How to Build a Bushcraft Survival Kit. Share it! Having been given a copy of John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman’s ‘SAS Survival Handbook’ when I was 1. I spent a disproportionate amount of my mid- teens devising ingenious ways to cram more and more survival kit into a tobacco tin. At the weekend I’d go to the local woods with my friends and we did what all good survivors did – build shelters, light fires and whittle sticks. Whenever I wanted to use something from my survival tin, it was hard to avoid disturbing most of the contents. I’d squeezed so much good stuff in there, I’d created something of a Chinese puzzle. It was difficult to unpack and always impossible to re- pack to the standard I’d managed at home. I’d often resort to putting a few bits and pieces in my jacket pocket rather than back in the tin. I came to the conclusion that less was definitely more. Later, I also assembled the components Lofty suggested for a ‘survival pouch’. I persevered with the tobacco tin survival kit and survival pouch for years, carrying them with me “just in case” while hiking and on many camping trips. While I used some of the items from the survival pouch on a daily basis, I found myself packing survival kit then packing many items that replicated the functions of items in the survival kit. The replication of kit between survival kit and day- to- day kit continued to bug me. Then I went through a lightweight backpacking phase and really pared down everything I took with me. In the end, I left much of the survival kit at home and relied solely on the little ‘bubble’ of safety created by the modern camping equipment I carried with me. After a while I got bored with being in my bubble. I wanted a closer relationship with the environment I was visiting. It was then I sought out Ray Mears to learn what he was calling bushcraft. Combat Survival Tin. I still love the concept of the tobacco- tin survival kit. There is so much function in such a small package. The ‘Combat Survival Tin’ makes perfect sense in the context of the soldier, who has much ammunition and other heavy equipment to carry. As outdoors people, though, we are allowed a different equation. We choose to enter wild places for the sake of being there. We can take with us equipment that allows us to live there for an extended period of time. My experience of wilderness travel and living outdoors for weeks or even months at a time, combined with a knowledge of bushcraft, has changed my perspective on my own personal ‘survival kit’.
A Bushcraft Survival Kit. Photo: Paul Kirtley Having been given a copy of John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman’s ‘SAS Survival Handbook’ when I was 13 years old, I spent a. The Lofty Wiseman Survival Cards. Launch of the New ‘Ultimate SAS Survival’ book. The latest version of Lofty’s experience based survival guide is due for. A mini survival kit is a small survival kit which consists of the most essential outdoor survival tools and supplies. 'Make a Survival Kit out of an Altoids Tin'.
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My ‘bushcraft survival kit’ is designed to be functional in itself. It is a stand- alone entity. To this extent it pays homage to Lofty’s doctrine. It is also designed to dovetail with my other basic wilderness equipment with little overlap, except where valuable back- up to critical wilderness equipment is provided. Most important, the components are assembled with day- to- day use in mind. So, rather than including a couple of scalpel blades, I include a good quality pocket knife; rather than including a small flint striker, I include a full- size Swedish Firesteel; and so on. If you are living in the outdoors, rather than merely visiting (in a bubble), then the equipment you have for living there is largely your survival equipment. With a few exceptions of kit intended purely for emergencies, this equipment will be used on a regular basis if not every day. Bushcraft Survival Kit and Combat Survival Tin. Photo: Paul Kirtley. Folding Knife. While a knife with a fixed blade is stronger, a folding knife is a useful tool as long as it has a locking blade. While it provides a back- up, a lock- knife should be of high enough quality to be used for many of the jobs you would undertake with your main bushcraft knife. I was introduced to the Fjallkniven TK4 knife by Lars Falt and have carried one ever since. It is manufactured from high- quality materials, well- made and remarkably light in weight. A knife of this size should not be underestimated. It is entirely possible to gut, skin and disassemble an animal as large as a deer with a small knife. The back of the TK4 can be used to create sparks with the Swedish Firesteel or ‘Fireflash’. With a folding knife, this action is far safer when the blade is closed. When the knife is open there is a danger it will close on your fingers if you accidentally release the locking mechanism. I write from personal experience… Fireflash. As described in my article ‘Essential Wilderness Equipment‘, the Swedish Firesteel is the most dependable aid to fire- starting. They last a long time so you only need carry one with you for both day- to- day use and emergencies. Sharpening Stone.
Also described in my article ‘Essential Wilderness Equipment‘, the Fjallkniven DC4 is a portable and efficient whetstone that is easy to use. Whistle. Blowing a whistle uses less energy than shouting for help and the sound carries further. Carry one at all times. A model that is made of tough material and has no moving parts is reliable. The Fox. Micro meets these criteria and is very loud. Microlight. A small LED light kept on your person is handy for when you need a little local illumination. It can make jobs that would otherwise be difficult in the dark easy; for example, changing the batteries of your main torch. I use a powerful LED torch as my main torch but it is overpowering for jobs that only need a low level of light. The Photon ‘Freedom’ Microlight has a dimmer control so you can bring the light level up gradually to the level you want – ideal for night- time map reading without losing too much of your night vision. LED microlights typically have a long battery life so I don’t carry a spare battery. If you wanted to carry a spare, it would be just as easy to carry a spare microlight. I carry a Photon ‘Freedom’ Microlight and a Fox. Micro whistle on a cord around my neck. Paracord. Invaluable for a multitude of tasks from bow- drilling to making improvised snow- shoes, you should always have a hank of paracord with you. Genuine 5.
Matches. My first choice for day- to- day fire- lighting is the Swedish Firesteel because it lasts such a long time – 1. Matches, by contrast, get used up relatively quickly (imagine carrying 1. For some firelighting situations though, matches make your life easier. For example, lighting match- stick thickness kindling (think small Spruce (Picea) or Hemlock (Tsuga) twigs), is much easier with matches when you have no tinder on which to drop a spark. I reserve most of my matches for an emergency. If I do use any matches, I replace them as soon as I can. Strike anywhere matches are preferable to safety matches. Keep them in a watertight container packed with a little cotton- wool to stop them rattling. Cigarette Lighter. A lighter is useful for fire- lighting and, unlike matches, will work after a dunk in water. It’s also useful for day- to- day jobs such as melting the end of a length of paracord to prevent fraying. A good quality blow- torch lighter can be used for fixing equipment and finishing off creme- brulee! Tinder. Waxed paper of the sort that is like thick card is very dependable tinder for establishing a fire. This material can be lit directly with matches or a cigarette lighter. Alternatively it can be scraped up with your knife in a manner similar to birch bark and ignited with a spark from your fireflash. Due to being infused with wax it repels water. Again I keep this for emergencies. Torch. A good quality torch is worth the expense, particularly if you camp outside of the summer months. I like a torch with a powerful beam that can be used for route- finding in the dark. This also makes it a very good emergency signaling device. A torch that is waterproof is ideal for wilderness use. I find the no- compromise Surefire ‘Outdoorsman’ flashlights very good. This model’s construction makes it extremely tough. It is waterproofed with rubber O- rings and runs on only one CR1.
A lithium battery. Lithium batteries are lighter than alkaline batteries and work better in low temperatures. I carry 3 spare batteries. I also carry a strap that converts the flashlight into a head torch. Overall it’s a tough, versatile and high- performance combination. Water Purification Tablets. Iodine or chlorine water purification tablets are compact and easy to carry. Carrying a chemical treatment for water gives you an alternative to boiling. Iodine tablets are my first choice. Iodine deals with the tougher pathogenic organisms such as giardia and cryptosporidium, whereas chlorine doesn’t. Unfortunately due to the European Biocides Directive 9. EC, iodine has been unavailable for sale within the EU as a treatment for drinking water since October 2. Iodine is still available outside of the EU. Please note that Iodine must not be consumed by those with thyroid problems or by women who are pregnant.
Resealable Plastic Bags. Resealable bags have many uses. As long as the bag is not punctured it can be used for storing water when you are without a water bottle. If you are without a metal mug or pot in which to boil water, you can use your chemical water treatment in the plastic bag too. A plastic bag is also useful for collecting and storing foraged foods such as berries. Unlubricated Condoms. These are purely emergency items! They can be used to store water and can be protected with a spare sock or similar. Make sure they are unlubricated.