Make Your Own Backcountry Insurance Policy

For just a few bucks, you can build a survival kit that'll get you out of all
kinds of trouble. Fold everything neatly, pack efficiently, and the whole 3
pound 14 ounce kit and caboodle will fit inside a standard fanny pack. The
survival kit is intended to supplement the regular contents of a hiker's pack.
It should be worn at all times and separate from the backpack. Don't leave camp
without it. Here's what you'll need:

• One each of gallon- and quart-size zipper-lock bags for holding water and
building stills; the bags should have wide mouths so you can skim for water and
reach into crevices.
• Tincture of iodine to disinfect water; use five drops per quart.
• 2 condoms to use as canteens.
• Plastic drinking tube (3 feet long) for drinking from stills or crevices.
• Orange flagging tape to mark your route or write a message.
• Dental floss (100 feet); a tough string for many uses.
• Duct tape (3 feet); get the strongest variety available.
• Mini flashlight with spare bulb.
• Extra flashlight batteries with date marked; replace every 12 months.
• Magnesium block with striking insert; carry a minimum of three means of
starting a fire.
• Cigarette lighter; get a bright color so you won't lose it.
• Strike-anywhere matches dipped in paraffin.
• Firestarters; cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly and stuffed in a
film container pack the smallest, but you can also use chips or other dry, fatty
foods or even dryer lint coated with paraffin.
• Magnifying glass for signaling and fire starting.
• Glass signal mirror with sighting hole and a whistle.
• Light space blanket for shelter and signaling.
• Heavy-duty space blanket with grommets and reflective side for shelter and
• Three heavy-duty, plastic leaf bags; use as a rainsuit, shelter, tube tent,
tarp, or for collecting rainwater.
• Military parachute cord (50 feet), 550-pound test.
• Extra knife; should be all-purpose with a fixed, double-edged, carbon-steel
blade that can throw a spark.
• Brightly colored bandanna; doubles as a pot holder, hat, and water filter.
• Basic first-aid kit; contains wound dressing, moleskin, antibiotic ointment,
and other items.
• Topo map and compass.


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