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What’s in a survival kit? – The essential and the optional
A Survival Kit is a set of objects of first necessity that we prepare in advance, in order to have available in the event of an emergency. It is often found by example on lifeboats or on military aircraft.
In our case, it is, therefore, to have at home, a bag containing the necessary to be able to survive in the event of urgent necessity.
Of course, there are different sizes of survival kit. This can go from a backpack to an anti-nuclear shelter, in which you can store food to live for several months.
Conceptually, a survival kit must contain the necessary for:
- Providing a basic shelter against the elements (this will often be a tarpaulin, at best a tent.)
- Helping to maintain yourself at a reasonable temperature (clothing, fire kit …)
- Meeting the needs for first aid.
- Providing food and water (possibly with the help of nature.)
- Allowing sending signals to potential rescuers (in case of flooding for example.)
If you want to get a survival kit, you have two options:
Buy a pre-made survival kit
Make your own survival kit
The first solution will generally be less expensive generally speaking. However, it may be that you find yourself with items that you will not need and/or other items to buy extra that can change the price.
The biggest flaw here is that you don’t control exactly what you put in your survival kit. It is always reassuring to know that we have chosen exactly what we wanted to have, especially for things as important.
Whatever your choice will be, here is a list of things which you cannot do without when we speak of survival kit worthy of the name:
- A survival blanket or a sleeping bag to keep you warm
- A knife (if possible a Swiss army knife and a good survival knife)
- Everything necessary to make a fire
- String or rope of paracord type
- Light (flashlight or frontal lamp)
1) Buy a ready to go survival kit
First, be aware that food is rarely included in the survival kits found on the market, therefore you will need to add it by yourself. For food, a solution that seems quasi-optimal, in most situations at least, is the one of the survival rations (or combat rations). For more details, read the part “Make a survival kit yourself”.
Let’s come back to the purchase of kits on the market. There is a very wide variety of choices, which will enable you to cope with different situations, but they are not all that good.
One of the most complete survival kits is the Ultimate survival kit from Gerber. It has been proven that it can cover any unexpected situations. The hardware is not a luxury, but the objective of a done-for-you survival kit is precisely to be able to deal with everything “in an emergency”. It will not replace the true hardware for your daily needs!
- A multifunction knife complete enough.
- A waterproof bag
- A mini flashlight
- A hand saw
- A mirror (to indicate your presence for example)
- A survival blanket
- A fire starter and waterproof matches.
- Cotton ball to start a fire
- Snare Wire
- Emergency cord
- A sewing kit
- A fishing kit
- An emergency whistle.
If I had to add items to this kit to make it more complete, apart from perishable foodstuffs, I will put, of course, a survival knife of good quality, whatever necessary to give first aid in case of mishap (tablets against diarrhea and painkillers, bandage, an antiseptic, compresses…) and eventually a compass or even a handheld hiking GPS.
If you compare prices, you can, of course, find survival kits cheaper than this one, but I personally recommend you not to buy a survival kit less than 30$. You will have a material of poor quality, and you will necessarily need to spend double to complete it.
There are also survival kits more expensive, like this one. However, if you have 100$ to put in a survival kit (which is not meaningless), I think it is worth to spend an hour and put it together yourself, in order to have something really optimal.
Besides if you have the money but not the time (everyone’s got problems) Why not?
2) Make a survival kit yourself
Take our courage in both hands, let’s not give in to the easy solution and build up our survival kit ourselves! Let’s start again from the list of essentials that we have talked about before.
- An emergency blanket: I propose here again to use a product of the brand Bear Grylls: The Bear Grylls Survival Blanket. We don’t own shares with them, promise! But they are products that are adapted because designed for survival, and which are of good quality.
- A knife (if possible a Swiss army knife and a good survival knife). If you are looking for a Swiss Army knife with a very good quality-price ratio, I recommend the Victorinox.
- Fire kit: here you will have to make a choice. The more rudimentary is to buy a fire starter, which simply produces sparks that allow you to light a fire. These systems have the advantage of being virtually inexhaustible, unlike lighters or matches. However, they are not very convenient, and should, in my opinion, be at best a backup solution. If you choose nevertheless for this option I advise you to have at least amadou or cotton balls in a sealed pouch for the wet evening, otherwise, you may eat raw.
The other option, with a less “survivalist” spirit but which remains best from a realistic point of view, is to carry 3 or 4 Lighters (or two Zippo) and/or boxes of waterproof matches enclosed in a sealed pocket (very important).
- String or rope of the paracord type
- Light: you have again two options here; either to buy a flashlight with a dynamo either a classic flashlight of good quality and several batteries in stock. Attention, however, if you buy a flashlight on the Internet not get yourself fooled by 3$ lamps which look nice but which in fact are 2 inches long (you can’t see it on a picture) and don’t illuminate much.
- If you go into the forest, it may be not a bad idea to have a tool for cutting wood: a saw, a hatchet or a machete.
- To all this, you can add wire (to make snares or build a shelter), a fishing kit and a sewing kit because it does not take a lot of places and it can be handy!
Let us focus on food and water now
Regarding water, you will need to find it in the cities or in nature. You absolutely need a way to store it, like a canteen or water bottle of CamelBak type; also a good option is a canteen with an integrated filter, a must-have in my opinion! It is easy enough to find water in normal conditions almost everywhere, except maybe in the deep desert. In addition to this, you will need water purifiers tablets to avoid falling sick if you are far from the city.
Regarding food, it is a little more complicated to find it in the wild. Of course, if we know that hunger is likely to be a problem (especially if we will be leaving for a long time and we cannot take enough food with us), we must take with us everything necessary to find food. Fruit picking can provide an easy source of food, but it may be necessary to have a fishing kit and what is necessary to make traps.
If you want to take food with you, for a few days survival rations are a very good way to easily eat your fill, something pleasant. If you go away longer, the weight will quickly become unsustainable, and you will certainly need to take freeze-dried food.
What about comfort
Beyond these items which are elements of pure survival, we can think of a bit of comfort. It does not hurt, comfort is not necessarily a luxury, be well in our head is necessary and may depend on how we feel in our body!
Think for example taking a pair of spare underwear. This allows you to wear them while you washed the first and let them dry. A toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as a bit of soap can also be substantial after a few days of walking.
Word of wisdom
In short, it is necessary to keep in mind that a survival kit must be adapted to your personal needs, to your environment, and especially to what it is intended for. Once again, our site has the vocation to help you prepare to events quite likely (not against a zombie attack), in a tempered climate. We recommend that you keep this in mind and remain rational in your preparations; it would be useless, for example, to learn how to fight polar bears!