This focuses more on attributes (habits) rather than equipment, since much of my study of history suggests that the possession (or lack) of equipment and/or supplies does not always determine success or failure on an expedition (so many explorers experienced equipment failure/loss). Instead, it is one's attributes and knowledge that contribute most to success - and this probably hasn't changed over the centuries.
In Outdoor Survival Skills, author and survivor/explorer Larry Dean Olsen lists some of the attributes that survivors possess:
- A positive degree of stubbornness...
- Well-defined values...
- A belief in the goodness of humankind...
- A utopian attitude...
- A survivor accepts the situation as it is and improves it from that standpoint.
I think this is a very good list to start with, before even considering equipment, which can vary tremendously. Equipment is unimportant when compared to your own personal attributes and knowledge. If one does not possess most of the above attributes, then he/she should keep his outdoor travel somewhat close to civilization (physically or via communication) in case of emergency. This person would also need to rely heavily on modern equipment.
Mr. Olsen tells a true story of Zeke Sanchez who was dropped off “from a small boat onto a bleak stretch of the shore of Lake Powell in southern Utah.” Zeke set off with no gear or supplies (so he could travel fast), to catch up with an outdoor survival group that was 3 days ahead of him,
“in some of the most beautiful but forbidding desert land in North
America. He was dressed in jeans, boots, and a long-sleeved shirt, and
on his head was tied a large bandana… Three days later, Zeke caught up
to his… group, well watered and sassy from eating pack rats, cicadas,
mahonia berries, biscuit-roots, Chenopodium, and cactus fruits. He
sported two new ratskin possibles pouches, a woven rice grass sleeping
mat, a greasewood digging stick, two dozen Paiute deadfall triggers,
firesticks, twenty feet of cliffrose rope, a jasper knife, a bone
weaving awl, an unfinished serviceberry bow stave, and a whole bundle
of reed grass arrowshafts.”
Notice the list of items that Zeke carried after three days. Obviously, these are what he considered to be an essential equipment list. But he didn't start with them! He had the knowledge to make them from what nature offered.
Mr. Olsen and Mr. Sanchez are modern survivalists who thrive in the outdoors. Other survivalists that immediately spring to mind are Hugh Glass, whom you already mentioned, and John Colter.
Hugh Glass (The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man by John Myers Myers) was forced into service on a pirate ship, escaped off the coast of Texas around 1820, was captured by Indians, escaped after two years (he learned a lot from them), then hired on with a fur trapping outfit heading for the Rocky Mountains. En route, Glass was mauled by a grizzly and left for dead. (The company was in a hurry and two trappers were left behind to help Glass recover or bury him when he died. He wouldn’t recover or die, so the two trappers finally left him for dead. They took everything but his blanket.) He somehow survived, recovered on his own, and traveled hundreds of miles, alone, without supplies, driven by vengeance to find those who had left him for dead. He eventually explored all over the American west for about 20 years, almost always alone, before finally being killed by Indians. Hugh Glass had the attributes of a survivor in addition to knowledge of how to survive.
Another explorer of considerable note is John Colter who first went west with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804. (This expedition was well documented with at least three members keeping journal records throughout. Lots of mistakes, equipment failures, disasters, and lessons learned. Try The Way to the Western Sea by David Lavender.) He was an invaluable aid to the expedition, often hunting and exploring on his own. After spending two and a half years exploring the Missouri and Columbian Rivers, the expedition floated down the Missouri River, back to civilization, without Colter. He remained in the wilderness for four more years, sometimes alone and sometimes in small groups. His two most well-known expeditions include (see John Colter: His Years in the Rockies by Burton Harris):
While working at a fort, built by Manuel Lisa’s fur trading company,
John Colter agreed to notify neighboring Indian villages of the new
trading post. He then traveled, on foot, throughout the region of
what is now known as Yellowstone National Park, discovering geysers,
enormously rugged mountains, and high snow-covered mountain passes.
“The trail he made through approximately five hundred miles of
mountainous terrain would not be easy for the hiker of today to follow
with the assistance of modern maps and roads. The magnitude of
Colter’s performance can only be appreciated by bearing in mind that
most of the journey was made in the severe winter months, and that in
some manner he made his way through jumbled mountain ranges that
frequently baffle those who have lived in them all their lives.”
The author states that it is known that Colter carried 30 pounds of
equipment and supplies and, in addition, he carried an essential
selection of trade goods that would have made his pack considerably
heavier. Unfortunately, he does not specifically list the contents
of Colter’s equipment and supplies.
On an expedition in present-day Montana, John Colter was surprised
and captured by over 800 Blackfeet Indians. After being captured and
his partner killed, John Colter’s captors decided to make sport of
him, stripping him naked and telling him to run over a plain pocked
with prickly pear cactus. They gave him a short lead, then pursued.
Colter outran the Indians and managed to completely evade them that
“…having escaped from the Indians, his situation was still dreadful:
he was completely naked, under a burning sun; the soles of his feet
were entirely filled with the thorns of the prickly pear; he was
hungry, and had no means of killing game, although he saw abundance
around him, and was at least seven days journey from Lisa’s Fort…. He
arrived at the fort in seven days, having subsisted on a root….”