The Right Stuff: Survival Gear

by ahanagata


  Alright Savages, why even carry it? Why not just chuck a Swiss army knife and two band-aids in your pack and march off; Because you never know when you might have to saw your own god damn arm off or make a fire because your lighter turned out to be a piece of shit. My friend Jay once said “When you’re out in the back country the amount of things that care if you die shrink to almost nothing, the ones that do care, care because they are trying to kill you.”

  It’s a strange piece of a equipment the survival kit. Among backpackers, campers and bushcrafters it’s probably one of the most hotly contested things that can end up in your pack. Ultra-lighters will tell you there’s too much stuff, Bushcrafters and Survivalists will tell you there’s not enough. They might both be right. A survival kit, by all means I believe is a personal thing. My only real strict rule is, make it yourself. I’m going to provide you with a few tips on it’s construction as well as a small list of things I find helpful to get you started. Just use it as a guideline that you either take or add to it for your own. It’s not just good to have in your pack, if you’re not into backpacking you can reconfigure your kit to be your emergency car kit, or zombie apocalypse kit.

  First let’s go over some tips and general foundations. By far the worst thing you can do is buy one of the prepackaged survival kits then directly hop on the trail. Mind you, you’re probably better off with that than none at all; but I’ve found that often it’s half full of junk and gimmicks. Plus, if you have any medications they’ll obviously not be included in it. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather test fire the rifle I’m going to take to battle. The next common mistake I see people do is they go through the trouble of constructing the kit, but they just throw it in their pack and forget about it. Meanwhile, things are expiring or spoiling (yes, even band-aids go bad) and it might not be suited for the particular adventure you’re embarking on. Right tool for the job.

  I like to approach the survival kit as an more free flowing collective of goods rather than a box you toss in your pack. For instance, you can wear your knife on your belt, which is part of your survival kit; even though it’s not in the box in your pack. You get the idea right? Your survival kit is even your sleeping bag, bivy sack, and rain gear.

  What to take, and what to leave behind. Now if you’ve ever done any shopping for a backpacking trip you’ve done it, you’ve questioned how much something weighs and whether or not you truly need it. The tricky part, the one that’s the basis of contention is the definition of the word ‘need’. Do I really need a fixed blade knife? Many will say it’s excessive, and heavy; others will say they wouldn’t camp in the backyard without it. I personally feel like it’s more like insurance, and if you want to get bushcrafty while on your adventure you’ll be able to do much more. Generally, I feel like people are often most likely to poo poo on my knife if they don’t really know how to use one. Which honestly is like the rest of the kit, the more you know, the more things will make sense or not. And that, the knowledge is the most important thing in your kit. I try my best to stay light, but the fact is if you are on the trail and the camp cuisine gives you the runs immodium will make or break your trip. If you’re worried about the flak you’ll get over the extra bits and bobs, once someone needs something you have…it’s usually the last you’ll hear their jib jabbing.

  The other little quirk of my survival kit is the way it’s organized and the fact that I carry some duplicates. I have three main sections of my kit; First Aid, Main Survival, and a small auxiliary kit. My small auxiliary kit is an small tin that’s strapped to my knife. This kit is a smaller combination of the other two ‘main’ parts and contains some duplicates. The reason for this is the old adage ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. I recall one trip where my travel buddy and I wandered back to camp at dusk and found it overrun by bears. This auxiliary kit allowed us to keep warm while the bears looted our camp (which contained our warm jackets). You never know when you and your pack might become separated. The nature of an emergency dictates it is unplanned, unfortunate and unforgiving.

  Below you will find the contents of my general base kit, that I add to or take away depending on my environment. Please, please, please take it and run away. Add, remove, make it your own. Call me a jackass for carrying too much or not enough; just don’t copy it verbatim. Read it, and think on it.

My Main Kit:

  • Bandanna & Shemagh
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Cotton Balls
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Chapstick
  • Sunscreen
  • Duct Tape
  • Fire Steel and Striker
  • Lighter
  • Pencil Pad of Paper
  • Para-cord 20′
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Tooth Brush
  • Needle and Safety Pins
  • Compass
  • Super Glue
  • Eye drops
  • Flashlight
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Bush Knife
  • Skinner/meal knife
  • Whet Stone
  • Ziplock Bags
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Fishing Line and Hooks
  • Signal Mirror
  • 20 ga. Snare Wire
  • Mini Flashlight
  • Water Filter (lifestraw)

First Aid Kit:

  • Mole Skin
  • Snake Bite Kit
  • Vaseline
  • Dental Floss
  • Super Glue
  • Tweezers
  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Cotton Balls
  • Self Adhesive Bandage Wrap
  • SAM Splint
  • Pain Reliever
  • Allergy Pills (anti-histamine)
  • Bite Stick
  • Hydro Cortisone Cream
  • Antacid
  • Triple Anti-Biotic Ointment
  • Iodine Pads
  • Alcohol Swabs
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Butterfly Stitches
  • Plenty of Band-Aids
  • Anti-diarrhea tablets
  • Couple Sanitary Napkins which are great bandages


Auxiliary Kit:

  • Mole Skin
  • Band Aids
  • Alcohol Swabs
  • Triple Anti-biotic Ointment
  • Hydro Cortisone Cream
  • Duct Tape
  • Safety Pin
  • Fish line and Hooks
  • Lighter
  • Fire Steel
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Zip Lock Bag
  • Para-cord bracelet or hat band

  There you have it. My personal kit, of course there are survival items I’m leaving out that I feel are location specific. Or pieces I feel are survival kit material but are better left to another article, such as my shelter, sleeping bag, and stove. I’ll almost always have a tarp as well. Again, this is not definitive, nor is it all I take with me. This is merely the soup base, the stock, the meat and potatoes.

  Some of you might be wondering why I’m carrying some of the items I’ve selected, and while I’d like to go through each and every item, their purpose, and how to use them; I would end up with a rather long wordy article. I also don’t want to be too brief when giving advice on how to use said items; After all the item itself is only as good as your knowledge of how to utilize it. Instead I’ve chosen to break it up into multiple articles, this isn’t the last you’ve seen of the survival kit. This way we can really sink our teeth into the items with lesser known uses, or the ones that are puzzling to some as to why they have a place in a pack where space and weight is everything.

Until Next Time Savages! Live Wild. Eat Well.

visit me on Twitter and Facebook

© 2012 TheSavageGentleman.