Wild West To Survive

Things Cowboys Carried With Them In The Wild West To Survive

Today, life is pretty easy, and survival is, in most cases, 100% assured. Inventions, innovations and other technological advancements have made surviving effortless. For example, today, a large group of people knows How to Aquaponic, something people of the past like the cowboys of the west never knew.

Speaking of cowboys and the west, have you ever wondered how they survived out in the wild west? They didn’t have any of the equipment we have today that can help us survive for days without any struggle, yet they survived the wild west.

How did they survive? Well, most cowboys carried simple tools, items, and weapons that came in handy in tackling the wild and harsh conditions of the west. Here are some of the things commonly carried by cowboys.


This was one item a cowboy would never leave his home without. Tools like hatchets, machetes or other multi-tools were rare at that time. A knife was the only cutting tool; they mostly had a sheath knife medium in size. The knife was multi-tasked for cutting wood and skinning wild animals. They used any stone to sharpen their knives. Only a few owned a proper honing stone.

Guns and Ammo

The west was wild, full of unpredictable threats such as wild animal attacks, bandits and the aggressive Indians. Every cowboy made sure he had a gun, either a rifle or a pistol before venturing into the trails in the west.

Some carried pistols, which were more convenient and portable, but many cowboys preferred to carry rifles which were ideal for hunting and engaging in a shootout.

Water Canteen

The west had some terrains with scarce water. A container of water was an essential item in those terrains.

The canteens were about 2/2 quarts and were covered with layers of hand-sewn fabric. The fabric kept the water. This was done by soaking the fabric in cold water.

Rain Slicker

The west also had unpredictable weather. Storms would suddenly hit especially in the mountains.

To avoid drenching and possible hypothermia, cowboys used to keep rain slickers behind their saddles. They would either roll them up with a blanket or tie them alone behind the saddle.


Unlike today where we can afford sleeping bags, cowboys depended on blankets to keep them warm. They carried blankets that were about 1 foot in diameter which was too big for them to carry along while on a range.

Most cowboys left their blankets in a chuck wagon or hid them in their camping spots. It was necessary to carry several blankets as one was not enough during the winters and falls.


A bandana was an item that served the cowboys with many purposes. It was used to protect the mouth and nose from dust especially when herding, as a neck protector from the scorching sun, as a washcloth and as a bandage in case of injury.

Other important tools that cowboys carried include dried food, fire-starting tools, cooking items, and fishing lines and hooks.

Cowboys were a harder breed compared to the soft breeds hiding behind computers. Hardship was a daily meal, and they ate danger for dessert. They survived in the harshest conditions using simple tools and items. Unlike today where one can learn how to aquaponic and survive with limited resources, cowboys did not have that luxury.

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About The Old West History Net

The Old West History Net is a historical course that attracts a wide range of visitors including students, history enthusiasts, travelers, and wild west admirers.