Wilderness survival is a lost art. Cell phones, GPS systems, emergency radio beacons, on-call helicopter rescues and other modern introductions have softened society’s stance on the importance of knowing how to survive alone in the deep woods.
Indeed, except for talk of Aron Ralston, he of self-amputation fame, the subject of survivalism is a rare topic among outdoorsy types these days.
But Doug Ritter, founder of the survivalist Web site Equipped To Survive (www.equipped.org), thinks modern day men and women could benefit from some self-rescue savvy.
Working with Adventure Medical Kits (www.adventuremedicalkits.com), a company known for its compact and uber-accessible first-aid kits, Mr. Ritter has developed a package of small survivalist trinkets and tools called the Pocket Survival Pak.
The $30 survival kit weighs almost nothing (4 ounces) and is the size of a small wallet. But its selection of feathery, multi-use curios and knickknacks can be employed to signal helicopters and prop planes, start fires, boil water, melt snow, catch fish, navigate through the woods, trap small animals, repair damaged gear, and even save your sanity.
Or so portends the tiny waterproof card that accompanies the kit.
In total, the small plastic pouch contains: a whistle, fishing hooks, a signal mirror, a sparker fire starter, waterproof fire-starting material, a tiny compass, duct tape, string, wire, safety pins, aluminum foil, a magnifying plastic lens, nylon thread, a scalpel razor blade, a sewing needle, a pencil, and tiny sheets of paper. (There’s likely something else buried in there too.)
A waterproof instructional sheet on how to use the various items is included. Details on setting a survival plan of action, building a shelter under a fallen tree, starting cooking fires, procuring water from plant perspiration, tying a bowline knot, and obtaining fast food in the wilderness are among its explicit, potentially life-saving counsel.
All of this, impressively, fits in a 4 × 5-inch re-sealable and waterproof plastic case.
Mr. Ritter believes a kit like the Survival Pak should be standard gear for anyone that ventures into the outback. I’d tend to agree, though I would recommend adding a few items to make the kit complete.
First off, the Survival Pak has no first aid accoutrements, so I’d suggest some medical tape, bandages, ibuprofen, anti-bacterial ointment and anything else you usually tote along.
Water-purification pills are a must in my book, as is a tough Mylar blanket and a large plastic garbage bag. The Survival Pak includes a small scalpel blade, but I’d throw in a straight-bladed knife. And while the kit includes a fun little sparker for starting fires (and it does work, I tried it), do not forget to include matches or a lighter just to double-up on the fire-starting capabilities.
Last, I’m partisan to chemical fire-starting tablets that flame like Roman candles to guarantee your kindling (or perhaps slightly wet
branches) flares up fast and full.
The Survival Pak is not a panacea for wilderness survival. But its menagerie of items, and the useful sheet of instructions that accompanies all the backwoods doodads, is a great start. And that’s far ahead of where many wilderness explorers are today.