A lot of hoopla is made over readymade survival kits, and there are a lot of them sold every year. I’ve looked at plenty of them and find they are either too big to carry or incomplete. I solved my problem by getting a simple first aid kit for backpacking and added a few items to go along with it just in case the worst case scenario does rear its ugly head when I’m out someplace. I spend a bit of time out photographing wildlife and nature in general so I am always getting off the beaten path. One of these days I just may get a little too far off the path, and when I do I will be ready to survive.
So what do we need in an emergency survival kit? Plenty, but not much. You’d be surprised at what some survival experts claim are essential items. If you are truly prepared and have a survival mindset, most of these so called necessities are merely useless weight in your pack. But I have put together my own, based upon my own skills and needs. I normally carry a compass, canteen of water and food, so many of the big ticket items can be left out of the emergency pack in favor of more relevant emergency type items.
Portability is a main aspect of the emergency pack, so you want to make it as small as you can. This being the case, I purchased a readymade package of first aid supplies because containers that are empty cost almost as much as a kit does, and thus reduced some of the expense. The kit contained the following;
- 1 howler whistle
- 1 button compass
- 10 antiseptic wound wipes
- 12 1″X3″ bandages
- 2 knuckle bandages
- 1 extra large bandage
- 3 butterfly bandages
- 4 3″X3″ gauze dressings
- 4 2″X2″ gauze dressings
- ½” by 10 yards of medical tape
- 1 2″ elastic bandage for sprains
- 1 piece of moleskin
- 1 pair tweezers
- 2 triple antibiotic ointments
- 2 After Bite© wipes
- 4 Ibuprofen tablets
- 2 Diphenhydramine tablets
- 4 Acetaminophen tablets
- 2 Aspirin tablets
This is a pretty good assortment for basic first aid supplies, and it came in a tough nylon zipper pouch. Of course, this is hardly a complete survival kit so I added some goodies to the bag including;
- Folding knife
- 4 squares of aluminum foil 12″X24″ (cooking)
- 24 strike anywhere waterproofed matches (fire ignition)
- 4 1 quart zipper lock bags (for water collection and storage)
Fishing and snare kit (These items all fit into a tin candy container)
- Tin candy can (can also double as a cooking utensil and mirror)
- I – 110 yard spool fishing line (can also be used to make snares)
- 1 Dozen split shot sinkers
- 1 dozen hooks
- Package of Eagle Claw© Snell hooks on leaders.
- 1 button cell LED headlamp
All told, this zips up into the Adventure Medical Kits© bag into a bundle about 5″X7″X3″ thick. There are some simple survival and first aid instructions that come with the store bought kit, but I would also suggest a copy of the pocket version of the Collins gem SAS survival guide(ISBN 0-00-718330-5) and a copy of the DK pocket first aid guide (ISBN 978-0-7894-9625-4) tucked into a zipper lock bag as well. If nothing else you’ll have some reading material for those long stretches until you get found. Oh, also make sure you pack a survival blanket and some high calorie food bars into your kit as well. You’ll be glad you did one cold and frosty night.
As an added tip, if you are planning on going out in weather that may be wet, or maybe in winter, this whole bundle can be slipped into a one gallon zipper lock bag that fits into a belt pack. It’ll keep dry and safe, as well as at hand at all times that way. If you are carrying a backpack put it at the top so that you’ll be able to get to it quicker. Also, keep an eye on the expiration dates for any medications your first aid pack has, as well as making sure your flashlight has good batteries. In cold weather, slip the flashlight inside your clothing to warm the batteries up. They’ll work better warm.
The biggest complaint I have with many of these companies that sell readymade kits is that it is difficult to obtain replacement medications at a reasonable cost. They can be found but it takes some doing, and I’ll address this issue at another time. I also have a smaller first aid packet for my camera bag for quick day trips, and a gear bag as well that I’ll also get into at some other time, until then, keep surviving the times!