Your emergency survival kit should be compact, light-weight, and contain sufficient gear to support you for several weeks if need be. Your kit should contain as many items as possible that serve multiple purposes. Here is a list of the top twelve items, and some of their uses.
1. MULTI-TOOL WITH BELT SHEATH
This is one of the most important items in your kit. While accessories will vary, a good multi-tool may contain pliers, wire cutter, wire stripper, multiple Blades, can/bottle openers, various screwdrivers, nut drivers, scissors, tweezers, ruler, awl, etc.
Although not very compact, a machete is lighter than most hatchets and serves more purposes. If you have a machete and a multi-tool in your kit, you will not need a hatchet or a knife. The only function lost with this elimination is the hammer on the back of most hatchets, but sticks or rocks will work just fine for most hammering needs in survival situations. Blades are made of many different types of metals and alloys, in different tempers and thicknesses, widths, lengths, styles, and shapes. Handles are made of many different types of materials in many different shapes and sizes. A good survival machete will have a semi-flexible blade 18 inches or longer that is easy to sharpen, yet keep a good edge with moderate use. Most importantly, the handle MUST be comfortable and fit well in your hand. With a machete, you can perform any task that can be done with a large knife or hatchet. It can also be used to dig or pry, or as a formidable weapon. Install and use a wrist lanyard when chopping or swinging a machete.
3. PARACHUTE CORD
The most common type of para-cord has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. That is far heavier than needed for most survival uses. The diameter of this cord is 4mm. That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up. Shop around and smaller diameter cord can be found. Cord with a tensile strength of 200 – 250 pounds is quite sufficient and has half the bulk. There is an endless number of uses for paracord. Use it to erect and build shelters and useful camp furnishings, repair clothing and gear, as a sling for containing and carrying loads, bundles of firewood, boughs, reeds or grass for bedding, pull dead branches down from trees for firewood, boot lacing, belts, snares and traps, “burglar” alarms, binding splints, and secure bandages in place, fire starting material… the list goes on. Carry a minimum of 30′.
4. DUCT TAPE
Get a good heavy-duty brand name roll. Use it to repair clothing, boots, tools, and equipment, construct shelters, furnishings, and implements. Use it to relieve hot friction spots on feet to prevent blisters, and wrap around hands for makeshift gloves. Twist into a “rope” if needed, which is good for making snowshoes. It also makes a good mousetrap and decent fire starter.
5. DENTAL FLOSS
A 200′ spool of waxed dental floss can be invaluable. While important for maintaining good oral hygiene, it can serve other purposes such as repairing small items, sewing and stitching clothing, boots (or even skin), making tools and weapons, or used as fishing line.
6. SMALL DIAMETER WIRE
This can be galvanized, stainless steel or copper. The more flexible the better. Use it to repair gear items, make snares and traps, and at the fire pit to suspend a pot, meat and other foods over the fire to cook. A grill or “toaster” can be made with wire.
7. PLASTIC SHEET
A black 6-mil heavy-duty sheet 6’x8′ or larger. Use as a wind block, lean-to, shelter roof, rain-fly, ground tarp, blanket, poncho, and to protect gear and clothing from rain, snow, and dewfall. Use to collect and store water, make a solar still. The black color absorbs sunlight creating heat which will help keep you warm and will generate more water quicker than clear plastic when used as a solar still, and it may be more visible to rescuers in certain terrains and conditions.
8. MYLAR SURVIVAL (SPACE) BLANKET
The reflective qualities of a space blanket are ideal for reflecting your body heat back to you, or campfire heat toward you or into your shelter. Used along with the plastic sheet there are many combinations and configurations that can be incorporated to provide shelter and/or bedding. A space blanket is shiny like aluminum foil on at least one side, which is good for signaling rescuers under sunny conditions.
9. WAX CANDLES
Use for lighting, warmth, cooking, lighting fires, or signaling at night. Melted wax can be used for waterproofing leather boots, and thighs, knees, and seats of cotton pants. During “bug season” include a citronella candle to ward off insects. If out of water and your mouth is dry, chewing on a clump of wax will generate saliva, and it may help curb hunger pains. The act of chewing helps blood circulation in your head which may result in a more alert brain, which is good in a survival situation.
10. HEAVY-DUTY ZIPLOC BAGS
1-gallon or 2-gallon size bags are ideal for packing clothing items, food, toiletries, and other gear items. Use to collect and store water. The 1 gallon-size bags can be worn over socks to keep feet dry, or on your hat or head to keep your head dry. Sandwich bags work great for holding smaller items. Worn-out bags can be used to start fires.
11. HEAVY-DUTY PAPER TOWELS
Paper towels are good for not only the obvious everyday uses we find for them, but also serve other uses such as; note paper and wound dressing, filtering sediment from drinking water, and toilet paper.
12. FLAMMABLE FOOD
Fritos and Doritos snack chips are the best choices. While not the healthiest food available, it will still provide fuel for your body, and much-needed salt which helps prevent muscle cramping. Fritos and Doritos highly flammable. Use 2 or 3 as tender, or light the whole single-portion bag for a quick fire in wet conditions.
When assembling your kit, think of other uses an item might serve or other items that might serve its purpose. Consolidate to eliminate the need for several single-purpose items to reduce the weight and space requirements of your kit. Assemble your kit to suit your particular needs, but keep it simple and streamlined with multi-purpose survival gear items and face your next survival situation with confidence.