By Dan Kidder
Imagine if you go on a simple day hike and a sudden storm breaks. Your trail back to your car is washed out by a flash flood and now you have to hike several miles out of your way across unfamiliar terrain to get back to your vehicle. Also imagine that during this trek, you get turned around and hopelessly lost. Will the meager supplies you took with you be sufficient to help you survive this unexpected emergency? Have you taken sufficient precautions to ensure that you will get out of this alive? Are you prepared for the unexpected?
As a survivalist, I make sure I carry a few items with me whenever I go into the wilderness. Most of the time, I never need them. But emergencies are seldom the result of a single event, but usually a confluence of things going very wrong – a perfect storm of ill fortune. Having these items on hand can make the difference between an uncomfortable few days with great stories to share and dying in the wilderness.
Some new items that have come out this year are easy to carry, inexpensive, and provide the materials you need to make it through should you run into to trouble in the outdoors.
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series
Bear Grylls is host of the popular survival show Man Vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel. Grylls places himself in a variety of survival situations and demonstrates various techniques to survive by improvising with available materials. Gerber Gear, maker of knives and outdoor tools, has teamed up with Grylls to create a series of tools and products to increase your chances of survival in an outdoor emergency.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife
A good knife is inarguably one of the most important survival tools in the wilderness. Gerber has paired a great fixed blade knife with a few tools stored onboard the sheath to aid in a survival situation. This knife features a 4.8-inch long drop point blade of high carbon steel, which helps it take and hold an edge. Half of the blade is serrated for cutting rope. The blade also has some serious heft as it is 3/8ths of an inch thick and weighs 11.2 ounces, ideal for cutting down saplings to make a shelter or for splitting wood to make a fire. An ergonomic rubber handle gives a positive grip and a steel pommel is ideal for use as a hammer. A whistle is attached to the knife’s lanyard for signaling. A military grade nylon sheath holds a few more surprises. A ferrocerium fire starter rod locks into the sheath and the knife features a striker notch in the back of the blade. A diamond hone pad and air rescue survival instructions are included on the back of the sheath. The quality that has gone into this knife explains why it was the best selling knife of 2011.
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Tool Pack
Designed to meet a variety of situations from urban to wilderness survival, the heart of the Survival Tool Pack is a Gerber multi-tool with a variety of features. The handles of the tool include a rubber coating that creates a positive gripping surface, even with gloves. The 12 tools are enclosed in the handles and can be accessed with the pliers closed. All of the handle-stowed tools lock and are easily unlocked with a single lock slider. In addition to the standard compliment of tools, knife, scissors, spring jaw pliers, can opener, etc.; the multi-tool comes in a rubber sheath that secures it to your belt and also includes a ferrocerium fire starter rod and a small LED flashlight.
Gerber Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit
The eight piece Basic kit is small, lightweight and easily fits into a pocket. It is a must for anyone going on a short hike in the wilderness. It features a waterproof bag, a Gerber Mini-Paraframe Knife, an emergency whistle, a fire starter, waterproof matches, snare wire, emergency cord, cotton ball – fire tinder, lightweight, ripstop nylon bag with waterproof zipper, land to air rescue instructions, priorities of survival – pocket guide contains Bear’s survival essentials.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit
The 16 piece kit contains most of the same items as the Basic kit, but exchanges the knife for a Gerber Clutch mini multi-tool. The Ultimate kit also adds a flashlight, mylar emergency blanket, signaling mirror, wire saw, and a fishing kit. It is only slightly larger than the Basic kit and easily fits in a cargo pant pocket.
Adventure Medical Kits Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) Series
Pocket Survival Pak Plus (PSP+)
Designed by survival expert Doug Ritter, the PSP+ contains a variety of items that will help in a survival scenario, all in a small pack that easily slips into a pack or cargo pant pocket. What sets this kit apart from others is that it also includes a sterile collapsible water bag and six Katadyn Micropur MP1 water purification tablets that will treat up to six liters of water for drinking. The kit also includes a CRKT RSK Mk5 survival knife, a Pico LED flashlight, duct tape, a rescue mirror, button compass, cordage, whistle, aluminum foil, fishing kit, and other various items that can be lifesavers in an emergency. The Spark-Lite fire starter and Tinder-Quik are the absolute best fire starting solution short of a BIC lighter. Cody Lundine, author of 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive and co star of Discovery Channel’s Dual Survival said, “smartly designed, affordable, and functional, the Pocket Survival Pak is the best I’ve ever seen on the market.” I agree and this kit goes with me every time I venture into the outdoors.
Featuring a tough waterproof ABS plastic case, the Origin includes vital tools in a self-contained modular package. On the outside, compartments hold an ultra light locking folding knife, LED flashlight, whistle combo tool. Other compartments contain a button compass and a Spark-Lite firer starter. A flip up rescue mirror is the largest we have seen in a survival kit. Inside the waterproof compartment holds Tinder-Quik, snare wire, cordage, aluminum foil, and a fishing and gear repair kit. The entire kit measures only 4 inches long by 3 inches wide and just over an inch deep and weighs 6.1 ounces. It may be small, but it is mighty.
SOL Survival Medic
Returning to their roots as the maker of the finest outdoor first aid kits on the market, AMK has combined vital survival tools with basic first aid supplies in their small and waterproof Survival Medic. Sealed up into a resealable storage bag, the Survival Medic features the SOL patented emergency blanket that marries breathability with warmth, to prevent moisture build up like traditional mylar blankets that can trap moisture and lead to hypothermia faster. A Fire Lite and Tinder-Quik, button compass, duct tape, and rescue whistle complete the survival gear. Bandages, antiseptic, ibuprofen, and a safety pin add to the first aid compliment of the kit, making this a very well rounded survival solution.
SOL Emergency Bivy
Utilizing AMK’s revolutionary Heatsheets material, the SOL Emergency Bivy is a tiny sleeping bag that reflects back 90 percent of your body heat to protect against hypothermia. Heatsheets material does not suffer catastrophic failure if it is punctured. Traditional mylar emergency blankets will rip to pieces if a small tear occurs. Heatsheets does not tear this way and can be patched with a small piece of duct tape. Additionally, while the bivy is waterproof, it does breathe better than mylar which can actually increase the risk of hypothermia by holding moisture against your body. The bivy features taped seams, a nylon stuff sack, and folds down to an amazing 3x3x2.5-inch package and unfolds to be 84 inches long by 36 inches wide.
All of these tools provide a significant advantage if something goes wrong and you need to survive in the wilderness. All of them sell for less than $80 and provide you with tools that will increase your chances of survival. All of them also include important survival skills in enclosed booklets. Since most survival situations are brought about not by one thing going wrong, but by several independent failures acting in concert, having a variety of tools to meet a variety of challenges is your best bet. Adding a small piece of gear to what you normally carry can provide a huge peace of mind when you travel into the wilderness.