A couple of friends of mine asked whether I fancied going out for a couple of nights taking only a survival tin. I suggested perhaps in summer we could do it and take a tin and a wool blanket. Now typically I'm not really a prepper as my intentions are to learn the natural world so well that in practice I will never be too far from water, food, shelter, fire and so on. However I can understand the appeal of such a kit.
So I started looking into building up my tin and deciding what I would take in a survival tin since looking at the prepacked ones I can't help but feel I would never have a use for half the items. I'd be carrying dead weight! Secondly I notice that all these survival tins are biased towards food (Fishing lines, snares) yet when you look at what they are designed for they suggest survival for x hours (since all it's really designed for is to get yourself rescued rather than to sustain life for an extended period of time) but what about water... purification tablets won't work if you just chuck them in a river surely a container is needed and that tins too small. Drinking some dodgy water and getting the squits is going to be more of a concern than not finding food to me, i'd die of dehydration.
So following the rule of 3 we have all heard (3 days/weeks without water/food) we know that water comes before food (i.e. you'll die from thirst before hunger). Now, say you hope to be rescued ASAP. Would carrying simply a water bottle and a means of filtration/purification be better than snares/fishing hooks and so on because why are you eating without water...
Exposure will kill you before hunger too, so perhaps some form of protection from the elements would come over any way to catch food too. Chucking in an emergency foil blanket, small bothy bag, etc will surely be wiser that a wire saw and a few fishing hooks. I mean, what if you are in a desert (it's cold at night you know [I don't I have never been, but so I hear ] and there isn't many trees).
Warmth, really I suppose this is under exposure but depending on your environment maybe you are able to have a fire (i.e. not a victim of the titanic) so a method of lighting fire wouldn't go a miss before you have any food also as fire really is one big multitool!
Without food you will obviously start to deteriate way before 3 weeks and since water, shelter and exposure/warmth are covered (just some of the things you'd die of before starvation) so maybe food is definately something to start thinking about so those handy snares and fishing line you have in the kit come in to play. Although maybe at times one or the other could be more appropriate; If your stuck at sea, lets see you snare a fish! (Although I wonder if you could put bait on a line to hook yourself some small game?) However, assuming there is fish and there is small game to catch then surely in this case you are not far from vegetation and insects and both of those are surely a lot easier to catch than fish and small game... I have watched beetles walk in an almost regimental fashion towards my fire when I have been out before (How odd?)
So I suppose what I am trying to say here is the tin is lacking in the water and shelter department so when I come to think about my ultimate survival kit I feel like I almost want to say
- Pot/Pan/Mug: some kind of container that not only doubles as storage for the rest of my survival equipment but will also double up as my way of collecting, filtering (with the aid of some tight weaved clothing I hopefully have on) and boiling (to purify) water.
- Water bottle: since once I have gone to the effort of boiling all that water it'd be silly not to bottle it up! Plus I might have to move on, maybe I know civilisation is 4 days away?
- Fire Steel: not as easy as a lighter but I have never found it too difficult to light something with a mass shower of sparks from these things and I can't imagine them being unreliable whereas a lighter... chances are I feel it'd fail the moment I went to use it. I'd probably loose the tiny flint so why not carry a big one! (Fire is one huge multitool!)
- Emergency Blanket, Bothy Bag, Small Tarp? Maybe a Poncho could call trumps here as you'd be able to walk and keep dry as well: For shelter from wind, rain, the cold, the sun, the heat, etc.
- Cord (A decent length of non perishable cord) - Partly for putting up some shelter, partly for lashing together any injuries I may have, generally, just lashing anything together that needs to be done immediately (i.e. can't wait for me to go out and gather fibres to make some from )
- -MEDICAL: So this is a difficult one since it could make any kit grow way outta hand but what I am looking for here is a way to stop any serious bleeding, aid any serious injuries (Iodine, Steristrips (I don't know how to suture, but maybe I could always add a suture kit as i'd give it a bloody good go!), As above (Cord) for torniquet!, etc. QuikClot (Is that the safe one that only clots blood and not other bodily fluids (eyes, etc)!). I know many carry superglue, and it seems reasonable but I haven't yet got to the bottom of whether it's a good idea to or not! Whether there is a difference in DIY superglue and Medical superglue!)
- Signalling Devices (Whistle, Mirror, Small Torch) - Now I know I won't die within 3 hours to 3 days I guess I should start signalling.... This is a survival kit after all.
- Knife - I suppose a sharp item can be improvised from many things but I don't think I can recall one trip when I havem't use a knife. (With the knife maybe a small sharpening stone wouldn't go a miss)
- Fishing kit and Snares - I suppose they don't weight much and I've been here a while, i've eaten way to many bugs and so much vegetation that my ears are beginning to look so rabbit like that now other survivalists are sharpening up one of there many skinning knifes in their kit.
One final note, the best item of all... KNOWLEDGE. It weighs the least and offers the most!!!
So.... The kit I would prefer to pack is hardly pocket sized but when I consider the survival 'tin' needs to be accompanied with a water bottle anyway I see no reason why I shouldn't up the size of the survival kit to match the size of the bottle. Maybe the perfect containers would be identical wide mouthed stainless steel bottles. Water in one, the kit in the other and both bottles can be used to cook with? Also, say your only water source is the sea maybe the two could be bodged together in some kind of solar still?
In theory though. What I want to do is be able to carry nothing and survive everything on knowledge alone and that's why I practice bushcraft! Since once upon a time these products didn't exist. Although, I suppose a litte prep won't hurt anybody.
So finally, in short:
- 2 stainless wide mouth bottles
- Fire steel
- Packable Poncho
- Small Emergency FAK
- Signalling Devices (Whistle, Mirror)
- Small Head Torch (For working in the dark... whilst the battery lasts and Signalling)
- Fishing Kit and Snares
Anything else? I suppose the rest could be dependant on where you think you might end up! If your travelling across desert then there may be little point taking a fishing kit. If you are travelling across the sea... maybe you might want to add a small nessi inflatable . Again though, really, I feel there is no ultimate 'survival' kit but these are just the items I feel would help me fair best in most situations. Though i'd trade any of them in a given situation to know more about how to substitute them with something improvised from the natural surroundings I am in at the time.