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The Always-With-You Compact Wilderness Survival Kit
The best survival kit is one that will be on you when you need it!
by Thomas J. Elpel
As a primitive skills and nature awareness author and instructor, most of my knowledge and experience is oriented towards getting people into nature, not out of it. Nevertheless, the potential always exists for an unexpected life-threatening survival situation. For example, in my travels, both near and far, I have often seized the opportunity (when time permitted) to drive up a mountain road, park the car, and go for a hike. A few hours later, miles from the car or any other human being, I would realize my stupidity: I could die from a broken leg. One bad fall could make it impractical to get back to my vehicle, leaving me stranded in the mountains with few clothes and no means of starting a fire to keep warm.
Sure, I always have a knife, and I could make a bowdrill fire set. But many places lack ideal woods for bowdrill kits, and in an emergency, I would rather not have to carve a bowdrill set anyway. A simple fire-starter could make the difference between living or dying from a broken leg in the wilderness. Thus began a multi-year quest to find the best possible survival gear for myself, as well as to recommend to our students and customers.
However, I've never liked survival kits, mostly because it is too easy to leave them behind. A good survival kit should be there for an unexpected emergency. What if you leave the kit in the glove box because you intend to stay within a few hundred yards of the car? But then you find yourself going just a little farther to see what is around the corner, and around the next corner after that? That happens to me all the time. I want survival gear that is on my body whether I expect to be in a potential survival situation or not!
Thus was born the Always-With-You Compact Wilderness Survival Kit, featuring gear that I have on me at all times, regardless of whether I am attending a wedding in the city or hiking in the mountains. The kit includes the book 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, which I do not carry in the field, but it clearly outlines the essentials of wilderness survival. Carry the book knowledge in your head, and the additional equipment in your pockets, and you will always be prepared. Read on down the page for more information about the book and recommended gear. I'll continue adding to this page over time.
The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive
How to Survive Fear, Panic, and the Biggest Outdoor Killers
By Cody Lundin. Illustrated by Russ Miller
There must be hundreds of wilderness survival books on the market, but if you only read one, then read this one. Written by Cody Lundin, a personal friend and co-host of Dual Survival on the Discovery Channel, 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive focuses entirely on essential knowledge needed to prevent an emergency wilderness situation, or to get safely out of one if something goes wrong.
Most other survival texts stray into hunting, trapping, and foraging methods for long-term survival living, but 98.6 Degrees gets in your face with the essentials--you have to stay properly heated or cooled, clothed and hydrated, to maintain your body temperature at 98.6 Degrees until you are rescued. Most survival situations last only about 72 hours, Lundin points out, before rescuers find you either alive or dead. Therefore, you don't need to be proficient at trapping squirrels or catching fish for food. You just have to stay alive until you get out.
98.6 Degrees is written and illustrated with an in-your-face style, racy cartoons, and some colorful language, which may be a turn-off to more conservative readers. But Cody is out to get your attention in whatever way he can to hammer in the essentials of survival. Most readers will find this to be a fun and enlightening read. It could truly save your life. ISBN: 1-58685-234-5. 2003. 214 pages. $17.00.
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