There are two very important things to remember about survival kits: they must be SMALL and they must be carried in your pocket or on your person, NOT in your pack! The whole idea behind a survival kit is to have something with you in case you manage to lose your pack and all your regular gear. I once heard a story about two canoeists who got dumped in a set of rapids and their canoe was totalled. The only reason they survived to be rescued was because they had survival kits sewn into their lifejackets, which of course they were wearing. Many a would-be camper hasn’t been so lucky.Here is a list of what I have in mine, and reasons for choosing them:
METAL CONTAINER: those Maxwell House gourmet coffee tins, the little ones, are perfect. The container should be metal so it can be used to heat water over a campfire. SMALL LENGTH OF DUCT TAPE: I use this to hold the top of my kit on firmly, plus it’s a great waterproofer. Duct tape also works great when you don’t have a triangular bandage: it holds on dressings, works well for fastening a splint, etc. EMERGENCY (SPACE) BLANKET: these are those little aluminium- looking blankets you can buy at any camping store. They are good for making into an emergency shelter, keeps you warm, and is reflective (i.e. can be spotted from aircraft). CANDLE STUB: makes a great fire starter, and can keep you warm in an enclosed space if you can’t light a fire. BAND-AIDS: always have one or two (or three or four…) CHOCOLATE SQUARE, HERBAL TEA BAG, OXO CUBE: you can use any or all of the above. Each will give you much-needed energy and in the case of tea or stock cube, something warm to drink. Please note!! Regular tea has caffeine which will act as a dehydrator, herbal teas don’t. WATERPROOFED MATCHES: for starting fires, of course! LARGE SAFETY PIN OR FISH HOOK: for fishing, if you’re hungry. SMALL SAFETY PINS: good for holding slings together, etc. PIECE OF CRAYON: will act as a fire starter; you can also mark trees if you’re on the move in the woods to let searchers know you’ve been there. Of course, in most cases, if you’re lost in the woods it’s better to stay where you are, i.e. hug a tree! BAKING SODA: a little of this mixed with water will help rehydrate a dehydrated person; mixed into a thick paste it helps on mosquito bites and bee stings. RUBBER GLOVES: anytime you’re administering first aid to someone, you should wear gloves!! ANTISEPTIC WIPES: to clean out cuts etc. FIRST AID GAUZE: for any larger cuts. TINFOIL: can be used in lieu of a mirror to signal planes or boats, and takes up less space. Can also be modified into a water carrier if needed. SMALL JACKKNIFE: a blade always comes in handy! FISHING LINE OR DENTAL FLOSS: to use with fish hook for fishing, or to make into snares for animals. SALT PACKETS: again, when you’re dehydrated, your body needs to regain salt as well as water. Mix with water and drink. HALAZONE TABLETS: these will help purify your drinking water… check their expiry date before leaving on a trip! Most tablets are only good for a year or so once the bottle’s been opened.
I also have a little piece of paper with all the internationally recognized ground-to-air signal codes on it, which fits in my kit. On its flip side are directions for making a simple lean-to. – Camping