Big is not always better. In fact, when survival is your goal, “big” only slows you down. When selecting gear to take into the field, you want tools that are small but powerful — survival tools that offer great application but take up little space. Gear that will fit in your pocket is ideal, leaving both of your hands free and eliminating the weight of a clunky backpack. So how do you decide on which tools to take with you? Use the following criteria:
- It must be practical
- It must have multiple uses
- It must fit in your pocket
- It must not require additional parts to operate
To offer a few suggestions, here are several necessary survival gear items that adhere to these guidelines and will keep you prepared, mobile, surviving and thriving out in the wild.
First and foremost, let there be light. You’ll need a high-powered flashlight with significant life that isn’t too bulky to carry comfortably. Cabela’s has a wide range of flashlights, including LED flashlights (durable with long bulb life) and solar-powered (handy, of course, but these tend to not be as bright or as compact). If you decide on a traditional battery-operated flashlight, make sure it offers a long battery life. How long is up to you. Your compact flashlight can yield other uses, too. It can be used as a weight, to send a distress signal (Morse code SOS is three short, three long, three short), or even to start a fire using the reflector and the globe inside.
Most likely, you’ll wear your blade on your belt rather than carry it in your pocket, but the same criteria applies to choosing a survival knife; go relatively small but effective. A survival knife is an outdoors-man’s best friend. Generally, you’ll want a stainless steel or carbon steel knife with a large blade. The applications of a survival knifes are countless. You can use it to sever ropes and cords, cut back brush, trim excess materials, and most importantly, to defend yourself against any potential threats. Additionally, survival knives often have hollowed out handles, so you can use that space to store even more stock, like water purification tablets, matches, fishing tackle, or a compass.
The Swiss Army knife has come a long way since Karl Elsener first began producing them in 1891. In fact, many multi-tools now include more features and gadgets than you would ever find application for. When was the last time you needed to uncork a bottle of wine in the wild? When choosing a multi-tool, be selective. One with the basics, like needle-nose pliers, small scissors, file, and standard blade should be plenty useful and will not clutter your pockets. A multi-tool can be used to whittle wood, cut materials, fasten cloth, and pin down tarp.
Speaking of tarp: Tarp has more functions than you’d ever imagine, and it is as light of an item as you are likely to find. Tarps can be folded into compact shapes and weigh as little as a few ounces, depending on the material, of course. A tarp can be used to keep you and your gear dry, to create a tent or lean-to shelter, as bandages if things take an unexpected turn, or even as a stretcher if a companion were to become immobilized.
Though your needle point doilies will have to wait until you’re back home, your sewing kit has 101 uses in survival scenarios and is the smallest and lightest item on the list. A few needles and some thread can go a long way, from makeshift stitches for wounds to repairing torn materials, this set is worth a lot more than its weight in gold. Additionally, if you magnetize the needles before entering the field, one can be used as a compass. Simply place the needle on a leaf and lay it in any body of water. The needle will always point north.
A good survivalist is also a minimalist. Instead of trying to bring everything you might need, bring only what will help you meet your needs in the field, small tools with many applications will ensure your survival.