building survival kit trip

Complete Guide to Building a Survival Kit for a Trip

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Heading out or bugging out, you need a good survival kit. Even doing a simple road trip can see you lost in the woods because the GPS lied.

What you pack depends on where you are and where you are heading. In the US' Deep South, hypothermia is much less likely than in Canada. A space blanket is far less important in Georgia than in Alberta.

Here's a list of the 12 objects that needs to go in the bag.

warming fire

1. Multi-Tool

A high-end multi-tools exactly what it says. You get a knife, pliers, and other tools that do come in handy. By high-end, we mean one that costs more than $25. The tiny promotional multi-tools that companies give away are not big enough nor strong enough to get you through a survival situation.

2. Fire Starter

A fire starter kit is small and usually consists of a magnesium strip and scraper to peel bits of the magnesium and a striker to knock sparks into the shavings. 

A plastic magnifying glass can also start a fire. Plastic because it does not break as easily as glass.

A sandwich baggie of dryer lint compresses down tremendously and also makes a great fire starting base.

3. Light

A good flashlight and extra batteries let you see where you are going and also signals to anyone looking for you. Just have to swap those batteries out every six months.

Don't take candles. Wax melts. A bugout bag in the trunk will quickly become a mess on a hot day.

4. Tape

Pack duct tape for things that are not supposed to move. If you have enough, you can even make clothes.

5. Rope

Paracord is light. When you get a multi-strand paracord, you have one really strong rope made of several smaller ropes. Take the outer wrap off and you have 100 feet of 7-strand paracord. This turns into more than 680 feet (gotta knot 'em together) of lighter rope.

Some fishing lines and a few hooks are also a good idea. You do not need a pole. Cut down a tree limb or handle. 

You can scavenge for insects, worms, and grubs to use as bait. 

The line and hooks can go in a prescription pill bottle.

6. Tarp

A small tarp will keep the rain off and help keep you warm. It is not as warming as a space blanket, but it beats sitting in the rain and being cold.

The tarp can work as a raincoat or a makeshift shelter.

7. First aid kit

A basic first aid kit should have:

  • tweezers
  • antiseptic wipes
  • antibiotic ointment
  • NSAIDs
  • Aspirin
  • gauze, patches and wrap
  • Band-aids of various sizes
  • Ace bandage
  • Antihistamines

8. Mirror

A simple signaling mirror can attract attention during the day at really long distances. No code is needed. Just waggle the mirror to reflect the sun at your rescuers.

You can also consider the heavy plastic mirrors as they are just as good as glass, but won't break as easily.

9. Weapon

A handgun or takedown carbine with ammo is best. A shotgun is good, but shotgun shells are bulky and heavy. You can carry a hundred rounds of good pistol ammo in less space with less weight than a single 25-round box of light handgun ammo.

If you pack a pistol, HuntingMark explains why you need good sights on it.

10. Pot

A small metal pot or a large metal mug will let you catch water and then heat it over a fire to sterilize it. You can also cook in it. 

11. Water purification

You can get purification tablets that will kill harmful bacteria and viruses. It will not clean the water. For that, you need a water filter. 

Filters come in sizes ranging from a large straw to something that needs a water pitcher.

12. Food & Water

If you plan to be gone a while, pack food. Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are not the best food, but they will keep you alive. If necessary, you can eat everything in them without cooking it.

Since a gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds, carrying a lot of water is hard to do. If at all possible, mark water locations on your planned route.

friends group near a river

Cheat Sheet

The final item you must want to consider adding to your survival kit is a “cheat sheet.” A cheat sheet should include information that can be very valuable in a survival situation. 

The Cheat Sheet Includes the following things: 

  • First-aid procedures.
  • Geographical references list for navigating without a map .
  • How to tie different types of knots?
  • Fruits list that can be edible in the area where you are going.

It would be better if you can take the print of your Cheat Sheet and get it laminated to keep it safe. However, You can also divide your sheet into small cards so that it can be easier to pack rather than one large sheet which can be challenging to adjust in your backpack.

Customizing Your Survival Kit

As now you have the basic items that are necessary for a standard survival kit, Now is the time to customize your survival kit according to your needs. For this purpose you have to examine your needs and you can start that process by asking the following five questions to yourself, Your answers to these questions will help you customize your survival kit and move forward.

  1. How many persons are going to share that survival kit with you?
  2. What kind of emergency might occur on the journey?
  3. Which location are you going to use the kit?
  4. How much experience do you have in the outdoors?
  5. How long are you going to wait before getting rescued?

Tell Someone [Important Thing]

If you are taking a trip, tell someone where you are going and when you'll be back. If you don't report on schedule, that person will have some idea where to go to look for you.

Final Thoughts

Building a survival kit is very much a personal procedure because your life may depend on your choices at some point, so you want to think about the potential disasters that you may face and then do your best to get the items in your survival kit that will help you in that disaster to survive. But, if you start building your survival kit by the items listed above, add in those items which will address your personal needs, and carry them in a better container, you must likely keep yourself alive and get back to your home safe and sound with great stories.

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