31.10.08

Grab bag - webbing - survival pack

If you search for the different survival kits recommended around the world you will find an amazing array. Some kits are recommended for bushpilots in the canadian north, others for sailors or mountaineers or close protection operatives working in hostile lands but all even, those issued to our own fast jet pilots, have one thing in common - they are all designed with the sole aim of keeping a person or group of people alive for a minimum of 72 hours.

While on our courses we train our students and clients to use and fully understand the survival tin and its concept we also demo and recommend other more expanded kits and this is what I want to discuss here.

Being able to survive 72 hours with just a survival tin is the pinnicle of our training and should be viewed as a great achievement but that doesnt mean we knowingly or willing expose ourselves for real to a situation where we need to rely upon the tin only.

As mentioned above anyone working or travelling in remote areas is recommended to carry a survival kit - this is more than a tin, although the tin can form a key part of your kit.

So call this a grab bag - others a prevent kit - my I call it my day sack ...............and this is the key to my mind as the kit I carry for an emergency is the same kit I always carry and is carried as an addition to my normal gear.

Its a habit born of the army where a soldier is trained to carry the necessary kit to survive 48 hours on the battlefield in his webbing and this is the same mind set the survivor needs to adopt.

My own kit will vary from place to place as I adapt it to the enviroment I'm in but the below are the key items I always carry.

  • Camelbak Hawg - with 3 litre bladder and two waterbottle pouches on the outside. (bladder is always emptied and inflated when doing river crossings and if worn can act as a life preservor if you fall in!)
  • Metal mug - this is used all the time - but when packing it usually has brew kit ect packed into it and lives on one of the waterbottle pouches.
  • Crusader mess tin set - again used all the time and lives in the other waterbottle pouch - usual packed with rations for 24hrs.
  • First aid kit - is not carried on my body.
  • Surviva-pura waterbottle/filter - usually empty as I use it to fill up the bladder but in an emergency would carry it and the bladder full.
  • Frost - hiviz orange clipper - no messing around here I want a practicle knife with a high quality stainless steel blade that will deal with all the tasks I might need it for - but equally I want a knife that isnt expensive as it will be hard used.
  • Bahco folding saw - not the green ones but again a hiviz orange model - remember better red than dead and in an emergency we can not affords to lose a single tool. the saw is safer to use than a axe and generally just as useful when married up with the clipper.
  • RAF survival kit - the mkIV survival kit is the best survival kit available and I usually carry one at all times - generally I break it down and carry the emergency sleeping bag, candle and space blanket ect in with my first aid items while the fire lighting kit goes in a pocket ect ect. The only thing missing from this kit is a metal boiling vessel but as we have both a cup and a mess tin thats catered for.
  • wool cap or hat
  • mosi head net - this is a versatile item and doubles up as a carry bag when gathering a filter for removing detrious from water ect ect.
  • Pak lite torch - a simple light designed to simply fit on to of a 9v battery which also glows in the dark so no risk of losing it in the dark when you need it most.

And thats about it - the main sack is still empty and I have often managed to pack the Hawg with all my gear for a weekends camp out so that gives you an idea of the room left.

From the above you can now see that a small well thought out kit is important - theres no doubt it will make life easier in an emergency all we have to do is train ourselves to remember to carry it with us - for - just like a survival tin your survival kit, grab bag, ditch kit or whatever you call it is no good to you in the car or plane or boat or back at base camp when you find yourself in a emergency situation!!

Other additions recommended would be a good manual such as Survival Advantage - the SAS Survival hand book or 98.6 degrees - a map and a compass - whistle even a mobile phone but these are items we should take as read and carried as the norm always .............................

8.10.08

What makes a good commercial survival kit??


What makes a good commercial survival kit?? I'm not talking what contents we add as this will vary from person to person and rightly so as a survival kit should reflect the persons skill level and equally shoud also reflect a persons ezperience and location.

What I am talking about is quality - do we trust the ACME survival kit or the RAF part VI survival kit?

SurvivALL stocks and sells many survival kits and survival kit items which all come with a genune NSN (NATO stock number) meaning these items are issued to military personell all around the world - so does this make the items the best quality??

Well sadly theres not answer really - the ACME kit will most likely contain a equal amount of 'tut' as will the NSN kits - but the difference IMO is that with the NSN kits we are getting two things the ACME kit doesnt offer.

1. We are getting a kit which has been tried and tested - the items in said kit may not be the best but at least they are tested and deemed good enough (bearing in mind all military suppliers are usually the lowest bidders when it comes to costing parts ect) Thus while not being excellent a ok item is still better than a bad chinese import!

2. As with the military anyone with survival training will know to adapt the kit to suit their needs, time and location - there for with a NSN kit we have two options - leave the kit in its sealed packages and use it as is or open the kit and use it as a foundation to build our own kit from safe in the knowledge our foundstion is strong.

Personaly my own 'travel or just in case' kit is made up from all the component parts of the RAF kit still sealed but packed into a mini mess tin rather than left in the stuff sack it comes with. This I hope I never need to use BUT if I do I think its contents acting as a boost to my own skills and knowledge will allow me to live like a king. The kit itself is the most comprehensive and once neatly crammed into the mini mess tin it doesnt really take up to much more room or weigh overly much more than a standard Military survival tin!!

So what makes a good commercial survival kit? Answer - the ability to adapt it and to build upon it - that linked with a faith that the contents while maybe not the greatest in the world are at least tried and test and useable!

3.10.08

Multi-tool and Survival


Does the multitool have a place in Survival?



Personally I say yes, so long as its a quality tool - nothing worse than relying on a cheap multitool which equates to being a cheap set of tools. Would you use cheap tools to repair your car or decorate your house? Would you use cheap tools if your life depended on them?? What price do you put on your life or the life of your family??



As below we've discussed the pro's of a Normark Super Swede and the awesome power and versatility of a Kukri so lets now look at a multitool - the Leatherman wave in particular as this is a tool I'm most familiar with.



Les Stroud often completed many of his survival weeks with only a multitool for comfort that alone gives the would-be survivor a good indicator to the tools uses - I've seen them in the hands of Ray Mears and Bruce Parry and when he's not sucking fish dry I'm sure even Bear Grylls has one somewhere!!


So what makes up the Leatherman Wave?



100% Stainless Steel
Needlenose Pliers
Regular Pliers
Wire Cutters
Hard-Wire Cutters
Clip-Point Knife
Serrated Knife
Saw (good enough for most craft tasks!)
Scissors
Wood/Metal File
Diamond-Coated File (great for Kukri sharpening)
Large Bit Driver
Large Screwdriver
Small Bit Driver
2 Double-End Bits
Ruler (8 inch/19 cm)
Bottle/Can Opener
Wire Stripper
Lanyard Attachment
Belt pouch supplied
Length: 4 inches / 10 cm
Weight: 8.5 ounces / 241 grams



Quite a lot in a small package eh!!



There was a time when all a person needed to survive was a good 7" sheath knife and many look back on those days with nostalgia but times have changed - where the old time survivor may have had a wooden canoe or a smashed dog sled, natural fibre cordage and canvas and skin materials to contend with the modern survivor will have everything from mechanical items such as cars and generators to work with as well as all of the above! Indeed if you can fix the broken skidoo or car suddenly your no longer in a survival situation - on the opposite side of the coin - if your vehicle breaks down and you cant fix it you COULD BE!!



Living in a world of mechanical devices or even needing a pot lifter for your stoves sees us needing a multitool. A assembly of well thought out tools can be amazingly useful and versatile - as below we mention that a small amount of basic trainng and a little common sense can work miracles - give that same person a multitool and the miracles become easier to produce and the stressors are diminished in return!!



If you can only carry one knife in the wilderness carry a big one - if you can only carry one knife in your day to day life carry a versatile one, carry a multitool AND if the brown sticky stuff hits the fan you'll be glad you did!! (You never know it might be the one tool which changes a crisis into a temporary bodge job that gets you safely home!!)
Available at all good outdoors shops or http://www.bearclawbushcraft.co.uk/trading/tools.htm