What are the best survival tools? Your best and most important tools are your brain, your attitude, your hands, and your knowledge but here are a list of physical items you should put in your survival kit and always carry with you when camping, hiking, horseback riding, or riding an OHV. If you're going to the trouble to make and carry a survival kit, it might was well have some things that in it that are truly useful and convenient to use. Just how often do you REALLY think a foot of fishing line and a couple of safety pins from the handle of one of those "Rambo" survival knives are going to be useful let alone adequate? Survival kits range from tiny little pocket-sized kits that fit in an Altoids tin to suit-case sized monsters that include just about everything you can think of, including the kitchen sink. For a survival kit to be realistic and useful, it must be something that is convenient to carry -- unless you intend it use it only for emergencies at home. It will do you zero good on the trail if it is still on the shelf in the garage or under the bed at home! Creating one that is right for you means constantly balancing and trading off completeness, convenience, cost, and portability. The best kit is one you will carry and that will have basic supplies and tools to expedite your survival. You might want a steamer trunk size survival kit at home to deal with a disaster situation, but for camping, hiking, etc., you'll probably want something that fits in a pocket or fanny pack. Commercial home disaster kits are good to have on the shelf in case of a neighborhood emergency. Most have 2-3 days of food and water, which makes them way too heavy and bulky to carry when camping. For wilderness survival, you'll want to know how to find food and water in the wild and you'll want to stock your survival kit with essential tools for survival.
Basic survival tools:
* Bic lighter
* Flint and Steel
* Fixed blade knife
* First aid kit
* Signal whistle
* Large plastic trash bag (orange preferred)
Some really good options to include:
* Map and compass
* LED flashlight
* Twine or paracord
* Duct tape
* Survival blanket
Here is what I carry along with my tools in my tool bag when dirt biking:
* LED Flashlight
* Chemical light stick
* Survival Blanket
* Bic lighter
* Flint and steel
* Signal whistle
* A little duck tape wrapped around one of my tools
*Wooden strike anywhere matches in a genuine waterproof match container
With careful planning and wise selections you can fit all the really critical survival tools in your pockets or in a small fanny pack or tuck into your OHV tool kit. You want your survival kit to be something that is easy to carry and won't weigh you down. Otherwise you'll be tempted to leave it behind and, according to Murphy's Law, you can bet the time you leave it behind will be the time you need it.
You can buy commercial survival kits or you can build your own from scratch. Commercial kits are sometimes a good place to start and should have all the basics but you may need to augment them to meet your specific needs. Building your own survival kits from scratch allows you to focus on what YOU need for YOUR circumstances and customize it so you can comfortably take it with you when you need to.
You should probably have at least 3 or 4 survival kits. The smallest would be your personal trail kit you take with you hiking, horseback riding, dirt biking, etc. Next would be an in camp kit, which would be larger and contain more first aid supplies and tools. You should have a kit in every vehicle in case you encounter a disaster situation while on the road, going to or from you camp site or even to or from work or shopping. You may want to have a personal survival kit at work depending on what emergency preparations your employer may or may not have. You home kit should be a pretty complete kit, with plenty of first aid supplies, some emergency food and water, and tools you might need around the house or to support rescue efforts.
Remember, your brain is your most important survival tool. If you "lose your head" in a survival situation you are probably going to lose your life. STOP is a useful acronym for what to do in survival mode. It stands for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. Panic kills more people in most disasters than the original event. If you remember STOP it can help you prepare to survive. Stop moving; don't run around wasting energy; Think about your situation, what are your resources and your immediate needs? Observe your surroundings and your urgent needs. Are you or any of your companions injured? Are you in danger of injury? Can you find a safe place to stay? Plan you activities. Use the Rule of Threes to guide and prioritze your initial actions. Then take appropriate action.
A lot is said in survival guides about fire starting methods. Most wilderness survival sources stress variations of rubbing two sticks together. Knowing and practicing the skill is a good idea in case you get stranded unexpectedly without any preparations or supplies, but always keeping a few survival essentials with you will save you a lot of grief. As I often say, the only way I want to start a fire rubbing two sticks together is if one of them is a match! For the most convenience, carry a Bic lighter. As a backup, carry a magnesium-flint and steel fire starter . If you're putting things in a survival kit, might as well have something that is safe and easy to use. A Bic lighter takes up about as much space as a dozen wooden matches but will give you hundreds of lights instead of twelve. Even when it runs out of fuel, you can still use it as a little flint and steel. If you're going to stock a survival kit, why not stock it with things that work and you can actually use? Knowing how to start a fire with flint and steel is a good skill to have. You might luck out and find stones that create sparks in a survival situation if you don't have your trusty survival kit with you. I pick up Bic style lighters at Dollar Tree, 3 in a package so it is economical to carry one in my fanny pack, a couple spares in my motorcycle trailer and in my motorhome, and a stash in my survival supplies. One advantage to a magnesium flint and steel fire starter is the magnesium will burn even when it is wet.
Multitool versus knife. If you only have room for one, I would opt for the multitool. Having a handy pair of pliers is useful for many survival tasks, ranging from removing cactus splines from your flesh to sewing tough hides for clothing or shelter. You might even need pliers to help stitch up your own wounds. Having a good fixed-blade knife is always a good idea if you have room for it. In fact, moset survival experts say that is the best knife to carry. The folding blade on your multitool is a pretty good substitute for many tasks, but is not as safe nor as sturdy as a good hunting knife. Those big 'Rambo' style survival knives look cool and seem to have lots of neat stuff, but in a real survival situation will be less useful than a good hunting knife. Carving is a far more common survival task than hacking or chopping and the handful of little so-called survival items in the handle are probably not going to be very useful.
Home made survival knives. I came across a survival web site that describes how to make inexpensive survival knives from Sawzall blades. You can shape them to your design and add handles of your choice. Start with a "demolition" blade and you'll have a really sturdy knife that will cut just about anything. If you buy the blades in a bulk pack you can get them for under $1.00 each. You'll pay $2.00-$3.00 apiece if you buy them individually. Either way, they're a lot cheaper than store-bought survival knives, but it will take some grinding and filing plus making a handle to turn them into usable knives. How big a knife do you need? Most survival experts will advise you to carry about a 4" fixed blade knife. You will do a lot more cutting and carving than hacking in a survival situation. A nice hunting knife usually fits the bill.
First aid kit. Like the old American Express ad, "don't leave home without it". A minor wound can turn into a life-threatening situation if not properly treated. A little moleskin to prevent blisters or a few bandaids to cover minor wounds will deliver a lot of comfort, reduce additional injuries, and help you keep going. For the most complete kits, look for those designed for hunters. Then supplement them with OTC pain killers and other useful comfort supplies like antacids and anti-diarrheal tablets. And don't forget to bring along your prescription meds if you depend on them!
A large plastic trash bag can serve a multitude of uses in a survival situation. It can be used as a rain poncho, a sleeping bag, and to make a waterproof roof for your shelter. It can be used to collect moisture from plants or to build a solar still to reclaim waste water. The orange bags like those used by highway crews are the best choice since they can also be used as a signal for rescuers but an ordinary black contractor trash bag will suffice and you might even use it to heat water for bathing. Clear plastic sheeting or bags is nice for building solar stills or collecting moisture from plants so you can see what's going on inside. Even plastic grocery bags can be used to collect moisture from plants.
Being able to make cordage from materials on hand is an excellent survival skill, but having ready made cordage in the form of twine or paracord, can save you a lot of time and effort. Do you have any idea how to obtain or make cordage in a wilderness survival scenario? Here are some ideas: tree bark, reeds, weeds, long grass, sinews. If you have vehicle you may be able to strip wiring or upholstery from it to use as cordage. Binders twine is inexpensive and sturdy and has many diverse uses in camp and in survival mode. Paracord is extremely strong. You will see it sold as "paracord bracelets" which makes it easy to carry where ever you go. Paracord can be wrapped around knife handles as a convenient place to carry it and give you a little extra grip.
Duct tape. If you've ever seen the TV show MacGuyver, you know how versatile duct tape is. A whole roll is pretty large and heavy to carry around with you. Cut a 2-3' length and wrap it around a pencil, your Bic lighter, or the handle of one of your tools. Duct tape is often called "duck tape". Turns out this is more than a punny mis-pronounciation of the name . It was the name originally used by the Army when they developed it to seal ammo boxes. In consisted of strips of canvas duck plus an adhesive. Duct tape will stick to just about any clean, dry surface. Turns out duct tape will stick to just about anything but ducts. That is because by the time we get around to trying to repair ducts, they're very dusty. The tape sticks really well to the dust, but the dust doesn't stick to the duct. Duct tape has a myriad of uses in camp or in a survival situation, ranging from tent and clothing repairs to bandages. I've even seen reports of it even being used to make sun-slits as an emergency alternative to sunglasses by climbers on Mt Everest! I roll a couple feet of duct tape around a screwdriver blade in my OHV fanny pack.
Training and practice are essential. Book or online learning, or even classroom instruction is better than nothing, but to really be confident in your own abilities and be able to put them to use in an emergency takes practice. Knowing how to start a fire with flint and steel is a good thing, but until you've actually tried it you won't know how hard and fast to strike the steel against the flint to create sparks or how to prepare satisfactory tinder or how close to get your sparks to the tinder to actually get it to work. The flint often comes from the factory with a protective coating you must scrape way before you'll get useable sparks. You also need to practice turning that little bit of smoldering tinder into flames and get it into your fire before it goes out. Be sure to plan ahead so you aren't fumbling around and watch your little ember go cold while you try figure out how to get it into your fire. Remember those monsters under your bed or in your closet when you were a kid? Well, they'll come back and bring their bigger, scarier friends when you're alone in a strange place in the dark. Fire helps dispel unrealistic fears.