I’ve been carrying a survival kit for many years. It goes almost everywhere I go: on my bike, in the car, when I travel for work and pleasure…domestically and internationally, and certainly when I’m camping. Why do I carry it? Because it’s practical. And it gives me some peace of mind.
As our weather patterns become seemingly more unstable, our government becomes less reliable, and our dependence on vulnerable technologies increases, it seems more appropriate, each day, to carry a ready-made bug-out bag that can provide some basic amenities if/when they are needed…
My kit varies a bit as I add and subtract items over time, but it always contains tools and supplies to make fire, procure food and drinkable water, construct shelter, and add a bit of comfort to a less-than-ideal situation…
First aid: topical ointment, alcohol wipes, adhesive bandages, gauze pads, Steristrips, Dermabond, iodine, Imodium, Benadryl, Sudafed, lanolin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Aleve, aspirin, small knife w/scissors, caffeine pills, ephedrine pills
Calories: Honey Stinger waffles, energy gel… 500 – 600 calories, fishing kit, snare wire, slingshot band and pouch
Tools: Leatherman, folding saw, diamond knife-sharpening plate
Water treatment: 2-part liquid chlorine dioxide water purification system, chlorine dioxide tablets, titanium cup for boiling water
Water storage: 1-liter Platypus bottle, unlubricated condom
Fire: Light My Fire firesteel, REI waterproof matches in waterproof match case, Duraflame firelog chunks, firepaste, disposable lighter, pieces of inner tube (firestarter), 36” tube for blowing coals into flame, char cloth and tin for making char cloth
Kitchen: titanium spork, aluminum foil
Shelter: plastic poncho, reflective emergency blanket
Repair: 50’ 550 paracord, 2mm accessory cord…various lengths, electrical tape, duct tape, inner tube rubber bands, sewing kit, dental floss
Pen/paper: all-weather journal, stamps, ultralight pen
Rescue: signal mirror, whistle, compass
Lighting: Princeton Tec headlamp, mini LED keychain light, 12-hour beeswax candle, Skully front and rear LED bike lights, spare batteries
Misc: house key, handkerchief, toilet paper, $20.00 bill, blank check
Small zippered pouches are used to consolidate like items.
I also carry spare clothing: Montane Pertex smock, Cannondale vest, Golite vapor barrier socks, Mt. Borah balaclava, WSI skull cap, Pearl Izumi headband, OR mitten covers, neoprene face mask, wool Buff.
This is my winter-oriented selection. I don’t carry as much clothing in the summer.
The survival kit items go into a zippered sil-nylon bag, and the clothing fits in a sil-nylon stuff sack. The beer is there for scale…and author refreshment.
In my pockets, I carry a knife, a lighter, and a handkerchief.
Of course, it doesn’t make much sense to carry all this stuff, if one doesn’t know how to use it. That’s another reason I carry this gear with me. I use - and maintain - many of the items on a regular basis, so I know that they will be in good working condition when I need to depend on them most.
I can get by without most of these items…even in an emergency. I can make fire with friction and percussion (literally, sticks and stones), I can weave cordage from natural fibers, I can build shelters with found natural and manmade materials, and I can procure food and purify water without purchased gadgets and gizmos. But having a basic kit provides comfort that practical knowledge, alone, will not…at least, not in the short term.
You might think it’s odd that I carry all this gear. You're probably right. After all, that new iPhone survival app you just downloaded is guaranteed to guide you safely through any problematic situation. What more could you possibly need?