Survival Equipment for Beginners.
Advice based on experience.
1) When packing a back pack for the trail, there must be a compromise between two principles; Minimum weight, & Maximum self reliance.
2) Don’t waste money on modern gadgets that are NOT sustainable. Most of these gadgets are designed & sold for one purpose only, to make money for the designer & the seller.
3) When purchasing survival gear, think practically, what are the items you actually NEED.
4) Blades: Bowie knives & stilettos are all very nice, but think about what you blades will be actually mostly used for. Second hand blades in good order are just as good as modern blades if not better. 19th century & early 20th century butcher knives can often be found in second hand & junk shops. A tomahawk with a round or oval tapered eye is more versatile than a hatchet or a machete, but if you can’t find or afford a tomahawk, then pick up a light hatchet to get you by. I carry three knives & a tomahawk.
5) A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. You will need a hunting, defence tool(s). You are better off with a flintlock pistol in your hand than a 9mm Glock still in the gun shop! Personally I carry a flintlock longarm & pistol from choice, but get what you can afford for now, even if it is only a single shot .22 rifle.
6) When planning your equipment always think long term. We can’t possibly know what is going to happen in the future.
7) Your survival kit should be your back pack/knapsack; all of your gear should be your survival kit, no fancy extras, just the basic needs that will keep you alive & in reasonable comfort.
8) Learn primitive living skills. The more skills you have, the better chance you have of surviving.
9) Practice makes perfect: Or at least as perfect as an individual can get. Use your gear, trek & camp & get used to using your equipment out bush.
10)Fire: Being able to make fire under all conditions is very important, so learn all you can about kindling, plant & fungi tinders & making fire. Learn how to char tinders directly in the fire & use the tinderbox to smother the glowing embers. I suggest you purchase or make yourself a flint & steel kit; fire steel/striker, tinderbox, & a piece of siliceous rock to strike the sparks from the steel. A good back up skill is being able to make fire with a fire-bow which you can make in the bush.
11) Don’t rely on finding natural shelters, & don’t waste money on a modern tent. Get yourself a piece of canvas or oil cloth, it is more versatile than a tent, easier to erect, & you can take advantage of a fire for warmth & cooking without having to go out in the rain or snow.
12) A good pure wool blanket(s) is better than a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags in general will not keep you warm if they get wet, & they are difficult to get out of in an emergency. A good new blanket will always be better than a good old blanket, but two second hand wool blankets work just fine. You can also cut a blanket to make a “half-blanket” to use as a cape around your shoulders in winter, just as any blanket can also be used as a Matchcoat or a Great coat without any cutting or sewing.
13) Footwear: Hiking boots are good, but they can be noisy in the woods, difficult to repair & impossible to replace in the bush. If you make yourself a couple of pairs of center seam Woodland Indian moccasins (one pair to wear & the other pair to carry spare), then you will have the pattern to make new ones on your feet. They are light, leave less sign than a modern boot, easy to make a makeshift sole repair on the trail, easy to repair & replace. If you want to use your hiking boots, do so, but I suggest you make at least one pair of moccasins & carry them with you tied to your pack.
14) A good way to carry extra warmth with you is to roll up some spare warm clothing in your blanket roll. I carry a spare wool shirt & wool waistcoat which I put on over my other clothing on cold nights.
15) Make sure you carry a good modern medical/first aid kit. This is the only piece of modern equipment that I carry with me. Learn how to use it, learn first aid. There are first aid courses available in all cities.
16)Running a trap line. This is the most efficient way to make meat, carry your hunting tool with you & check the line every morning. Don’t carry any traps with you except small game snares & perhaps a rope for a large game snare. Learn how to make cordage from plant fibers’ & make your own traps.
17) Water is probably the heaviest thing you will be carrying, but always carry a water bottle/flask or canteen. I try to follow a water course when I can to make sure I always have water, but you never know when you may not be able to find any water.
18) Trail foods: Dry foods are lighter than canned foods. Always carry some foods that do not require cooking just in case it is not safe to make a fire.
19)Carry a light trade kettle or billy kettle. These are easy to make from a tin can & a piece of wire for a bail. These are good for cooking in, boiling water for sterilizing or making a hot drink, & for collecting rain water to top up your water bottle.
20) Carry some form of water filter. I carry linen & cotton water filter bags for straining dirty river water into my kettle for boiling.
21) Fishing Tackle: Carry a couple of lines & some spare hooks. You never know when you might get a chance to do some fishing.
22) A sewing kit is a must & it is pretty inexpensive to put together. This will be needed for repairs to your clothing, footwear & perhaps your shelter & back pack.
23) Whetstone for sharpening your blades. You can often find these second hand, but you can also find suitable stones in a creek or river bed.
24) Eating utensils. You already have a knife, so all you need is a light wooden spoon.