For many people that carry a small survival or “E&E” (Escape and Evade”) kit, the question that constantly resurrects, is “Did I stock my kit with the right stuff?” This is often so subconsciously nagging that people will build several kits, each suited for a different role, mission or environment. The purpose of the survival kit is to have a small collection of items which will help you survive, should you find yourself in that worst case scenario. It is NOT everything you might want, but should include everything you NEED to stay alive. There are different formats from different schools of thought and various instructors and experienced individuals to follow when prepping a survival kits.
As you’re no doubt aware, there are lots of cute ditties and sayings (and a few mnemonics), but suffice to say that if you don’t have air, you are going to die. If you are on fire, you are going to burn to death (unless you quickly figure out how to put yourself out). Being lost at sea without a raft, you are going to eventually drown. In these cases, you are SOL and your kit, no matter how big or well stocked will unlikely be much of a help.
When constructing a small survival kit, keep these “Core 4” aspects in mind:
These aspects of survival can be acquired without a survival kit, but its much harder to do so if you don’t have the training and experience of hardcore bushcraft to see you through. Your kit should provide you the means of acquiring or establishing these elements of survival, and help sustain your life for as long as possible, in a collection of different situations. Lets look at that list again, but explain it a little further.
1) Water. You will only live so long without it, as in several days max, less if it’s in a desert. You need a way to collect, purify and store water.
2) Shelter. From the rain, snow, heat, etc. this reads as “tools and cordage” to construct a shelter with local materials or vegetation.
3) Fire. Once again cordage for a fire bow, matches, flint and steel, etc. Fire allows you to cook food, boil water to purify, signal for help, and a means of staying warm in cold weather.
4) Food. A handful of MREs, energy bars and candy is only going to last so long. Think more about things that provide you food, such as knowledge of editable plants and tools to help harvest meat. Snare wire, arrow heads, frog gigs, fishing gear, spear points, and a sturdy knife.
As mentioned, the only thing more important then a well stocked kit is a level head full of knowledge. The ability to identify, analyze, and find practical solutions to the various problems being presented is much more important than having material solutions readily available. This is more than just “understanding how stuff works,” It’s the mental capability to problem solve using reason, logic and past experience. Rushing into things without proper thought will turn a bad situation worse, and a seemingly simple problem can end up being the one that kills you.
For our troops, this means teaching your teammates, squad mates and those under you basic survival skills regardless of your MOS or billet. These skills should be viewed in the same way as medical training. First aid knowledge is something not limited to the door kickers, its something that should be common to all. Even if you don’t use your medical training on the battle field, you might end up using it five years after your EAS at the scene of a brutal roadside vehicle crash. Survival and medical skills are two things that should not be viewed as “military” skills, but as “life” skills. This same way of looking at it applies to EVERYONE.
Outside of knowledge, experience and training, you can say a positive, winning attitude is another critical factor in survival. “I can do this!” should be the thought running through your mind, never allowing a defeatist attitude to creep into your thought process. Yes, you want to be cautious and analytical of all things, but you also need to believe in yourself and others who might be in the situation with you. For thousands of years, the vast majority of human existence has been spent in the dirt. Although our culture has built cities, hospitals, industry and has mastered farming the earth, there are still many peoples that sustain life through good ole’ hunting and gathering. Recognize that you just might have been unwillingly recruited (or dropped kicking and screaming) into this category.
The sooner you slip into the mindset of a feral native blessed with a western eduction, the better off you will be in the long run.
Please keep an eye on Breach-Bang-Clear for future installments of this ongoing series. We have been asked by many readers to write an article on constructing a survival kit, based of other articles and reviews we have done. This is not exactly an easy task to do in a single article, and believe it or not one thousand words will not fit neatly inside an Altoids tin! Each article will cover one aspect of building your own kit, and the options that are open to you in each of the above “Core 4”. This concludes part one of the series, we hope you check back soon for future installments of “ Building the ultimate Survival kit.”
You can find Part 2 here: https://www.breachbangclear.com/building-the-ultimate-survival-kit-part-2/