Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On the Need for a Survival Kit

People love survival kits. They are fun to make, and there is something very comforting about such a small package of life saving reliability. That being said however, many people are surprised by the fact that I do not carry one. I thought I was pretty out there on this issue, when I saw Alex from The Oak and the Mountain express a similar outlook on survival kits.

I used to carry one a long time ago. It was small, so I could always have it on me when in the woods, and I did. It was one of those altoids tin, home made kits. I put a lot of thought into it. What I started noticing however was that I was very reluctant to open and use it. What exactly constitutes an emergency? More often than not, I simply carried a similar item in my regular gear. For example, I would have matches in my survival kit. Well, of course I also have matches with me anyway because I need to make fire. The survival kit simply duplicated what I already carried on me.

That got me thinking. The only time I would actually need my survival kit is if I was not prepared for the trip I was undertaking. Things like fire starting gear, mater purification equipment, shelter, first-aid items are all things that you should have with you when in the woods. The type of emergency that can be remedied with an altoids tin size survival kit, should not present itself at all if you are prepared for the trip you have undertaken.

Of course, survival kits have their place. Mainly, they are of great use when you are performing activities that are not wilderness related, but might turn into such. An example would be a pilot crashing into a forest. Since his job is flying the plane, he does not have camping gear with him. As such, the survival kit makes sense for an emergency situation which might come up. For the person intentionally going into the woods however, if the gear you carry is not enough to get you through the trip, then you don’t need a survival kit, you need to re-evaluate your gear.

I still carry some survival or back up items in my possibles pouch. I have some water purification tablets in case my water filter brakes. I also have a commando saw in case a lose my regular saw. Those items are mixed in with the ones I use with great frequency, and are easy to access.

Do you need a survival kit? Only you can answer that. If it makes you feel more comfortable, then there is nothing wrong with it. For me, all the items that would be in my survival kit are already in my regular gear. If there are items in your survival kit that are missing from your regular gear, then I would suggest putting those items with that gear. The reason I say that is that for me, I am very reluctant to break into a survival kit, while I am much more likely to use items in my regular gear. If you think you may need a piece of gear, then carry it in a place where you are likely to access it. The odds are that you will use it in a situation that would not constitute an emergency.