Every year that goes by, far too many people venture out into the wilderness ill prepared. A large number of them have a great time. But, from time to time, some go missing. Many are found dancing with the outdoors number one killer hypothermia. Still far too many of the average hunter, hiker, and the general outdoorsman that loves to venture into the wilderness never return. No one goes out there with the intention of taking a fall, becoming lost, or being stranded due to the weather. This is an "all-purpose view on the survival bag"-- Not a Bug Out Bag.
First things first, I don't want to make anyone feel like a newbie. Stay away from the premade bags all these companies are trying to pimp off to the unsuspected buyer for a few hundred dollars. Most are garbage, and crammed with stuff you my or my not need. Moreover, the quality is up in the air. You never know what you'll end up with.
Besides, you can build your own for bag for a lot cheaper. Especially since a good bit of the stuff, you might find lying around the house. This is a basic starting point and everyone will have their own take on it.
1) Your bag. No need to go out and spend your kid's college fund on a Northface, or a Keely pack. Besides, where I'm from the bush would chew those things up in a matter of days I myself lean toward the MOLLE style systems. Mine is a SOG I purchased from Wal-Mart for $40. The size and capacity of it will be based on what your intended use will be.
2) A full-tang sheath knife. (I know some of you people think your folder will be sufficient. It won't) This is the one piece of equipment you don't wanna skimp on. A good full tang (from point to pummel, it's all one solid piece of steel) blade, at least 3/16 inch thick, the blade should be between 4.5 to 6 inches. Anything larger is gonna be bulky and cumbersome. A good start is my personal preference the Becker BK2. $70 on Amazon. Any of the Becker models will work. Esse knives are another good consideration. Ranging from $100 to $180. If you can't go those routes, settle for nothing less than the Mora knives. $15 to $30 on Amazon. I know some of you might say Gerber is a hell of a knife. However, I've seen the LMF and the BG Ultimate Survival snap like a twig under basic camp use. Mainly because they are clip point blades. The weakest of all knives. Stick with carbon steel, drop-point, and falt grind. They will outlast you. I also carry a SOG multi tool.
3) When you get to number three, keep that in the back of your mind. Aside form water, fire, and shelter. Ask yourself if you can get three uses from the item.
*Water I carry 3 canteens, 2 stainless ones (not plastic threading and not lined on the inside.) I use one for boiling water, and the other for storage. I also carry a military plastic canteen, with the built in stainless cup it nests in. Moreover, throw a Lifestraw in the mix; and your good to go.
*FIRE (Combustion) Although I do carry multiple Bic lighters, regardless if I have four or 5 it only counts as one tool. (Why Bic? Because they are far more reliable than cheaper lighters.) I also carry a fire steel Gobspark. And I also carry a pack of waterproof matches in a waterproof container.
*FIRE (Tinder) My personal favorite, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. I keep em stored in an Altoid can. (Along with a wire saw to prevent rust) And another way to start a fire Sparklers. Yes, those stupid little things that your kids love to play with on the 4th. You know the damn things that burn your thumbs regardless of how you try to light them, because they burn at around 3000 degrees. Take a small strip of Duct tape (which also burns very well) and use it to wrap three sparklers together. Light that thing up and it will burn wet, dry, and burn hot enough to light even damp tinder. (So why multiple combustion devices? Dexterity can get a little sketchy below freezing. In North Dakota, with temps of -36 I couldn't touch my pinky to my thumb. So, the simple act of striking a Bic lighter might be slightly difficult.)
*First Aid Kit Again, its always better to put together your own supplies. The basics will do, no need to try to have a trauma kit. Band-Aids, ace bandages, antibacterial ointment, alcohol wipes, needle, & thread, two small bottles of peroxide, and alcohol. Not to mention a small bottle of waterless antibacterial hand wash. Another item I personally like to have on hand is an empty bottle of eye drops. Wash out the bottle well, and fill it with unscented bleach. Perfect for sanitation, and double checking your potable water. Just remember 2 drops per quart, and 8 drops per gallon. A Ziploc stashed with some hotel soap & shampoo. Baby wipes (you wont regret it).
*Cordage 550 paracord. Not the BS trash they try to pawn off as paracord nowadays. Real 550 lb.-test cord. If you cut it, and see seven strands inside the cord, it is the real deal. If not, its shoe laces. I keep about 50ft in my pack wrapped on a spool. A 16-inch cobra knot attached to my pack. 20 ft. wrapped on the sheath of my knife. 8ft on a cobra knot bracelet. And every time I buy a pair of new boots; I always replace my laces with 550 cord leaving enough to wrap around my boot before tying. Therefore, I always have plenty of 550 cord on had at all times. A small spool of orange test line (orange will keep you from loosing it)
*Fishing Kit The easiest food to procure in the wild is fish. I used a large Tylenol bottle for storage. Used an empty sewing spool to store about 60ft of fishing line to. Also tossed three different size hooks in with it, 2 of each. Some line weights, and a couple of bobbers.
*Tarp Plain and simple people, if you have the ability to stay dry and warm you can stave off hypothermia.
*Rain Jacket or Poncho & Space Blanket Same as above dudes. Space blanket can be used fro water distillation, and signaling as well.
*Sleeping Bag or Wool Blanket Self-explanatory right? Hypothermia is the #1 killer.
*Light I carry a small LED redline 100 lumens flashlight. (Great tool) I also keep a headlamp on hand (the ability to do all the above activities at night & hands free is a blessing)
*Waterproof container Great for battery storage.
*Bandana Great multipurpose tool. You can use it to strain your water before boiling. It can be used as a tourniquet, and a sling for a sprain or brake. You can also use it to make charcloth.
*Compass Always great to have, as long as you know how to use it.
*At least one spare mag to my Glock
*Items to toss in your pack that you might come in handy: Multi tool eating utensil/ small notebook/ pencil (wrapped with two separate pieces of duct tape, where would MacGyver have been with out it) Mio mixers for your potable water. A backpack shovel. A 72 hour ration pack. And of course a flask filled with some good ole Jameson.
All this loaded, with water, is still under 20lbs.
--My name is Kinzie Shane Henry. I live in South Mississippi where I am a very avid outdoorsman. I hunt, backpack, camp, canoe and everything in-between.