There’s no question, if things got really tough and it all hits the fan, we’d want access to all of our preps to help mitigate the trauma of a very difficult situation. Unfortunately, the odds of something difficult taking place as we sit in our comfortable homes with all our food storage and preps at hand is very unlikely. Chances are, we will be away from home, either at work or away on vacation or maybe in the hills hunting or fishing when an emergency hits.
And we all know, there’s no way we’re going to carry a large backpack with us wherever we go with a bunch of survival gear and food “just in case” (even though many of us wish we could). So what happens? We go off completely unprepared. This happened to me and my son when we were caught in Hurricane Katrina more than a thousand miles away from all our preps. It’s an extraordinarily vulnerable feeling knowing the only thing you have to rely on is your survival knowledge and your courage.
So what’s the solution? It’s really quite simple. We all need to assemble small, easy to carry survival kits that we keep with us where ever we go. If it’s not possible to keep your survival kit on your person, then it needs to be very close by, like in your briefcase or desk at work or in your car or in your RV. These kits are not designed to replace your 72 hr. kits, these are exactly what their name describes, “survival” kits.
Every survival expert seems to have their own list of what they feel is most important to have on hand so I’m going to show you several options so you can decide what makes most sense for you. Each of these survival kits consists of only 10 items that can easily be kept in a small gear bag or small backpack. Here are some of the suggestions. Keep in mind, these are just the essentials.
Todd Smith, Outdoor Life Magazine
Personal locator beacon (PLB) or cell phone
Map of area
Small first-aid kit
Lighter and fire starters
Space blanket/bivy sack
Doug Ritter, Equipped To Survive
HeatSheets brand space blanket
Chlorine dioxide water-purification tablets
Nylon braided line
Tinder (for fire starting)
Personal locator beacon (PLB)
Mike Forti, United States Air Force Survival School
Large knife (machete or hatchet)
9 x 12 foot plastic painter’s tarp (0.35 mm thickness)
Mylar survival blanket
Mini LED flashlight
Water purification tablets
Water Container of some sort
Small roll of fishing line or dental floss
Fifty dollar bill (“After a few days lost in the woods eating bugs, it would be a real shame to emerge next to a 7-11, and have no money for food,” Forti said.)
I then came across Dave Canterbury who came up with the 10 C’s of Survivalability. His list makes the most common sense to me because it lists categories rather than specific items. I see a lot of lists including cell phones. I would say probably more than 50% of most states have NO cell phone coverage in remote areas, making these new model GPS’s with text capability subscriptions far more practical and very popular.
So here is what Canterbury says:
DAVE CANTERBURY’S 10 C’S OF SURVIVAL
Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School, LLC developed the “10 C’s of Survival” as a handy list of the most essential tools for staying alive in a wilderness emergency. The 10 C’s of Survival should be taken to heart by anyone who spends any time in the back country—indeed, even the front-country.
After all, a day hike can quickly become a situation of perilous stakes. Weather can rapidly turn, bringing frigid rain or wet, heaping snowdrifts where ten minutes before was blazing sunshine. You may stray from the trail and become entirely disoriented, or become suddenly hobbled by a twisted ankle.
The 10 C’s of Survival are best thought of as divided into two batches: a core of five absolute must-have pieces of survival gear rounded out by an additional roster of highly useful, if not essential, tools.
THE FIRST FIVE C’S OF SURVIVAL
Never head into the boonies without these first 5 of the 10 C’s of Survival.
(1) Cutting Tool: Ultimately, this means a sturdy, full-tang survival knife—something that should always be on your person in the backcountry. A design with a four to five-inch carbon-steel blade and a flattened back edge is typically the most dependable and versatile. Well-made survival knives allow you to do everything from clean fish to split kindling.
(2) Combustion: Being able to spark a fire is critical in a survival situation. In inclement weather, it’s the first order of business—fundamental to maintaining your core temperature. Additionally, a blaze can help you advertise your location to potential rescuers. Carry spark-catching material such as the Pathfinder Mini Inferno tinder or Gorilla Tape alongside a ferro rod and a good lighter.
(3) Cover: A common mistake committed by plenty of outdoor recreationists is neglecting to include an emergency shelter in their go-to hiking packs. Even if you’re simply setting out for an afternoon trail hike, you need the ability to quickly erect a precipitation and cold-resistant covering to keep you dry and warm in the event of an unforeseen night out in the backwoods. A poncho, wool blanket, tarp, or even a plastic garbage bag will serve you well.
(4) Container: An ideal container for wilderness use is a 32-oz. stainless-steel water bottle. Staying hydrated is fundamental in an emergency, and you want a durable vessel for storing and carrying water. The high-quality metal additionally allows you to boil water—or melt snow—to render it safe to drink: You don’t want to be dealing with a gastrointestinal malady on top of your other worries.
(5) Cordage: Sure, you can fashion rope from plant materials in the back country—but why expend that time and effort if you don’t need to? Carry a good 100 feet of 550 cord, which can assist in a dizzying array of tasks.
THE SECOND FIVE C’S OF SURVIVAL
In the event of contingencies in the wilderness, the remaining five items of the 10 C’s of Survival can be immensely helpful to have on hand.
(6) Candle: It’s all too easy to forget about an illumination source when preparing for a day on the trail. If you’re stranded for whatever reason, the onset of night is a real threat: You can quickly hurt yourself fumbling around in the dark for kindling or water. Having more than one source of light is best—a headlamp is particularly convenient, but bring candles along as well.
(7) Cotton: It’s no weight or space burden to stuff a few cotton cloths or bandannas in your pack—a level of convenience that belies the versatility they display in the backwoods. From bandages to signaling flags, from fire-starters to head coverings, cotton bandannas are deceptively multi-use.
(8) Compass: There are plenty of methods for orienting yourself in the wilderness, from keying into the wheel of constellations to tracking the sun’s shadow. But bringing along a durable compass with a sighting mirror gives you an unfailing tool for precise navigation—one that readily doubles as a signaling mirror.
(9) Cargo Tape: From injuries to pack malfunctions, a roll of duct tape serves as many functions in the backcountry as it does in the garage.
(10) Canvas Needle: Also called a sail needle, this little tool can be employed to repair clothing or shelters, act as a makeshift compass, dislodge nasty splinters, and for other delicate, high-precision operations.
Remember, the “survival weapons” of the 10 C’s of Survival only work when combined with the knowledge and presence-of-mind to put them to use. If you can stay calm and ward off panic—commonly your greatest threat in the wilds—you can use this basic equipment to keep yourself alive, healthy, even contented, until help arrives.