Survival Kit – Skills Over Gear

The bottom line is that the best survival kit is located in the forest, and its most valuable tool are your wilderness skills.  The more skills you have, the more you can do with less equipment.

Obviously the more you carry with you the easier survival may be, but there comes a point where a survival kit becomes bulky and unnecessary.  On the forums over at I read a great discussion in which a man interviews his former Navy SEAL nephew about what he would want to carry for survival equipment.  The criteria for the kit was that a person would need to survive 3-4 days in a climate that was not extreme but potentially wet and most likely cold enough for hypothermia concerns.

The former SEAL told his uncle he would first want some sort of cloth material to absorb water from dew or other plant sources, obviously we would hope you could utilize the clothing on your body for this if you had to, i like to carry a bandana.  As an alternate to this a plastic bag can be helpful and if you happen to find one you can use it to collect water through plant transpiration.

The next thing the former SEAL discussed was the hypothermic temperatures and obtaining shelter.  He basically said a good outdoors man can make a sufficient shelter anywhere in the wilderness, but gave a few good tips.  First remember that most heat is lost through conduction with the ground so a good bed is important.  It is a well known trick to use heat rocks to keep your warn at night but be careful because some rocks collected from a stream could explode.  So for shelter no items were needed in the survival kit.  You can use your own discretion, some paracord and a wire saw could make you handier, its all about what you are comfortable with.

The next item on the list was a combination of some wire and fishing line for making traps and fishing so you could acquire some food.  This is a lightweight solution for getting food other than gathering wild edibles.

And lastly he said he would want a good knife.  He said for survival he would choose a 3 inch fixed blade knife with a fine edge, no serrations.  He also mentioned that a 5 inch knife is better for shelter building and other harsh tasks.

I thought that post was very relevant to what I am trying to say here, the best survival kit is having a solid base of survival skills.

As far as what the best survival kit out there is, I think the one you create is the best.  My man Bear Grylls has put his name on a kit that is a good example of the basic things you will want to have.  In his kit made by Gerber you will find the following items;

  • Gerber® Miniature Multi-tool which includes;
    • Needle Nose Pliers
    • Wire Cutters
    • Fine Edge Knife
    • Phillips Screwdriver
    • Small Flat Driver
    • Medium Flat Driver
    • Lanyard Ring
    • Bottle Opener
    • Tweezers
  • Miniature Light
  • Hand Saw
  • Signaling Mirror
  • Survival Blanket
  • Fire Starter
  • Waterproof matches
  • Cotton Ball – Fire Tinder
  • Snare Wire
  • Emergency Cord
  • Waxed Thread
  • Fishing Kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Lanyard Whistle
  • Lightweight, ripstop nylon bag with waterproof zipper
  • Land to air rescue instructions
  • Priorities of Survival – Pocket guide contains Bear’s survival essentials

I like that kit, you could put one together for cheaper maybe but you might want to check Amazon because I see them on there for much cheaper than retail all the time.

If you want to make your own kit I recommend following this list and modifying it to your needs.  This kit is pretty compact and lightweight and all the items provide a ton of use for their price in weight.

My kit vs the Navy SEALS suggestion would differ in one major aspect, and that is having a fire starter.  He says that having line and a knife allows you to make a bow-drill fire, but I guess I am not as confident as a SEAL with my bow fire making skills.  This is a good example of how you need to assess your skills.  If you are confident you can make a bow drill fire 10 out of 10 times than maybe you don’t need a fire starting device.  I like Bear’s kit because of all the use it provides within its compact size.

The bottom line is no survival kit will be enough to save you.  You should be familiar with how to make the best use out of all the items in your kit and also know how to survive with out them if you have to.  Practice makes perfect so hone your survival skills and go into the great outdoors with confidence.


Items mentioned in this article

Bear Grylss Ultimate Survival Kit 50% off

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