My experience, training and mindset have led me to prefer a tiered approach to survival kits. This means that I have several levels of kits with some important redundancies integrated into the system. Portions of my kit are purely for emergencies and therefore do not regularly get used, while other pieces are what I consider woodland every day carry (EDC).
My kit for a typical outing in my local eastern woodlands forest would be quite different than what I'd carry in the desert, jungle, mountains, etc. Similarly, my kit for a week-long backpacking trip would be different than what I carry on a daytrip. The tiered approach allows me to quickly and easily choose the appropriate kit(s) to equip myself in any season in my area... I can easily up-kit or down-kit for most any circumstance.
I carry four tiers of equipment. The scope of Tier 1 and Tier 2 kits is limited to extracting myself from an emergency situation as quickly as possible and/or surviving overnight if needed and is carried on my person every time I am out. Tier 3 items are not truly survival items, but rather they are multi use items that would be greatly enhance my probability or survival and rescue. Tier 4 consists of a self-contained survival kit that would allow me to survive for a long period of time and will be covered in a different post.
Tier 1 consists of the EDC items that I carry on my person every time I go out into the woods. This tier consists of three basic items: a good fixed-blade knife, a ferro rod and a compass. The knife is carried securely in a sheath on my belt and the ferro rod and compass are generally carried in my pockets on "dummy cord" lanyards attached to my belt. All three of these items are not only important survival items, they are also valuable tools that I use on nearly every outing. I feel that these three items are the most important tools for survival and rescue and therefore should be of good quality. It is imperative that these items be carried securely and returned to their sheath/pocket immediately and habitually after each use. The tether cords are brightly colored in case an item gets dropped while being used and I use a small non-ferrous carabiners to facilitate easy attachment and detachment to my belt.
|Tier 1 Kit|
My second tier items are purely emergency use items that I also carry on my person every time I go out into the woods. This kit supplements tier one by adding items to be used for shelter, water and signalling. It also adds redundencies for fire and navigation. I carry these items in a waterproof plastic bag which always resides in my left cargo pocket. By keeping this kit in the same pocket every time I have developed the habit of checking that pocket before I leave the parking lot every trip out. The packed Tier 2 kit is aprox. 7" x 3" by 3/8" in size.
This kit contents are:
|Tier 2 kit unpacked|
- emergency mylar blanket
- button compass
- emergency matches
- petroleum jelly cotton balls and strips of inner tube
- small signal mirror
- 36 oz 4mil plastic bag
- 4 water purification tablets
Tier 3 items are carried in shoulder bags or backpacks. These items vary from trip to trip and season to season. These items are not truly survival items, but rather they are multi use items that would be greatly enhance my probability or survival and rescue. Think bushcraft and backpacking here.
Typical Tier 3 items for me include:
- modern fire kit (PJ cotton balls, ferro rod, lighter, matches, etc.)
- traditional fire kit (flint and steel, magnifying lens, jute tinder, candle, etc.)
- primitive fire kit (bowdrill set, cedar tinder bundle, birch bark, etc.)
- axe or hatchet
- bow saw or folding saw
- water bottles
- nesting lightweight cup
- water filter
Test your kit
Your kit may (and probably should) continuously evolve. Even your Tier 1 and 2 items will change as you are able to buy better gear, as you situation changes, or as you gain new knowledge and skills, or as you work out your preferred method of carry. Almost as important as having your kit(s) is knowing how to best use the items in them. You should test an item before including it in your kit to make sure it will do what you expect it to do. Understand its capabilities and limitations. It is important to occasionally return to an item to re-familiarize yourself with it and to inspect it for serviceability. Mylar blankets are easily ripped, matches eventually crumble, etc.