Friday, May 3, 2013

TUTORIAL - Building a Survival Kit

So what's a survival kit? Think of it as a miniature 72 hour bag. Generally speaking, they're a good thing to have tucked away inside of your bag to keep with you, as they are quite compact, lightweight, and handy.

A survival kit contains all of your "absolulute last resort" items in it, and the contents of that kit can vary greatly depending on the needs of the individual.

An extremely bare-bones, basic survival kit would have something like the Survival Grenade:

Inside this little ParaCord-wrapped bundle are the following items:

- A large needle for sewing
- 10 feet of ParaCord
- A flint
- Vaseline-soaked cotton wool, for tinder
- A small scalpel blade
- Fishing hooks, swivels and sinkers for fishing
- Aluminium foil for cooking, warming and signalling
- Snare wire

While this is definitely a cool and attractive little package, the contents of it leave a lot to be desired, and wouldn't really do you that many favours in a tight spot. Also, once it's unravelled it'd be virtually impossible to get it all back together again for transport, so you'd be carrying the objects loose.

A more comprehensive kit can be found in something like the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit, which includes the following items:

- A small multi-tool with a variety of tools, including a good blade
- A waterproof bag
- Small torch
- A ring-and-chain style handsaw
- A signalling mirror
- Full-sized survival blanket
- Magnesium firestarter (FireSteel)
- Waterproof matches
- Cotton balls (for tinder)
- Snare wire
- Basic cordage
- Waxed thread (for sewing - especially good for leather)
- Small sewing kit
- Small fishing kit
- A whistle with a lanyard
- Miniature survival field guide (not overly thorough, but full of good tips)
- All contained in a bag made of RipStop material with waterproof zipper

This kit is much, much better, and still quite small. Easily held in one hand. Personally, though, I'd change/add a few things.

Firstly I'd replace the nylon cord that comes in it with some ParaCord, simply because of its multiple uses. Secondly I'd add one or two cotton handkerchiefs in there, and also a small but sturdy folding knife. I know there's a blade on the multi-tool, but multi-tool blades can't be manouvered as easily as a separate knife, and it's also good to have a backup. I'd also find what type of batteries the torch uses and take a couple of spares. Throwing in a small compass would be handy, too, and perhaps a small container of firegel. I find lip balm containers good for storing firegel, as you don't need much to get several fires going.

Also, with these kits, they often-times don't come with enough snare wire to be of much use. I'll be doing a separate article on hunting animals for food, but generally speaking the more snare wire you can fit in there, the better.

One last thing to note is that the sewing kits found in this sort of thing, generally speaking, come with terrible cottons that aren't durable enough for field use, so it's a good idea to either replace the cottons in them with higher quality, or buy a separate sewing kit from your local craft store.

Like I said, there are many varying opinions on what should be in a survival kit. If you're looking for something more thorough (and you have the cash to back it up) here's a FANTASTIC example of an exceptionally thorough survival kit, which isn't far off the one that I use myself:

It's a long video, but well worth the watch if you're looking to have a kit like this of your own. The Maxpedition organiser that he keeps it in also attaches to your bag via the cordura molle system on many tactical-style bags like the Hazard 4 Evac Plan B that I use (which I'll do a separate review video on)

So that's about all I have to say on the topic of survival kits! One day I'll do a video on using them out in the bush, but until then, hopefully these notes will help you put yours together!

- CumQuaT

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