So I mentioned previously on my post about how I organize my gear that I keep everything I need for a certain task in labeled Magpul Daka pouches (read about my setup here). For example I have one for water filtering, survival, dog stuff, medical, etc. Basically this setup allows me to just grab the pouches necessary for a particular hike that I’m going on, throw them in my pack, and I’m ready to go. It is super efficient especially when hiking can’t take up your entire weekend because the house needs vacuuming and the yard needs mowing.
Today I’m going to cover what I keep in my survival pouches. I actually have two of these made up as my wife and I commonly hike together. Usually we only take one but if we expect a bit of a rougher hike or are planning to go off trail we will both take one.
There are commonly referred to as the 10 essentials of camping: Navigation, Light Source, Sun Protection, First Aid, Knife, Fire, Shelter, Food, Water, and Clothing. So my kits address most of these items and some extra stuff that I like to have.
My kit includes these specific items (the links go to Amazon and we get a small percentage at no cost to you):
Get a compass meant for use with a topographical map. I would also get one with built in declination adjustment and just set it for the area in which you commonly hike. Also, some idea of how to use it.
With headlamps it is important to get one like the Black Diamond Spot that has a button lockout or to remove the batteries when not using it. Otherwise the button could accidentally get pressed in your pack or in your gear room so that when you reach for your headlamp because your hike has gone late you don’t find a dead headlamp. I also carry a spare set of batteries for my headlamp.
For a knife I would just recommend whatever small folding pocketknife you have. Don’t carry a Rambo knife no matter how cool it looks!
For fire starting I like to have several options. My attitude is if I’m going for my fire starting materials something has gone really wrong. Cold, wet, or tired is not the time to test your fire starting abilities. So I always carry two methods of producing a flame/spark and some sort of fire assist. There are all sorts of them on the market. The Mini Inferno are small discs of cloth soaked in petroleum and hardened. They are easy to get going and give you time to start building up the fire.
I usually carry an actual water filter when I hike but no matter what I always have water purification tablets in my survival pack. They are there as a last resort.
I don’t really feel the need to carry a full on emergency bivy on most of my hikes. Maybe in the winter I would do differently. I do carry a small emergency blanket that can be used as some form of shelter in a worst case situation. I also throw a couple hand warmers in my pouch just to keep the mind happy with the ability to warm up extremities.
On top of the recommended items I keep an emergency whistle in my pouches. The noise can travel much further than a human voice in the event you take a fall or get lost off trail. I also have 550 or paracord which is just a thin diameter static cord. I have 30ft or so that is useful if you need to fix a pack strap or lash things together. I also have some string and metal wire just because they are small and easy to carry.
I didn’t address medical supplies because I always carry a dedicated medical kit when I hike. Really the only time I don’t have medical supplies is on a short trail run. But I did throw a few strips of KT Blister Tape strips in my emergency pouches because it works great when you start feeling a hot spot on your feet.
Some of the top 10 hiking necessities can’t be addressed in an emergency kit. Food is separate item but I will commonly throw a dehydrated meal in pack that I can always cold soak and eat if I get stuck out overnight. My medical kit has sun screen in it but I always put it on before I even start my hike. It is super easy to burn at 6k plus feet above sea level. Obviously you need to dress appropriately for the conditions and carry a rain jacket. In a dry climate like New Mexico carry more water than you think you will need.
So that is the contents of my survival kit. At least one of these pouches goes on every single hike that I do. My survival kit including the pouch weighs in at 665 grams. So at over a pound this is not really a “light” way to do things. I could definitely trim a few things or go with more expensive versions to save weight. But this is a simple and efficient setup. When I go to pack for a hike I don’t have to remember all of the individual items above but instead I can just grab the whole pouch, throw it in my pack and I’m good to go. The efficiency makes up for the weight in my book.