5 Tiny Things for your Survival Kit
The Five Tiny Things That Aren't In Your Survival Kit, But Should Be
There's plenty of things competing for space in your survival kit, and planning is a constant balance of price, space, and weight. Here's five items that are commonly overlooked, but deserve some extra thought.
So you've got your fishing kit. You've got your snares. You've got five ways to start a blazing bonfire to cook your catch. You've read one survival manual after another and would make MacGuyver proud with your ability to procure food from the odds and ends in your kit. One question left, then:
Do you want to eat what you've caught?
The modern palate takes our ability to season our food for granted: hardly a meal goes by that isn't kissed by salt or pepper. You'd be tough-pressed to find a chef anywhere that doesn't add some spice.
Small and cheap as it is, shouldn't you consider a packet of seasoning? You can find a suitable paper container of salt or pepper at any fast-food chain (for free, no less). If you're up for something less versatile, the flavoring packet from Top Ramen can make a tasty soup in a pinch, and it's compact enough for any kit. That single pouch could mean the difference between a tasty meal and a horror story.
2. Super Glue
This lightweight miracle material has easily as many uses as duct tape, but is frequently forgotten in favor of its quintessential brother. It can seal small cuts better than a bandage. It can fix a snapped glasses frame. It can keep a knot from ever coming undone. Super glue is to small items what duct tape is to everything else.
Does it replace duct tape? Certainly not. But in many situations, it can compliment it. Duct tape's biggest failing is working with small items, and super glue combined with your kit's sewing needle as a makeshift applicator can solve anything duct tape can't.
A small caveat: normal super glue can cause irritation or even burns if used to bind wounds (although it has been used by the military in the past). If you intend to have it in your kit for such a purpose, be sure to get the medical grade variety. For everything else, you can't beat the price: a cheap tube of superglue is available in any supermarket, frequently in a tiny tube that holds a small quantity. It's the perfect size for smaller kits.
We all know to bring a map of any wilderness area -- that's simply common sense. But do you keep a city map on hand? In a disaster situation, knowing the quickest route out of a populated area can be -- you guessed it -- life-or-death.
Many tourist shops have "walking" maps that are a compact version of a traditional fold-out affair. Some have versions that fold down to credit-card sized and can be valuable for planning escape routes. A block in the wrong direction isn't just the time lost: with rapidly changing conditions, it can alter the game entirely.
Time and again I've seen survival kits that leave off the most important item you can't buy: money. If you do manage to get to safety, you don't want to have to rely on the kindness of strangers. Paper money takes up very little space, but can make a big difference in an emergency survival situation.
You should always pack some small-denomination bills and coins with you, as well as a single high-denomination bill ($50 or $100) for emergencies. The small denomination bills and coins are primarily for vending machines you may come across: even when an area is evacuated, the supplies in those iron boxes can make all the difference.
5. Lock picks
If you're trying to survive in an urban environment (or just find an isolated cabin in the woods), you're going to need access to places you may not normally be permitted. A padlocked gate owned by a neighbor guarding the quickest road out of town is a minor inconvenience at best, but a life-or-death at worst. The "long" way around, even for a vehicle, could be through the floodplain or blocked off by rubble.
There's always the option of breaking down barriers to entry, but particularly if you're hoping to use the building as a secure shelter to keep animals and the elements out you'll want to keep the windows intact. While survival certainly comes first, there's also something to be said for respecting other's property, and a good lock pick provides options that simply can't be offered by brute force.
Lightweight and compact, a good lock pick set can be had online for $20 - $30. As with all survival gear, be sure to familiarize yourself in its use before an emergency situation.
-Alexander JL Theoharis