Saturday, February 2, 2013

Elder's Meditation of the Day February 2

Elder's Meditation of the Day February 2
"Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is everything where power moves."
--Black Elk (Hehaka sapa), OGLALA SIOUX
In these modern times it is difficult to understand why we should think circles and seasons. People and society are always moving, through distance, over yonder, going here and going there - hurry up, grow up, be successful, climb the ladder of success, etc. The Elders tell us to slow down, to be patient, pray and think circles. Circle thinking applies to relationships, business and every area of our lives. We need to teach our awareness to look for seasons and cycles.
My Creator, teach me the seasons of growth.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Elder's Meditation of the Day February 1

Elder's Meditation of the Day February 1
"You can't just sit down and talk about the truth. It doesn't work that way. You have to live it and be part of it and you might get to know it."
--Rolling Thunder, CHEROKEE
We all read books that have much information in them. Often we pick up on little sayings that we remember. Inside of us is the little owl, the owl of knowing. It talks to us - guiding us and nurturing us. Often when we get information, it's hard to live by, but it's easy to talk about. It's living the Red Road that counts - Walk the Talk. If we really want freedom in our lives, if we really want to be happy, if we really want to have peace of mind, it's the truth we must seek.
My Creator, help me in my search for the truth today.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Elder's Meditation of the Day January 31

Elder's Meditation of the Day January 31
"In sharing, in loving all and everything, one people naturally found a due portion of the thing they sought, while in fearing, the other found need of conquest."
--Chief Luther Standing Bear, SIOUX
There are two systems of thought that are available for us to choose from. One is the love-thought system and the other is the fear- thought system. If we choose love, we will see the laws, principles and values of the Creator. If we choose fear, the results will be so paralyzing that it will cause us to take over and not rely on the Great Spirit. The fear-thought system will automatically cause attack, conflict, need to control over others. The love-thought system seeks peace of mind, unity and causes us to be love seekers.
Great Spirit, today let me see only love.

72 hour bug out bag

How to Make a Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Emergency Evacuation Survival Kit

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor.
The term ‘Bugging Out’ refers to the decision to abandon your home due to an unexpected emergency situation–whether a natural disaster or one caused by man.   A ‘Bug Out Bag’ is a pre-prepared survival kit designed to sustain you through the journey to your destination once you’ve decided to ‘Bug Out’ in the event of an emergency evacuation.  Typically, the Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a self-contained kit designed to get you through at least 72 hours.  This kit is also referred to as a 72-Hour Bag, a Get Out Of Dodge Bag (GOOD Bag), an EVAC Bag, and a Battle Box.
The thought of having to evacuate your home due to a sudden and imminent threat is not at all unrealistic.  The reality is that sudden and uncontrollable events of nature and man do happen.  Natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, floods and volcanic explosions can strike fast and hard–wreaking havoc on homes, vehicles, roads, medical facilities and resource supply chains such as food, water, fuel, and electricity.  When Hurricane Katrina struck the Southern US Coast just a few years ago, tens of thousands of people had to evacuate their homes with little warning.  Unprepared and with no emergency plan, many of these people were completely dependent on scavenging and hand-outs while living in make-shift shelters–fending for themselves in a time of complete chaos and disorder.  A 72-Hour Emergency Kit packed with survival essentials would have been an invaluable and priceless resource.  In our unstable and unpredictable world economy, we would be foolish to think there is also no chance of a terrorist or military attack from forces domestic or foreign that could possibly force us to evacuate our own home.  An act of war is not the only threat from man.  Dams burst, power plants go down, pipelines explode, oil spills occur, and other man-made structures and facilities can fail, resulting in disaster.   Outbreaks of sickness and disease could also warrant an evacuation.
We cannot control when, where, or how disasters strike. But we can control how prepared we are to deal with a disaster. There is a fine line between order and chaos and sometimes that line can be measured in seconds.  When every second counts, having a plan and the tools to see that plan through are crucial to survival.  The Bug Out Bag is your #1 resource in your overall Bug Out Plan and may very well be your key to survival one day.
There are 10 supply categories that need to be considered when assembling your Bug Out Bag.  Before we dig into each of these categories it is important that I discuss the bag (or pack rather) itself.  Your Bug Out Bag needs to be a backpack.  It needs to be large enough and sturdy enough to contain the gear necessary to get you through 72 hours of independent survival.  You need to be comfortable carrying it for extended periods of time.  And, in my opinion, you don’t want to APPEAR TO BE PREPARED and STOCKED with gear.  A ‘tricked-out-pack’ can make you a target of people who want the supplies that you have.  Try not to let your pack send the message that you are stocked to the brim with all kinds of survival necessities.  Keep it basic.  I personally use a SnugPak Rocket Pack as my Bug Out Bag.
Once you have chosen your pack, below are the 10 supply categories that need to be considered when assembling the contents of your Bug Out Bag:

Category #1: WATER

You will need at least 1 liter of water per day for proper hydration–preferably more, especially considering hygiene concerns and certain weather conditions.  Since this is a 72 Hour Survival Kit, that means it needs to contain 3 liters of fresh drinking water–minimum.  This water should be stored in 2-3 durable containers with at least one of them being collapsible to reduce bulk as the water is used.  A metal army canteen is another good choice because it can be used to boil drinking water that is collected ‘in the field’ if your immediate supply runs dry.  I carry a collapsible Platypus water bottle, a 32 oz. Nalgene water bottle, and a metal US Army issue canteen.
Because water is so critical to survival, I highly recommended also packing at least 2 water purification options.  Boiling water for 10 minutes is an option but is not always the most convenient.  I suggest packing 1 water filtration system and also some water purification tablets.  I personally pack a Katadyn Hiker Pro Filtration System, an Aquamira Survival Straw (as a backup) and sodium chlorite water purification tablets.  The 3 options of boiling, filtering, and chemical treatment will give you more flexibility in securing one of your most basic survival needs: clean water.

Category #2: FOOD

Don’t worry about planning for three well balanced meals per day–this is survival, not vacation.  I’ve gone on many survival trips where I haven’t eaten for a few days, so you can live without any food at all for 72 hours.  However, it isn’t pleasant.  You should pack simple & easy to prepare meals.  Canned meats and beans are great options.  Canned beef or chicken stews are equally as effective.  If the weight of your Bug Out Bag is an issue, dehydrated camping meals are excellent choices.  Remember, though, they require hot water to prepare–so that means a stove or fire and valuable time (if you are traveling).  Military MREs are also good options.  They have a long shelf-life, contain their own heating systems, and are very packable.  They can be expensive, though.  I would also suggest tossing in a few energy bars and candy bars.  These are packed with calories and carbs–both of which are extremely important.
When we discuss food, we also need to discuss preparing it.  A very simple cooking kit is all you should need.  It should contain at least 1 small metal pot, a spork, a metal cup and maybe a metal pan or plate.  Anything more than this is overkill.  In many instances, preparing food requires heat.  A fire will always work but may not be practical in every situation.  I would suggest packing a lightweight backpack stove with 1-3 fuel canisters.  I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.  I personally carry a self-igniting MSR Ultra light stove in my BOB with 1 fuel can.


I include clothing in this category.  Regardless of climate, I recommend packing the following (some of these items can be on your body when you leave): 2 pair of wool hiking socks, 2 changes of underwear, 1 extra pair of pants (NOT BLUE JEANS AND PREFERABLY NOT 100% COTTON), 1 base layer thermal underwear, 1 warm fleece hat, 2 extra shirts (1 long sleeve, 1 short sleeve), 1 mid-weight fleece, 1 warm rain jacket, 1 heavy duty military poncho (can be found at any Army/Navy Surplus), 1 pair of comfortable waterproof hiking boots.
What to pack for an actual shelter is a heavily debated topic within the survival community.  I like having options and I like redundancy–especially when it comes to shelter.  Protecting yourself from the elements, whether rain, cold, or heat, is incredibly important.
Your first emergency shelter option is the military poncho listed above.  These are designed with grommets in the corners to be used as a make-shift emergency tarp-tent and are actually quite effective.  I’ve spent many nights in the woods during all kinds of weather conditions with nothing more than a wool blanket and a military poncho…and have been fairly comfortable.  Practicing the set-up is the key.  Know HOW to use it before you need to.
A second emergency shelter option is a simple reflective emergency survival blanket.  There are many different kinds and brands of these on the market.  I prefer one from Adventure Medical Products called the Heatsheet.  Not only can it be used as an emergency survival sleeping bag, but it can also be used as a ground tarp or as a tarp-tent shelter.  These are lightweight and cheap.
Besides the poncho and the heatsheet, I also carry a 6′x10′ waterproof rip-stop nylon tarp.  I use this style of tarp as a year-round camping shelter, so I know it works.  It’s lightweight and really effective if you practice setting it up.  You can also bring a lightweight camping tent.  These can be pricey, but they are really nice.
Lastly, you will want to include a very packable sleeping bag.  If I had to give a general degree rating I would say a safe bet is a 30-40 degree bag.  This pretty much covers all of your bases.  Sure, you’d be cold at 20 degrees, but you would live.  If you have the room, a nice wool blanket is a great addition.  Wool maintains 80% of its warming properties even when soaking wet and is a very durable survival fabric with incredible insulating properties.


Making fire is one of the most important survival skills of all time.  You need a minimum of 3 ways to make fire.  Because you are preparing this Bug Out Bag in advance, you can toss in a few of the easy options like lighters and waterproof matches.  You will also want to include a fire steel which can generate sparks in any weather condition.  Besides these items, you will need to pack some tinder for fueling your initial flame.  You can buy tinder from any outdoor store, but cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly is the best I’ve ever seen.


Whether you build your own kit from scratch or buy a premade kit, make sure it includes the following items at a minimum: 1″ x 3″ adhesive bandages (12), 2″ x 4.5″ adhesive bandages (2), adhesive knuckle bandages (3), butterfly closure bandages (2), gauze dressing.
My personal gear for this category includes: Adventure Medical Kit’s First Aid Kit 1.0 and, I’ve added 3 suture kits, more alcohol pads, 2 rolls of 2″ gauze, CARMEX Lip Balm, and some larger butterfly bandages.


The first and most important tool in your Bug Out Bag is a knife.  Choosing your survival knife is a very personal decision, and besides your knowledge, it will undoubtedly be your most useful survival tool.  I suggest carrying a full tang fixed blade all-purpose survival knife.  It should be large enough to use for chopping, splitting, and self-defense but also small enough to use for more delicate camp chore tasks such as carving feather sticks and preparing food.  The right balance is a personal decision.  In my opinion the overall length needs to around 10″ –not too much over.  Any larger than this and the knife becomes more difficult to use as an effective tool and starts to get bulky.  I have made the decision to carry 2 knives in my Bug Out Bag.  I carry a Ka-Bar US Army Military Fighting Knife and also a Mora 840 MG Clipper Knife which I use as a smaller all-around camp knife.  Mora knives are very reliable all-around camp knives, and a good Mora can be purchased for under $15.
Besides a knife, one other item you will want to consider is a good multi-tool.  A multi-tool comes in handy for all types of projects–from cutting wire to complex mechanical chores.  Your multi-tool should have a screwdriver (both phillips and flat-head), pliers, a knife blade, and wire cutters at a minimum.  Leatherman makes all kinds of great multi-tools which can be purchased at almost any sporting goods store.  I personally carry a Leatherman MUT Military Multi-tool.


You need to pack at least 2 light sources.  I would suggest having 1 flashlight that with throw light some distance like a mini mag light or a mini LED flashlight.  The 2nd can be a smaller one to use around camp or while fixing meals, etc. Mini keychain LED lights are lightweight, cheap, and last a long time.  Other ideas are glow-sticks, candles, and LED head-lamps.  I personally carry the following light sources: Gerber Firecracker Flashlight, a lanyard multi-function tool with small LED light, 1 glow-stick & 1 package of 9 hour candles.  Again, I like options.


A fully charged cell phone is at the top of this list.  In an emergency, cell phone service will probably be jammed up.  However, text messages typically still go through, so having a cell phone is a necessity.  You should also have either a fully charger EXTRA cell phone battery or a means of charging your cell phone.  There are several options for charging your phone in the field without electricity.  Some include solar charging units, hand crank chargers, and aftermarket battery boosters.  You need to research and determine which solution is best for your current phone make/model.
In addition to a cell phone, you should also pack a small battery powered or crank powered AM/FM radio.  This could be an important source of information and for the price and weight, you can’t go wrong.  I personally carry a hand-crank FR-300 Emergency Radio.  The hand-crank also has a cell phone charging feature.
Under this category I will also include IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS.  In the case of emergency evacuation, you should carry with you certain important documents.  Among these should be your driver’s license, passport, social security card, medical information, important phone numbers and account numbers (bank, insurance, credit cards, etc.), and your gun carry permit.
The last item in this category is to pack a detailed map of your surrounding area, your state, and any area in-between your location and your Bug Out Location (your predetermined destination in case you have to Bug Out).  You would be foolish to depend on a GPS in an evacuation emergency.  PACK MAPS!
I personally carry all of these documents in a sealable waterproof map case.


You can almost certainly guarantee that in an evacuation emergency there will be chaos and disorder.  Events of this magnitude inevitably overwhelm normal police and public safety measures–at least for a short time.  History tells us that rioting, looting, rape, and violent crimes will occur.  You need to be prepared to protect and defend yourself and your resources–especially if you have a family.  You would be naive not to take this category seriously.  The best measure of self defense is a gun–period.  Besides the intimidation factor, a gun has reach and stopping power.  A gun can also be used for hunting if necessary.  What kind of gun to pack is a lengthy topic all by itself.  Some like shotguns, some prefer rifles, and others choose handguns.  I have chosen to pack a 357 Ruger Revolver.  I chose a handgun because it is easy to conceal and is fairly lightweight.  I chose a 357 because of the stopping power, and I chose a revolver because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that every time I pull the trigger a bullet will fire.  I’ve had automatic pistols jam on me enough times to know I don’t want my life to depend on one.
Other formidable weapons of self-defense can be your survival knife, a machete, or even a walking stick.  I, though, would hate for anything except a gun to be the only thing between me and a gang of thugs.


Just in case you have to Bug Out on foot, the weight of your pack should always be a consideration.  You should be comfortable carrying your pack for up to 3 days.  Because of this, everyone’s pack load will vary depending on their comfort level.  Below are some additional items that I have packed in my Bug Out Bag that you will also want to consider when building your own:
  • CASH – $1000 minimum (because cash talks)
  • Toilet paper
  • 200 feet of paracord (building shelter)
  • Duct tape (100s of uses)
  • 100 feet of Army issue trip wire (misc. projects, snares)
  • Pad of paper & pencil (leave notes or record information)
  • Small Bible
  • 2 Bandanas (because they are so dang multi-useful)
  • Leather work gloves
  • Small knife sharpener
  • Machete (clearing brush, chopping wood, self-defense)
  • 4 spare AA batteries for my Gerber Firecracker
  • 2 dust masks (can double as crude filters)
  • Bar of soap & small bottle of hand sanitizer (hygiene)
  • Travel toothbrush w/ tooth paste
  • 36″ length of rubber tubing (siphon, tourniquet)
  • Small sewing kit
  • 2 heavy duty 30 gallon garbage gags (water storage, shelter, poncho)
  • P38 can opener
  • Binoculars
  • Small fishing kit
  • Stakes
  • Sunglasses (can double as safety glasses)
  • Whistle
  • Insect repellent
  • Earplugs
  • Compass
At the end of the day, there is no perfect Bug Out Bag.  Even my own BOB changes and evolves with my needs, thoughts, wants, and tastes.  An incomplete and imperfect Bug Out Bag is better than nothing at all in an emergency.  For me, the peace of mind in knowing it’s there on the shelf to grab if I need it is reason enough to have taken the time, effort, and money to build it.  I hope that my thoughts about the Bug Out Bag have been informative and helpful (and maybe inspirational) as you consider building your own.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

25 Animal Encounters--what to do

Animal Encounters: A Survival Guide

bushcraft survival gear

How to Build a Survival Kit on Bushcraft Principles.

Bushcraft Survival Kit
A Bushcraft Survival Kit. Photo: Paul Kirtley

Having been given a copy of John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman’s ‘SAS Survival Handbook’ when I was 13 years old, I spent a disproportionate amount of my mid-teens devising ingenious ways to cram more and more survival kit into a tobacco tin.  At the weekend I’d go to the local woods with my friends and we did what all good survivors did – build shelters, light fires and whittle sticks.
Whenever I wanted to use something from my survival tin, it was hard to avoid disturbing most of the contents.  I’d squeezed so much good stuff in there, I’d created something of a Chinese puzzle.  It was difficult to unpack and always impossible to re-pack to the standard I’d managed at home.  I’d often resort to putting a few bits and pieces in my jacket pocket rather than back in the tin.  I came to the conclusion that less was definitely more.  Later, I also assembled the components Lofty suggested for a ‘survival pouch’.
I persevered with the tobacco tin survival kit and survival pouch for years, carrying them with me “just in case” while hiking and on many camping trips.  While I used some of the items from the survival pouch on a daily basis, I found myself packing survival kit then packing many items that replicated the functions of items in the survival kit. 
The replication of kit between survival kit and day-to-day kit continued to bug me.  Then I went through a lightweight backpacking phase and really pared down everything I took with me.    In the end, I left much of the survival kit at home and relied solely on the little ‘bubble’ of safety created by the modern camping equipment I carried with me.  After a while I got bored with being in my bubble.  I wanted a closer relationship with the environment I was visiting.  It was then I sought out Ray Mears to learn what he was calling bushcraft.
Combat Survival Tin
Combat Survival Tin
I still love the concept of the tobacco-tin survival kit.  There is so much function in such a small package.  The ‘Combat Survival Tin’ makes perfect sense in the context of the soldier, who has much ammunition and other heavy equipment to carry.  As outdoors people, though, we are allowed a different equation.  We choose to enter wild places for the sake of being there.  We can take with us equipment that allows us to live there for an extended period of time.  My experience of wilderness travel and living outdoors for weeks or even months at a time, combined with a knowledge of bushcraft, has changed my perspective on my own personal ‘survival kit’.
My ‘bushcraft survival kit’ is designed to be functional in itself.  It is a stand-alone entity.  To this extent it pays homage to Lofty’s doctrine.  It is also designed to dovetail with my other basic wilderness equipment with little overlap, except where valuable back-up to critical wilderness equipment is provided.  Most important, the components are assembled with day-to-day use in mind.  So, rather than including a couple of scalpel blades, I include a good quality pocket knife; rather than including a small flint striker, I include a full-size Swedish Firesteel; and so on.  If you are living in the outdoors, rather than merely visiting (in a bubble), then the equipment you have for living there is largely your survival equipment.  With a few exceptions of kit intended purely for emergencies, this equipment will be used on a regular basis if not every day. 
Bushcraft Survival Kit and Combat Survival Tin
Bushcraft Survival Kit and Combat Survival Tin. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

The Bushcraft Survival Kit Explained
Folding KnifeWhile a knife with a fixed blade is stronger, a folding knife is a useful tool as long as it has a locking blade.  While it provides a back-up, a lock-knife should be of high enough quality to be used for many of the jobs you would undertake with your main bushcraft knife.  I was introduced to the Fjallkniven TK4 knife by Lars Falt and have carried one ever since.  It is manufactured from high-quality materials, well-made and remarkably light in weight.  A knife of this size should not be underestimated.  It is entirely possible to gut, skin and disassemble an animal as large as a deer with a small knife.  The back of the TK4 can be used to create sparks with the Swedish Firesteel or ‘Fireflash’.  With a folding knife, this action is far safer when the blade is closed.  When the knife is open there is a danger it will close on your fingers if you accidentally release the locking mechanism.  I write from personal experience… 
Fjallkniven TK4 Lock Knife
A quality lock knife such as the Fjallkniven TK4 is a valuable tool. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
FireflashAs described in my article ‘Essential Wilderness Equipment‘, the Swedish Firesteel is the most dependable aid to fire-starting.  They last a long time so you only need carry one with you for both day-to-day use and emergencies.
Sharpening StoneAlso described in my article ‘Essential Wilderness Equipment‘, the Fjallkniven DC4 is a portable and efficient whetstone that is easy to use.
WhistleBlowing a whistle uses less energy than shouting for help and the sound carries further.  Carry one at all times.  A model that is made of tough material and has no moving parts is reliable.  The Fox40 Micro meets these criteria and is very loud. 
A small LED light kept on your person is handy for when you need a little local illumination. It can make jobs that would otherwise be difficult in the dark easy; for example, changing the batteries of your main torch.  I use a powerful LED torch as my main torch but it is overpowering for jobs that only need a low level of light.  The Photon ‘Freedom’ Microlight has a dimmer control so you can bring the light level up gradually to the level you want – ideal for night-time map reading without losing too much of your night vision.   LED microlights typically have a long battery life so I don’t carry a spare battery.  If you wanted to carry a spare, it would be just as easy to carry a spare microlight.  I carry a Photon ‘Freedom’ Microlight and a Fox40 Micro whistle on a cord around my neck.
Invaluable for a multitude of tasks from bow-drilling to making improvised snow-shoes, you should always have a hank of paracord with you.  Genuine 550-lb breaking strain paracord has a number of internal strands that can be stripped out and used for tasks such as sewing repairs or making a fishing line.
MatchesMy first choice for day-to-day fire-lighting is the Swedish Firesteel because it lasts such a long time – 12,000 strikes according the manufacturer.  Matches, by contrast, get used up relatively quickly (imagine carrying 12,000 matches!).  For some firelighting situations though, matches make your life easier.  For example, lighting match-stick thickness kindling (think small Spruce (Picea) or Hemlock (Tsuga) twigs), is much easier with matches when you have no tinder on which to drop a spark.  I reserve most of my matches for an emergency.  If I do use any matches, I replace them as soon as I can.  Strike anywhere matches are preferable to safety matches.  Keep them in a watertight container packed with a little cotton-wool to stop them rattling. 
Cigarette LighterA lighter is useful for fire-lighting and, unlike matches, will work after a dunk in water.  It’s also useful for day-to-day jobs such as melting the end of a length of paracord to prevent fraying.  A good quality blow-torch lighter can be used for fixing equipment and finishing off creme-brulee! 
TinderWaxed paper of the sort that is like thick card is very dependable tinder for establishing a fire.  This material can be lit directly with matches or a cigarette lighter.  Alternatively it can be scraped up with your knife in a manner similar to birch bark and ignited with a spark from your fireflash.  Due to being infused with wax it repels water.  Again I keep this for emergencies.
TorchA good quality torch is worth the expense, particularly if you camp outside of the summer months.  I like a torch with a powerful beam that can be used for route-finding in the dark.  This also makes it a very good emergency signaling device.  A torch that is waterproof is ideal for wilderness use.  I find the no-compromise Surefire ‘Outdoorsman’ flashlights very good.  This model’s construction makes it extremely tough.  It is waterproofed with rubber O-rings and runs on only one CR123A lithium battery.  Lithium batteries are lighter than alkaline batteries and work better in low temperatures.  I carry 3 spare batteries. I also carry a strap that converts the flashlight into a head torch.  Overall it’s a tough, versatile and high-performance combination.
Surefire E1L Outdoorsman
The Surefire E1L Outdoorsman: A sturdy torch with no-compromise build quality. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
Water Purification TabletsIodine or chlorine water purification tablets are compact and easy to carry.  Carrying a chemical treatment for water gives you an alternative to boiling.  Iodine tablets are my first choice.  Iodine deals with the tougher pathogenic organisms such as giardia and cryptosporidium, whereas chlorine doesn’t.  Unfortunately due to the European Biocides Directive 98/8/EC, iodine has been unavailable for sale within the EU as a treatment for drinking water since October 2009.  Iodine is still available outside of the EU.  Please note that Iodine must not be consumed by those with thyroid problems or by women who are pregnant.
Resealable Plastic BagsResealable bags have many uses.  As long as the bag is not punctured it can be used for storing water when you are without a water bottle.  If you are without a metal mug or pot in which to boil water, you can use your chemical water treatment in the plastic bag too.  A plastic bag is also useful for collecting and storing foraged foods such as berries.
Unlubricated CondomsThese are purely emergency items!  They can be used to store water and can be protected with a spare sock or similar.  Make sure they are unlubricated.
SnaresSnares are indiscriminate and used incorrectly can cause great suffering to an animal.  They should not be toyed with.  In experienced hands snares are very effective and, in a survival situation, they can provide you with valuable fat and protein.  This is nutrition that can be impossible to obtain from foraging for plant foods and fungi, particularly during winter and spring.  Moreover, snares work for you while you do other things.  Some brass snare wire, or snares already made up for the most likely small game, are a sensible and realistic addition to a survival kit.  Snaring is illegal in many jurisdictions and requires a licence in others.
Fishing KitSurvival fishing is about catching fish.  Your fishing kit should help provide dinner rather than just a pleasant day by the river.  Pack kit that you know how to use and that has a wide application.  The best return on your time and energy is provided by passive methods of fishing such as night line fishing.  In my kit I have monofilament, stainless steel wire for making leaders and an assortment of hooks, jigs, jellies, and split shot.  I put all this in a small tin to keep the hooks safe and prevent any of the small items from becoming lost.  Remember you can use the inner cord of your paracord in combination with your fishing kit.  Fishing without a rod and the use of a night line are illegal in some jurisdictions.  Check before you decide to practice your skills!
Survival Fishing Kit
Survival Fishing Kit. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
Sewing Kit
A few needles, some strong thread and some safety pins.  I keep these items in the fishing kit.
CompassWhile I always have a compass in my shirt or jacket pocket, I like to carry a back-up compass.  The favourite of survival kits is the button compass.  Navigating with any precision with a button compass is difficult.  A miniature base-plate or sighting compass is ideal.  The Silva ‘Ranger 27′ is a small sighting compass that is fantastic as a back-up.  It functions like big brothers ‘Ranger 16′ and ‘Expedition 15′ and is capable of precise navigation.  Like its larger brethren, the ‘Ranger 27′ has a sighting mirror. By reflecting sunlight, a mirror can be used for emergency signaling over large distances.
Silva Ranger 27 Compass
Silva Ranger 27 Compass: A miniature but fully-functional back-up compass. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

Optional Extras
Survival bag
A survival bag is a large plastic bag, big enough for at least one person to get into, for use as an emergency shelter or part of a hypothermia wrap.  You can cut open two of the three sides and make the bag into a single sheet.  This can then be used as a tarp or a lean-to.  A large polythene sheet is also an effective way of collecting rain water.  Survival bags are typically bright orange so they are visible from afar and easily seen by searchers/rescuers.
Gill Net
A gill net is a very unsporting yet extremely effective way of removing fish from water.  Fish swim into the net and become stuck and then entangled as they struggle.  It is a passive method of fishing, allowing you time and energy to attend to other priorities.  The use of a gill net is illegal in many jurisdictions, including the UK.
Mosquito Head-NetIn mosquito-infested regions, a head-net is essential if you are not to be driven to distraction.  A head-net has several other uses including fishing and melting snow for drinking water.  Many head-nets are impregnated with insect repellent, which can be harmful if consumed (by humans as well as insects).  For generating drinking water from snow you should use a net that is untreated.
Insect RepellantFrom a survival standpoint insect repellant may seem like a luxury at first glance.  Biting insects can make life a misery though.  They can cause so much distraction that you don’t pay attention to dangers or that you injure yourself, particularly if you’re using cutting tools.

Medical Kit
Cuts KitAs described in ’Essential Wilderness Equipment‘ a small first aid kit capable of dealing with cuts and other minor injuries is prudent.
DressingAdding a substantial dressing allows you do deal with more serious injuries.  Military dressings are highly absorbent and come in a waterproof wrapper.

Surivival PrioritiesAssuming you are not injured, your basic needs are shelter, fire, water and food, not necessarily in that order.  The order will change depending on where in the world you are and what condition you are in.
Your survival priorities can be addressed by remembering the acronym PLAN-M.  PLAN-M stands for protection, location, acquisition, navigation and medical.  The bushcraft survival kit described above addresses each of these needs in a substantial way, with many of the items of equipment having multiple uses, across categories.  Knowledge and skill, however, are more important than equipment and equipment will only be of use to you to the extent you have the bushcraft knowledge and survival skills to use it.  Treat every piece of equipment you have as a bonus.

A Modular ApproachThe equipment comprising my bushcraft survival kit fits into a small canvas pouch.  The fireflash, sharpening stone and cuts kit are the same pieces of equipment as discussed in my article ‘Essential Wilderness Equipment‘.  These and some of the other contents of my bushcraft survival kit are kept on my person when out in wild country.  At other times they are kept in the pouch.  The only places the items are allowed to be are either on my person or in the pouch.  It’s then very easy to grab the pouch – either when packing for a trip or in an emergency – and know you have everything.
My bushcraft survival kit functions as a survival kit in its own right.  But it also dovetails with other wilderness bushcraft equipment.  The bushcraft survival kit pouch and water bottle pouch can be added to a daypack along with some food, a warm layer, hat, waterproofs, maps and compass and you have everything you need for many day-hikes.  In wild and remote country, you should certainly add some more serious cutting tools such as a bushcraft knife and folding saw.  You would probably also want to add a more substantial wilderness first aid kit.  These are the basic building blocks of my bushcraft and survival equipment.  Taking a modular approach really helps to make sure you have everything you might need as well as cut out excess “just in case equipment”. 
Bushcraft and Survival Equipment
The building blocks of my bushcraft and survival equipment. From left to right: Compass; folding saw; bushcraft knife; bushcraft survival kit (top pouch); wilderness first aid kit (bottom pouch); waterbottle and metal mug in pouch.

Wash clothes while camping


Nice clothes washing kit that would be a nice, no-power addition to a long-term emergency or preparedness set up.  Can also see it being a great addition to a base-camp for hikers, cabins or hunters.
NOTE: You could store two 5-gallon buckets, stack one inside of the other. Use one bucket for the soapy water and the other for the rinse water. You may be able to wash and rinse a couple of batches of clothes without changing the soapy water depending on how dirty the clothes are.
  • 5-gallon bucket with lid (cut hole in middle of lid for plunger handle to fit through)
  • Toilet plunger (brand-new, clean)
  • Store in bucket:
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Stain remover/stain stick
  • Vinegar (add 1/2 cup to rinse water) helps remove soap
  • Rope (for clothes line)
  • Clothes pins
To Use:
  • Empty contents of bucket.
  • Place water, small amount of detergent, and clothes in bucket.
  • Move plunger up and down for a few minutes or until clothes are clean.
  • Remove soapy clothes and ring them out.
  • Dump out soapy water (on your garden or lawn.)
  • Place soapy clothes in bucket and fill with clear, clean water.
  • Add 1/2 cup vinegar to rinse water.
  • Move plunger up and down to rinse clothing.
  • Wring out clothes and hang to dry.
  • Conserve water – use rinse water for next load of laundry.