Five Top Survival Items

Posted on May 04 2016

We had a discussion at Carry Smarter about what we would want if we could have only five survival things to get us through an average UK based wilderness survival scenario, up a mountain or in secluded woodland. We wanted to consider five easily carriable things that would give you the best odds of survival. Obviously, a fully-stocked extensive first aid kit, a tent, five litres of drinking water, British Army ration pack and a gas burner camping stove would be sincerely helpful, but hauling those around with you all the time you’re hiking may not always be possible.
 
  1. Smartphone
 
Our top choice for a survival item is something that most of the population carries with them at all times already! A mobile phone with a fully charged battery and network coverage would enable you to make emergency rescue services informed of your situation, which would mean it was only a matter of moments before help gets to you. Just acknowledging help is on its way would be a tremendous psychological lift from the outset, helping you to stay cool and approach the other survival priorities, such as signalling to the rescuers when they get near.
 
Even in the absence network coverage, modern smartphones still have several uses for the survival. Built-in functions such as the flashlight, digital compass/GPS system, mapping apps and even survival knowledge apps can all be a tremendous help.
 
  1. Foil survival blanket
 
In the UK, exposure to the elements can swiftly become fatal, the compound of the wind and rain wicking away your body heat and putting you into hypothermia. To stop this happening, you will need a way of both keeping them out and retaining your body heat.
 
The foil survival blanket is a fine pocket-sized item, when unfolded and wrapped around the body offers shelter from the wind and rain, as well as maintaining the body heat that you would otherwise naturally lose. It’s the nearest thing you can have to a portable pocket shelter, and it can keep you warm just enough to survive until rescue happens.
 
  1. Haemostatic agent
 
One possibility that we agreed could bring a quick and unfortunate ending to a survival scenario would be that of traumatic blood loss. While somewhat unlikely to occur on a regular outdoor excursion in the UK, cuts and wounds do happen, and it’d only take an unusually severe slip with a blade to cause a life-threatening loss of blood. Applying a tourniquet is a good way of slowing blood loss, but this isn’t much use if you’ve sustained a head wound.
 
However, there are haemostatic products available, such as these haemostatic granule sachets. Applied right to the wound, followed by pressure and bandaging. These are easy to carry an item that could prevent an otherwise fast demise from blood loss.
 
Fire Embers
 
  1. Ferrocerium rod and striker
 
Creating fire can turn a bad situation to your favour. Having a way of staying warm and signalling to rescuers is important, and fire will help you achieve both.
 
We finished up going for the Ferro rod. The idea being is that although it's slower to produce a flame than a lighter. Butane lighters can fail to ignite if the air temperature falls below 4°C, but a Ferro rod and striker will perpetually be able to produce hot sparks in any weather.
 
  1. Water bottle with inbuilt filter
 
We also considered what could occur if rescue didn’t take place within hours or a day of the survivor finding themselves in their state, and how after this period the need for water would become a significant role in their survival.
 
A bit of survival gear that immediately came to thought was the Lifestraw Go; that is essentially a plastic water bottle with a filter element built into the cap. The excellent point about this is that you have a container in which you can get water from nearly any source, and when you must to rehydrate you just drink through the spout like a typical water bottle.
 
Final Thoughts
 
A sound knowledge of survival techniques and the environment will go a long way towards surviving. So maybe the most important survival item you should carry would be your brain.

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