These Colors Don't Run - Remember 9.11.2001 Equipped To Survive
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For cooking and other uses I carry a Coleman "Peak-1" aluminum stove case which converts to one qt. and one-half qt. box shaped (as opposed to round) containers with a detachable handle (unfortunately, this item is no longer in production). The sqaure shape makes it esier to pack in a kit. Larger cooking containers may be appropriate for a larger kit, but a quart size is universally useful. A new and unused paint can (waterproof with the top fitted tightly, a nice attribute) or empty coffee can(s) with a wire handle added will work great and the price is right. The open end of the coffee can may be squared off, making for less wasted space in a tightly packed kit. For a small kit, another option is to include one or more small disposable aluminum foil style baking pans which can be folded up into compact proportions for packing.

Plenty of heavy duty (not standard weight) aluminum foil will come in real handy and is among the most versatile of supplies, while weighing next to nothing. It makes a superb heat reflector, provides a fireproof base when needed, can be formed into cups, pots or pans and has numerous other cooking uses and it can be used in various ways for signaling, just to name a few of its many possible functions. You can never have too much aluminum foil around a survival camp.

Parachute CordParachute cord (550 lb. test strength or better) is one of the most useful components in a kit. The more you have, the better. Be sure to buy mil. spec. para-cord with internal strands. The civilian version isn't as strong, generally only about 300 lb. test, and it does not have a multi-strand core which is so useful for so many things. To check, cut it open. The civilian cord has a core of "fuzzy" material. The mil. spec. cord has seven identifiable twisted strands in the core (each about 35 lb. test). Each inner strand is itself comprised of three strands (each about 11 lb. test). The sheath is rated at about 300 lb. test by itself.

By the way, if you don't know how to tie all sorts of knots, learn. If you won't learn, make sure you carry an instruction card or plan on tying a lot of extra knots in hopes that they will hold.

blue ball Roper's Knot Page is an excellent resource on knots with lots of information and diagrams of numerous knots as well as links to a myriad of knot resources on the Web.

blue ball A collection of animations demonstrating how to tie some basic, very useful and important knots.

Heavy duty (3 mil or thicker or "freezer") Zip-Lock style plastic bags in a variety of sizes have multiple uses including water and food storage, keeping supplies dry, etc. Pack plenty. Don't rely upon being able to use any bags used to hold supplies in the survival pack. Inevitably, they are punctured, torn, or wear through over time.

Likewise, the uses that garbage bags, 30 gallon size or larger, can be put to are innumerable. A garbage bag is the ultimate cheap form of emergency shelter. These bags are available in a range of quality from very lightweight consumer products to very heavy duty industrial versions. You want stronger industrial heavy duty ones if possible. It used to be these could be found in 3 mil thickness, but these days you will be lucky to find some 1.25 mil or greater. In part this is the result of better polymers which give these lighter bags nearly equivalent strength to the prior generation thicker bags. The really good news is that they take up less space without giving up a significant measure of strength. However, while strong enough, they do not resist penetration and abrasion as well, so some additional care must be taken when using them.

The best for survival use are the bright orange or yellow ones often used for roadside cleanup which can be found at safety, janitorial and contractor equipment supply firms, or the bright red or yellow ones used for "bio-hazards/infectious waste/soiled linen" which you can get at medical supply houses. You will have to search for better quality, heavy duty poly versions of these bags since many are too lightweight or of inferior unsuitable materials. The bright colors make them much more valuable for survival use than the typical green/gray/clear household garbage bags. On the other hand, clear ones can be used for transpiration bags, something to consider if traveling in arid regions.

A sewing kit and plenty of medium and large safety pins allows for repairs to clothing and equipment. Safety pins are extremely versatile little devices with innumerable uses, so don't skimp, carry lots; they hardly weigh anything. My first aid kit, sewing kit and fishing kit all include safety pins as standard, plus I've added extras in a range of sizes, a total of 30 all together. While an expedition/camping style sewing kit with heavy duty thread and awl style needle designed to go through canvas and leather is best (Exped makes the best Expedition Sewing Kit currently available), a simpler sewing kit will do. The trick is to carry more than the fine needles and weak thread common in most cheap consumer/travel style kits. Ensure you have larger needles which are stronger, easier to thread and easier to sew with as well as heavy duty poly thread for strength. A needle threader would be welcomed by many.

A lightweight magnifying lens has numerous uses, from reading the small text in the survival manual or equipment instructions, to medical use, to starting a fire. I prefer the thin flat plastic fresnel style which won't break and is compact and easy to pack.

A sponge can sop up dew and seeps of water, be used for first aid and can be handy to have around camp for many chores. I prefer the dehydrated and compressed style which pack down to next to nothing. You can find them at most gourmet cooking stores.

A small roll of duct tape is invaluable. If you can't fix it with duct tape, it may not be fixable. Of the regular consumer grades, Tuck and Duck brand seems to hold best when wet. Note that there are different grades of duct tape available. The industrial or premium grade, which can be found at industrial supply sources and some better hardware stores, is stronger and has a better adhesive in exchange for it being a bit heavier, a worthwhile compromise. Generally, heavier is better with duct tape. Boat/U.S. Foundation did a comparison test of duct tapes which confirmed our experience.

A carabiner or two and an assortment of split rings can come in real handy.

Paper, preferably waterproof. "Rite in the Rain" and "Nalgene" are the most readily available brand names and they both make pocket size notebooks which are great. You will also want a pencil or pen with waterproof ink (Fisher's "Space Pen" or Rite in the Rain's less expensive version). This allows you to leave notes for rescuers, keep a log or diary, or make notes about edibility tests and plants without worry of it all dissolving into a mess of indecipherable pulp.

For those trying to eliminate bulk, the pen cartridge can be removed from the pen and used alone, but make sure you protect and seal the tip. A short piece of small diameter tubing, sealed at the end, will work. Lower tech, but just as effective, a #2 pencil will work fine, though it isn't as permanent.

Many survivors rely on their religious or spiritual beliefs for support during a survival ordeal. If you are so inclined, it may be beneficial to include religious or inspirational materials in your survival kit - a Bible, Koran, collection of inspirational poems or passages, or whatever is appropriate to your beliefs. These are readily available in reduced size versions at religious and spiritual supply stores. The magnifying lens discussed above could be useful when reading the teensy weensy fine print in some of these small books, however.

A comprehensive survival manual is indispensable (check out the Survival Publications page). Any kit of decent size also needs a detailed list of contents. While you may know exactly what is included and where it is in the kit, others who may have to use the kit without benefit of your guidance do not. It can also be worthwhile to specify the uses for items on the list as well. Again, this can be important information for the inexperienced.

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