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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