Survival Kit Recommendations

The following are our suggested items in rough order of increasing importance. Your choices will depend upon where you will keep the kit, the amount of space you have available, projected time period of need and your personal comfort level. We prefer the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid) in assessing items. You might want to keep your kit at home, in your vehicle, or even one in every vehicle you own. Another possibility is to keep the items in a small gym bag at home, ready to be picked up when you leave and stored in your trunk. Everyone has their own preferences for survival/camping gear, so the following are just some of our personal favorites, and certainly not complete.

1. High quality knife - A sheath knife is sturdier, and the blade should preferably be stainless steel. If you want a folding knife, a lock blade is best.

2. Hatchet - If flat on the back side, it can double as a hammer.

3. Matches - If you can find them, strike-anywhere matches are obviously more versatile. All grocery stores used to carry them, but apparently our sue-happy society has scared stores into taking them off the shelves. You can pour hot wax on top of the whole box to waterproof them, then dig them out as needed. You can also trim the edges of kitchen matches and put them in a 35 mm film container to keep them dry.

4. Survival/space blanket or sleeping bag - Temperature rating depends on your location and time of year. You might want to throw in a toboggan, as you lose most of your heat from your head.

5. Poncho w/liner - You must stay as dry as possible in a survival situation, since water rapidly takes your heat away. The liner enables you to use the poncho as a sleeping bag.

6. Pot - You must have clean water to drink, so you'll need a pot to carry and boil water to purify it. Aluminum is obviously lighter (Note: long-term usage implicated in Alzheimers). Can also be used to boil any small game you might bag.

7. Water container - This depends upon where you are. If you're in an arid location, you may have to store water-other locales have numerous streams where you can dip water out with your pot. This container is obviously more compact if collapsible when not in use. Quantity depends on your preferences-you can't have too much water.

8. Flashlight - These have come a long way. The LED types don't use much power and the bulbs last a long time. Rather than the handheld type, you may want a head lamp which will leave your hands free in the dark. This is handy if your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road at night. (Hope this never happens to you.) One consideration: Make sure the on/off switch can't be inadvertently switched on while in storage, otherwise the battery may be dead when you really need it. Also, you might want to keep some extra batteries/bulbs around, space permitting.

9. Tarp - You might want this to erect a temporary shelter if it's really raining, because you'll need your poncho to walk around. You can set it up sloping down to the ground and keep a fire going at your head to stay warm. Can also be used to keep your firewood dry.

10. Nylon cord - Small diameter (3/16" or 1/4") nylon cord is very handy for stringing up tarps, etc.

11. Toliet paper - Good for its intended uses, or also as dry tinder to start a fire. Keep it dry in a plastic bag.

12. Assorted bandages - A normally minor injury can be life-threatening in a survival situation. Being hungry and tired can affect your coordination and thinking, making injury more likely.

13. Neosporin or polysporin - Helps fight infection, which is a very serious threat during survival. Supposedly more people are allergic to neosporin than polysporin.

14. Hydrogen peroxide - Same as above, it is better at getting down into cuts.

15. Folding camp saw - It's easier to cut larger pieces of wood with this than with a hatchet, if kept sharp. This will be useful if you need a larger, open fire.

16. Stove - You need some way to boil water for purification and for cooking food. While you can do this on an open fire, you are wasting a lot of heat which will require you to spend lots of valuable time gathering (dry) wood. One-burner camp stoves are handy but necessitate carrying extra petroleum fuel. Also, we have seen some potentially dangerous accidents with petroleum-fueled stoves. Furthermore, they don't work as well in sub-freezing temperatures, when they are harder to light. We naturally prefer either our Tipi Blaze™ or Tipi Lite™ Stove, which can easily burn anything all year long. It is amazing how much energy is stored in a mere handful of twigs. The Tipi Lite Stove is probably most preferable because of its smaller size and more compact design. In an emergency you can boil a reasonable amount of water if you are willing to wait.

17. Multi-purpose tool - These handy tools have a knife, file, pliers, screwdrivers, etc. While you won't need most of the tools for primitive survival techniques, some of them are useful for modern repair work, such as on your vehicle, etc. The can opener will be useful if you run across any canned food. If you've ever been starving, found a can of beans and had no can opener, you understand. Don't waste your money on the can openers you turn by hand that you can buy in the grocery store-they're made overseas and are junk.

18. Small whetstone - A dull knife or hatchet is not only useless, it is also dangerous. It takes more force to use and you may cut yourself. A double-sided stone with coarse and fine stones is the best. One of the ceramic sharpening rods is also handy for putting a fine, sharp edge on.

19. Water purification tablets - If your survival time is limited, this may be the easiest way to purify your water. Requires time to let the water stand according to the instructions. Rather than tablets, in an emergency you can also use chlorine. However, it is probably not a good idea to use these long term for health reasons. Also, if you're going to keep them in your vehicle, they might be adversely affected by the heat.

20. Eating utensils - Hard to improve upon the standard issue military mess kit.

21. Pan - This is not really a necessity, but you may run across some food to cook. You can always use your mess kit

22. Food - You can survive up to two weeks without eating, if necessary. Although you probably won't have to worry about starvation, if you are a thin person and don't have much body fat for energy, if space permits it certainly won't hurt to keep some snacks on hand. Your brain is fueled by glucose and hunger can affect your decision-making ability. Your body will burn a lot of calories just trying to stay warm in the winter. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are probably the easiest alternative. Other good options are plain, old homemade jerky, dried fruit or pemmican, like the early explorers ate. If you store these items in your vehicle you may have to be concerned with heat shortening their lifespans, depending on your locale, time of year and if your vehicle stays parked in the sun for long periods of time. However, if it is that warm you probably don't need to include food, anyway.

23. Butane cigarette lighter - This item is not a necessity, but under primitive conditions you probably need to light fires frequently, and the lighter is handy to do so while saving your waterproof matches for when you need them.

24. Fire starter kit - Fire is one of the most valuable tools in most survival scenarios. and it's nice to have alternative methods of starting one. There are a number of backup methods, such as the compact magnesium fire starting kits, flint and steel, etc.

25. Gallon of clean water - If you have room in your home or vehicle, it will be a good idea to keep some clean drinking water around in case you have to make a fast exit. You can also use it to fill up your radiator should you spring a leak.

26. .22 pistol/ammo - If possible, it will be good to have a weapon for self-defense and for bagging small game. This topic engenders endless debate, but a small .22 pistol is the perfect, compact tool for shooting squirrels, rabbits or other critters should you need food. It is also not bad for self-defense when loaded with hollow points. Since you will be serious about your shooting and making the first shot count, the Ruger Mark II is probably one of the most accurate, well-designed and quality production guns on the market. Note: DO NOT take this gun apart in the field in a stressful situation. It is easily disassembled and very difficult to put back together if you are unfamiliar with it.

27. Fishing hooks and line - You'll probably never need this, but it takes up so little space you won't notice it. Just wrap the line around a small stick and put it with the hooks in a 35 mm film container. If needed, simply cut a pole, tie the line and hook to the end and bait with worms or insects. Use small hooks for panfish because they are more prolific and thus easier to catch in a survival situation.