Keep safe in the woods

December 9, 2011 | By admindude | Filed in: Arizona, Environment, Family, Guns, Kevin.

My family and I went up to Payson over the Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with my parents and visit Tonto Natural Bridge. I have an extensive (and rather large…) “Go Bag” in my car, but I left it behind for this trip because I didn’t want it sitting exposed in the cargo area of my wife’s Nissan Pathfinder.

While the hike was on an smooth, well-marked trail, mistakes can happen on the easiest of trips that can lead to some really hairy situations. I figured I needed something I can keep in the car that can provide the essentials and be something that we can easily take with us whenever we head into the woods. 

Looking around, I realized that the other “pocket survival kits” all have a few things in common.

  1. They’re built for areas that have water handy. 
  2. They’re loaded with candles and other items that would melt if left in a glovebox during an Arizona summer. 
  3. They’ve stuffed with items that are only marginally useful over the short-term. 
  4. They’ve got items with expiration dates that need regular replacing.
  5. They’re too cheap for their own good. 

I wanted a kit that was small enough to carry with me anytime I headed into the woods, provided the basics of outdoor survival in Arizona, didn’t have the useless gadgets found in other kits, and I could leave in the car and forget about until (God forbid) I needed it.

Altoids Survival Kit

An Altoids box. Aside from duct tape, an Altoids tin may be the most useful thing in the world. They’re small, sturdy, lightweight and have at least 22 other uses besides holding breath mints.

Contents (clockwise from top left)
– Water Filter
– 10 feet of paracord
– Emergency whistle
– Button compass
– Ziploc bag
– Flint and striker
– Paper Matches
– Tinder (2 pieces) 
– Straw for water filter
Tool Logic pocket survival tool Update: Removed
– Safety pins, needles (on tool cover)
Signal Mirror Update: Replaced
– First aid kit (2 bandaids, butterfly closure, antiseptic, hand sanitizer)
– Not shown: Ibuprofen, single-edge razor blade Update: Added Imodium and Zyrtec,

Living out here in the desert, you quickly realize just how important water is for survival, and I was shocked that so many kits neglected clean water altogether in favour of sewing kits, snare wire and fishing tackle. If you’ve got time to fish, you’ve got time to get hit with some really nasty water-borne diseases that’ll make eating food a moot point. I chose an Altamira water filter over the more-common chloride pills because I didn’t want to deal with chemical expiration dates, and if that didn’t work, I can always boil water in the Altoids tin or put water in the ziploc and sterilize it using UV radiation

This leads me to an important point: A single point of failure will fail every time. I wanted backups: I have a signal mirror (a small glass mirror backed with duct tape) a small sheet of cut and stick auto mirror replacement and a whistle. I have matches and a flint striker. I have a Tool Logic tool in the kit to back up the Leatherman Micra and the CRKT Pazoda that I carry with me every day. I don’t have a backup for my Pelican mini-flashlight, but my iPhone does have a flashlight app, and if that fails, well, there’s always fire. Update: Added a Photon Micro II, clipped an additional CRKT Pazoda to the paracord on the outside and added $20 in small bills. 

Altiods kit with water filter

The whole kit is about 3 1/4″ by 3 1/2″ by 1 1/2″, fits easily into a front or back jeans pocket and it’s also light enough to not be a burden. Will what I have work for you? Probably not. But the time to think about what WILL work for you is now, not when you’re lost out in the middle of the woods.

The cost? $33. 

Altoids Tin Survival Kit     $33.00
Aquamira Water Filter 1 $8.00 $8.00
Paper Matches 1 $0.00 $0.00
Flint 1 $8.00 $8.00
Tinder 1 $5.00 $5.00
Whistle 1 $4.00 $4.00
Razor Blade 1 $0.00 $0.00
550 Cord (wrapped around tin) 1 $0.00 $0.00
First Aid Kit 1 $2.00 $2.00
Pocket Survival Tool 1 $5.00 $5.00
Compass 1 $1.00 $1.00
Needle, safety pins 1 $0.00 $0.00
Zip lock sandwich bag 1 $0.00 $0.00

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