the movie does see Mr. Glass encounter a few other trials and tribulations, such as Indian attacks, unplanned BASE jumping and nights spent in brutal exposure. Let’s take each of these in turn.
I get it. You’re cold, wet, tired, and you just fell off a freakin’ cliff. Then BOOM. The temp goes subzero on ya. We’ve all been there before. But you know what’s a whole lot warmer than sleeping inside a horse, or a tauntaun? A mummy bag. Take the Blaze -20, from ALPS Mountaineering. This portable warm-spot has TechLoft Silver insulation, and is good (as the name implies) down to -20 degrees! I don’t know about you, but to me, that sure beats waking up covered in cold horse guts.
Know what would have helped Hugh avoid a night in a frozen horse entirely? Not falling off that cliff in the first place. But when you’re being chased by enraged members of the Arikara tribe, who has time to think of such formalities? With the I-Bird, from Tony Suits, you don’t have to. With this wingsuit strapped on, all Hugh would have had to do when he reached the cliff’s end was jump and quickly glide to safety, outstripping any arrows that may have been fired after him. Unfortunately, however, they still do not make a matching suit for horses, so we have no way to help ol’ Trigger avoid a lengthy plunge. I’m sure someone is working on it though!
Mr. Glass’s real issue, of course, is that he can’t carry nearly enough supplies. He doesn’t even have a pack, just a horse to strap things onto! If the horse goes, he’s out of luck. Here in our modern age, luckily, we’ve discovered a highly sophisticated remedy to that problem: a pack one can strap to one’s back. The Vorn Deer 42 liter would have been the perfect pack for Hugh Glass. After all, 42 ounces of storage is more than enough for the aforementioned sleeping bag, some dried supplies so he wouldn't have to eat rotten rations when the hunting was bad, and there is plenty of space to strap a four-season tent to the bottom. With all those creature comforts, this would have basically been a movie about glamping. The pack also boasts one more feature that could have come quite in handy for Mr. Glass. Like many hunting packs, the Vorn Deer allows you to mount your rifle to the side of the bag. Unlike most of its competitors, however, the Deer utilizes a patented Quick Rifle Release (QRR) system, which allows one to retrieve one’s rifle simply by pulling a loop on the left strap, which frees the right hand to grab the rifle. Perfect for surprise bear attacks!
Ah yes, I can already hear the internet objecting. “Pshh, the author clearly hasn’t seen the movie. He already had his rifle out when the bear attacked him!” Don’t worry, I’m getting there, but for the record, a surprise bear attack while on the trail would be a perfectly reasonable thing for Mr. Glass to prepare for.
In what could accurately be described as the longest 4.5 seconds in cinema history, we see Mr. Glass hear the bear behind him, hesitate for a moment, then spin around a split second too late to take a clean shot. Instead, he has his trusty long-rifle knocked from his hands, giving the bear free rein over the situation. (Mondays, amirite?) A shorter barrel really could have helped to get him on target faster, along with the ability to fire more than one round. Enter the Marlin Model 1895 Trapper. With a 16.5-inch barrel, 6-round capacity, and chambered in .45-70 Gov’t, ol’ Hugh would have at least been able to get one round into that bear after he turned around. I don’t care how big a bear you are, getting hit with a .45-70 at close range is at least going to slow you down. Even better, the Model 1895 Trapper has an enlarged loop on its classic lever action, meaning that as the bear slowly succumbed to its wound, allowing the grounded Mr. Glass to regain his weapon, he would have had five rapid shots at his disposal to finish the animal. I think we can all agree that would definitely have been more effective than repeatedly sticking it with a knife. While nothing but better situational awareness was going to get Mr. Glass out of this scenario scot-free, the Model 1895 Trapper would presumably have kept him a little further from death’s door before he managed to dispatch that bear.
A little-known fact about The Revenant is it left out a fairly important detail of the “true” (I use that word lightly here) story of frontiersman Hugh Glass: wound care. After being quite literally torn apart by the bear, either in the absolutely disfiguring way it “actually” happened, or to the slightly less damaging extent we imagine may have taken place with our modern weaponry, Hugh Glass had some sizable wounds to deal with. As a result, the story goes, he found a rotting tree full of maggots and sat against it, allowing the maggots to eat the rotting flesh from his back. While not exactly the Mayo Clinic, this was not far off from the conventional medical practices of the time, and is considered a viable last-ditch alternative even now. An Advanced Trauma Kit from Blue Force Gear, however, would have saved him the skin-crawling treatment.
The Advanced Trauma Kit contains a C-A-T Tourniquet, a Z-Fold QuikClot Combat Gauze Hemostatic Dressing, a 6-inch Emergency Trauma Dressing, a HyFin Chest Seal , an ARS Needle Decompression Kit, a Nasopharyngeal Airway and much more, making it perfect for your next bear attack. I certainly wouldn’t go looking to test it out though. Even with the help of the kit, you mind find such an attack to be a little more than you can...bear. (Sorry, not sorry.)