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Backpacker's Health & Safety The Backpacker's Health & Safety forum is for the discussion of health and safety/survival issues that directly relate to backpackers.

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Old 07-04-2008, 05:00 PM
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nogods nogods is offline
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The most important survial essential is the one you leave at home. You can't buy it at a store. You can't pack it with you even though it weighs almost nothing.

It is the information about your route and expected return that you leave with a responsible trusted person.

SAR can't find you if they don't know that they should be looking for you. Every time a SAR is started "after the hikers failed to show up for work" there has already been a failure in a survival essential.

Information about your route and expected return must be left with somone who will, under the appropriate circumstances, notify the appropriate authorities. Don't leave with it. Leave it where it belongs. You just might get found...alive.
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Old 07-04-2008, 05:11 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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There are certainly things outside the kit that are very important. Though let's continue to focus on items inside the kit for this thread.

Are there any old items that you've removed and/or replaced in recent years/months (e.g. out with iodine and in with CLO2).

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Old 07-06-2008, 01:39 PM
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Haclil Haclil is offline
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Eschewing philosophical debates, here are the survival items most of which I carry separately from my main kit. To me they seem pretty much beyond dispute:

A field charger for your cellular phone (if not a spare battery); could be a solar charger
A small compass or, alternatively, brush up on makeshift methods of finding north
A small, weatherproof fire-starting kit. In sunny climes, a magnifying glass.
Name-brand superglue for the obvious but also for closing wounds that would ordinarily require stitches (God forbid!)
If you depend on eyeglasses, a spare pair or at least drugstore reading glasses (very compact)
If your life could depend on any particular meds carry a small supply on your person at all times
Whatever small blade or cutter takes your fancy
A space blanket of course
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Old 07-06-2008, 02:10 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Originally Posted by Haclil
A field charger for your cellular phone (if not a spare battery); could be a solar charger
You may like the Sidewinder (< 3 oz) as an alternative (works without sunlight/at-night).

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Old 02-08-2009, 10:21 PM
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MoondogFiftyfive MoondogFiftyfive is offline
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Been going through my pack and pulled my "Survival kit" out to make sure everything was fresh and intact and in working condition and wondered if any-one else carried one.
I try not to double up and some of the things in mine are part of my normal kit, just that they live in a separate carry bag.
My bumbag sometimes works a chest pack or belly bag and always comes with me on a side-trip if I leave my monster house at campsite.
Mine lives in a big Lowe belt pack I've had for close to 15 years, about 5 litres capacity with 2 compartments, a thin zip pocket and a bigger space.
In the zip pocket I keep a 200 litre bin liner and 2 or 3 orange garbage bags of 80 litre capacity.
My army water bottle pouch can fit on the 2inch wide waist strap in its carrier balanced on the other side by my camera bag or my big Khukri.

Inside the main compartment I usually carry my maps, my compass when it's not around my neck, my small LED torch and spare batteries, a couple of wine-cask liners, my small multi-tool, my small personal first aid kit, a double sealed fire lighting kit, which is itself double sealed inside a small silicon sealed tin ( think Altoids ) 50M of 0.8mm nylon cord, 20M of 1.2mm army polyester cord, 15m of "Perlon " high test climbing cord, at the moment also 20meters of bright yellow Spectra5.5mm static rope and a spare locking D carabiner ( there is always one of these on my rucksac shoulder strap -- old habits are hard to break ) my water sterilizing iodine bottle ( 30 ml ) and the associated Vitamin C powder, my repair kit which has a selection of pre-threaded needles BIG big medium and small and each has appropriate sized bonded nylon thread.
There is a 35mm film can with some multi-vitamin tablets, another 35mm film can with some small fish hooks, swivels and split lead sinkers and a tiny shiny titanium lure ( made from a broken spoon) a pair of emergency sunglasses made from aluminised Mylar and polyethylene ( courtesy of an eye examination ) some brass picture wire which I've found to have many uses as well as being usable as snare wire.
There is enough room left inside for an apple or orange and 2 or 3 Mars bars and it is probably far too much and probably weighs far too much as well, but I have had occasion to need some or even most of the gear when walking with my kids when they were small.
I will weigh it one day when it is stuffed full and surprise myself.

I realised I made a mistake, the length of Spectra rope in my emergency pack is only 10M long, the big length is for when I have my kids with me, it just happens to be in my pack too at the moment.
We are having some very bad fires here at the moment; very bad: I'm thinking I should get myself a heavy duty space blanket for safety reasons, gives an extra 30 or 40 seconds before the radiant heat gets to you.
I'll be getting a couple of extra for the car as well to go with the 2 woolen blankets that live in the car during fire season.

Last edited by MoondogFiftyfive : 02-09-2009 at 07:04 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 02-15-2009, 10:08 AM
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bombernbr bombernbr is offline
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My kit is a walmart brand tang container fitted into an IMUSA cup (perfect fit, actually). This is so that I can boil water if I like, or cook some stuff in in case of a problem.

The contents are:
Strike-anywhere matches in a waterproof case
Magnesium firestarter
Trioxane tablet (easy to boil water at the beginning of an emergency- or start fires)
little BIC lighter
Signal Mirror
mylar blanket
small fishing kit (some line and hooks)
small razor (thing is tiny-would work for cutting small things...)
Small knife (mostly to use with the firesteel on the magnesum block, but can also be used for small cutting apps)
compass (the clear map-reading kind)
Storm whistle (would go around my neck if I had a prblem)

Written out, this kit looks pretty large. I really like the cup, because It not only gives me a handle, but gives me something metal to cook in if I had a major problem. I also use it in camp as a drinking cup for my hot chocolate or tea, so it doesn't just sit idle in the pack. I am also not that great at starting fires, which is why I have so many ways to get one going.
Additionally, I have never had much luck fishing (first time out, caught three, and never again... Beginner's luck I guess), but I like the idea of having that kit around if nothing else, to keep me entertained.

Additionally, whenever I drop my pack, I always take my hard case that stores my cell phone (GZ One boulder [shockproof, water resistant, and has a digital compass- sweet!]) and my digital camera (it won't help me survive, but I like to have it to take pictures of stuff, so it goes with me most of the time). I also usually have a Nalgene, so that helps me have plenty of water if necessary.

Yeah, that's what I have with me. My Aqua Mira tabs are usually kept in my cookbag, but I may move them back to the kit to have them for the emergency times. I may even add an emergen -c or two to the kit, so that I may have some energy in a food shortage.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:54 PM
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niama niama is offline
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Location: Idaho
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Great thread. Thank you for all the suggestions and check list. This subject can as diverse as each personnality on here. It is for me week to week. Living in Idaho I could be in the desert where it's hot and no water or in the moutains with it freezing and to much water. All with 24 hours.

I was glad to see medication metioned. That is important for me. I take double what I need for my intended length of trip.

My priorities are simply:
1) Fire
2) Shelter
3) Water
4) Food

If I can start a fire I feel I can survive anything and by the time I get a good fire going #2 and #3 seem to work themselves out. I think that is just because the rule of don't panic and assess the situation.

I carry three methods of starting fires. Primitive flint and steel with pre-made char cloth and OLD macrame material scrapped into a "birds nest" for emergence tinder, waterproof matches, and a bic lighter. I have used the flint and steel enough I am as comfortable with that as anything and usually use that first to save the rest.

I have heard a new electronic item I need to learn about. My sister bought her son one. I think it is called Spot??? but I'm not sure. Anyway, he pushes a button once a day that automatically sends he an email that says "I'm OK and I am at ........GPD coordinates...." Another button he can push sends an imitiate call for HELP. That sounds like a must for anyone who spends a lot of time in the back country.

take care
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:48 PM
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captn captn is offline
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Location: Houston, we have a problm
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A good yet smallish knife, a flint striker, and a photon freedom in right pocket on a small keychain (weave a nice fob out of paracord).

A couple of fish hooks inside the brim of my hat.

My compass is in my watch on my wrist

My Whistle is on a lanyard.

And I like to carry some type of map either in my cargo pocket or some other convenient place that's easy to get to during the day and at meal times.

Last edited by captn : 02-17-2009 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 02-18-2009, 01:32 PM
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tonto tonto is offline
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It can't happen to me--- OH REALLY!!

Just a little story to show how quickly things can go wrong even for an experienced hiker on an established trail like the AT.
Ed Garvy, one of the backpacking Gods of the AT back in the early 70's, tells an interesting story in his classic book "Appalachian Hiker, Adventure of a Lifetime".
He pulled into one of the shelters about dusk took off his pack and went off to find H2O in his sweaty T shirt thinking it wouldn't be a problem because the spring was nearby. After taking longer then he anticipated he turned back but couldn't find the shelter in the growing dark. After scouting around in several directions in the now dark woods he realized he was lost and separated from his gear just as a light rain started to fall. He hunkered down for the night under a pile of sodden leaves for the most miserable night of his life. At dawn he managed to get reoriented and find his way back to the shelter kicking himself for his stupidity.
The point I take from this: even the most experienced hiker will sometimes miscalculate or make poor decisions (you'll probably come to different conclusions--and we'll probably hear about that!) so having some essentials on your person at all times, not in your pack, will help.
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:04 PM
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LtHiker LtHiker is offline
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Posts: 121
In addition to some of the things listed above that are in my pack I wear a string around my neck with a small buck knife 2" folded a boyscout fire starter, a compass, and a whistle.
I also vacum seal a small bag with matches, zip ties, couple feet of SS wire, rubber inner tube squares(fire starter), fish hooks and line, couple feet of duct tape, some other small thing I can't remember right now.
Anyway this is about a 4"x4" square flat package that I keep in my cargo pocket.
I seal this pack with the sealer so that I won't be tempted to use any of the stuff during normal backpacking, not very multi-purpose but oh well.

I have also had an experience with finding someone wandering in the dark looking for their tent and gear after taking a walk after setting up camp. Luckily he had a head lamp and we eventually found his camp.
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