Do you need an emergency kit?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: With everything that's been going on in the world; hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes; not to mention the escalating tensions between the US and North Korea... It's only prudent to have a little something put back for a rainy day, or nuclear holocaust....
Disclaimer: I'm not a professional anything. I'm just a guy fascinated with survival theory. I will fully admit that I've never gone out into the bush with a knife donning a flannel, only to come out months later wearing buckskin moccasins and a coon skin cap. If you have, in all likelihood you should be writing this, not reading it. So, get writing! For the rest of you, I've tried to compile a document you can peruse at your leisure, take from it what you will and hopefully enjoy reading. I enjoy writing very much, but I did leave school quite early on, so my spelling and grammar can be a bit all over the place (fair warning for all you grammar Nazis). My wife used to help me edit these articles, but she's taken ill (undiagnosed myofascial disease; if you've any ideas PM me we've tried everything) and can no longer assist me.
Still interested? Well, go on then, and enjoy, or don't, whichever.
Step 1: Welcome to My Maddness
So, it's been just about two years since last I'd written about my disaster preparedness kit, and being a little older, a little wiser (Well, a little older anyway...) I thought it a good time for an update! So, let's take a look at the gear I've assembled to should the S.H.T.F. (google it)
Before we delve in too deeply, I want to describe what it is that I'm trying to do with this kit. Personally, I don't ascribe to any particular "Doomsday" scenario. I've lived through Blizzards, Super storms (f%&k you Sandy!) numerous nor'easters, and even an impromptu power failure brought on by a typo! Bottom line, I've lived through my fair share of craptastic situations and have always managed to come out all right, in no small part due to having been adequately prepared.
Preparedness isn't all tinfoil hats, conspiracy theories and drinking your own urine.... In fact, I don't know what in the world drinking your own urine might prepare you for, save donning a shiny buckled shirt in a very plush room for a very long time. But I digress...
*Pro Tip: Regardless of what you see on TV you cannot adequately filter urine through a commercial camping water filter. Though urine is 95% water; urine also contains: urea, phosphorus, sodium, chloride and other dissolved organic compounds. You can however use distillation or a reverse osmotic filter to make it potable. Personally, I'll have a Dasani.
In my purview, there is a difference between preparedness and survivalism, regardless of what Wikipedia says! In the modern era, survivalism is a hobby, like bush-crafting; where as preparedness should be a common practice and common sense. You don't need to own a ferro rod, know how to make a debris shelter, or apply a proper poultice . Don't get me wrong, you can if you want to. But really, at least for me, it's just not practical.
I mean, I live in a city, in a tiny apartment, in the United States of America, in the 21st century. I work full time and have an absolutely beautiful wife from whom I've never been apart for more then a day since we've been together (going on six years). A wife mind you, who hates bugs, hiking, and the outdoors, lol! My goal was to put together a kit capable of maintaining a quality of life that would permit the transition between "normalcy" and the aftermath of the unexpected.
Step 2: Who, What, When, and How?
The first thing doing in assembling a kit is to determine what it is that you want this kit to do for you. The same questions that make a good journalist make a good basis of what you're going to need in an emergency:
What are the most likely scenarios that could otherwise ruin your day? Fire, Flood, Blizzard, Protracted Power outage, Coronal Mass ejection (Okay, maybe not that last one...)
How many? How many days do I need to prepare for? How much can I carry comfortably and for how far/long?
Who is going to be with me, and what are their limitations? What are your limitations?
What skills do I have to help me and those around me survive?
When can you expect rescue?
If survival is assured, can I maintain a relative quality of life for the people I'm responsible for till normalcy is restored? (Cranky people can be a real pain in the keister!)
What can I expect from myself in times of crisis?
My kit is designed to help make life more tolerable should my wife and I need to leave our home for an extended period of time; comfortably for 72hrs, uncomfortably for an indeterminate time there after. Why 72hrs?
Well, FEMA suggests having a food and water supply capable of sustaining you and yours for at least 72hrs in the event of an emergency. Also, three days supplies seems practical. Anymore, and the weight tops what I'd like to carry, at least for any protracted length of time, any less seems like not having enough. Simple
Secondly, I need it to be enduring. What I mean by that is, I want to "set it and forget it," (like those old infomercials used to tout while peddling, whatever it was they were peddling at three A.M. in the early 90's.) I know me, I'm not going to go though and check and recheck my gear, rotate my rations, etc. I'm just not. So what I put in my kit needs to last, and it needs to be ready for when I'm not.
I also want everything in my kits to be essentially bomb proof. If there's an emergency, like, a real emergency, Katrina-esk in scope, Haitian in magnitude; Then my life, or that of my wife, or father might depend on some otherwise trivial piece of kit. It doesn't matter if it's from the dollar store or US military surplus, it just needs to work, all the time, every time.
As for the how... I've assembled my kit after 100's of hours of research (seriously, everyone needs a hobby.) I've purchased and tested tons of gear, those items that have proven themselves time and again have become part of my kit. Items that I haven't liked, or thought better of I've sent on their merry; Either by donating them, selling them on the bay (Ebay) or by passing them along to friends and family that wanted to be a bit more prepared.
Step 3: My Own Meandering Experince
My kits have been evolving for years, from a Tupperware box filled with tea lights and granola bars beneath my bed, to alice packs and MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat. More affectionately: Meals Rejected by the Enemy!) Below you'll find a laundry list of issues I've dealt with over the years. If you've already got a kit, these may help you work out a few kinks. If not, maybe they'll help you save some cash in it's future assembly.
Consider temperature when assembling your pack. The first law of thermodynamics: Things melt. Candles, chapstick, candy bars and bar soaps left in the boot (trunk) of a car in mid July in the northeast U.S. will undergo a metamorphous from useful to useless in no time at all. Things that you haven't even thought of can be ruined by temperature extremes. Things melt, they freeze and if not properly contained, they can not only be ruined themselves but they can obliterate other components of kit. (Pro tip: Lifestraw/Sawyer type filters can freeze and be ruined, they should be kept close to you body in colder conditions to preserve their filtration capabilities)
Water... You need more then you think you do, a lot more, period *Did you know the average American uses 68-100 Gallons of water perday? True story.
Multi-tools are typically more "multi" then "tool." Those cheap pressed sheet-metal multi-tools you either receive as a free gift, or few pence at most, are practically useless. But I've seen them in dozens of kits on the pretense that; "Eh, I don't know, I had it and *it doesn't really weight anything so I put it in there..." Just because you have something doesn't mean you should put it in your kit! Same thing goes for those combination whistle/thermometer/magnifier type deals. Spend the money and get the tools that you need for the tasks you need to accomplish. If you absolutely have to have a tool with multiple functions, save your money and buy a Leatherman.
*Which reminds me: Oz=Lbs & Lbs=PAIN. Everything weighs something! Every Oz counts, remember it only takes 16Oz to make a pound!
Avoid those items that seem more tact-cool then practical. Odds are that if you've never found occasion to use something in your day to day life, you aren't likely to need it in an emergency (with the exception of a solid medical kit... unless you're exceptionally klutzy.) Do you really need that pocket chainsaw? How about that tomahawk?
In any type of disaster scenario hygiene and medical should be prioritized. In the aftermath of most disasters surface water becomes contaminated, you don't eat as well as you should, people and animals die with no one to come collect them... There's a reason people often die of cholera and dysentery after a cataclysm... Oh, and it's really hard to cook food and purify water when you're bleeding out on the sidewalk... just saying.
Ditch the "fire kit," I've reviewed hundreds of other peoples kits at this point and fire kits seem to be ubiquitous... Now, I'm not saying you should have multiple methods by which to start a fire. What I am saying is that if you have one kit designed to get a fire going in the frozen tundra of the Antarctic peninsula and you lose it, what have you got? Personally, I have gear dispersed throughout my kit, all readily accessible with which to start a fire. I'm all for modularity. But if you can't lay it all out on the floor, have someone take one module at random and still subsist off the remainder, you're doing it wrong.
Beware appetite fatigue. It may sound stupid, but revulsion can kill. There's a reason that there's such a wide array of foods, treats and condiments in MRE's even through there's well under the 2000 calories recommended by the FDA. That's because, when confronted with having to eat the same meals day in and day out there are a significant percentage of people who would rather do without... Could that be you? Something to consider before stocking up on life boat rations. Speaking of which...
If you've got a brick of food chilling in you bag, consider the following...
A. The foil wrapper can be easily punctured, thus negating their 5yr shelf life.
B. There's only the one flavor which will get old lightning fast.
C. Once opened, not all of them are individually wrapped bars, some are just rationed out in easily divisible portions.
Step 4: Opportunity Costs
This is a concept that I stumbled across while reading an article by: Gray wolf survival and I feel so strongly about it I thought it deserved it's own step. It's essentially the concept of give and take, pro's and con's. Each piece of gear to choose to add to your pack equates to another piece of gear getting relegated to the closet, as it should, or maybe not... Here's an hypothetical:
You're in a coniferous forest adjacent a large lake, you can only take one piece of kit with you into the wild, either a fishing kit or a rifle w/ammo. If you take the rifle you'll be able to hunt large game, signal for help (three consecutive shots), more easily start a fire and defend yourself if necessary; but you'll be entirely dependent on ammunition, of which you can only carry so much. If you take the fishing kit, you can fish and potentially use the line for cordage and snares; but you lose out on adequately being able to take large game and you may not be able to fish in the winter months. Which do you choose?
There's a lot to consider here. The caliber of the rifle and your proficiency with it, time of year, size/depth of the lake, known local wild life, type of line/tackle, proficiency as a fisherman... you could go on and on. Basically, there is no wrong or right answer. It's all dependent on your skillset and your ingenuity. Either way you're gaining and losing capability. It's a game of determining the least loss for the most gain.
Another perfect example is my shelter system. Initially it was comprised of two 5X7 tarps, four tarp clips, four precut guylines, a military issue wool blanket and some loose no-see-um netting. Now, I could easily make a shelter out of all that. But could my wife? Also, there's the expenditure of calories to consider, the time of year, and the weight. In the end, I decided to pick up a Eureka Sunriver 2 two person tent that I found on clearance at my local sporting goods store. It has a built in bug net, ground sheet and rain fly. Also it's free standing, meaning I don't have to search out the ideal spot. On top of that my wife or father could easily assemble it in no more then a few minutes if need be, with no special training/direction required, and it actually weights about a pound and a half less then my pervious gear while still fitting inside my pack.
Now, that doesn't mean there isn't a down side, opportunity costs remember? I've twice over lost the versatility of having a tarp which is easier to use as an impromptu poncho, shelter component, or as a makeshift water catchment system. I've also lost the insulating and flame retardant properties of the wool blanket. Lastly, because it's a tent with more components i.e. poles, stakes, buckles and clips there are that many more items which could possibly fail.
Step 5: "Survival Is Simple, Just Don't Die." ~Creek Stewert
Water, shelter, food and fire are the corner stones of human existence and the foundations of any decent kit. That can be as simple as a smart water, cliff bar, poncho and a pack of matches, or as complicated as you so choose. Simple as that.
The bottom line is that you need to take into account our basic human needs and expound from there. The "Rule of three's" is a guideline appropriated by the prepper community which states: " You can live three days without water, three hours without shelter (in harsh conditions) and three weeks without food." You don't need to have pounds of gear on hand at all times to facilitate survival. What gear can do however, is to make life easier when things are at their worst.
When I first started prepping I was of the mindset that I needed to prepare for TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it). Now, after having researched various disasters such as Hurricane Katerina, The Great Depression, The Haitian earthquake of 2010, the Tsunami of 2004 I've come to realize that the end of the world as we know it doesn't equate to "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," Life goes on... It's about trying to maintain the quality of life to which you've become accustomed allowing for a progressive transition into your new reality. It's about transition.
Don't worry about the end of the world as "we" know it, but as "you" know it. Things change, people lose jobs, get sick. It doesn't take some cataclysm, or act of terror to change your world. In fact, most of the time the people most likely to be affected should things turn south are in your immediate area. Take the recent hurricanes: while I was working and helping people load goods into their cars, the good people of Florida and the Caribbean islands were battening down the hatches and evacuating their homes! Disasters larger then state/region in scope are relatively rare. Trying to prepare for them is like pissing in the wind (Don't understand the analogy? Try it some time, you'll see what I'm getting at).
Step 6: The Nitty-gritty: Gear List
- The Pack:
- Sandpiper of California Bug Out Bag (total pack weight: 31lbs dry/33.2lbs wet)
- *Eureka Sun River 2- Two person tent w/MSR groundhog stakes
- 1 X Grabber space blanket
- 1 X Vinyl grommeted backpacking poncho
*A tent has loads of uses: keeps the bugs off, keeps you dry, keeps you out of the wind. Pitched inside, it can establish a micro climate, or simply create privacy (a luxury we often take for granted). With this particular tent the rainfly is neon green which could facilitate signaling. Should I want to run incognito, I could always use it as a bug net/ground sheet and pitch a lean-to or a-frame over it with either my poncho or thermal blanket, done and done.
- 1 X Laminated kit contents (I never see these in people's kits)
- 80ft of Titan Paracord in OD green on a Spool-tool with a mini-Bic lighter
- 2 X Water resistant angled flashlights with visibility aids (AA)
- 1 X Micro pack-light affixed to inside of the main compartment
- 1 X Rite-in-the-Rain pad w/Fisher space pen
- 1 X *Modded Bic lighter & Wetfire tinder cubes (
- 1 X Folding tanto pocket knife
- 10 X AA lithium Batteries
- 2 X Heavy plastic spoons
- 1 X Pot scrubber/sponge
- 1 X Light duty work gloves
- 1 X Leatherman Rebar
- 3 X 3N95 respirator masks
*Pro Tip: Wrapping your lighter with hemp wick is a great way to carry water resistant tinder with you at all times, also it allows you to save fuel when trying to get a fire started. ~Thanks stoners! Also, a small zip tie can keep your lighter from discharging unnecessarily.
- Repair kit:
- 1 X Multi-blade retractable utility knife
- Approx. 30ft gorilla brand duct tape
- 1 X Replacement parts for my Coleman multi-fuel stove
- 3 X Single use loctite superglue vials
- 1 X 1" Replacement side release buckle w/slider
- 1 X 100yrds Outdoor synthetic thread w/3 #18 upholstery needles
- 6 X Large safety pins
- 1X Eton Scorpion 2 AM/FM radio
- 1X Faux Fox 40 pea-less whistle on a dummy cord w/visibility aid
- 1X 5 liter dry bag w/shoulder strap (water carrier or bear bag)
- 2 X 2.1L Collapsible water bags
- 1 X Aquamira blu-line filter straw (single use 30gal capacity)
- 1 X Coleman 440 dual fuel single burner stove
- 1 X Modded Klean kanteen fuel canister w/funnel (16oz Coleman fuel)
- 1 X Waterproofed UCO storm proof matches + Coghlan's waterproof matches
- 1 X 1.5 liter Stainless steel gauze canister (serves as a cooking pot)
- 5 X Freeze-dried backpacking meals
- 1 X 1 Liter Stainless Steel water bottle
- 4 X packets of Knox unflavored gelatin
- 9 X Solider fuel energy bars (9/1/2017) (270 cal. each)
- 8 X Drip-Drop oral rehydration salts
- 4X Thera-flu severe cold packets
- 8 X Decaffeinated tea bags
- 6 X Low Sodium Chicken Bouillon
- 1 X .5oz vial iodized salt (Brief History lesson: Roman soldiers were once paid their wages in salt!)
- 1 X .5oz re-sealable package ground black pepper
- 1 X *First need water purifier with *several pre-filters and spare canister
* Most pre-filters that come with water filters are nothing more then mesh screens intended to filter out larger particulate. I've gotten rid of the stock pre-filter and replaced it with coconut carbon filter straws. They still filter out particulate but also add a carbon filtering element as well.
- Medical kit:
- Multi X gauze pads, both standard and non-adherent
- Mulit X Gauze rolls, approx. 20yrds
- 1 X Epipen (epinephrine RX only)
- 1 X micro mirror (signaling/medical applications)
- 1 X non-digital thermometer
- 1 X Disposable sterile surgical scalpel
- 1 X 3cc sterile hypodermic irrigation syringe
- 1 X 1oz vial potassium permanganate
- 1 X 1ox vial tincture of iodine 2%
- 1 X Sam, malleable splint
- 1 X 1yrd roll of Ace sports wrap
- 1 X Dentemp emergency tooth filling (5 applications)
- 1 X tweezers
- 1 X Fingernail clipper
- 1 X Photon micro light
- 2 X Sets of nitrile gloves (non-sterile)
- 1 X Package of cotton wool
- 1 X .5oz tube pure petroleum jelly
- 6 X Triple antibiotic ointment single use packs
- 6 X BZK (Benzalkonium chloride) toilettes (less damaging to your tissues then alcohol pads)
- 1 X Illustrated First aid manual
- 1 X Package of Potassium iodine (anti-radiation meds) * Why? "Because I had them and they don't really weigh anything!" LOL!
- 1 X Package Purell Full sized hand wipes
- 5 X Water-get burn treatment
- 1 X RES-CUE CPR face shield affixed to the outside of the main medical kit.
- 1 X Package 5 ct. Steri-strip wound closures
- Mulit- Assorted self adherent bandages of various sizes
- 1 X Roll 30yds duct tape
- 2 X Ammonia inhalants
- 2 X Single use super glue tubes
- 1 X Mylar anti-trauma blanket
- 1 X Emergency contact card
- Various meds including, but not limited to: Ibuprofen, diphenhydramine, Naproxen Sodium, loperamide, Amoxicillin and Aspirin.
- 1 X Topographical survey maps of the immediate area
- 1 X Street/waterway maps of the tri state
- 1 X Kerosene filled button compass
- Important info/cash & barter:
- 1 Emergency contact card
- Clear facial photos of family
- Backup documents for both myself and my wife
- Cash: Enough for a couple nights stay at a hotel if necessary
- 2.1 OZ silver/ 3.3 grams of gold
- *Travel Money belt containing the aforementioned
*Never seen this in anyone else's kit. But in the event of a disaster, Should I and my wife be forced from our homes and my pack be stolen, we'd at least have something with which to barter and prove who we are. This would be transferred to my person first thing along with the Leatherman.
- 1 X 16oz Dr. Bronner's castile soap
- 1 X Collapsible toothbrush
- 2 X Camp toilet paper 2-ply
- 10 X Compressed towels
- 32 X 6"X7" Antibiotic moist toilettes
- 1 X Pacsafe 50L security mesh with upgraded cable lock
- 1 X Travel wallet (see above)
- 1 X Personal protection option (your choice)
Step 7: "I Can Ride My Bike With No Handle Bars" Flobots ~Handlebars
I myself, can not actually ride my bike with no handlebars (due in no small part to my not owning one); However, now that you've seen the kit contents, I thought I'd explore just what can be done with it . After all, just acquiring gear and stuffing it into a bag does not an emergency kit make!
I've approximately five ignition sources: Matches (kept with Coleman stove), lighter (kept with spool tool), lighter (kept with the wet fire cubes) potassium permanganate - only need glycerin (thanks Bill Nye!) and AA batteries.
I've at least eight tinder sources: Wet fire tinder cubes, Hemp wick (affixed to lighter, kept with wet fire), cotton balls & petroleum jelly (kept in medical kit), Toilet tissue (kept in hygiene kit), Duct tape (kept with repair gear), kerosene filled compass (kept with the Nav. gear) Rrite-in-the-rain paper and cash, granted it's unpatriotic; But I think ol' George (Washington, duh!) would understand...
I've no less then five water carriers/containers: Camp pot, water bottle, 2 X 2.1L water bags, 5L dry bag, 1+L medical dry bag.
I've a total of five means by which to make water potable: First need water purifier (125 gallons per canister X 2 canisters), Tincture of iodine 2%, Potassium permanganate, Aquamira filter straw (single use 30 Gallons) and last but not least, boiling: "Big bubbles, no troubles."
I've three different shelter options: Grommited poncho, Grabber emergency blanket, Eureka Sunriver 2 tent.
There are five Cutting tools contained there in: The Leatherman (Straight blade, serrated and a saw!), Utility knife (kept in the repair kit). The folding tanto (*Thinking of replacing this with a pair of engineer scissors, thoughts?), titanium coated razor (part of spool tool), Single use sterile scalpel blade (kept in the med kit)
There's approximately 4,590 calories contained in this kit, not counting of course any of the spices, meal extenders (knox gelatin) or drink mixes... Not ideal, but properly rationed at least three days of food for my wife and I.
There are four candling devices: 2 X angled flashlights, 1 micro pack light (affixed to the interior of the main compartment of the pack), 1 Photon micro light (Contained in the medical kit)
I've a healthy barter stock, should the need ever arise: Cash (cash is king), precious metals, lighters, tinder, toilet paper, water filter straw, batteries, water containers, medical supplies, purified water (teach a man to fish, he never need trade you for yours... Just something to think about), food, moist toilettes etc.
Step 8: Lessons- Mistakes You Can Walk Away From.
We all make mistakes, here are a few of the lessons I've learned over the years in compiling and carrying my kits. Bullet points only though, otherwise we'd be here all night! There may be some overlap with step 3; So sue me, I'm only human!
- Keep liquids, or things that could become liquids in zip-lock bags!
- Keep batteries out of critical gear.
- Keep batteries near/adjacent critical gear.
- A dull knife is way more dangerous then a sharp one.
- Maintain your gear, stow it properly!
- Leatherman signal , just don't. few tools, plastic parts, tiny Ferro rod, garbage whistle.
- Carry dry tinder with you! Don't assume you can easily start a fire, just because you're awesome.
- TEOTWAWKI- doesn't equate to Armageddon.
- Don't buy premade kits, they cost too much!
- Cheap gear is much different then inexpensive gear, get to know the difference.
- Don't take any one source as gospel, especially this one!
- Plan for you and those you love, just because you're capable yadda, yadda, yadda...
- Test everything!!!! Things break, and they underperform.
- Water resistant is not waterproof!
- Gear has no value when compared to you. Sometimes you've gotta break some eggs.
- Don't horde gear. Keep what you'll use, save what you might use, pass on the rest.
- Don't not involve your friends and family; Double negatives are fun aren't they?
- Try not to over stuff your pack, its not an Oreo.
- Keep items in their original packaging i.e. Chem lights, MRE's, water purification tabs.
- MRE's have a shelf life of 5 years unopened, field striped is another matter...
- Freeze dried meals with noodles can puncture their own mylar bags!
- Ration bars need to be reinforced (double wrapped) if kept in your pack with gear.
- Don't be afraid to start from scratch, sometimes more then once.
- Train. Your body is a tool use it, same goes for that lump that's three feet above your @$$.
- Check your emergency rations for foods/ingredients to which you may be allergic.
- Overconfidence and courage are strange bedfellows. Know your limits.
- WetOnes and Biowipes dry out over time.
- Try your survival rations before you've an emergency! A lot of places will send you samples
- Esbit fuel tabs reek, and the small is so pervasive! Phew!
- YOU CAN NOT BOIL IN A DUAL WALLED CONTAINER
- Add a Ziploc bag to your water kit to keep your dirty water hose separate from the rest of your kit
- Food is heavy, but it gets lighter as you go; You know, cause you eat it, lol!
Step 9: Honorable Omitions
Out of the dozens of pieces of gear that have passed through my hands over the years, some I've kept, others not so much. The gear that follows are items I believe hold merit, but have chosen not to incorporate into the current incarnation of my kit for one reason of another.
Baofeng UV-5R: This is a piece of kit that I've actually kept, however I've removed it from my kit for the time being due to my lack of proficiency with it. I picked it up and a great price and have purchased multiple mods; however I've yet to actually learn how to use the darnn thing. Plus, in order to transmit you need to have a HAM license. I bought it mostly as a gear "fix," I was jonesing so I bought it, it is what it is...
Mule tape: Got this idea from watching "Dirty rotten survival." Dave Canterbury pulled it from the RV in the "Swamped" episode, granted it didn't work for his Hillbilly Jeep extraction, it's still it pretty strong stuff.
1" Nylon tubing: Got this idea after watching a documentary on search and rescue teams in the alps. With a 4000lb break weight, this stuff can be used to rappel in a pinch and can hold up under extreme stress. Still considering putting this into my kit. It also takes up very little real-estate in a pack.
Sutures: Though I can use these, upon doing further research into medical treatment and what's most likely to kill you in a disaster type scenario I've decided to forgo these in favor of more gauze and gauze pads. What good is a dressing that you can't change?
*C.A.T tourniquet: it's an important piece of kit which I do own... I just feel it's easier to improvise one on the fly rather then to have one on my pack. Also, I feel like having one on the outside (the best place to keep it, btw) of my pack would make people more likely to consider me "prepared," and I don't want to become a target.
*Important note on safety! If your buying these on Ebay or Amazon, beware knock offs! A cheap price is a dead giveaway. The genuine article is designed to cinch arteries closed! They're put under heavy strain, tested and tested again! The same cannot be said about the lower cost import knock offs. It's your life, what's it worth to you?
Wool blanket: Another fantastic piece of gear which I do own, however have chosen to omit from my kit. It didn't make the cut, primarily because a good quality 100% wool blanket can weight in at 5-7 lbs... opportunity cost, remember? I do keep one in the car and another close to my at home kit should I feel as though I can bare the extra weight.
Crow bar, Lock picks, Bolt cutters: In an urban environment, breaching tools have their place. However, consider that if there are check points or road blocks and you are searched, all of the aforementioned could be construed as "burglary tools," and depending on where you are in the world you can be lawfully detained!
Axe, Saw, Fixed blade: All good pieces of gear, and just because I haven't added them in my kit, doesn't mean that I don't own them. The simple fact of the matter is, I live in a city, and I've no plans to become a Mountain man of the North. Also, all of that gear is heavy! When you can only keep what you carry then you must gravely consider what you keep.
Zip ties, Chem-lights, Hand-warmers: Personally, I abhor single use items. I understand the need for certain consumables, especially as it pertains to medical gear. But I'm just not too keen on having the extra weight for an item I'm only going to use the once. Call me frugal.
Whetstone: I do own a combination stone with which I do sharpen all of my own tools. It's just that for this kit a multi-blade utility knife gives me a sharper cutting edge then my leatherman or tanto and should it get dull you just snap it off and there you go!
Solar charger: Sure once my batteries die, I'm outta luck. But with ten lithium batteries I'm covered for at least 72hrs. Beyond lighting, there isn't too much tech I carry. The Eton is self powered and I take it out every now and again for shits and gigs and charge it. Other then that, I'm good.
Step 10: Conclusions and Further Research
I really hope you've enjoyed this article. I know, I enjoyed writing it in the least. It's been a while in the making and I'm really rather proud to finally get it published.
I've watched dozens of YouTube vids and read hundreds of articles, as I've said. I just wanted to share with you a few of my favorite resources/survival Instructors.
If you like reading:
Grey Wolf Survival Blog: Don't know if he still keeps this up but there's some good information there.
SurvivalBlog.com: There are some really great articles here. Seems like there's a lot of guest authors so you'll have to pick and choose what you want to put stock in
The Happy Prepper: Kinda hippy/dippy type stuff (colloidal silver, essential oils and such...) But there's some really good info to be had if you can pick through the hokum.
The SAS Survival manual By: John "Lofty" Wiseman: Fantastic Read! It covers a little of everything and it's written in a way that's easy to understand with tons of easy to follow diagrams.
Deep Survival By: Laurence Gonzales: Not to much practical knowledge in here. But it's a great resource with regard to the psychology of survival.
If you like watching:
Fat Guys in the woods: A show by Creek Stewart where he takes untrained people into the woods to teach them bush craft skills. He writes books too but I've never read them so I can't recommend them.
Anything by Ray Mear: I've only just discovered this guy and I can tell you he's freaking amazing! Primitive survival up the yin-yang.
Expedition Overland: Great Youtube series about a bunch of guys taking Ford's where they aught not go. Great info on gear and mounting and expedition.
Running the Sahara: Really great documentary about a group of endurance athletes running across the Sahara; Seriously!
SERE School: Neat show about a group of US Army regulars going through SERE (Survival, escape, resistance and evasion) school. The guys are pretty cocky, but they're a bunch of alphas, what'd you expect?
When the Levees broke: A requiem in four parts: This is an incredible documentary by Spike Lee about hurricane Katrina. Some really heart breaking stuff. But also very informative about the realities of what can happen before during and after a natural disaster.
Dirty Rotten Survival/Dual Survival/Survivorman/Dude You're Screwed & anything Bear Gryls: Entertaining with a little snippet of wisdom every now and again. Mostly, just fun to watch if your bored and tired of binge watching Gilmore Girls.