12 Things Cowboys Carried For Survival

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Things cowboys carried with them for survival.

The wild west was a crazy place back in the day. Besides all of the criminals and the beating sun, there was a lack of water sources. Survival in the wild west was all about how prepared you were. The lack of water and crazy hot sun were just a few of the things you had to worry about.

Cowboys were prepared for the worst situations so why not have some of the stuff that they used. You may not be in these types of conditions but this stuff can be used no matter what. In the west people would travel long distances to get where they needed.

Most cowboys had to herd cattle when it was time to do so. They always knew what to look for when it came to water. Cattle need water to survive. Cattle will not wander further than a day past water. The only situation would be if they were being chased or attacked.

Cowboys were hardcore survivalists. They almost lived out of what was in their bags. They would use saddle bags on their horses to store most of their items.

So if they had all of this stuff to survive on, what did they typically carry with them while traveling?

Cowboy on a horse


You already should be carrying a knife or multitool everywhere you go. There are so many things you can do with them. All the way from cutting to whittling. You are always going to need a knife so I recommend you carry one with you all the time or at least put one in your car or bug out bag.
The typical knife that they carried was a fixed blade knife that could be sheathed.


2.Guns and ammo

Everyone had a gun in the wild west. They could be used for everything from protection to hunting for food. They would use their guns to protect cattle or fight off thieves.
Many cowboys took part in the Civil War. Back then they were allowed to keep their firearms.

3.A canteen of water

They wouldn’t travel anywhere without their canteen. It was essential for traveling in areas. Where water was hard to find or there was little of. The canteens would be layered in a cloth or fabric. This would allow cowboys to soak the cloth or fabric in water as they filled up. Soaking the cloth or fabric in water would help keep water cool.

4.Fishing line and hooks

Most cowboys carried fishing line and hooks with them. This way they could fill up their canteen and then do a little fishing for lunch or dinner. They could dig up grubs, worms, and insects to use as bait for fishing.

5.Piggin Strings

The main purpose of Piggin Strings is for tying the feet of cattle. This would protect the cowboys when branding the cattle. It would help prevent the cattle from kicking. Piggin Strings are like leather shoelaces they are made of rawhide strips.
Piggin Strings were used like one of our favorite things is used as, paracord!


Cook sets of cowboys were typically uncomplicated. Some of the items that they carried were a pot, plate, coffee pot, and a cup. These items could cook everything that they needed.


A large majority of cowboys wouldn’t set off unless they had food with them. They needed something to hold them over if they couldn’t get back as planned. That’s why they kept a little bit of food in their bags.

  • Coffee and Sugar
  • Bacon
  • Hardtack
  • Biscuits

The food that they carried wasn’t all that good but it would save them if they were in trouble.

8.Change of clothes

Traveling all the time is going to do a number on what you were wearing. If it rained and your clothes were drenched with water you would want to change them. Sometimes they would even keep a suit with them.

9.Rain Slicker

Almost all cowboys carried a rain slicker with them, also known in modern days as a raincoat. As we all know storms can happen at random times. Getting wet could be uncomfortable and even dangerous. If it was cold outside then they would be at risk of hypothermia. They would keep it in a spot that they would have access to without having to get off their horse.


Blankets back then were much larger than you would think. They would take up a lot of room. They would typically carry more than one blanket with them. During the winter season, they would need more than one.


Bandannas were super useful. They would use it as a dust filter for when it was windy or if they were riding behind cattle. Bandannas would also protect their face and neck safe from the sun.
They could use it as a rag or a washcloth for bathing.


Believe it or not, cowboys were more educated than most people think. Reading material was important for keeping busy and having a sharp mind. The reason cowboys would carry books is so they could trade them for other cowboys books.
By trading books, they could learn more without having to carry plenty of books.

Even though cowboys lived during a different time they knew how to survive. Just because they lived in a different time that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something about survival from them. The danger was everywhere and they could be attacked by anyone. The environment was harsh and required experience. Just to be safe they would carry all this stuff with them.

Julianne Aguilar
I am an amateur blogger looking to build a reputation. Looking for new ways to develop content and teach people. Trying to give you all the information you need to survive in a survival scenario.

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