Outdoor enthusiasts face challenging obstacle when trying to prepare for an unfortunate camping, hiking, hunting, or fishing emergency. The variety of disaster situations that can occur to even a seasoned outdoor enthusiast makes it strikingly difficult to prepare essential equipment and supplies for any emergency. Building a survival kit can be frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. For many, they turn to outdoor supply companies to purchase a pre-assembled survival kit. Others choose to put their own together to allow them the flexibility to bring exactly the brands and styles of equipment they prefer. To build a survival kit that will serve the proper purposes, you must first understand the dangerous situations you may face during your outdoor activity and the best ways to protect yourself against them.
Different outdoor sports have the potential to invoke very different challenges that require different survival kit items. Camping or hiking enthusiast must concern themselves with reliable navigation so maps and compasses are very important tools. They will also require light-weight but useful food and water provisions. The hunter, however, must consider protection against potentially dangerous animals as a major concern. Fishermen must pack water-proof materials. However, don't get overly caught up in the specific outdoor activity you will be doing; just because you may be camping with your family doesn't mean you may not be put in an emergency situation where a durable hunting knife will be needed.
Consider The Location
Evaluate the climate and terrain of your target destination. Weather extremes or unexpected terrain changes can catch outdoor enthusiasts off-guard. Hikers traveling through the cool, wet Pacific Northwest can still experience heat exhaustion, especially in the summer, just as desert campers can easily freeze at night despite the daytime heat. If you plan to be taking your next hike, camping outing or hunting trip into an area you are not entirely familiar with, ask an area professional's opinion and do some online research to get a handle on what items you should add to your survival kit.
Survival Kit Basics
There are basic items that are essential to any survival kit, no matter what the outdoor activity. Essential elements in the kit should satisfy these fundamental needs:
* Protection against the elements, or, shelter: To keep warm and protect your body from the elements pack lightweight, water-resistant clothing and blankets. There are many products available that can help keep you warm (reflective aluminum blankets) and dry (waterproof tarps and ponchos). Depending on where you are going, mosquito nets may be necessary.
Warmth goes hand-in-hand with shelter and protection. Include waterproof matches and a lighter in your kit but also consider a flint in case you are stranded for a long-length of time.
* First aid or medical supplies: A first aid kit is essential for all well-built survival kits. The kit should include bandages, sterile pads, gauze, and disinfectant. Also include aspirin, antacid and prescription medication you may take. Extras medical items that are all good things to have depending on where you may be going are insect repellent, sunscreen, and toilet paper.
* Food, water, or the tools needed to procure them: Food can sometimes be the hardest thing to pack because it is heavy and takes up room. Experts recommend packing at least three gallons of water per person for a 3-6 day trip. Foods like nuts and dehydrated fruits are high in energy and easy to carry for an outdoor trip. Also consider bringing along multi-vitamins to help replenish lost nutrients.
* Ways to signal rescuers: Many rescues occur because lost hikers or campers are diligent about signaling for help. Lightweight LED flashlights or lanterns are perfect for survival kits because they have long battery lives and intense light beams that can be seen from long distances. Flares are good secondary options but they are single-use implements and they can cause forest fires if not properly used.
* Tools to help guide outdoor enthusiasts back to familiar territory: A reliable compass and the know-how to use it are also essential for a survival kit. May multipurpose tools and hunting knives include a miniature compass which can be very handy and easy to carry.
The duration of your outdoor adventure will determine how much you should pack your survival kit.
While it is important to be prepared, be mindful of over packing and weigh yourself down with useless elements. Survival kits should be helpful, not cumbersome. A well-prepared survival kit will add peace of mind to your next camping, hunting, hiking or fishing excursion, even if you never have to use it.
~Ben Anton, 2008
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