There’s plenty of information on the web about survival kits and how to put one together. Chances are, if you’re reading this post, you’ve already read up on the basics – a fire starter, a utility knife etc. However, regardless of how well put together your kit may be, it is most likely that you’ve forgotten one big aspect – as an adventurer, you are choosing to put yourself in high-risk situations. Any pre-assembled survival kit you buy is likely to be based on a certain premise, for eg: you will be in a city, or that there will be search and rescue teams out looking for you (think natural disasters like the floods in Sri Nagar). But as an adventurer, a climber, a camper, a rider – these assumptions may not hold good at all, rather, they may even prove fatal! So here are some tips on how to put together an adventure survival kit – something every adventurer should do without fail.
- Think Big: Most survival kit tips out there tend to focus on making them small and handy. These are kits that focus on convenience and the fact that you’ll carry the kit around every day, in work situations etc. While a kit like that is also a good idea, you should definitely carry a larger one on your adventures. Don’t limit yourself by size. A medium-sized backpack is a fair starting point. It can be carried around on all your adventures, while also being large enough to accommodate some of the bigger necessities.
- Think tools and gear: Being an adventurer will put you in high-risk situations fairly regularly. With this in mind, seasoned adventurers always carry along the tools of their choice and spare parts or gear as well. However, do consider if you are prepared for a true emergency. Before setting out, assess the risks objectively and pack for the maximum risk. For example, if you’re a cyclist setting out on a solo ride or a cycling expedition; objectively assess the chances of all possible high-risk situations. You’re likely to be carrying a puncture kit, but imagine you having a breakdown in a completely remote area with no mobile connectivity. What could have gone wrong with your cycle to make his happen? Pack accordingly. If you’re a motorcyclist, carry the exact fuses, spark plugs, a length of electric wire, and jump starter set. Campers, trekkers think about a fire starter kit, a spool of paracord, etc. Water sports athletes; don’t forget your dry bags, spare towel and a change of clothes. If you’re out rafting or kayaking in winter, also think about how you’ll keep yourself warm after getting wet.
- A multi-utility knife, basic medicines, a small torch, a fire starter kit and a length of strong rope are definitely important. But don’t forget to include some more stuff depending on your activity. For campers, include a large knife (or a weapon of some sort) for protection. For trekkers and hikers, an additional set of warm clothes can go a long way in case you’re forced to spend a night in the open. For motorcycle riders or cyclists, a small bag of mixed nuts and bolts, some super glue and zip ties (cable ties) will come very much in handy.
- Pay Heed to the Forces of Nature: Irrespective of what season it is, in a terrain like Ladakh, for example, the weather can be really unpredictable. Ask anyone who’s ever travelled there and they’ll tell you. So carry some rain protection, some cold protection and an extra pair of socks everywhere. You may also want to include a set of bandannas, scarves or simple large squares of cloth that you can use in multiple ways – for shade, for warmth, for protection against dust, and so on. In countries like India, it is also a good idea to carry along mosquito or insect repellent. As a last resort warming solution carry packets of Warmee. Warmee is a self heating pouch that keeps you warm for 8+ hours. You can use it under the outer shell of your clothing or in the sleeping bag at night. It is also handy for keeping the batteries of your cameras and other gadgets from draining out due to the cold.
- Food and Water: One of the big mistakes we make is tending to forget these two simple things. In India especially, we tend to operate under the assumption that food and water are easy to come by. Never start your adventure without planning for these two things. Getting stuck even for a few hours in North India in the summer will put your body under tremendous strain. Now multiply that by days, and it can quite easily prove fatal. You should carry at least 2 liters of water in your kit, and emergency food rations are a must. When packing food, make sure you pack high-energy bars, peanut bars and the likes, to give you a boost of energy. Remember, this ration of food and water should go into your adventure kit and are quite separate from the regular rations you will carry on your journey anyway. These are to be broken into only in case of a serious emergency. It’s also a good idea to keep dry fruits with you as they are nutritious and have a high content of iron and protein depending on the dry fruit, and perfect for emergency nutrition.
As you start gathering things together for the perfect adventure kit, you’ll be tempted to add more and more items to it. Our one bit of advice on this is to restrain you only in the case of really large or really heavy items. The trick is to have multi-purpose, multi-use items in there, and you’ll need to draw a fine line between what you can reasonably carry along, and what you’re likely to need. However, do remember that it is always better to be over prepared than under!
After you put your kit together, the key is to maintain it. Ideally, (and if you’re lucky), you’ll open this particular backpack only once every few months to replace your stores of food, medicines etc as they expire. Water will, of course, need to be replenished just before the start of your adventure. Make sure you check the items for damp, rust etc when you open the bag. It is also a good idea to make the bag itself waterproof. Invest in a waterproof bag or a dry bag, keep your adventure kit dry and snug, and step out confidently, ready to face anything that can be thrown at you!
If you’ve ever been in a situation and have had to use your survival kit, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below!
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