This article was originally posted on December 15th at Timbuk2 & Tippy Canoe. I thought Merriwether's readers would enjoy the reprint. This is most likely my last entry as I expect Merriwether to come back on Monday after what I believe was this weekend a camping trip with a friend. For those of you who sung my praises, I appreciate it very much. Hopefully I've done some justice and well at Into the Borderlands and hopefully we can do it again sometime soon.
-Izzy G of Timbuk2 & Tippy Canoe Adventure Blog.
"For quite some time now I have posted pictures or spoken about the importance of essential gear and survival gear being with you. I myself carry a Doug Ritter Pocket Survival Pak and an Altoids Tin First Aid Kit wherever I go. When I spend prolonged periods of time outdoors I have a larger First Aid Kit and Survival Kit, both you have seen in detail on this website.
But I've never spoken about contents in any depth or detail. Many people who read my blog ask me "What should I put into my survival kit?"
So in response to this outpouring of correspondence I am turning to Peter Darman's "The Survival Handbook."
The Survival Tin can be one of your most useful pieces of equipment. If you have the items listed below always at hand, your chances of survival, REGARDLESS OF THE TERRAIN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN, will be greatly enhanced. These items of equipment are not expensive or difficult to operate, and they can be fitted into an ordinary tobacco tin.
Get used to carrying the tin around with you at all times (it can easily fit into most jacket pockets), and regularly check it's contents for deterioration, especially the matches and tablets. Pack the contents with cotton balls or cotton wool - it stops annoying rattling and can be used for making fires.
Your survival tin should include the following items.
- Matches, but only use when improvised fire-making methods fail.
- Candle, a light source as well as first starting. Tallow based candle wax can be eaten in emergencies.
- Flint, ensure you have a processed or machined flint with a saw-like striker. This combination can make hundreds of fires and will keep working long after matches have gone.
- Sewing Kit, useful for repairing clothing and other materials.
- Water Purification Tablets, useful when water supplies are suspect and you do not have the means to boil water.
- Compass, a small button liquid filled compass is the best, but check regularly for leaks.
- Signaling Mirror, useful for signaling rescuers.
- Safety Pins, capable of making repairs to just about anything as well as the manufacture of improvised fishing lines.
- Fish Hooks & Line, the fishing kit should include split lead weights and have as much line as possible. The line can also be used to catch birds in snares.
- Wire Saw, these can cut even large trees and cut bone. Be sure to coat it in silicone spray or cooking oil to protect it from rust.
- A Large Plastic Bag, can be used to carry water and also for use in a solar still or vegetation bag.
- Potassium Permanganate, has many uses when added to water to treat fungal infections.
- Snare Wire, brass is the best for longevity.
- Sewing Kit.
- Pliers with wire cutter.
- Dental Floss (Many uses).
- Folding Knife.
- Ring/Wire Saw.
- Folding Shovel.
- Signal Cloth (At least 3x3" and in a bright color).
- Fishing Hooks, flies, weights and line.
- Three Large Safety Pins.
- 150 feet of braided nylon line (Paracord I recommend-Izzy).
- Gaff Hook, can be used for spearfishing.
- Protein Tablets (Can be replaced with specialized High Calorie/Protein enriched Bars-Izzy).
- Large Chocolate Bar (Snickers bars are the best because of the protein in the peanuts and sugars-Izzy).
- Dried Eggs.
- Dried Milk.
- File (Include a wood rasp and a metal file-Izzy).
- Cutlery Set.
- Three Space Blankets.
- Signal Mirror.
- Four Candles (I suggest the 24-36 hour emergency candles-Izzy).
- Micro-Lite Flashlight.
- Extra Batteries.
- Extra Bulb (Exclude this since LED technology does not burn out-Izzy).
- Fire Starter (Flint & Saw Striker-Izzy).
- Wind Proof & Water Proof Matches.
- Butane Lighter.
- 12 Snares pre-rigged from brass wire.
- Tin Opener.
- Plastic Cup.
- Water Purification Tablets.
- Sling Shot & Ammunition.
- Knife Sharpener.
- Soap & Other Toiletries.
- Two Orange Smoke Signals And/Or Flares.
- 225 feet of Nylon Twine.
- One pair of Work Gloves.
- Mess Tin.
- Mouse Trap (A simple and affective way to catch small game)."
First let's take a look at Personal Survival Kits. These are centered around Tin's, Pouches and Bags. Let's start at the bottom of the food chain.
This is your very basic military-style tin. Often found in various incarnations in butter tins, tobacco tins and altoids tins. Let's take a look at a military pouch centered more comprehensive kit.
This particular kit type runs around $20. It mixes essential survival equipment with essential fist aid equipment. You see the same essentials featured in Tin Based kits, but with additions such as a flashlight, glowsticks and a variety of things to strengthen your odds. Lastly when it comes to personal survival kits let's take a look at the premiere "PSK."
This is of course the famous Doug Ritter Pocket Survival Pak. It retails for between $25 and $35. It is perhaps the best of it's class.
Now onto cost effective pre-made kits....
These pre-made kits (Now a days called Disaster Kits) range from twenty dollars all the way up to hundreds. Let's start with an example of a bottom of the barrel kit.
This is a very basic kit that retails for $19.95 and will keep you alive for three days somewhat comfortably. Now let's try a middle of the road kit.
This particular kit retails for $169.99. It's got better quality equipment and food products. Like the previous kit it will keep one person comfortably alive for 3 days. Let's take a look at a multi-person kit.
This kit retails for around $200. It is designed to aid two people for surviving for three days. As you can tell 72 hours (3 days) is a staple in many of these kits. The reason for this is because the Red Cross and F.E.M.A. often cannot get to disaster areas for upwards of three days. Likewise for rescuers looking for crashed planes or lost hikers. Three days is usually all it takes, but if assembled properly with additional items can prolong your survival from three days to two weeks if necessary. All of the above kits with the exception of the Doug Ritter Pocket Survival Pak are sold by MajorSurplusAndSurvival.com.
Now all of the kits I have listed above are budget friendly. They're largely a good starting point. Much like the Doug Ritter Pocket Survival Pak is a good start for a homebrew survival kit. But they're not professional level. To get an accurate representation of what a professional survival kit is I direct you to go here. There you will find an assortment of Doug (A professional) Ritter designed professional grade survival kits and what they contain.