Like millions others out there, I too confess to being a hardcore Bear Grylls fan. Always watch in awe as he performs death defying stunts in order to show us how to survive the extreme wilderness if we are unfortunate enough to get into such a situation.
Inspired by him i undertake numerous solo treks in the western ghats of India during the monsoon and winter seasons. There's nothing better than to sit alone in the wilderness and watch the sun set over the mountains on the horizon; with a nice warm fire crackling besides the cave you're gonna spend the night in.
Although beautiful, it comes at a premium of putting yourself at risk of getting hurt or lost in the jungles; and must never be undertaken without proper training and advisement. If you happen to do so.. preparedness, caution and presence of mind is absolutely essential. You must be able to sustain a calm frame of mind when faced with adversities and physical pain.
I've had ample of training at the SEA CADET CORPS Mumbai over 4 years covering everything from first aid to endurance, sailing, ropework, and a lot more.
It is needless to say that never put yourself in a survival situation deliberately, but if you happen to end up in one.. it pays to be well prepared.
Here are a few things that I carry with me every time i go trekking outdoors and i thought of sharing it with the community too ...
Hope it helps.
Step 1: Knives
A knife is probably the most important thing you should carry on every outdoor adventure!
I can give you countless examples where a knife has saved the lives of people stuck in survival situations. You need one for everything you do in the wild; right from chopping firewood to processing game, from making shelter to protecting yourself against wild beasts.
The community is divided between serrated and non-serrated blades but for the most part, it boils down to personal choice and the type of use and punishment you intend to put the knife through. Each type of blade has it's merits and demerits.
I normally carry three knives along with me on every trek- one primary 9 inch blade knife for heavy duty work, one secondary folding knife that i use for processing game, cutting rope and fabric and other similar tasks, and one Swiss knife derivative that has an array of useful tools.
I tie the Swiss and folding knife in around my neck with a paracord so as to never lose them and always have them handy whenever required.
My primary knife is called a kukri. It's a traditional Nepali knife made of high carbon steel. It retains the edge very well but is prone to rusting.
A lot of factors should be considered when you decide to buy a survival knife and for all intents and purposes i won't be able to explain it all here. So here is a good site that should clear most of it for you: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2011/11/29/how-to-choose-the-perfect-survival-knife/
You don't want to spend half of your time outdoors just sharpening the knife and missing out on everything else. Moreover if you have a bad knife that loses it's edge very quickly; you could be putting yourself in harms way because you end up applying more pressure with a dull knife and if the blade slips or the object you're trying to cut suddenly snaps..you could end up hurting yourself. So always make sure your knife is of good quality and sharp.
Step 2: Fire Kit
Your best friend outdoors or in a survival situation is FIRE. Even the early ape-man realized this and made every effort to have a fire crackling. Traditional methods to light a fire are cumbersome and not very reliable (you should still know them) but thanks to technology now, all you have to do is carry a fire kit and practice a bit and you'll be able to light a fire in almost any situation.
I carry with me a small air tight box with all the essentials for lighting a fire.
Note: always carry a firesteel with you in the fire kit. It is one of the most reliable ways to start a fire in a survival situation. I don't currently own one but i plan to acquire it as soon as i can.
My fire kit includes:...
1. Matches. a couple of dozen match sticks along with the striker in a waterproof box.
2. cotton balls smeared in petroleum jelly. They make for excellent tinder and take a spark in almost an condition. Moreover they usually sustain a fire for a few minutes which is enough to light a nice fire in most situations. Make sure to pack these in a small ziplock bag.
3. 2-3 small candles. Just in case....
4. 2 Lighters. When for some reason matches fail, you must have a backup to fall to. Lighters are perfect for this purpose.
5. Inner tube. The inner tube of a bicycle great for lighting a fire. It catches a flame quickly and sustains it for very long.
6. Some paper
7. A small air tight bottle of alcohol. When everything else fails... just pour some alcohol, give a small spark and voila! We have fire!
8. WD-40. When your fire is dying out and you were foolish enough to let it happen ..wd-40 can come to your rescue. Just spray it over your firewood and keep them on the smoulders. Your fire will resurrect. I exhausted my small can of WD-40 for some house work so I don't currently have it to show you all.
I know to some of you this may seem like an overkill, but you can never be over prepared!
Step 3: Rope
Rope is also an absolute essential. Without it you might sometimes have a hard time building shelter or tying up firewood, making snares and traps and endless other tasks.
I prefer carrying paracord 550. It is extremely strong and abrasion resistant. Moreover you can unravel it and use the (Still very strong) individual internal strands for tying and other smaller tasks. The sheath too is very useful and including everything you get about 8 times the length of the rope you had after unraveling it. Paracord 550 usually has 7 thin internal strands braided together and covered by the sheath.
It's extremely cheap too! I got about 300 feet for an extremely cheap price (don't remember the exact figure- about 5-10 dollars).
I usually keep a smaller length of about 30 ft aside for quick access and that way i don't have to unwind the entire rope every time i need to tie something. Moreover you can make or buy a survival bracelet and have another 20 ft of cordage around your wrist for worst case scenarios. You can google how to make one. It barely takes 10 minutes to make and can come really handy.
Again i could go on for hours about the importance of carrying a rope but that would become another instructable entirely.
Step 4: First Aid Kit
A first aid kit too is a must for every outdoors adventure you go to. Remember that even the pros take essential precautions before venturing out and not doing so is foolish and possibly life threatening.
I've assembled a pretty exhaustive first aid kit in a water-tight box.
- Savalon- antiseptic solution to clean wounds
- Neosporin powder- prevent bacterial infections
- turmeric- used to stop profuse bleeding
- petroleum jelly- prevent water and other environmental factors from reaching an open wound
- mosquito repellent cards- you might need a couple in caves which are infested with mosquitoes
- first aid booklet
- latex gloves
- straight razor and blades - you never know when you need to make incisions P.S. shaveLikeAMan
- electral- incase somebody gets dehydrated
- feviquick or similar cyanoacrylate glue- used to seal cuts instead of stitching. It was actually invented during ww2 as a substitute to stitches. It has various advantages like being waterproof and prevents infections. It also prevents stitch marks.
- Doctor's needle and thread- Some wounds absolutely need stitches
- bandaids- for small gashes and abrasions
- a couple of needle nose tweesers
- syringes and needles
- anti allergy tablets
- safety pins
- gauze and tape
You will find many variations and iterations of first aid kits having more things but i found this pretty exhaustive and covering all bases.
also I carry a bandage for broken bones and similar injuries.
ALWAYS REMEMBER ... IF SOMETHING CAN GO WRONG, IT PROBABLY WILL GO WRONG!
Step 5: Home Made Fishing Kit
I didn't find a good fishing kit anywhere near my place so I repeated the golden words "KEEP CALM AND DIY".
Improvised a pretty basic barebones fishing kit that's just good enough to get the work done. You probably wont catch any record breaking marlin with this but Something is better than nothing. I've managed to catch some small fish with this but haven't had much success with larger ones.
I made the hooks out of safety pins of various sizes. Again it's nothing very fancy but okay in a survival situation and if you ever have to make a hook, you know how to.
I've added some foil as the shiny bait to attract some fish. I'm no expert and i confess that i have never tried it; but it never hurts, does it?
i also made a small artificial bait out of paracord sheath but it doesn't work as good as live bait. I didn't have any success with that either.
For the line, I unraveled a few feet of paracord and separated the internal 7 strands. I then tied these strands back to back and got about 50 ft of line. It's pretty strong and can easily hold 18-24 lbs.
For the thinner strands i further unraveled even the inner 7 strands into three thin( but extremely strong) line. These are strong enough to hold about 12 lbs easily (maybe even more; I've never tested it). this line is almost as thin as most commercially available fishing lines I think, but would like some input from experts out there.
I've also included some eyes to make a guide for the line incase i ever feel like building my own fishing rod. It's just a matter of making grooves on a stick and tying them tightly onto it.
Step 6: Other Essentials
Apart from everything else you also might need a few more basic essentials. I've listed them below and the purpose they serve.
- container-some utensil to cook food and boil water
- sponge- soak up moisture from dew in the morning when water is scarce
- mosquito repellent cream- you don't want malaria or dengue, do you?
- foil- use it as heat reflector on your camp or as a secondary signalling reflector
- soap- you want to be clean whenever possible
- salt and pepper- just to bring out some flavors
- paracord bracelet- you can never have enough cordage in a survival situation
- whistle- emergency signalling
- reflector- I'VE USED HARD DISK INTERNAL DISKS FROM SOME DEFUNCT ONES. THESE ARE EXTREMELY GOOD REFLECTORS AND VERY TOUGH! THEY DON'T BREAK UNLESS YOU DELIBERATELY SMASH THEM TO PIECES. Also small and convenient to carry.
- maps- you need reference incase you get lost
- water purification- you can't always boil water! these come handy on the go.
- extra tools- a hacksaw incase you have to cut some wood. I also usually carry a needle nose plier with an inbuilt wire cutter
- straw- to drink water from dug up holes. (you would want to stuff some charcoal and a small piece of cloth to keep most contaminants out)
- analog watch- in case you don't have a compass(like me) or lose one an analog watch will be your best guide. You can find directions using your watch and the sun and moon. Also your watch is your anchor! It allows you to know the time accurately and plan ahead. In jungles and mountains the sun sets earlier and the onset of darkness is almost sudden.
Step 7: Conclusion
I've listed pretty much everything i carry on treks besides some food, chocolates for when my body gets low on sugar and a bottle of water. This is one of my first instructables, so any tips or advice is welcome. Also if you feel that I've missed out some essentials please let me know so that i could update this.
Enjoy the outdoors and always be safe!