The 10 Essentials
This is the beginning of your emergency kit. Coined by the Mountaineers, the 10 essentials for any trip include navigation tools, sun protection, insulation or extra clothing, a headlamp or flashlight, a first-aid kit, a way to start fire, a repair kit, extra food, extra water and an emergency shelter. This is the minimum gear you should carry with you, and know how to use, every time you leave the pavement.
Put a small multitool that has a knife blade, scissors and pliers into your kit. You may opt instead for a knife, such as a Swiss Army knife, that has a blade, scissors and tweezers. Note that tweezers should already be part of your first aid kit. Choose the tool that best fits your needs, considering the other items in your pack.
Water Purification Device
Include a water purification straw or similar system in your kit. In a survival situation, after first aid, water should be your next priority. Absence of water leads to a greater risk of gastroenteritis and dysentery. According to the Defense Science and Technology Organization, more people died of bacillary dysentery during the Civil War than were killed in battle. Any water you carry in your survival kit or pack will not be enough in most cases. The McNett Emergency Water Filter System is a good example of a compact purification straw that will filter enough water for one person to survive several weeks. Studies have concluded that the best of these systems can remove 99.9 percent or more of viable bacteria, coliforms and E. coli.
Put duct tape in your repair kit, your first aid kit and your survival kit. It can be used to bandage a wound, repair a hole in a piece of plastic you are using for a shelter or attach a point to a spear. These are only a few ideas; the uses are limitless. Wrap 5 or 6 feet of tape around a shortened pencil or flatten the last 5 or 6 feet of the roll to minimize the space it takes up in your kit.
550 Paracord (pictured top)
Made famous by the military, parachute cord, also known as paracord, is nearly as versatile as duct tape. It can be used to assist in building shelters, fishing lines, snares, traps and weapons. The nylon cord can be cut to reveal seven inner strands, each a 50-lb. test. Packing enough to be useful can be tricky. Wrap 20 feet around the outside of your survival pack after it is put together so that it is on the outside of your kit. Another common trick is to lace your hiking boots with paracord to give yourself an extra 3 or 4 feet of cord.
Stash a $20 bill, or amount you are comfortable with, into your survival kit for a taxi, hamburger or bottle of water at a convenience store. Even a credit or debit card would work if it were kept current. Your survival kit is about being prepared. If you hike out to a road or to a small town, it would be a shame not to have any money.