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Survival in small packages: to save your life a survival kit doesn't have to be big. it just has to be with you.


FOR SOME HUNTERS, PUTTING TOGETHER A SURVIVAL KIT SEEMS LIKE A BOTHER. I could rant about the importance of having survival gear in your hunting pack, but instead, I'll help you eliminate all excuses by highlighting some small, pre-packaged survival kits you can keep in your pocket or pack at all times to survive a night in the woods--an ultra-light insurance policy, so to speak. Several companies sell compact survival kits that offer numerous options in relation to price and items included.


This kit was designed with expert input from Doug Ritter, a noted survival authority, and the finished product shows it. The contents are carefully chosen to be simple, useful, and effective. The Tinder Quick and spark lighter are easy to use, and they start fires quickly--a strong aspect of this kit. The full-sized mirror is durable and has a sighting hole. The kit also includes a good compass, duct tape, foil, pencil and paper, fishing kit, safety pins, whistle, cord, sewing thread, snare wire, waterproof survival instructions, and scalpel. The container is a tough, resealable 4.5" x 5" plastic envelope that gives you the freedom to modify the kit with personal preferences (but it is a tight fit). This kit retails for about $33.



This pocket-sized kit sandwiches 38 items into a sardine can-sized container that weighs just a few ounces. The weatherproof container fits into any pocket or small pack. "Jack of all trades, master of none" is how I might describe the useful contents, such as matches, firestarters, snare wire, and sewing kit. In terms of quality and durability, the compass, whistle, and signal mirror are the weakest items in the kit. Because the can is sealed, you cannot conveniently add additional items. Once you have opened the can, you can use it for cooking or scooping water. This kit sells for about $10 at numerous local retail stores.



This kit focuses on getting you warmed up and nourished. It contains a nice folding mini-stove that includes a heat tab and matches. The kit's metal container becomes your cooking vessel. Also included are bouillon packets, energy drink, tea bags, sugar, candies, foil, and a plastic bag. The container is weatherproof with a re-sealable lid. Weighing just 6 oz. and measuring 2.5" x 3", this kit is popular with the Boy Scouts. It sells for about $12.



This kit, measuring 3.5" x 2.25" x 5", is loaded with great items including a stout knife, excellent compass, durable plastic tube tent for shelter, signal whistle, candle, matches, wire, cord, foil, pencil and paper, tea, sugar, and bouillon. The metal container doubles as a pot for cooking or melting snow, and an included plastic bag serves for water storage or other uses. Revenues from sales of this kit help to fund the all-volunteer Tacoma Mountain Rescue Unit, so the kit can save lives in more ways than one. Cost is $20 per kit, less if ordered in bulk.



This might be considered the Cadillac of pocket survival kits. Packed in a tough, weather-resistant 4.5" x 3" x 1.5" Otter

Box case, the kit comprises top quality items, including a multi-function Swiss Army-design knife, full-sized signal mirror with sighting hole, wire saw for light cutting jobs, compass, whistle, LED flashlight, fishing kit, snare wire, firestarting items, water bag, water purification tablets, instructions, and numerous other useful tools. The kit is worth the $98 price tag.



Based on his years of experience in the military and teaching survival skills in Alaska, survival authority Dave Watkins put this well-designed, heavily tested kit together. All components are durable and of high quality. The belt pack, available in several colors including camouflage, has internal elastic loops to keep items separated and secure when you open the pouch, a fantastic design. The zipper has a bright-colored lanyard with a light attached to eliminate fumbling in the dark. The kit contains complete first-aid and fire-starting components. As packaged, the kit will meet your needs and then some, but the pack has room for you to add extras if you want them. The Kodiak sells for $64.95.


If you prefer to choose your own items and assemble a personalized survival kit, you can put together a fine kit for under $20. A lot of the needed items are probably sitting around your house right now, and you can get the rest at a department, grocery, or hardware store.

* A snap-together soap dish makes a great container for survival items. It will withstand months of abuse in a hunting pack as well as dunks in the water. A metal Band-Aid can works great, too, if you can find one these days. You can use the can for heating water or melting snow; I've done both. Tape the lid shut for weather protection.


* Rocky Mountain Pack Systems makes a great Organizer Pocket belt pouch, constructed of tough camouflaged Saddle Cloth, and perfect for use as a survival kit. I like the belt design for this reason: If I drop my hunting pack to stalk an animal, I can slide the Organizer Pocket onto my belt and relax, knowing I'm prepared with essential survival items if something goes awry during the stalk. This pouch is big enough for plenty of survival goodies. Price is $9.95.

* Look in the garden section of any department store for fire-starting items made for woodstoves or barbeque grills. I found a good one the size of a jumbo candy bar, and it cost less than a dollar. I cut it into pieces to supply my survival kits almost indefinitely.

* Look in cosmetics departments for travel-size samples of Band-Aids and other first-aid items. Also, look here for a small mirror and a soap dish for storage.

* Check sporting goods for a simple button compass, emergency poncho or space blanket, small pocketknife, and mini-flashlight. You will find a good signal whistle among the camping, soccer, or football aisles.

* The hardware section will have a selection of lightweight, thin, strong cord.

* At home, grab a few Ziploc bags for water storage, matches, and lighter. You also can make great tinder by saturating cotton balls with petroleum jelly. Stick a dozen in a 35ram film canister and add it to your kit. When you need a fire, pull apart a couple of cotton balls and fluff them up. They light easily and burn for a couple of minutes--long enough to get a strong fire going.
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Title Annotation:LIFESAVERS: GEAR SPECIAL 2008
Author:Solomon, John
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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