Guest post by: Chuck Savage
What is the best survival tool you can have along with you? A lot of people are looking everyday for the best survival tool or tools to have if things go wrong. Thousands of dollars are spent each month on the things we think will make us safe. The truth is no one can have everything that you need in a compromised world nor would you be able to carry everything you might need when disaster strikes. I believe that the best tool that we all have is sitting right between our ears.
Coming up with strategy and plans and having the knowledge to improvise as you go is your best bet. If you’re old enough to remember the show MacGyver, you’ll remember how he was able to come up with solutions to problems with sometimes not much more than his brain and a Swiss army knife. However, in all survival situations a few basic tools and supplies are needed. My list includes the following:
1. Knife and Sharpener: This is where I can go overboard but a good quality folding knife with a 3 to 4 inch blade knife will work. I prefer a fixed blade with a full tang for strength. This knife will be used for the normal cutting jobs but may be called on to split wood, fashion a shelter, remove splinters, prepare food and strike your fire steel. I carry a small sharpener to touch up my blade from time to time.
2. Fire Starter and Lighter: Being able to start a fire could be a matter of life or death. A fire can ward off hypothermia, cook food, make water safe to drink, and give encouragement. Magnesium and a fire steel are great for starting a fire. They last a long time and can be used in damp conditions. Lighters are good to have but will eventually run out of fluid.
3. Cordage: 550 cord is great. I have a survival bracelet made with 550 cord that I wear everywhere. It’s good to keep a roll in your pack. Some people even replace their boot laces with 550 cord. Cordage has so many uses including making shelters, snares, repairs, or fishing line.
4. Poncho: This will keep you dry and warmer in the rain and wind or can water proof a small shelter. Because wind will accelerate the cooling of your body and speed up the onset of hypothermia, a poncho is important. I prefer a poncho because they have more uses than a rain suit and cover you. Plus, they can be worn over your pack. A poncho can even cover your rifle and scope from the elements.
5. Wool Blanket/ Space Blanket: Wool blankets are water resistant and can provide heat when wet. They can also be tied with cordage to make a jacket. I recall pictures of soldiers during the Civil War wearing their blankets tied at the bottom and worn across one shoulder as a sash. Wool blankets, however, can take up so much room that I carry a space blanket in my shoulder bag at all times. These are less than the size of my wallet and weigh even less.
6. Water Purifier: There are so many products out there to purify water. There are drops, tablets, powder, filters, or boiling to name a few. Finding a vessel to carry and treat your water is the trick. Military canteens with built in water cups work well but are a bit bulky. Small portable purifiers are great and easy to carry.
7. Food Source: M.R.E.’s, freeze dried foods designed for backpacking and food bars are a few ideas. High energy snacks are good because they sustain your energy level longer than foods high in carbohydrates. Our bodies burn carbohydrates quicker than protein. I think of the word picture that carbs are like putting paper on a fire and protein is like putting a log on the fire.
8. Firearm and Extra Ammunition: I prefer a pistol that you are good with or possibly a light weight rifle. A firearm is not one of the most important tools but with good hunting skills, you can put food in your belly. Guns can also be used to signal for help. Three shots spaced evenly apart is the universal signal for help.
9. First Aid Kit: Careful as we may be, we will need a first aid kit at some time. Survival takes work and when you are working hard, it’s hard not to get cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Most important are wound control and splinting. If you are on medication, be sure to put some in your kit and rotate it out to insure freshness.
10. Flashlight and Batteries: A LED flashlight would be my choice because of the amount of light it gives out using less energy from the battery. I use a headlamp and small tactical flashlight. Be sure to buy the best quality batteries so they will last longer.
The Most Important Item
This list is the most basic of things a person might need to survive. Without the knowledge of how to use them though, they areall but useless. Because we will all be limited on what we can take with us in an emergency or survival scenario, priorities need to be set. If I could choose only five things, what would they be? I would take the knife, fire starter, water filter, space blanket and cordage. What would you pick? These are tools and supplies for the short term but because the crisis may last far into the future, plans need to be made for sustainability. Food and water and shelter are the three main things you will need to provide in order to survive.
Knowledge of planting crops, sustained water treatment and sewer treatment, renewable lighting sources are among some of the most important considerations. Long guns for hunting and traps will be useful in the future. Keep in mind that being able to provide meat from a quiet means could be important. It may be good to be as silent and draw as little attention to yourself and your location as possible. Quiet sources to hunt with would be pellet guns, 22.cal using sub sonic ammo, bow and arrow, blowguns, sling shot and traps.
I am even preparing to set a trap line for squirrels using large rat traps attached to lower limbs of trees. Just drill holes on both ends of the wooden traps and secure with 550 cord or baling wire. Peanut butter is the perfect bait for these little critters as they can’t resist it!
I found that if you leave food out, it will not take long for your protein to find you. Our hunting camp became over run with raccoons and opossums this season because some in our camp had become careless with trash and left over food. They visited us every night just after dark. Snares for rabbits and raccoons are easy to set. These animals are all good for adding protein to your diet. Man cannot live on meat alone so I plan to have heirloom seeds to plant a garden. We just can’t stock or carry enough can goods to sustain us.
Another source of food is wild edibles. I admit that I am not an expert in that area. Because of the danger of getting sick orpoisoned, I would suggest that you learn what is safe from an expert in that field. I was told that Native Americans learned what they could eat by observing what animals ate. Sounds smart but I would rather be taught by an expert. The bottom line is that we all need to be prepared for short term emergencies and work toward being able to live off the land for an extended time in the future. With all the hype and craze of prepping, use your most important asset, common sense, to guide you as you make decisions for preparing to survive.
This list is by no means complete and I am sure that you would want to add or take away some of the items. I have made this list based on need and what I can comfortably carry in my shoulder go bag that goes with me every day, everywhere.
What is the best survival tool? That is subject to debate but I think that without knowledge, they can all become useless. Learn how to use these tools and practice often with them.
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.