What's in Your Survival Kit?

10:55 a.m. on July 2, 2007 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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As an offshoot of the first aid thread, what do you typically carry as a survival kit for day hiking and for backpacking?

Ever had to use the contents of your kit in an emergency? If so, how did it and you fare?

4:28 p.m. on July 2, 2007 (EDT)
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I used my knife to cut off a piece of a poochie chew for my dog yesterday while hiking =)

11:04 p.m. on July 2, 2007 (EDT)
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As an addition to the usual backpacking gear, the utility of a "survival kit" is mainly a pleasant fantasy, unless you end up carrying the stuff.

8:23 a.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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Hi Alicia -

In my day pack -

8*8 square of Tyvec (the house-wrap stuff) - very light - very strong - very waterproof - and packs very small.
4 powerbars - I don't like the taste or texture of powerbars BUT they do pack a load of calories and carbs into a small, light, durable package.
Film canister stuffed with dryer lint (to start a fire)
Four or five "trick" birthday candles (the ones you can't blow out) -
Iodine tablets
Tea bags - yeah, you can make tea with them, you can also stop bleeding by packing a tea bag into a wound - not ideal but it works - works really well if you knock out a tooth.
water/wind proof matches in a waterproof case - with the striker (also in the waterproof case)
spare compass (you never know)
paper / pencil (no pens - they leak or crap out - pencils always work) in a plastic bag.
signal mirror
1 quart sized zip-loc style bag (so I can carry / treat water)
2' light plastic tubing (so I can get water out of seeps or from inconvenient springs)
cheap poly-pro gloves
plastic trash bag (55 gallon size) - makes a dandy poncho.
20' of parachute cord (white, not green, so I can see it)

This stuff has lived in a nylon stuff sack with belt loops which has lived in my daypack for years - I do replenish the matches and powerbars on a yearly basis. The belt loops are convenient when the emergency kit is residing in my backpack on longer trips - if I decide to take a day hike or go exploring it's always with me. It used to go mountain biking with me all the time as well (when I was riding a lot) - in fact one of the times I had to use it I'd been mountain biking around Davis West Virginia and managed to get - if not lost - then directionally challanged as night approached..... ;=)

My scout knife lives in my pocket (has since 1968 when I got my "tote'n chip card") -

I wouldn't call it an "emergency" but I've mis-judged my own ability to cover distance over terrain a couple times and have spent a somewhat miserable night or two wrapped in the tyvec. The worst part was eating those miserable power bars .... the best part was dawn. I've used the tubing to collect water on a number of occasions, and I've used the trick candles to start fires in rather wet and windy conditions.

That's the core - depending on the season I may toss other items in - and that's in addition to a poncho and some other stuff that also lives in my daypack.


8:24 a.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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Note - I agree with Calamity on one point - if you don't carry it it's not worth a hoot - just like your first aid kit or rain gear. Keep it simple, keep it small and light and it'll go with you -

5:15 p.m. on July 11, 2007 (EDT)
Dj Nebula
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You can really keep all that gear down to a minimum for sure. You may if you are doing the AT or PCT carry more because of the length of trek you are on, but for day hiking and minimalist trekking, you should be able to pack that small light and on the fly. If you are familiar with first aid and trauma, you should know what to pack with you.

2:26 p.m. on July 16, 2007 (EDT)
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Everything is carried in a small nylon belt pouch, except items in [brackets] are carried in backpack or on person.

Other than for training purposes, the only thing I've had to use in a somewhat emergency situation is matches. Someone wearing cotton socks fell through thin ice in a creek and started to get frostbite. I built a fire to warm his feet, dry his boots, and gave him my spare socks.

2 razor blades
10 800 mg ibuprofen tablets
10 200 mg ibuprofen tablets
4 Aspirin tablets
10 Imodium tablets
10 Benadryl tablets
Sunglass roll (post-eye dilation type)
[Bandana, large (pressure bandage) on person]
[Sunglasses if needed]

Firesteel and striker
Waterproof matches
Strike anywhere matches in separate match case
Tinder in 35 mm canister (dryer lint)
Cotton balls (packed into kit to fill empty space)
2 small “trick” candles
Space blanket
55 gallon trash bag
Shower cap (head poncho)
Wire “commando” saw
20’ nylon string (mason’s line)
20’ paracord (military spec 550)
Gerber retracting blade saw
Mosquito head net
[20’ 550 paracord (yes, more!)]
[Spare synthetic clothing depending on season]
[3’ x 7’ Tyvex ground cloth (overnight trips only)]

[plastic 32 oz water bottle]
[add a 1 qt aluminum canteen in winter]
[16 ox metal Space Saver cup, fits on bottle end]
1 Gallon Ziploc bag
Large clear plastic bag (transpiration bag)
[Bandana listed elsewhere to soak up dew]
2’ silicone aquarium airline tubing

Getting found
[Itinerary left with relative before leaving]
[Whistle (plastic pealess) carried on person]
Signal mirror
[Firesteel and flashlight listed elsewhere]
[Cell phone]

20’ 20lb fishing line
Fishing tackle (hooks, swivels sinkers)
20’ Brass snare wire
2’ aluminum foil
Can opener (military P-38 style)
[extra food carried separately in pack as needed]

[Mora knife (#1 (4”) carbon steel) on person]
[locking blade folding knife on person]
[Headlamp generally carried]
Sharpening stone
20’ unwaxed dental floss
Flashlight-LED (Photon Freedom II covert red)
Spare battery for Photon
2’ Duct tape
2’ Electrical tape
1 Hot-melt glue stick
2 Magnetized sewing needles
1 Tapestry needle
6 Safety pins
4 rubber bands
2 Ranger bands (inner tube sections)

8:44 a.m. on July 17, 2007 (EDT)
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I think OhioHiker mentioned the most important "item" when they said [Itinerary left with relative before leaving] - letting someone know where you're going and when you intend to return. If you don't do that, how will anyone know when or where to start looking? If you drive to the trailhead, leaving a note in a visible location in your car can be a big help. For national / state owned land there's generally some sort of ranger/police/forestry service responsible for the area, filling those folks in on where you're going and when you intend to return can be a big help.

12:24 p.m. on July 18, 2007 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Great points about leaving an itinerary in your car and with a friend or relative. It's something most people know to do, but often is forgotten in the excitement and rush of getting onto the trail, especially for short hikes or trail runs.

When leaving info with someone it's also a good idea to make sure they understand not only when you expect to return, but also at what point you would want people to start looking for you and/or to contact authorities. Obviously this varies widely depending on your experience and where and when you're going and it can range from waiting a few hours to days or even weeks.

When leaving information in the car we not only include our expected route, possible variations, and how long it should take, but also our experience level and phone numbers for emergency contacts.

For longer backpacking trips, an easy way to leave your itinerary with someone is to photocopy a map and highlight your route, marking it with your possible campsites and any alternative routes/options.

5:50 p.m. on July 18, 2007 (EDT)
Larry Dunn
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ITINERARY IN CAR -- There is a downside! A professional guide at Zion reminded me that the "expected back" time gives crooks a nice window to time there break in. I've taken to leaving it with someone I trust (usually my wife) and NOT leaving it in the car window. ...LFD / Las Vegas, NV

7:53 p.m. on July 18, 2007 (EDT)
Bill S
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Larry -
You shouldn't leave the itinerary open in the car window for the world to see (or stuck under the windshield wiper to be blown off in a strong gust of wind). There are plenty of safe alternatives, such as your suggestion of leaving it with your wife (doesn't work for me, since Barb is often with me). One is to leave it at the ranger station on the way to the trailhead (easy to do out here in the West, since you usually have to get permits for overnight trips, and there are ranger stations in or near the trailheads for dayhikes, plus you can leave it in the fee envelope that you deposit for parking - even though I have annual and life passes, I still have to deposit a fee envelope with my pass number). Another is to put it in an envelope on the driver's seat, visible to the ranger, but with the itinerary hidden from casual eyes.

OTOH, here in the SFBay Area, we have had occasional rashes of daylight breakins in the parking lots and at trailheads, even when other people were present in the vicinity. You might have seen the burglar alarm ad on TV where the burglar is dressed like a jogger, watches the victim enter the house, then rushes the house and kicks in the door (in the ad, the alarm saves the day, of course). Break-in, grab, and flee takes only seconds. Some years ago, at Quincy Quarry, a group walked down the line of parked cars breaking into every one and taking what they could find, until they got to my car which had an alarm. They fled at that point according to witnesses, but not before loading one person's total earthly possesions (he was moving that day and had stopped by the quarry for some bouldering). The people who witnessed the breakins said the total time per car was about 30 seconds, faster than anyone could run to a phone (this was before cell phones).

8:32 p.m. on July 18, 2007 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Yes, I've always tried to make any note we leave in our car uninteresting to the casual observer, not face-up on the dashboard for example, but easy to find in case a ranger or other authority was truly interested, such as on the floor or seat face down.

1:38 a.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)

The glue stick is the best idea ever. Easy tent repair, I once read a story about a guy filling his broken filling in with hot glue until he got back home!

11:16 a.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)

I served in the Marines a decade ago, and although we were taught a few things here and there I stumbled upon a book "SAS Survival Hand Book" I suggest everyone check it out. Full of good stuff. I even have a miniture condensed version I carry in my pack. We carried alot of unnecessary gear in the Corps so now I am a die hard light weight trekker as much as possible. In the kit I carry around with me any time I take to the woods...
First is the can itself- little two piece can (about the size of old cigarette tobacco can) to put survival items in. It doubles as a little frying pan if needs be.
A few alcohol wipes, a couple sterile scalple blades and souchers, butter fly souchers, aspirin, imodium pills, anti-gas pills, allergy pills, bacitracin ointment, magnesium fire starter, weather proof matches, magnifying glass, wire saw, fishing line, sinkers, different sized hooks, trip wire (for snares), several sewing needles and thread, iodine tablets, compass/thermometer, key chain size LED light, duct tape, non-lubricated condom(for water... sounds gross, but they are durable, pack small, and hold lot's of water), diagram of rope knots. And depending on weather, and terrain I may change out things here and there. I carry other things as well, but that's the list of what's always on me whether it's a quick stroll through the woods, or an over nighter.

10:17 a.m. on August 2, 2007 (EDT)
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Larry - if someone is going to break into or steal your vehicle it'll likely happen fast - in broad daylight and people who witness it happening probably won't do anything about it. In fact, if the person breaking into the car is good, people watching won't even know they're breaking in.

I'd suspect that most trailhead vehicle thefts and breakins are crimes of opportunity and pretty much unplanned. A high end stereo, CD's, expensive sun glasses or other "stuff" visible in the vehicle will be far better crook bait than a message indicating where I am and when I plan to return.

4:05 p.m. on August 5, 2007 (EDT)
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See also the hiking emergencies topic - there's been a request there for kit lists...(one of which was mine BEFORE I realized this topic was out there...duh...)

12:00 a.m. on August 19, 2007 (EDT)
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I carry an Adventure Medical Kit .9 kit with the addition of Vicadin. It serves me well. I also carry an ARC Emergency Personal Locator Beacon. I carry a much smaller personal kit with my daily needed items and only break into the Adventure Medical Kit in an emergency. My total pack weight rarely exceeds 30 lbs even when doing 100+ mile trips.

8:39 p.m. on September 6, 2007 (EDT)
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As I learned on the Discovery Channel, I carry nothing but a flint, knife, and a water bottle... oh yeah, and a full camera crew, survival expert, and AAA card in case I get cold and want to stay in a 5 star hotel.

12:31 a.m. on September 28, 2007 (EDT)
Jim S
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xc skiing I carry water, down jacket, flashlight, knife, hat, BIC lighter and gloves. Sometimes a sit pad.

I suppose its extreme but if you carry the "don't take what you don't use" idea to extremes you don't carry a survival kit. Instead your approach to things is to STAY FOUND, not become damp or hypothermic, being careful so as not to become injured. So why would I need a "survival kit"?

Now if you ask "then do you not carry anything at all?" I would answer that I generally carry some water, a jacket and a lighter and a whole bunch of KNOWLEDGE about survival and backcountry which is more valuable than hardware and can't be left at home. I also freely admit that where I live is in the mountains and going hiking or camping" is not a lot different than being in the back yard, AND the distances are small, like I am pretty much always be within 20 miles of home no matter how deeply I penetrate the wilderness, maybe 30, but generally I'm within a few miles of a trailhead on a major ski road. To me survival means a hike out or a campfire and then a hike out.

Jim S P.S. hi everybody - its been a while.

1:04 p.m. on September 28, 2007 (EDT)
Dave MacLeay @Dave
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Hey Jim, welcome back! What have you been up to?

10:48 p.m. on September 30, 2007 (EDT)
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I think Doug Ritter has a really cool pocket survival kit. Here is the link to what is in his wallet. http://www.equipped.com/drperskit.htm

I think a key to having a small and simple survival kit is that you can keep it on you at all times It is easy to get separated from your backpack.

10:31 p.m. on October 1, 2007 (EDT)
Jim S
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Hi Dave,
Its nice to hear from you too. (are there emotocons?)

I moved from San Francico to Bend, Oregon 2 years ago. Bend is at 3,600' and 20 miles from Mt Bachelor ski resort. We have a row of vocanoes called the Sisters 20 miles west and Sisters wilderness. I live on the edge of town (3rd house on the north side of the road - and yes that makes me a local...) and it takes me about 25 minutes to be on a lift from home. We can buy a ten ride ticket good any day so I can go ski 3 runs if I wanted to, for $18.

Its quite a change getting used to living in Ponderosa forest on a mountain side. We take the dog 4wheeling everyother day to run in the woods which is mixed connifers. 5 miles from home I am on forest service dirt mountain rode - I can't believe it, it would take 5 hours of drive from sanfrancisco.

I haven't done much backpacking since I've been here which sort of blows my mind. People who live here don't backpack much, but people come here from everywhere to backpack anc climb and bike and stuff, its a world class resort destination. BUT I have huge ponderosa (25 bigns) and a 30 foot lava flow wall on the back of the property. I've hiked to get to places not nearly as
out of doorsish" as my backyard. I just don't feel the pull to put on my pack, in fact the last two times I backpacked I drove to the Sierras in California to meet a girlfriend for our annual camping Trip.

Hows life treating you?

11:48 p.m. on October 18, 2007 (EDT)
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2-55 gal trash bags
flint/mag. firestarter
cotton tinder balls
CD (signal mirror)
LED squeeze light
sm. pocket knife w/ saw
50 ft. paracord
water treatment tablets
1 gal ziploc bag

2:47 a.m. on October 19, 2007 (EDT)
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Usually what is in my backpack. My pack trips are survival in motion. I'm prepared for up to 15 days (not in bear country) where there are darn few facilities, civilized comfort or usually people. So the most used items are boots, sleeping bag/pad. Tent at times. Something to keep me warm as needed outside of bag. Change of clothes if I want/need. Stove with fuel, cup, spoon. And food and something to get water from a puddle or stream to me.

I've been known to last for a couple of months or more with extra food provided at appropriate times.

I guess that is survival. It seems to work every time I try it. If I run out of food or water, survival becomes recovery after a bit.

First aid kit has what I need. If you don't have on you what you need when I need it for you then we run out of stuff. I don't do field surgery anymore so I simply collect the pieces and wrap them up and keep the messy stuff from leaking. I suspect you would not want me working on you under those conditions without a scrub nurse. I don't give anybody any of my pain killer since I don't know their reactions. Aspirin (or equivalent) is the best you can expect from me unless you have the good stuff on you. Most of the bandages are Bandaids or adhesive tape. Plenty of stuff around to sop up or stop leakage. Oh, and a couple very large safety pins to nail your tongue to a lip if needed. If you need to be airlifted someplace quickly then maybe best not to get injured badly if it is more than a 2 day run to get help. If you can get to a proper place, they can clean up and out what I didn't.

Most people should prepare for the eventful - a burn from a hot pan or fire, a puncture, a sprain or torn muscle, a cut, a poke in the eye, sore tooth. Sutures probably not a good idea unless its really clean in there. Broken bones are usually not emergency things. If they are poking out, not sure what you would carry to help out much. Internal injuries stay that way. Not much you would carry for the usual lifesaving things. Shock, bleeding and restart breathing are all about what you do, not what you carry.

7:11 p.m. on November 10, 2007 (EST)
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Whatever you pack, keep in mind the rule of 3's...

Generally speaking, the human body can survive for:

3 minutes without oxygen
3 hours without shelter
3 days without food
3 weeks without food

If you keep these rules in mind, you will be able to prioritize what and how you pack.

(This should generate some conversation!)

8:55 a.m. on November 11, 2007 (EST)
Tipi Walter
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I agree with speacock above, everything in my pack I consider my survival kit. I also do long trips in the winter and I like to hide a cache of emergency items which I guess I would consider survival items. In the cache are an extra thermarest mattress, a Whisperlite stove with extra fuel, an extra stove pump and a spoon. Often on long trips a friend will drive my car and drop me off so I'll be out without a vehicle waiting, hence the need for a gear cache. If a thermy blows out on the snow, I know I'm not far from a replacement, etc.

Medical stuff? Just some pain meds for a toothache(which sometimes hits hard and fast)but that's about it.

5:29 p.m. on November 13, 2007 (EST)
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Wait. I thought the question was Survival kit contents.

The lists I am seeing above seem more like gear lists. I consider a survival kit to be such that one would/should carry on ALL outings whether they have other gear with them or not. If we are talking bare bones survival here, this kit would keep one alive until rescue. If you happen to have other gear (Camping, Mt. biking, X-C skiing etc.) great! That's a bonus, but a survival kit is just that, for use in survival emergencies.

Now, let's hear what is in you survival kits!

As a SAR technician and wilderness survival instructor, I am truly interested in seeing the lists - not to tear them up - I won't - but to, possibly, get some ideas to pass on. Possibly helping others, or even saving lives.

8:00 p.m. on November 13, 2007 (EST)
Bill S
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Many of us consider what we carry on a given hike or expedition to be those things necessary not merely for comfort when everything goes perfectly, but those things necessary when everything goes south. I have spent too much time in places where a major storm might move in (like the unfortunate climber in Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows a few days ago), or where storms are the norm and expected (as on my various treks in the Alaska Range or in Antarctica), or in places where an injury might well mean I wouldn't be found for days, even if I had a companion to go for help (as is true even in the "little" hills behind my house in the Santa Cruz Mountains) to consider a "survival kit" to be something separate from what I normally carry. As I teach in my backcountry courses, always be prepared for the "reasonably unexpected". You can't prepare for asteroid strikes or dinosaur attacks, but you should be ready for dealing with earthquakes (we have them here in Calif), storms with temperatures going to the extremes on record, serious injuries, mountain lion attacks (we have those here, too), rattlesnake bites (yup, got those as well), and your plain old everyday broken legs (none for me, but I have come across them all too often - although I wasn't on the spot when Jim S got his in an incident that he says I contributed to - he was vaulting over a fallen giant sequoia and missed the landing, and now won't go running through the redwoods with me).

11:51 p.m. on November 13, 2007 (EST)
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The giant sequoia incident sounds like a good candidate for a trip report.

7:43 a.m. on November 14, 2007 (EST)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Well, since I started this thread I'll bite and tell you what's in my "survival kit." Really, it's a small stuffsack with some of the essentials and a few other items that I carry year-round on dayhikes and backpacking trips. It just seems easier to keep that stuff in one spot so I don't forget something.

Keep in mind, except for when I go on vacation or other trips, I primarily hike and backpack in the Northeast. I also often have my 3-1/2-year-old son with me. So I'm responsible for someone other than just myself.

All right, opening stuff sack now...

1. Pezl e-Lite in waterproof case

2. tiny ziplock with lighter, waterproof matches, and cotton balls soaked in vaseline inside old film canister (apparently I want to make sure I can light a fire one way or another; those cotton balls are very old though and should be thrown out)

3. multi-tool

4. Aquamira Frontier emergency water filtration system https://www.trailspace.com/gear/aquamira/frontier-emergency-water-filter-system/
(used to have Potable Aqua, but swapped it for this last year)

5. whistle

6. cotton bandanna

7. compass

8. mylar space blanket

9. extra batteries for regular Petzl headlamp and SteriPen Adventurer water purifier

10. two chemical heat packs

Of course I carry a small first aid kit separately.

I used to have a Clif Bar in the stuffsack too, but eventually took it out. Maybe I'll add it back though. Also, I thought had a garbage bag and a couple zip-ties inside.

Feel free to make suggestions...

12:44 p.m. on November 14, 2007 (EST)
Bill S
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Gee, Alicia, that sounds like what's in my regular pack (with a couple of different brands and a couple of exceptions). I don't include Clif Bars, but that's because on most of my long expeditions, the only way you can get the extra needed calories to meet the 5000-6000 calories a day you burn when climbing major peaks or doing long hikes every day is to consume a half-dozen Clif Bars a day in addition to the other food. By the end of a 2 to 3 week trek, I usually can't face Clif Bars for at least a month {8=>D.

I do have a question - I see the Aquamira filter straw, but I also see the extra batteries for the SteriPen. So, where's the SteriPen, or have you discovered a secret way of just using the batteries to purify the water? Just kidding, of course. Good point, though about carrying some means of purifying water, since if you are caught out for some reason, you will run out of water before long, even though I start with a full 70-oz hydration pack (it's drained after a 10-mile hike on a summer day here in Northern Calif, so what do I do if stuck out overnight, unless I carry a filter, SteriPen, or whatever?).

During most of the year, in this area, don' need no stinkin' heat packs! But, I do carry a couple of the chemical chill packs, and have run across folks who were overheated during summer hikes in the local parks.

You implied, but didn't make explicit, that it is necessary to check the pack periodically - the fire starter (cotton balls with vaseline) and Clif Bars do deteriorate with time, as do batteries. That's one of the many reasons why I do not have an "emergency kit" in a bag that stays closed in the pack, but spread the stuff out when getting ready for even a dayhike every time. Around here, though, fire gear (matches, lighter, fire starter) is a bad, bad, bad, thing. If you try to start a fire in an emergency situation, you are likely to end up burning a few thousand acres (yes, it happens almost every year).

Same thing with earthquake emergency kits that we are all supposed to have along the fault lines - people forget to check them periodically, then discover that many of the food items go bad. Yes, we do keep an earthquake emergency bag at home, and an emergency bag in each car. Some of us remember Loma Prieta, and Barb's brother and family were evacuated in the San Diego fires. Those kits, of course, are a bit different, but the idea is the same - prepare for the reasonably unexpected, and keep the kit up to date.

12:48 p.m. on November 14, 2007 (EST)
Bill S
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I will leave the telling of the giant sequoia tale to Jim, if he wants to relive the painful memories (and the consequences were literally very painful and took a very long time to heal properly)

1:25 p.m. on November 14, 2007 (EST)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Yes, there's some redundancy in that I have the extra batteries for the SteriPen and my Petzl Tikka headlamp in the stuffsack, as well as my e-Lite and the Frontier straw filter.

Typically I do remove things like the Frontier if I'm backpacking and need to bring the SteriPen or another filtration system along anyway. Although, I also think that if your hiking partner ends up carrying the regular filter and you're not always hiking right next to each other it doesn't hurt to have your own backup. For the same reason we all carry our own compasses and a small first aid kit, our own water and some food, outerwear, etc...

I also usually take out the e-Lite when backpacking when I use a regular headlamp. However (yet, another caveat), the e-Lite has the ability to flash in white or red. So it has some extra functionality as a signal as well, which I like. But I wouldn't bring it to use for camping. It’s basically in reserve as an emergency light/beacon.

The chemical packs used to only be in there during winter, but ultimately I decided to keep them in year-round since you can get hypothermic in any season and also because I have a small person to take care of as well.

I am going to add a Clif Bar or two back in. I don't think it's entirely necessary and is far less so than other survival items like shelter, water, etc…. and I already should have some extra food in my pack. But, I'm much better off with at least some food in my stomach. So it's more mental than anything. And once again, I’d rather have the extra food for my kid if I needed it.

So, most of the stuff in my stuff sack works well for day hikes, with a little evaluating before overnights and longer. I guess there's no perfect kit that makes sense every single time, but I figure it's better to accidentally bring something extra than to forget something major, which is why I set this stuff sack up to cover the basic bases.

Bill’s right that you need to look in it periodically. I try to do a thorough review of mine at least once or twice a year and I do look in it before I go out each time. I’m constantly trying to winnow things down, while not being negligent.

10:39 p.m. on November 17, 2007 (EST)
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You said you THOUGHT there was a garbage bag in there. By all means, Put one or two in there. They can and will save your life. Not only as 3 or 4 different types of shelter, but they can be made into a pretty efficient transpiration still for fresh water from green vegitation.

OK let's keep this going!

7:39 p.m. on November 18, 2007 (EST)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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You're right. I'm going to get two from the kitchen right now, along with that Clif Bar! It's a simple enough thing to carry without adding any real weight or taking up space.

10:08 p.m. on November 30, 2007 (EST)
Elijah Dakota

I like to keep an emergency blanket, matches and a lighter, parachute cord, a knife, and a bible.



8:52 p.m. on December 23, 2007 (EST)
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For those who want to carry the more durable, grommeted Sportsman's Blanket (the heavier space blanket from MPI Outdoors, costs about $14, 5 x 7 feet), this is a great multi-use piece of gear. I have it in bright orange.

With some duct tape from your survival kit (another multi-use piece of gear, here's how you can make a durable and extremely warm, waterproof "Survival Burrito", as I call it:

1. Fold blanket in half, lengthwise, so that the reflective side is on the inside and the colored side is the outside.
2. Duct tape one of the short sides together completely.
3. Duct tape the open long side together from the bottom (#2) upwards, stopping about 18 inches or so from the top. Leave a few spaces between some of the taped parts for ventilation.
4. The other long section is folded over and doesn't need to be taped.

You can now use this in two ways:

1. Slip into the Survival Burrito feet first, and use it just like a bivvy sack. If you have a sleeping pad, you can slide this underneath you.


2. While standing up, slip the Survival Burrito over your head. Shimmy it down all the way to your feet. The closed off end (the bottom if you are using it as a bivvy sack) now forms a very tight wind and waterproof hood. Using your hands or a pocketknife, open up a breathing slit by breaking some of the duct tape seal at the level that is right for you.

You will notice that you can easily walk in the Burrito when worn as described in #2.

You can also just sit out a storm by putting your back to the wind.

I have stood in a 15 mph wind in the Survival Burrito in 30 degree weather in a light wool shirt and hiking pants and been quite comfortable.

If you line 3 sides with velcro strips (like the Integral Designs Guides Sil Tarp 2), you can really whip up a Burrito very quickly.


5:50 p.m. on December 27, 2007 (EST)
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"I have stood in a 15 mph wind in the Survival Burrito in 30 degree weather in a light wool shirt and hiking pants and been quite comfortable."

Hence my equally honest view, that cost and weight of sleeping bag could be redundant, in certain milder circumstances.

My survival kit: mostly a wing and a prayer.

11:42 a.m. on December 28, 2007 (EST)
Ed G
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I received some Christams goodies to add to my survival kit

a minature leatherman tool, a magnesium block/flint firestarter, Bear Grylls DVD's, Survivor Man DVD's and a portable DVD player.

Now, when I get into trouble in the woods, I can build a fire, and scan all the survival intructor DVD's to see which episode best helps me out my particular life threatening situation.

I'll even have the correct tool to wiggle my do-hickey.

12:32 p.m. on December 28, 2007 (EST)
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I cannot believe that Bear Grylls or the Survivorman ever wiggled a do-hickey on camera.

2:43 p.m. on December 28, 2007 (EST)
Ed G
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actually, I love those guys, but they are just actors with experts showing them what to do and what to eat (well, admittedly Bear is a little more adventourous than what they show on Man vs wild)

I have my own survival techniques and I know for a fact that wiggling do hickeys can save your life.

One technique that I learned a long time ago and will pass along...

If you are hungry and want to catch a polar bear for a quick meal, cut a hole in ice and have a board handy. Encircle the hole with green peas.

When the bear comes up to the hole and bends over to take a pea, pick up the board and smack him real hard in the ice hole.

Then wiggle your do-hickey at him.

8:12 a.m. on December 29, 2007 (EST)
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Go to You Tube and search for Bear Grylls is a fake/liar etc. THAT is educational survival watching.

9:10 a.m. on December 29, 2007 (EST)
Ed G
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He's not a fake, he's doing a reality TV show. He is providing entertainment and racking up the advertising $$$. If the TV crew following him had to endure hardships in the wild, the show wouldn't exist.

As the TV credits state, and I paraphrase, Bear will demonstrate survival techniques when they present themselves. e.i. Crashing thru ice into fridgid water, purposely climbing into quick sand, etc etc

I give the man a lot of respect for being the youngest human being to summit Everest and the guts to become a member of the British Special Forces.

Les Stroud actually aired an episode where a survival expert guided him thru the territory the show was going to be filmed and pointed out what he could and couldn't eat and how to build the proper shelter for the environment. Again - reality TV.

And we eat it up.

10:17 a.m. on December 29, 2007 (EST)
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You may eat it up. I, however, fear for the lives of ordinary people who don't understand that it is a "reality" TV show, and then they go out and try the things they see. I am an officer on a technical search and rescue team and I teach wilderness survival. You would be surprised to know the number times I have had to explain to students that those shows aren't real and nearly everything they do on those shows can get them killed. Not kids, mind you, "experienced" adult hunters and sportsman. I mean after all - some people still think professional wrestling is real. Do you have any idea how many people are injured in back yard wrestling accidents?

I agree 100% that the show is for entertainment only - you know that, and I know that - but some day, someone is going to be in a bad situation and the only training the will have had is a show on TV. If they spend most of their time looking for food, jumping off cliffs into rivers, and looking for civilization downstream - Not knowing how to prioritize for true survival, the next show they will be associated with will be the 11:00 news.

5:19 p.m. on December 29, 2007 (EST)
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maxi pads. they are great to use to stop bleeding (who would have thought). i have been lucky enough to not have to use them though.

i also roll some duct tape around my water bottles. this is hady when you get a tear in your gear or to tape sprained ankles. i have used mu duct tape alot and mostly for taping blistered toes.

6:25 p.m. on December 31, 2007 (EST)
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We used to keep maxi's in our FA kit on the ambulance. Aluminum foil too, for sucking chest wounds. Did you know that talc also aids in clotting?

4:57 p.m. on January 1, 2008 (EST)
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If you believe the federal government, there are forty million people annually who pursue outdoor recreation in wilderness settings. I forget now the average annual wilderness "search & rescue missions" but its in the lower five-digit range for NPS and NF lands added together.

If SARs can be taken as a rough proxy for the number of situations where one might find a survival kit useful, then hiking is about as safe as sitting on the back porch, and carrying little or no survival gear is not unreasonable.

Somebody gets murdered in my immediate neighborhood a couple of times a year, but that doesn't mean I'm in any realistic danger of being murdered. I'm not minimizing or endorsing murder, or denying its reality in any way by pointing this out.

11:02 p.m. on January 1, 2008 (EST)
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SARs cannot "be taken as a rough proxy for the number of situations where one might find a survival kit useful." I can envision many times where I might find a survival kit useful, but no SAR would be launched if I didn't have it.

Many of the items mentioned in many of the survival kits are useful in any number of situations. Whether those items are necessary is another question.

For example, a plastic trash bag may be used as raingear on a simple summer dayhike. Is it necessary for survival? No. Will a SAR be launched if it is not used? Probably not. Is it useful? Yes.

If someone gets murdered in your immediate neighborhood a couple of times a year, it may be true that "hiking is about as safe as sitting on the back porch." However, I don't think we need to use death as the measure of safety. I can easily sprain my ankle while hike; that is unlikely to occur while sitting on the back porch. Thus, sitting on the back porch is safer.

When you reduce the argument to the ridiculous, you really don't help anybody. You just promote further argument.

10:44 a.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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heh ... "I can easily sprain my ankle while hike; that is unlikely to occur while sitting on the back porch." - quite true - but my last bad sprain happened on my front porch (kid left a baseball sized rock sitting there, I stepped on it in the dark, wrenched my ankle and fell off the porch).

That said, being prepared for unforseen events on the trail is not trivial. The better prepared you are (mentally and physically) the lower the chances are for getting INTO a "survival" situation and, if circumstance forces you into one, the better your odds are of coming out alive.

12:36 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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"Recoveries" of bodies are a few percent of SARs. This isn't a proxy for wilderness fatalities, because they attempt to recover all bodies.

If you accept the numbers presented above, dying during wilderness recreation isn't really worth being prepared for. It's like the lottery ticket: the odds aren't even worth calculating, let alone paying for.

Yet I agree it's a very sound idea to take a little bag of odds and ends that might come in handy. A "survival kit" if you like. Mine used to include small pliers and duct tape and a mattress patch kit. Something about re-fighting the last war....I've now surrendered and don't take the little bag.

1:25 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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""Recoveries" of bodies are a few percent of SARs."

the recovery of the body is typically the easy part, it's notification of next of kin that's tough.

That said, any SAR operation,body recovery or live rescue, places others in potentially dangerous situations, something that your own personal preparation, planning and knowledge can help keep from happening. As more people adopt the attitude that "'they' will rescue me no matter how stupid my actions are" I expect the number of recovery operations to rise.

"It's like the lottery ticket: the odds aren't even worth calculating, let alone paying for. "

- if that's the case then indicate that you don't want a rescue to be mounted when you head to the woods, that way you won't be placing others in peril trying to rescue you or recover your body when things go seriously wrong. Sort of like a living will with a DNR.

5:25 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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Ocassionally, one reads newspaper articles that use actuarial and polling data to juxtapose wide discrepancies between perceived and actual risk regarding various aspects of living.

Commercial airline travel is often mentioned, as well as crime, various sports, etc. I remember being surprised by the claim that horseback riding is far more dangerous, on average, than motorcycle riding.

The data is broadly valid, but often can't be applied directly to individual situations. For example, passengers of a commercial jet piloted by terrorist, can't use averages that apply to a random ticket for a random destination. Many, hopefully less absurd examples are conceivable (mebbe depends on the horse?).

The point is not at all to minimize death or risk, but merely to see it in the proper, actual context.

Twenty or thirty thousand rescues of the 40 million annual backcountry users suggests that, while stuff does indeed happen, hiking just ain't very dangerous.

I wonder how many of those rescues were avoidable with contents of a survival kit, or my odds & ends bag... Some, I'm sure...As to how many involved crazy horses, ATVs, crashed parachutists..drunken snowmobilers... just don't know...

6:05 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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I guess calmity's point is that the odds of something happening to you in the backcountry are very slim...so why bother to be prepared for such an eventuality.
Likewise the odds of being in a car wreck are not that great so why wear a seatbelt, heck while we are at it, the odds of being struck by lightning are pretty slim so why bother coming inside during a storm?

Maybe I am wrong, but thats how I read it.

6:55 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
Bill S
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Except that - according to the statistics that I have gotten from my car insurance company and a couple of national (government) sources, on average a US resident has a 50% chance of being in a serious accident during their lifetime. "Serious" was defined in two of the tables, though not defined at all in the other 3, as involving serious injury, death, and/or major property damage (such as totaling the car). So, although the likelihood during any one journey is small, the cumulative risk is high enough that I will keep my harness fastened, thank you.

As long as the original topic asked what in your emergency kit have you used - On my return from Kilimanjaro, while spending the day waiting for my ride to the airport for a 9PM departure, I noticed this Scot sitting in the lobby of the hotel with swollen jaw. As I got to talking to him, he told me he had a filling drop out on his acclimatization hike up Mt. Meru (popular pre-hike for Kili). One of his party, a member of the UK equivalent of the US Army Rangers, had an emergency dental kit and a large quantity of prescription painkillers. This helped the Scot evacuate back to town, where he went to see a local dentist. The dentist at least had a real dental chair, though the office was a shack. At first the dentist was going to do his scraping and preparation without an injection, which the Scot asked for. Just in case, the UK "ranger" (I don't know the proper term for their equivalent) had provided some syringes sealed in sterile packing. So, in 3rd World countries (especially ones where HIV/AIDS is rampant), you might want to carry (1) a dental emergency kit (I have one myself) and (2) a supply of sterile syringes (including the needles), properly sealed, just in case. Having seen it having to be used, I will have to consider this addition.

6:58 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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I was camped last summer with my girlfriend on the bottom of a steep-sided little valley, when, well after midnight, a very strong thunderstorm passed overhead.

Knowing that lightening would likely strike high points near yet well above us, I realized we were rather safe. While I attempted to enjoy the wild beauty of the storm, my girlfriend, unfortunately, nearly had a nervous breakdown. (She also has a poor understanding of risks presented by black bears.)

If under 5% of SARs involve fatalities, one can extrapolate, very roughly, that backcountry travelers on average, are at least eight times safer (and perhaps far more than that) compared with automobile drivers, a majority of whom wear seat belts.

This is not at all precisely true, because the data, and my arithmetic skills are poor. But I think it may be roughly true.

I'm a complete fool in some respects, and completely wrong about many things. I never check the pressure of my spare tire. I've driven 4-500,000 miles without a flat and am probably due for a lesson.

On the other hand, I have no illusions that the spare tire will save me from a head-on collision with a drunk.

7:02 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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People will always have to be rescued. - The above list includes people who, like it or not, are ALWAYS going to be out there. They will ride, skydive, snowmobile (why do they have to be drunken?), or do whatever they want in the wilderness. As long as there are people out there, there will be accidents. As long as there are accidents, SAR teams will be needed to respond to those accidents.

Carrying a survival kit for personal use is a good idea. Suppose you come across some who is in need of help and they don't have a kit of their own. You get yours out and...what's that? You don't carry one? Now your kit is twice a useless as it was before.

We SAR team members do not volunteer for glory, for fame, or for fun. We volunteer for the victims and the families of the victims. Do we find bodies? Yeah, we do. But that's for the families as well.

When YOU have spent 12+ hours grid searching 100s of acres of underbrush for a 10 year old Cub Scout, only to find him alive because he spent the night in a 50 gallon hefty bag that YOU taught him how to use, then, and only then, can you discuss with me the value of a survival kit and the common sense (of a 10 year old) to carry it.

7:51 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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Your post seems highly informed by experience, and very refreshing. I can easily see that you derive deep satisfaction from helping people in dire need.

I really appreciate your forgiveness for human foibles, your understanding that freak accidents can happen to anybody, no matter what, and that you don't emphasize blame for the victim.

I've never participated in an SAR, though I've had two days of training years ago, and long before that, as a 12-year-old, one of our "leaders" had to be carried out with a busted ankle. (For the record, he wore sneakers.)

I don't really disagree that a survival kit is a good idea. But I have slight trouble imagining what might be truly and critically useful to include that isn't already on the ordinary packing list.

In your first example, the hiker in distress, I can imagine hypothermia. Isn't extra clothing and a sleeping bag already in the pack? Other hypothetical circumstances aren't clear to me.

The cub scout you mention is a more problematic example. I might wildly speculate that a break-down in adult responsibility in the incident may have been greater than any advantage gained by his survival training.

Guess I'm blaming the victims (adults included) which I do very much abhor. In any event, the common sense of a ten-year-old is beyond the scope of what I had in mind.

8:37 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
Bill S
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calamity says that


I was camped last summer with my girlfriend on the bottom of a steep-sided little valley, when, well after midnight, a very strong thunderstorm passed overhead. Knowing that lightening would likely strike high points near yet well above us, I realized we were rather safe.

Hmmm... Ever hear of flash floods? Many people have died in "steep-sided little valleys" when thunderstorms uphill produced what are euphemistically known as "gully-washers". Another Darwin Award in the making.

Most rescues are necessitated by hubris and ignorance. Most disasters are the result of a chain of small errors, not a single catastrophic event, but an attitude of "press on regardless."

8:54 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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Flash floods are fortunately quite rare in Vermont -- especially in the nightmare terms they are usually envisioned. Excellent point though.

I think most rescues are the result of accidents that are somewhat random.

If they're mostly the result of hubris and ignorance, then it follows that blaming the victim is mostly correct. That seems perhaps uncharitable.

11:29 p.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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You're a last word kinda guy, aren't you. I say high road - I'm out of this.

11:30 a.m. on January 3, 2008 (EST)
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Averages in this sort of discussion really are meaningless. The real numbers are 1 or 0. That is, you either wind up in some sort of trouble (survival situation) or you don't; 100% or 0%. One does not end up in a 5% survival situation. Also, having a few basic items (knife, fire starter, tinder, whistle...) always on your body, not in your pack, is what will make a huge difference should you wind up in a survival situation.

Two events shaped my belief regarding the above. The first was a backpacker in northern Minnesota who set down his pack, stepped off the trail to look at something and got lost. He was found alive after several days. He was smart in that he had left an itinerary with a friend and also stayed put after he realized he was lost. The survival gear in his pack did him no good, he didn't have his pack. Was he found? Yes. Did he live? Yes. However, a knife, firestarter, tinder and a whistle would have made his days much more pleasant and likely have allowed the search party to find him sooner.

I then read Deep Survival shortly after I heard about the lost backpacker. After reading the book I realize how one can make a simple mistake of setting a pack down and getting lost. We all know the lost backpacker story happens to someone else, until you realize it can just as easily happen to you. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't the next time you head out. There is no downside to having a few items in your pockets just in case.

1:17 p.m. on January 3, 2008 (EST)
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Alan makes a very interesting point - death/life is really a boolean - statistics at the individual level are meaningless. You can't be 12.5% dead, that's for darn sure. You could let 87.5% of life pass you by, trapped by fear into a dull routine, but you're still either dead or alive, 1 or 0.

1:48 p.m. on January 3, 2008 (EST)
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From a construction industry Web site:

Labor statistics report a near miss to accident ratio of about 300:1 some estimates are as low as 200:1. The actual ratio depends upon the type of industry and activity. The numbers are only estimates based on incidents reported and in reality the ratios are probably lower in some industries.

1:55 p.m. on January 3, 2008 (EST)
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Another example of 1 or 0 at an individual level.

2:28 p.m. on January 3, 2008 (EST)
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To each their own.
Numbers are just that, numbers, eternally available for analysis without regard to the individuals which they represent. Human life, however, even when represented by numbers, is far less durable and, after it is lost, the life is no longer viable for any purpose, other than being represented as a number and the history it left in its wake. It can no longer create, it can no longer learn or evolve. The dead can be mourned but cannot comfort.
I look upon a survival kit when I'm backpacking / hiking (which, for the most part, just occupies space in my pack)in the much same way I look at that lovely 11MM rope, well placed protection and a good belayer when I'm rock climbing.
Probably 90% (perhaps a bit less) of the time I don't fall, so in theory, the rope, protection and belayer were just extras, I could just have easily free-solo climbed the route. I did not "need" the protection.
However, had I not been roped, the first time I took a serious winger any significant number of feet up would have been the last.
My first potentially fatal fall while climbing happened after a couple years, and when I was young I took the opportunity to climb a lot, so lets say it was after 50 times on the lead. My "odds of dying" then would have been 50:1 - dangerous but not foolhardy if viewed from an actuarial perspective of "adventure" activities - but rather final and serious when viewed from my own, personal perspective and that of my family and friends.
Note - had I been climbing free solo (for some foolish, reason during my formative years) fear may have short circuted skill and I very well could have died as a direct result of being afraid to die, thereby making the "odds" of my death a bit worse.

1:38 a.m. on January 4, 2008 (EST)
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It's getting almost impossible to find those 11mm ropes these days.

7:12 a.m. on January 4, 2008 (EST)
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"It's getting almost impossible to find those 11mm ropes these days." I could have said 7/16ths Goldline, 10.5mm perlon or dual 9mm perlon - the POINT was not the SPECIFICS of the rope in question but the presence of the rope itself.

3:22 p.m. on January 22, 2008 (EST)
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Back to Survivorman: I just saw an item on Yahoo/ABC News in which three boys in New York broke through a frozen pond. One of the boys remembered the Survivorman episode in which he advised to take off your clothes and exercise to avoid hypothermia, so that's what he did: after emerging from the water, the young man stripped off his wet clothes and ran for help. All three are fine, I guess, and Survivorman gets the credit.

3:24 p.m. on January 22, 2008 (EST)
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My mistake, it was Man vs. Wild, not Survivorman. Duh!

4:20 p.m. on January 22, 2008 (EST)
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11:28 a.m. on February 2, 2008 (EST)
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SteveTheFolke is right on. He has an excellent survival kit, clearly experienced. I might add a tin cup - for drinking and cooking. A buck store plastic poncho, for rain and a shelter roof. A tiny bible for comfort. In a jam you must keep your nerve. Long ago in the army I learned, in certain curcumstances everyone is a believer.

Think about getting lost. Think before you go. Think about what you will do. Plan on it. I know you won't get lost. We're all too experienced for that. But, I've been lost. The leader I followed got lost - and I was stupid enough to blindly follow him. But, I was in the army - so - daah! Think about - are you going to wait to be rescued - or will you have to make your way out. Does anyone know your missing - or where you might be? If your hurt and can't travel - you must make camp. Do you have enough gear? How long can you hold out? Might you be in a situation where you could loose your gear - like in a canoe? If that happens and you don't drowned, are there essential things attached to your body, in your pockets that will help you hang in? Think - think before you go.

Know the big picture. The big picture helps you keep your nerve. Helps you from really getting lost. Danuel Boon (famous frontersman)was once asked. "Dannel - were you ever lost?" Danuel scratched his grey head and said. "Kaint say as I was. But I was fearsom confused for a few months!" I guess Dannel had the big picture. He knew he was east of the Mississippi, and that the Mississippi ran north and south. Make sure you have the big picture. Like Steve said - be nice to have a small compas.

You must get a fire going, Build a shelter, be able to cook what you can find. Most likely you will only find grubs and worms. Cooked long enough with some nice leaves, it's not half bad. Do it sooner not later. Full belly with warm food, basic shelter and your little book. You might be ok.


1:23 a.m. on February 22, 2008 (EST)
Bryan L
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Leatherman multi-tool
First aid kit. (2 person)
Magnesium/flint (this stuff will burn a hole through steel)
30' parachute rope (small strong stuff)
space blanket
power bars (usually 2)
Water filter pump
Bearbang/flare pen
compass and area topo

The way I approach it is that allot of items I have in my pack can be used for multiple purposes. For example my first aid kit has multiple items that can be used for fire tinder all in a waterproof package. That used with the magnesium and flint will start a fire in a short period of time. My multi-tool has allot of good items useful in most any situation. I have spent a few nights alone in major storm conditions a long way from civ. I learned a hard lesson in turning equipment into items they were not built for.

One thing that I find is that I try all the items at home in the back yard. nothing worse than trying to figure something out in the bush when your tired and have little or no light.

Great ideas everyone. I am going to take some of your ideas and try them out.

8:36 a.m. on February 22, 2008 (EST)
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Good list Bryan. You've done you're homework.

If you don't mind... couple of ?s for my research...

Was your storm adventure "intentional", or were you stranded.

Did you have any prior knowledge of survival skill/kits?

Did you self rescue, or were you found.

What kind of equipment did you cannibalize/adapt in order to make your situation better?


9:08 p.m. on February 22, 2008 (EST)
Bryan L
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The storm adventure was anything but intentional. I would not say I was stranded because I had some options a day later. Here is the "adventure"

I left on a Friday early morning (5am) and drove out to Banff's Lake Minnewanka with my gear and my bike. On this trip I was heading out with my BOB trailer and my XC bike to ride to The Narrows (21km away). the trail was in good shape and I was a very accomplished Rider (At the time I was into XC racing). Weather forecast was good the night before with no mention of the storm coming to hit me later in the day. Along the way I had some minor mechanical problems with both my bike and the trailer but nothing out of the ordinary for what I was doing and I had supplies. around 4 or 5pm I was nearing my destination and on a very exposed part of the trail over 2km from my destination. I looked over across the lake at a beautiful sight of glowing blue water and epic mountain scenery. Not a cloud in the sky. ten minuites later the wind started to pick up and when I looked back across the lake to the west the storm front appeared for the first time, Black as night. I had no choice but to hall a$$ and get off this exposed face but before I could I got hit HARD. golf-ball size hail and rain that instantly soaked you. In the last km of the ride I had another mechanical issue. I finally got to the camp site (more of a little clearing) and had to set up my tent in +80km wind gusting to more than 100km. (thankfully I practice building my tent from the inside out and know how to anchor it down while erection. While I was putting up the tent trees started to snap off mid trunk and pull right out of the ground. once the tent was storm worthy I was inside, cold scared and tired. I remember sitting in the tent shivering and hoping that the next tree to fall was not going to be on me. After over 2 hours of this storm it died down enough to check out the damage. Well some sizeable trees were littered close to the tent. This was the first time that I have been scared for my life in the back country... and I was a long way away from anyone else. (if you look on the map of the area I was at least 10km from a point where someone at the other end of the lake could have seen a flare or signal. (a 9820' mountain was between me and civilization.

I made due with my gear and ate well that night. Spent the evening fixing my bike and trailer with bits and pieces from a candle lantern, wire, tape rope and wood. The following day I took just the bike and left my gear to see what the trail was going to be like on the way out (my trip goals were thrown out the window now) and the picture was NOT good. trees littered the trail and at some points the sheer cliffs up and down from the trail were almost impassable. I spent that day figuring out how to rig some type of system to get my gear and bike /trailer past these LARGE trees. The next day I packed up and headed out. it was a 10 hour day of riding for 5 min and then off the bike and dragging the gear across the obsticles and repeat. I spent that night at Mount Inglismaldie a little more than half way back to my truck. The following day was hard again but this time with little food and very little energy to run on. I made it back to my truck just before dark and passed out in the box for a good 2 hours. I loaded up and drove to Banff for a lovely stay in a over priced closet.

But I must say that of all the events in my life this one is a fond one. I realized for the first time at a young age that when everything goes sideways and it seems like I am screwed. I can look into myself for the answers. I am no longer afraid of the unknown or the things I cannot control. I plan the best I can and trust in my abilities to keep me safe. That trip took a boy and made a MAN!

9:21 p.m. on February 22, 2008 (EST)
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Really good story! Congrats, you're now famous - that is, your story will make a great addition to my teaching.

7:00 p.m. on February 23, 2008 (EST)
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170 forum posts

My "survival kit" is actually 3 separate kits. My truck box has a tool set, two jacks, tow straps, flares, patch kit for my tires, cans of Fix A Flat, double braided nylon rope, a blanket, sleeping bag, food, flashlight, shovel, water, emergency candles, matches and a book. No sense in being bored if I get stuck in the woods somewhere.

My "urban survival kit" is a small back pack with Cliff bars, water, first aid kit, knife, heavy survival blanket, 550 cord, fire starter, matches, lighter, an OR skull cap, light gloves, wool socks, a gore tex shell and pants, LED headlamp, spare batteries, a book, a small fishing kit, water purification tabs, a signal mirror, soap, small washcloth, a small bottle of rubbing alcohol and a small cook kit. Whatever else is in there escapes my memory right now. I also have several loaded magazines for both my AR15 and my Glock, and the AR and Glock are both strapped to the pack. For Zombies, of course.

My "almost every day in the woods survival kit" is a Camel Back Blowfish. I carry this when I mountain bike, day hike, cross country ski, bird hunt, etc. It has a heavy survival blanket, 550 cord, small first aid kit, water purification tabs, lighter, matches, firestarter, another OR skull cap with light gloves and wool socks, Cliff Bars, a small compass, mirror, knife, multi tool, small candle, LED headlamp, and normall a spare mag for my pistol.

There are a few things that I always have on my person, a knife, lighter, cell phone with a good charge, iPod, etc. I've also been looking for a small charger for my cell phone, something that can give a weak battery a boost and increase my chances of getting help if something does happen to me. Normally a pistol goes along with me.

I'd love to hear what others carry in their survival kits and less of the bickering that has been going on in this thread.

10:33 p.m. on February 23, 2008 (EST)
107 reviewer rep
762 forum posts

There is a windup cell phone charger available. Adapters are available for almost any cell phone. http://www.campingsurvival.com/wicephchnew.html
Energizer makes a similar device, but instead of winding it, you simply insert 2 AA batteries to give your cell a boost. http://www.energizer.com/products/energi-to-go/cell-phone-charger/Pages/cell-battery-charger.aspx
Also, I've seen some pretty slick solar chargers - hang it from your pack while hiking and you're phone get charged by the sun. I think one may have been reviewed on here previously.

As for the extra magazines... sometimes I'll take a copy of NG Adventure along ; )

11:29 p.m. on February 23, 2008 (EST)
Bryan L
0 reviewer rep
15 forum posts

Around here cell phones are as usefull as a electric hair drier in the wild... no service at all.

6:06 a.m. on February 24, 2008 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
141 forum posts

A degree of concentration and understanding regarding the task at hand is assumed when undertaking a wilderness hike or climb. Thus minimal equipment, with some margin, is to be included in utilitarian gear.

As as current fly fisherman who earned good money as a kid fur trapper, the idea of bringing animal snares and fish hooks suggests much of the pointless fantasy within the notion of a "survival kit."

This might be different from a "ten essential's" pack, which my girl friend carries, and which I've been known to dip into...

Notion of extreme, British Columbia "survival kit" of 15-20 pounds is interesting. Yet none of the serious mountaineering routes of past forty years in BC would have been accomplished with this particular approach. As Chouinard said nearly 30 years ago after completing stunning routes in Purcells, 'leave most of the 10 essentials and other impedimenta home."

Severe medical trauma is for practical purposes, not addressable. Honestly I don't do stitches, and fractured skulls aren't treatable by solo hikers (consider helmet where applicable).. A few pills and band aides, are the most practical first aid.

8:38 a.m. on February 24, 2008 (EST)
107 reviewer rep
762 forum posts

"Around here cell phones are as usefull as a electric hair drier in the wild... no service at all."

Are you sure?

Remember the story of the climbers on Mt. Hood? Location was narrowed down by them turning a cell phone on an off. The act 'pings' towers even when there is no useable service. The tower pings can be triangulated to get a rough fix on phone location. With the help of the phone company, our search team used the same technology to locate a man in a maze of strip mines and ravines here in PA.

Also, check out my post, on the Outdoor Incidents board, about the Germans who used their cell phone display to light up the FLIR on a search helo.

If you're freezing to death, with no matches or lighter, you could use the cell battery to creat a spark to start a fire - I wish I had a dollar for every time I said/wrote that statement.

IMO, never discount anything. In an emergency, try everything.

1:37 p.m. on February 24, 2008 (EST)
3 reviewer rep
170 forum posts

"Ever had to use the contents of your kit in an emergency? If so, how did it and you fare?"

Totally forgot the second part of the question. I spent one extra night in the woods while grouse hunting and the stuff in my Camel Back made it a pleasant night. One extra night in the woods after a friend tore ligaments in his ankle. We were rainy, cold and miserable but still alive when I was able to wave down a Fish and Game officer the next morning. While stationed in western Washington my "day pack" kit was used several times, mostly just the clothing and food. The Olympic Park rangers were stretched as thin as we were and when requested we would assist them with searches for lost hikers or with packing out people who had been injured in the park.

July 9, 2020
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