A time-travel experiment sends a volunteer back to the stone age.

The Stone Age begins with the first production of stone implements and ends with the first use of bronze. Since the chronological limits of the Stone Age are based on technological development rather than actual date ranges, its length varies in different areas of the world. https://www.ancient.eu/Stone_Age/

The modern person would find themselves in immediate danger from disease, injury, animals and indeed other humans. Unless they were a hardened survivalist they might even die within the first day.

Unfortunately something goes wrong and the traveller is stranded for ever.


What should a modern person take with them to stone-age Europe in what is now Neander Valley in the German Rhineland, to survive as long as possible or preferably indefinitely?


They can only take one set of warm clothing and a backpack containing 80 pounds (36.3 kilograms) of whatever supplies will help them best. When these supplies run out they cannot be replaced.

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    $\begingroup$ The Stone Age man. Modern medicine is better--the modern man will probably die of some disease that's been extinct for thousands of years. Nothing they can take can guarantee they've got cures for everything $\endgroup$ – nzaman Jan 19 '19 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ I'd bet you'd get a decent answer on the Outdoors SE site if you reworded it to just ask something like "best things to pack to survive indefinitely in the wilderness". $\endgroup$ – Giter Jan 19 '19 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @nzaman - Apologies - I changed this to restrict it just to the modern person. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Jan 19 '19 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ This is the epitome of a too story-based question. The limited space means you need to tell us exactly where, exactly when, exactly what creatures will be met - because most of that isn't researchable hard data. The decisions a character makes are inevitably the function of the story, not a function of the rules of a wold. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 19 '19 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH Your comment is the epitome of getting the too story-based criteria wrong. The decisions about what the character needs to do have already been made by the author (The OP). The world consists of a modern person in Neanderthal Europe, who needs to be carrying long-term survival gear in a back pack. The question is about the worldbuilding element of what is needed in that back pack for long-term survival. I agree with elemtilas this may be broad. The question needs more precision about its setting. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 20 '19 at 2:59

2.5 million years ago might have been the start of stone tools, but it was long before homo sapiens. Fitting into local groups could be difficult.

  • A good axe, perhaps two. A whetstone. A pair of good knives.
  • Depending on legalities where the modern man starts, he might carry a pistol or perhaps a lightweight carbine. That should be enough to deal with predators and other attackers. Of course it would be impossible to replenish ammo, so that's only a short-term safeguard, but still ...
    Not sure if it should be a magnum revolver to stop bears, or a lightweight 9mm against groups of attackers.
  • On that line, a modern steel crossbow, a couple of sturdy arrows, and a bag of arrowheads for self-made replacements. That can be used for hunting.
  • Several hundred fishing hooks. Some modern fishing line.
  • Some bags of seeds, both staple foods and useful drugs.
  • Antibiotics. Serious prescription painkillers, to keep going in case of accident.
  • A lightweight, rainproof tent to last until he can build a hut.
  • A few pounds of reference books.
  • $\begingroup$ A muzzleloading weapon (including shotgun style weapons) could work well. Black powder isn't impossible to make, and lead might be reasonably acquirable. A set of molds for the bullets would allow for a much longer time of usability. $\endgroup$ – Andon Jan 20 '19 at 0:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Andon, wouldn't the crossbow I mentioned be easier and about as effective? $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jan 20 '19 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is the only mention of seeds, and that by itself makes this the top contender for long-term survival. Without seeds, you are only properly equipped for short-term survival and you need to hope and pray that hunting and foraging will be enough. Bring quick-yield seeds so you can eat for the first few months, such as turnip, and something long-term that provides more of the essential dietary needs. +1 $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Apr 1 '19 at 23:16

Off the top of my head, and trying not to repeat the great ideas other posters have had:

  1. A compass.
  2. A waterproof heat reflecting survival blanket.
  3. 2 pairs of waterproof socks.
  4. A sturdy hunting bow.
  5. Rope and cord.
  6. A simple leatherworking kit.
  7. Spearpoints
  8. A shotgun for emergency defense, with both buckshot and slug ammunition.
  9. Metallic identification tags that will survive the ages, so the body can be identified.
  10. A number of water purifier drinking tubes
  11. A magnifying glass for starting fires.
  12. A mirror.
  13. A mosquito net.
  14. A sturdy survival wire saw
  15. A few pairs of rugged sunglasses.
  16. Kevlar gloves.
  17. Chapstick.

A piratey cutlass or other long bladed weapon of your choice, in addition to any bladed tools.

A small chisel for shaping stone or carving messages.

A map. It's better than nothing.

Stab-resistant clothes. A few durable sacks. A sling.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that magnetic north is not the same as true north, and in order to use a compass and map correctly you need to account for the local magnetic declination (the true vs. magnetic difference). Magnetic north wanders over time, so the compass might be useless, especially if the traveler does not know ahead of time what year they are travelling to. A better "compass" would be a book on celestial navigation, though at this time scale perhaps even the stars might not be quite where expected, so perhaps a theory book that helps the user re-derive a time-appropriate celestial navigation technique. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Apr 1 '19 at 23:08

Look at the pack early to mid 20th century military troops carried. They were geared to survive any survival situation. Modern pack weigh more, but the troops tend to rely more on their modern logistic capabilities to transport their material that earlier generations didn't have. However, you could remove some combat gear such as ballistic armor, helmet and gas mask, as I doubt you will be facing modern combat.but you may need to add more with the idea of long term isolated survival in mind.

Many of the tools in it were designed to be light weight and multi function, such as the shovel that's also an as, a bayonet is a knife or a spear.

It would also help to know what time frame this takes place in. Whether it is during or between one of the ice ages would change the pack make up. Also need to take in account of extinction dates of some mega fauna, as certain species may cause trouble.

Some things I can think of, off the top of my head, is a rifle and side arm, with an ammo reload kit. Your survivor would soon have to procure a means to replenish the ammo components in situ. Change of clothing, jacket, water proof gear, boots ect. Shelter building material and gear and bedding. Cooking gear with initial survival food like MREs. Traps and snares. A fire starter kit is definitely a must. Tools, such as a mattock or separate as and shovel, several knives, sharpening kit, saw, hammer and simple repair and cleaning tools. A robust medical kit that can last long term.

To improve survival of your guy, a tablet with full libraries of survival information, with a portable solar charger would be handy. You could add a few other powered gadgets with this.

Depending on when you are, interacting with the local population may never happen as the population density is so low that you may never run across anyone.

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    $\begingroup$ Helmet and armour might not be a bad idea, actually. Head injuries are nasty and stone age people knew how to use spears. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jan 19 '19 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ A tactical helmet and ballistic armor would not be necessary as they wouldn't provide sufficient protection from every day dangers to justify the weight, the odds of encountering people would be rare and the armor would not protect well enough to be justified. A n injury to an arm or leg would be fairly devastating. Now a safety helmet might be sufficient and light $\endgroup$ – Sonvar Jan 21 '19 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ Please note that I didn't specify "tactical helmet" or "ballistic armor" (by which I guess you mean like modern military stuff). Nevertheless, head and body protection of some kind, even if it's a touch heavy, will come in handy. I know you say the odds of encountering humans are low, however, such meetings are stipulated by the OP. Humans know how to sling stones and poke with spears. Any ecotourist travelling into the deep past will be smart to wear some kind of armour. Any injury will be devastating: the goal with armour is to minimise such devastation. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jan 21 '19 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ My answer specified it. Thought you were responding to that. But in a survival scenario, where you can over heat even in cold weather, body armor would be the first thing to be discarded $\endgroup$ – Sonvar Jan 22 '19 at 20:18

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