What is a Comprehensive Wilderness Survival Kit and Why Should You Have One?

We all carry survival kits whether we realize it or not. The contents of a man’s pockets or those of a woman’s purse are nothing more than survival kits for a populated technological society. You have all the things you’ll likely need to fill your needs throughout your day. Keys, cash, identification, credit cards, membership cards and other items all serve to fill your needs as they arise. Luckily for us, most of our human needs are filled by technology and the remainder can be filled as you go with cash or credit.

3600 calorie Mayday Bars For The Get-Home Bag

Our prepper club has it’s meetings at a local “prepper store”.  In the back, they’ve got a room for meetings.

I’d been on the prowl for some Datrex emergency life raft bars.  The owner didn’t have any, but he did have the 3600 calorie Mayday bars— which are pretty much the same thing.  I paid $6, which I thought was a pretty good price until I realized that you can get them at Amazon for slightly cheaper.  Oh, well.  It’s helping out a local businessman and the guy who runs the store is a very nice guy.

He also had some samples to try.  They’re kind of bland tasting.  You won’t really be tempted to open one of these and eat it as a snack, but you don’t have to choke it down, either.  I bought four of them: Two for my truck and two for the wife’s car.

Later in the day I stopped by Sportsman’s Warehouse with the intention of picking up another $15 wool blend blanket for my wife’s car, as I’m still putting together her get-home bag.  While there, I also bought two 36 hour survival candles.  Heat, warmth, food, shelter– I’ve got a bunch of other stuff in her bag that I’ll list in a future post.

We’re making progress.

A Little Something To Improve Your Bug Out Bag

My wife and I just got back from a ten day trip to both Texas and Florida.  Before leaving, I opened my suitcase to pack and found a couple of space bags I had completely forgotten about.

If you’re not familiar with the space bag, it’s basically a giant zip-lock bag with a one-way air release valve on the side of the bag.  What you do is: Put your clothes inside the bag, zip it closed, and then roll the bag forward to squeeze the air out of the bag.  In the process, all of your clothes compress down to approximately 1/3 of their original size.

space bagSo, not only does the space bag save space in your suitcase (or bug out bag) but it also keeps it relatively dry, should your bag happen to get wet.  “Relatively” dry meaning: Mostly dry. Since there is still a valve on the side of the bag where air can escape, I’d imagine that (theoretically) water could somehow get in, although it would be unlikely.  Still, much better than simply folding your clothes and putting it in your bag without any protection, whatsoever.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before to use a space bag for the clothes in my bug out bag.  Sometimes the obvious hits you when you least expect it.

This Could Be The Most Important Thing In Your “Get Home” Bag

[Edit: See the bottom of this post.  I’ve decided not to carry these in my bag in all but a total TEOTWAWKI scneario.  The benefit to carrying these is not worth the potential legal entanglements and hassle.]

I’ve had my eye on one of these for quite awhile: The Shomer-Tec Access Card “Low-Profile” Discrete Professional Lockpick.  The DailySteals.com web site has it on sale for the next two days for $15.  (The regular price at the Shomer-Tec web site is: $24… I don’t make any money from either of these sites, by the way. I wish I did!)

I took a class through my local Maker-Space project on basic lock picking.  I’m far from an expert but I now know how a lock works and I can pick a basic lock.

You can keep one of these Shomer-Tec lock picks in your wallet in case you lock yourself out of your house. Or if your neighbor locks themselves out of their house and waiting for a locksmith might take hours.

As part of your “Get Home” bag, you should keep one of these for a true SHTF scenario.  For example, if you’re lost in the woods and you’ve been walking for days.  It’s raining when you finally stumble upon a small cabin.  Nobody’s home and the doors are locked.

Not a problem, if you’ve got your lock picks and know how to use them.  (Just like any other tool… this takes training.  Google: Locksport).

I’d also recommend carrying a notepad, a pen and some gorilla tape so that if you do need to gain access to a building to take shelter, you can leave a note for the owner and offer compensation for use of their cabin or building.  I’d also advise immediately using their land line phone to call the local authorities and explain your SHTF situation– if possible– rather than risk a breaking & entering charge.

[This just added from my reply to a post in response to negative attention from the police while carrying a lockpick card– posted on the AR15.com site.  See Wiki lockpicking article for more info on local laws.]

First– do you really think that not carrying a lock pick/card while you have: A gun, a roll of duct tape, some zip ties and a knife in your get home bag is going to make a cop say, “OK, move along.” Heck no! I highly doubt having a lock pick card behind your library card is something that’s going to attract more attention to yourself if you don’t already attract attention to yourself. Regardless– if I’m in a situation where I would need the lock pick, I’d be happy as hell to find a LEO suddenly appear (???) because it would mean I was in some deep SHTF to begin with.

I can easily imagine losing control of my truck as it spins off the road at night on some back road in the high desert of Northern Nevada. The truck is now upside-down in a lake and totaled, half-way down a ravine. By some stroke of dumb-luck, I’m able to crawl out of my truck.  I finally get back to the road. It’s snowing, dark and I’m cold and wet. Off in the distance there is nothing around except for a small house. After walking for a mile, I get to the house. Nobody is home and it’s all locked up.

Sure, I can try to kick the front door in. But if I can pick the lock without destroying the door, all the better. One way or another, I’m getting in and the lock picks give me an additional option with virtually no additional weight to carry.

Once I’m settled, I’ll call 9-1-1 and leave a note on the front and back doors.

Not every SHTF involves Zombies and rioting gangs.

[Edit: After giving this hypothetical scenario more thought, it’s unlikely a person would have the fine motor skills to use the lock picks in such a dire circumstance.]

** Check your state laws to make sure that carrying lock picks is legal in your state.

From Wiki:

In the United States, laws concerning possession of lock picks vary from state to state. Generally, possession and use of lock picks is considered equivalent to the possession of a crowbar or any other tool that may or may not be used in a burglary. Illegal possession of lock picks is generally prosecuted as a felony under the category of possession of burglary tools or similar statutes. In many states, simple possession is completely legal as their statutes require proof of intent.

In California, locksmiths must be licensed by the state.  However possession by laymen may be legal in most states. This is the case because illegal possession must be coupled with felonious or malicious intent.  This is also the case in Utah, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington State, Washington D.C., New York, and Arizona.

Edited: March 7th, 2013: I just called a laywer. The response I got was that: “It would be breaking and entering. But you would have a legal excuse, called necessity. so, no crime. ”

I then looked up “Necessity” in the legal dictionary:

The necessity defense has long been recognized as Common Law and has also been made part of most states’ statutory law. Although no federal statute acknowledges the defense, the Supreme Court has recognized it as part of the common law. The rationale behind the necessity defense is that sometimes, in a particular situation, a technical breach of the law is more advantageous to society than the consequence of strict adherence to the law. The defense is often used successfully in cases that involve a Trespass on property to save a person’s life or property. It also has been used, with varying degrees of success, in cases involving more complex questions. 

Almost all common-law and statutory definitions of the necessity defense include the following elements: (1) the defendant acted to avoid a significant risk of harm; (2) no adequate lawful means could have been used to escape the harm; and (3) the harm avoided was greater than that caused by breaking the law. Some jurisdictions require in addition that the harm must have been imminent and that the action taken must have been reasonably expected to avoid the imminent danger. All these elements mirror the principles on which the defense of necessity was founded: first, that the highest social value is not always achieved by blind adherence to the law; second, that it is unjust to punish those who technically violate the letter of the law when they are acting to promote or achieve a higher social value than would be served by strict adherence to the law; and third, that it is in society’s best interest to promote the greatest good and to encourage people to seek to achieve the greatest good, even if doing so necessitates a technical breach of the law. 

So… in light of all that, is it worth it to carry lockpicks? You’ll have to come to your own decision.

Started Building A “Get Home” Bag For The Wife’s Car

We took the wife’s car over to Discount Tire to have the winter tires swapped back out for the regular all-season tires and in the process I realized that she didn’t have a full “Get Home” bag in the car.

See, when we returned from living overseas, we only had one car for quite awhile.  Then we moved a couple of times, all in the period of a few years before buying our house (all cash!) and then bought a second car.

I had a cooler I’d keep with a bunch of random stuff (flashlight, small knife, energy bars, etc…) that I cannibalized when I built my car kit and later only got as far as ordering a backpack to start building her kit before getting distracted by bigger and shinier adventures.

20130226-170835.jpgSo, while we were waiting for Discount Tires to swap out the tires we walked across the street to Scheels, a mega-super store similar to Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop.  I’m not crazy about Scheels because their prices are typically full retail… and I hate paying full retail for anything.

But Lord knows I can’t go near anything camping or survival related without buying something and I figured it was a good opportunity to start building her get home bag.

I’ll make a separate full post of everything that I’ll put in her “Get Home” bag, but for today we came home with just a couple of multi-use items:

1.  100′ of olive drab paracord.

2.  Two bandanas.  (During the walk back to Discount Tire I explained to her some of the many uses for a bandana.)

3.  The SOL Bivvy sack, “Ideal for those occasions when you take the wrong turn and are forced to spend the unexpected night out.”  Although I wish they’d had the two-person Adventure Medical Kits Heatsheets Survival Blanket, which I might need to order for both of our car kits, eventually.

4.  A roll of toilet paper (that was already floating around the back seat of the car.  What can I say… I like spicy food) but can be used as tinder in a pinch.

I bought half a dozen of the desert tan “Diplomat” 3 Day backpacks from LA Police Gear when they were on sale a few years ago.  They’re a fantastic bag at a very reasonable price.  I’ll continue to use them, although I do regret buying them because after my experience living in Bogota, Colombia, I’ve come to the conclusion that in a SHTF scenario you don’t want to be carrying anything that looks too “tacticool” or that might get you mistaken for either a soldier or a guerilla.  So, from now on everything I buy will be the civilian non-military/non-police version when possible.