Will Your Survival Gear Work When You Need it?
Over the years we have seen a massive amount of items claiming to be essential survival gear. Why are survival products that simply don’t work sold by the thousands?
How did it all start?
When I asked my wife to marry me I really wanted to give my groomsmen a gift they found value in. I scoured the internet for information on the best survival gear and purchased individual items and put them into kits. Little did I know these kits were filled with items that held little to no value in a real survival situation. Sure the first aid kit, paracord, and a few other items may have had some real value, however, none of the items would be up to the task of helping my groomsmen to actually save their life if they were in a life-threatening situation. Thank the lord none of them found themselves in that kind of situation.
What “survival” information is out there?
When push comes to shove the gear that was in those kits would not help someone in a survival situation. I was adamant about finding exactly what to put in the survival kits. However, I was led to believe a primitive flint and steel fire starting kit was a great item to have in the “survival kits” I was giving to my best friends in my life. What a friend I am. Giving the most important people in my life a piece of equipment that was invented in the caveman days. Flint and steel is NOT a modern day survival technique and can NOT be relied on in a situation where the need for fire is desperate. Yet, we still see “flint and steel” listed as a must-have item in your survival kit in modern-day outdoor literature. Don’t believe everything you read! Think of how many people there are out there just like me at that point. Simply naive to the fact that one could potentially be in a life-threatening incident and for those that may realize it when they look at most literature out there they are lead to believe Mylar blankets, Bic lighters and flint and steel kits are items that will actually help them save their lives.
Why is this scary?
The biggest disappointment when I discovered there was a lack of practical survival information and gear available was when I realized that so many people walk through the woods and deep into wilderness areas thinking they are carrying gear that will protect them when in reality they are putting themselves at risk. Search and rescue incidents are on the rise. Now more than ever people are heading into the backcountry unprepared and putting themselves at risk. This is scary because information on where to go is so readily available anyone can access information now that used to take years of experience exploring those areas or someone local who is willing to share that information. Now you can simply log on to your phone and access detailed information on where to do. What happens when you think you are the same trail but all of the sudden it ends. Or you find yourself stuck above timberline in a storm and the need to shelter yourself is immediate? Without proper gear, this is a very scary situation.
What gear are we talking about?
The majority of the gear I included in my groomsmen’s survival kits (and gear that is sold by masses every year) is inferior to similarly priced items that are sure to protect you in a life-threatening situation.
After producing the Outdoor Survival film for Colorado Parks and Wildlife I realized how simple survival can be and from that point on knew it was my duty to bring this information to the masses. Why wouldn't I want to help people save their own life? It is such a simple thing to do to prepare yourself and realize you need to invest in your own survival kit just in case you find yourself in an unforeseen situation.
Gear you should NEVER trust with your life:
Mylar Emergency Blankets or any other Mylar survival bag, blanket or emergency shelter made of Mylar. Mylar rips easily and most of these products require you to hold the blanket around your body requiring you to use your hands and the biggest thing is that these products DO NOT RECIRCULATE YOUR BODY HEAT. The most precious thing you have to help you survive in harsh conditions is your body heat. You should have a survival shelter that traps all of your body heat around you while allowing your breath to stay on the outside to avoid condensation and the shelter should allow you use of your hands and feet so you can move around for important tasks such as keeping your fire going or signaling to help.
Cigarette lighters, strike-anywhere matches, flint and steel or anything other than a quality ferrocerium metal match or stormproof matches. Strike anywhere matches really mean strike nowhere while a standard Bic lighter can fail, lose all its fuel, break or maybe your hands are too frozen to make it light. This style of lighter is currently available in countless survival kits on the market and lots of people use them every day to start their fires yet many don’t realize a survival situation may require a fire starter that can withstand harsh conditions such as an extreme snowstorm or a torrential downpour.
“Survival” cards, fishing kits, spears, harpoons or anything gimmicky like this that is meant to help you gather or procure food. You can survive up to 3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water. Your survival kit should include a quality water purification solution as one of the must-have items while anything pertaining to food just isn’t practical for true life-threatening situations.
Key chainsaws, folding saws, and axes are all items you may want to reconsider carrying. Key chainsaws and folding saws are extremely inefficient cutting tools that will leave you exhausted after procuring enough wood sufficient enough to build a good fire. Axes can be very dangerous and are inefficient cutting tools not to mention they are heavy to carry. It is always a good idea to carry a quality fixed hand saw that can fully utilize your arm's motion by cutting on the forward and back motion.
See THIS ARTICLE for information on gear you should trust.