Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Rabid Survival Kit

From time to time, I will be asked by family, friends and sports specifically what is in my “hunting season” survival kit. Usually this initial question will be followed by additional questions asking specifically why I carry each item and what items I consider most critical.

The first thing I stress to people, is that for a survival kit to be completely effective, it needs to be a direct match to your personal needs and the challenges you are most likely to face. While some items will remain unchanged (Matches, Compass, Whistle) other items may need to be removed or added based on the specific climate, expected conditions, environment and circumstances. For example, my “Truck” kit contains a snow shovel and tire chains, my “Mountaineering” kit contains a SAM splint and avalanche probe, my “ATV” kit contains a tire inflater and tow cable and lastly my “Guiding” kit contains flagging tape, extra clothes and extensive list of first aid items.

It takes close to 30 days to starve to death and 3 days to die from dehydration. Considering these timetables, it is highly unlikely you going to starve to death or expire from dehydration in the Maine Wilderness. In Maine, if you are lost, your biggest concerns should be centered on dying from injury, extended contact with the elements or a combination of both. To protect yourself, you need to have the tools to defend against wounds and/or exposure.

The last point is to understand survival is HUGELY mental. If you believe you will live there is an excellent chance you will. With this in mind, it is essential your survival kit contain a few items designed to support your mental condition.

Water Resistant Florescent Orange Pouch – Some of you might recognize the old pouch, in the accompanying photo, as the original L.L. Bean “Survival” pouch. Years ago, these handy zippered pouches with a convenient belt loop, were provided to any person who successfully completed Maine’s hunter safety course. Over the years, L.L. Bean eventually discontinued the program but a few of these original workhorses are still kicking around. Drop me a comment if you are still carry one of these!

Essentials – Items that you should never enter the woods without.
1. Spare Compass – Most important is not to get lost in the first place and if you do get lost find your way out. If your primary breaks, have a back up.
2. Whistle – If you are injured and can’t get out, make sure others can find you.
3. Lighter – A fire is needed to stay warm and dry. Fire also will provide mental solace through a cold, dark night.
4. Waterproof Matches – If the lighter fails, a back up is critical
5. Space Blanket - Insulating blanket that reflects 90% of your body heat back to your core

First Aid Kit – Items to stop bleeding in a small cut or severed limb.
6. “First Aid Manual” – Should you be on the ground unconscious and bleeding to death, hopefully someone reads and understands how to save you.
7. Small Knife – Cutting clothing to fashion slings, bandages, etc. (Quite honestly, I have never found much use for small knives in survival situations. However, the large hunting knife I carry on my belt all season is an extremely functional survival tool.)
8. Ace Bandage (Self Adhesive) – Quickly secures bandages over gaping wounds.
9. Duct Tape (Wrapped around Film Canister) – Provide additional support for Ace Bandage. Small pieces can function as band-aids.
10. Super Glue – Small cuts on hands unable to hold duct tape (May remove)
11. Ten Feet Paracord (Attached to Whistle and Compass) – Functions as a tourniquet. Can also be used to tie knots for mental stimulation, fix a busted bootlace or secure poles for shelter.

Things to Save Your Hunting Day – It is important to remember its a survival kit but also doubles as your “support” through the hunting season.
12. Four Safety Pins – Bust the zipper on your hunting jacket. Splinters
13. One Cough Drop – Coughing uncontrollably and scaring all game for miles
14. Two Hot Hands Packs – Frozen hands and/or feet tempting you to go home early
15. Toilet Paper – Fire starter, Mental stimulator?
16. Three 12 Gauge or Springfield .30-06 Shells – Fire starter, signaling device, food collector
17. Hooded Emergency Poncho – Stay dry and comfortable even when caught unprepared
18. Water Purifying Drops – Got dry throat and not want to contract beaver fever?

Mental – Designed to occupy your mind and provide comfort
19. “You Alone in the Maine Woods” – Full of practical advice to help you survive, doubles as a fire starter, splint for a busted finger
20. Three Beef Bouillon Cubes – Three days worth of salty goodness
21. Glow Stick – In a downpour with no hope of starting a fire? The glow will spark your internal fire and lighten your spirits.

Marked for Future Removal – These items have been in my survival kit for a long time and since they take up little space I have allowed them to stay.
22. Tin Foil – Drinking cup
23. Film Canister filled with Fishing Line and Small Lures - Fishing
24. Razor Blade – Back up for knife
25. Wire Saw – Cut poles for shelters

Be sure to drop comments on other materials you carry in your personal survival kits and if you have other thoughts, opinions and ideas on cool or interesting waysthat the items in my kits could be used in a survival situation! Thanks!


  1. Two deer photo posts and sorting your survival pack... Have you my good friend run out of items of literary inspiration?

  2. Hey,

    i am always a hardcore fan,when it comes to different to survival kits,so i liked this topic too,indeed. Theres always hundreds of list,telling only about contains,but usually people seem to forget to tell what for,is some item in their kit. You tell us clearly your reasons just as all should tell.

    Yeah,and i agree about the fact that man really should Think about the eviroment and climate,and such,when gathering his survival kit. Here in north it might be far more different than over there,since we have different winters and temperatures,different game species to trap and such.

    Here we usually dont carry any rifles,pistols and shotguns in our kits as its prohibited by laws.

    My own survival kit,that i carry during year,is based on:

    -Durable poncho.Provides shelter,protection from rain and wind,and can be turned into stretcher too.
    -Guyot Designs stainles steel bottle,for collecting water and can be used as boiling vessel too.
    -Stainless GSI cup,for similar uses as bottle,plus to be used as cooking pot.
    -Large firesteel,for obvious use.
    -Matches in waterproof container,has also a few water purification tabs and button compass in it,as well as some line,thread,safety pin,needle,hooks and weights,and last,some length of duct tape rolled over.
    -Few boullion cubes,bags of tea and some 3 sachels of both,salt and sugar.For comfort and some sort of nutrition.
    -Old quite large Wenger folding knife.Has also a saw and can opener.
    -Paracord,some 5 meters.For maing shelters and it you can use the inner threads for many uses.
    -Buff scarf.Provides bit of protection from elements and can be used as coarse water purifier,as well as container for berries,mushrooms and such.
    -First aid kit,with mainly disinfection swabs and bigger materisl for tying up cuts and wounds.Plasters i dont carry at all in this one,theyre usually frozen or too small anyway.
    -Silva compass,with magnifier.For orienteering and fire making.
    -Whistle,for making yourself noticed.
    -Large space blanket for first aid use and for shelter and such uses.

    During winter i usually carry also a pair of spare mittens,spare wool socks,bigger axe and flashlight.

  3. DDH, You are correct, I need new literary inspiration. Perhaps I could craft an informational story about the difference between a migratory game participant endorsement and the state migratory waterfowl stamp . . . BURN! :)

  4. Perkunas, Thanks for the reply! Like the idea of using the magnifier on the compass as a fire starter!

  5. I co-own a company that deals in survival-type gear - I can appreciate a minimalist approach to survival kits. Based on my experience and knowledge, your kit is actually pretty comprehensive, especially considering that you are already carrying a large knife.

    The most important survival item that you can't fit in a kit - letting someone know exactly where you are going (preferably by leaving a map with your route marked), letting someone know what time you have left, and what time you plan to return (and probably a time that the authorities should be contacted if they don't hear from you). I did wilderness search and rescue for a while - this is probably the single-most important element that will increase your odds of survival, as the most likely scenario is that you are hurt and unable to get to safety, and are overdue to return home before anyone even knows to send help.

    Just some additional items to consider:
    I would consider, based on your experience with Maine woodlands cell phone coverage, a small pay-per-use cell phone (only around $15 at Walmart). I've had to use mine a few times for emergency situations. Just charge it up in the car occasionally - works for years.

    Also, a 9 volt battery and steel wool acts as a pretty quick and effective fire starter. You might also consider a magnesium-rod fire starter (something like 5000 degrees of heat on the surface area of the metal shavings when ignited - if that won't light your tinder, nothing will!)

    Chap-stick or other lip balm - having horribly chapped lips will really hurt your desire to properly hydrate and keep your spirits high, esp. in the cold and/or windy seasons

    If you are feeling really expensive, you can get a personal emergency beacon - prices have dropped considerably in the last few years ($199-499). Sends out a signal to the SARSAT satellite systems and the 406mz emergency frequency - essentially like the beacons on boats (EPIRBs)so that if you break your leg, you are out of cell phone range, and don't have GPS on your phone, you can be found.

  6. Downingducksdowneast12/9/10, 10:24 AM

    Just to note that "You Alone in the Maine Woods" booklet pictured is free anytime from the MIFW. They also will send you a bundle of them for free if you are going to teach a outdoor class, if you are a guide to give out to clients, etc...

  7. Adam,

    Great points! I went out the other day and purchased a fire flint and have been having fun practicing with it.

    Believe it or not I hardly ever get chapped lips. This is why it is important to make sure your survival/support kit meets YOUR specific needs. One mans feast is anothers famine so to speak!

    I always carry a cell phone. Not only is it way to call for help but it also receives weather alerts and can keep you from getting into a tough spot to begin with.


  8. DrownDD,

    I wonder how long IFW will continue this practice given their new stance on the paper circulation of the law books?

  9. I use a GPS when I hunt - 2 baggies, one with post-it note saying good batteries, the other saying used batteries (yes, I have mixed them up before).

    I purchaseed my electronic gear making sure they use the same batteries (I use AA) with the exception of the 2 headlamps I carry.

  10. Practice up on that firesteel chump because I'm not losing my title for our next opener...

  11. Those are the necessities as well for the survival pack. I would add some protein bars and a survival knife, which really goes a long way.

  12. Great post and educated commentary. I think I have all of the same items in my kit with exception of shotgun shells.

  13. These are great lists of the tools and equipment to carry on when doing outdoor activities in the wilderness. It is indeed very essential to have those tools to ensure safety and survival. Anyway, cold steel knife is the kind of knife I carry with me when going on camping.


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