This is Part 2 of Corcceigh Green’s Survival 101 series. If you missed the orientation, CLICK HERE
By Corcceigh Green
Even those with just a passing familiarity with survival and preparedness know the importance of having a bug out bag or survival kit. You may not presently have a kit, or you may have one, but it may not include some essentials. It will be your first task to acquire some of the listed essentials. You may add on to this list as your needs dictate. For example, you may need to carry spare glasses or extra medications that you may need.
Item 1: Rucksack, backpack or buttpack. To have your equipment on hand when needed you must have your kit on you at all times. This necessitates an item to carry your equipment. Many people encounter survival situations after driving to remote areas and leaving the vehicle to hike, hunt, camp or forage. A survival situation usually arises after becoming lost or injured while away from the vehicle. The item you choose to carry your survival equipment in must be portable enough for you to have on hand at all times.
A backpack or rucksack can be large enough to carry enough items with you to survive for more than a week in the wilderness without aid, but may be cumbersome. Backpacks and rucksacks can be smaller, however, and more portable. You will carry less in them, but they are more convenient for carrying items to get you by as long as you have skill. Buttpacks are likewise convenient for the carry of several emergency items as they fit on a belt or web gear and leave the upper body free to maneuver without dumping a pack over your shoulder.
When looking for a pack, look for those made from sturdy material like canvas or cordura. Surplus packs usually work very well and are less expensive.
Item 2: Utility knives. These will not be the Rambo Hollywood version of survival knives. The least amount of knives you need to carry is two. Your first knife should be the Swiss style army knife. It must have at least one knife blade, a bottle opener and a can opener. This knife cannot be a cheap knock-off. Many Chinese imports are very inexpensive, but their metallurgy suffers and they lack quality in construction. Pass by anything made in China. Victorinox and Wenger
are best quality.
The second of your knives will be a sheath knife that will perform a good deal of your survival tasks. Again, this won’t be a Hollywood survival knife. The blade cannot be so long as to make fine working difficult. A four to six inch blade will work very well. No hollow handles. This makes the area where the knife and hilt meet weak and easy to snap. The knife should be sharp, well constructed and made of good, well tempered steel. No Chinese knock-offs.
If you have the budget, I would also add a Combination Tool. These also have the advantage of including a pliers tool, allen wrenches and screw drivers.
Item 3: Fire starting kit. This will consist of matches in a waterproof container, butane lighter, magnesium and flint fire starter, magnifying glass, small amount of tinder (cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, used gun cleaning patches, paper, wood shavings, dryer lint, etc.), small amount of kindling kept dry and a bundle of Tootsie Roll Pop brand suckers. I will explain the Tootsie Roll Pops in a future entry.
Item 4: Water. I like the old WWII or Korean surplus stainless steel canteen, canteen cup and canteen/canteen cup carrier. This system is highly versatile when carried with a large square of aluminum foil and plastic tubing. Also carry a flannel or terrycloth towel. Carry two canteens if possible. If you can’t find stainless steel canteens, buy plastic ones or buy stainless steel sports bottles and make sure you have at least one stainless steel canteen cup. Hydration packs can carry a lot of water and in arid climates, should be considered. Stainless steel canteen cups should still be considered a must in any kit no matter the climate.
Water filters are also required. The ceramic sticks used on the Berkey brands can be attached to metal coffee cans or ceramic buckets. Straw type filters are very portable, but not as effective as the ceramic sticks. Other very good filters include pumps that draw water from a stream or pond and forces the water through a filter making the water potable. The best brands to look for are Aqua Rain, Berkey and Katadyne.
Item 5: Shelter and camp. An axe will do more work than a hatchet. You will be able to chop down dead snags of fair diameter for firewood, something I would not advise with a hatchet. The drawback is that the axe is far less portable than a hatchet. You cannot carry it on your belt and if you want to travel more lightly you may likely leave it behind. Consider your terrain, as well, when choosing between an axe and hatchet. If you live in sage country, the desert or some plains areas where there will be lighter chopping duties, choose a hatchet. If you live where there are plenty of trees for firewood, shelter and implements, choose an axe for heavier chopping duties.
Include rope and cord. This comes in handy when building shelters and hauling materials or climbing. A tarp or a water proof poncho is invaluable. A few mylar blankets come in handy when trying to stay warm. Carry at least a couple.
Include a flashlight and extra batteries in case you must build a shelter or find firewood in the dark. Proper clothing also falls into this category. Dress warm in the winter and fall and don’t wear cotton. Rely on wool, gortex, etc.. Always bring a jacket even in the summer. In the winter or fall make sure you bring a coat or parka. Place some gloves in your kit. In the summer place leather work gloves in your kit. In the winter, mittens and warm gloves work best. Include a warm knit hat for the winter and a ball cap or boonie for the summer. Proper footwear is necessary. Leather work boots are best, but spares are not necessary for your kit. Spare socks should be mandatory, however. Make them thick and warm. Pack wool socks for the winter.
An entrenching tool is also needed. This can be a folding shovel or a small mattock. An ordinary garden trowel is also useful and takes up less space, but can dig only shallow holes and takes much longer.
You may want to include a small pup tent. The ones that used to be sold at K Mart for around $30 are fantastic. Light weight tube tents will fit in your kit much easier, but will not stand up to the rigors of survival as well as pup tents. If you can’t fit a tent into your kit, you may leave out the tent and build a shelter on site.
A sleeping bag is an essential piece of survival equipment. In the winter the sleeping bag is mandatory. Make certain your sleeping bag has the proper temperature rating for the winter in your climate. You may leave it behind in the summer if your climate allows.
Item 6: Food. Always carry some food rations. Dried Ramen noodles are great for this. Granola bars also work well. The Ramen noodles and granola bars are also light and compact to carry. Canned foods are good and will provide some moisture and nutrients, unfortunately they are heavy and you won’t carry as much, so don‘t include canned foods. Vitamin and mineral supplements should also be stored in the kit. Storage food kept in your kit will help in your survival by providing you with sustenance, allowing you to perform tasks like shelter building and fire making rather than making the search for food the immediate priority.
Your kit also needs fishing gear. Put in two or three automatic fishing reels, six to eight small sinkers, several fish hooks, small swivels, nail clippers and a spool or two of ten pound test line. Throw in a small spool of small gauge wire to make expedient fishing rods and attaching an expedient fishing reel. Also pack a gig. You may also make a gig in the field.
Firearms provides you an edge when hunting if you don’t have to remain stealthy. In most survival situations encountered in America evasion does not come into play. A versatile firearm capable of taking a wide range of game animals and defending against large predators must be considered as a part of your gear. A shotgun will cover this aspect. A pump action allows for a wider variety of shotshell loads to be fired through the action. A screw in choke can be removed to allow slugs to be fired through the barrel and replaced to fire bird shot or buck shot. Carry slugs to defend against large predators and to take large game. Carry duck and pheasant loads to take small game. The removable choke should be a modified choke. Add a sling and you will have what you need in a versatile firearm. I personally recommend the Remington 870 with Rem-Choke barrel.
Sidearms are much easier and more compact to carry than longarms. There is not enough space in this entry to cover everything necessary in sidearms, but we will cover them in future entries. For now, we’ll leave this item of your gear open. Information on choosing a rifle for survival is akin to choosing a sidearm. There is much to consider and should be left open for the moment and covered in a later entry.
Add extra line and string to your kit to help build traps. Also add some wire like piano wire and picture hanging wire that you’ll find in the hardware stores.
Item 7: First Aid and Medical Kit. You’ll carry not only a standard first aid kit for personal emergencies, but include something to help treat others with you. One such item will be the CPR shield. I prefer the one made from hard plastic. You may opt for the cheaper and more portable flexible plastic CPR shields.
Include in your first aid kit band aides, air splint, emergency surgery kit (contains one scalpel, one wound probe, one hemostat, several sizes in sutures with attached needles, one pen light, one retractor, one forceps), extra hemostats, extra sutures, adhesive tape, gauze (two large rolls), two small and one large wound bandages, several pairs of latex gloves, soap, betadine, iodine, large syringe, EMT shears, thermometer, two razor blades, three disposable razors, elastic bandage, triangular bandage, one tube Neosporin, Peptobismol tablets, anti-histamine, aspirin, blood clot powder (can be 50/50 formula of finely powdered cayenne pepper mixed with finely powdered golden seal.), salt, sugar, snake bite kit. Also include a week’s supply of medications you need and spare eyeglasses.
If you have access to stronger pain killers than aspirin, include these as well. Many other first aid items would require a good deal of training as an EMT such as airway intibators, IV bags, tubing and solutions, etc.. I wouldn’t advise adding anything you do not yet have the skill to use unless someone in your group does have the skill.
Item 8: Communication. This portion of your kit comes in handy for calling for help or staying in touch with the rest of your group. A cell phone is with most people today. However, I live in an area that has no service and most areas I frequent don’t have service, so cell phones are of no use to me. CB radios have their use in the car and as a base station at the house. Some units are also portable and can be carried on the belt. GMRS two way radios can give you a lot of options. Most come with a spectrum of weather frequencies and over twenty channels to communicate with friends and allies. Add a whistle to call the attention of passers-by. You may choose either a CB system for communication or the GMRS Radios as your communications system.
The above is the list of required equipment for our course. Some items have been left open, but will be covered later.
If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section below.