The debate about the optimal firearm caliber for wilderness survival is an old one. Ultimately, the answer will depend on the individual’s skill set, environment, needs, and personal preference. I believe a strong contender is the .22 long rifle cartridge. Often considered an underpowered round, it has a great many advantages over other calibers. .22 is cheap and ubiquitous. It’s very lightweight and compact- you could likely store a dozen rounds for the same space and weight as a single 12 gauge shell. The .22 is able to take basically any animal in North America, from chipmunks to moose. Yes, this is absolutely not an ideal caliber for large game and using it as such is illegal in many jurisdictions; however, it is definitely possible, as Christopher McCandless demonstrated in his ill-fated adventure. Cheap ammo also means regular practice is inexpensive.
I began with an off-the-shelf Ruger 10/22 takedown. Added to it was an AGP Arms folding stock, a 550 paracord wrapped sling (note wrapped and not made solely from cord- you still want a sling if you have to use the cord!), sling mounts, tech sights, and internal upgrades such as a polymer bolt pin, Kidd trigger, extended bolt handle, and bolt release mechanism. The bipod seen in the first photo was removed- I found it bulky, heavy, and unnecessary.
The AGP stock reveals two compartments when folded, in which I store a 1 liter water bag, ferro rod with tape wrapped handle, ferro rod striker, tinderquik tabs, Chlor-floc water purification tabs, and a few spare .22 rounds. I’ve also wrapped the pistol grip in tape which can be unwrapped as needed. To the sling is mounted a Becker Remora fixed blade knife. None of these items are relied on as primary kit, but they take little to no space on the rifle, and the extra insurance is nice peace of mind.
The rifle folds up very compact and is easy to stow.