The first item to be covered is a whistle, just a plain old whistle, pealess if possible. The reason I prefer a pealess whistle is because the less moving parts the better. A whistle in a critical component in your kit because it will allow you to signal for help if needed. A whistle will carry much further than a human voice and won’t grow hoarse from repeated use. The usual way to signal for assistance using a whistle is thee short bursts, three of anything is a fairly well know signal that assistance is required. A whistle may be able to scare away some predators as well should you be confronted by one (no guarantee on that).
Paracordis essential in a kit, without cordage you are really limiting some of the things you can do. Building shelter, for instance, will be a much simpler affair with some proper cordage to lash items together. When purchasing paracord make sure it is truly parachute cord and not some cheap imitation. You can check the cord by looking inside at what makes it up. True paracord is made of several individual smaller cords that are intertwined and encased in exterior shell.
A compassshould always be a part of your kit; even if you don’t have a map a compass is still invaluable. A compass without a map will still tell you what direction you are traveling in and prevent you from doing what most lost people do, go in circles. You may have even some cursory knowledge of the area and know that a road most likely is southeast of you current location. Barring doing something clever like a shadow stick or using you watch, having a compass will make it easy to travel in your chosen direction. If you have a map, you are in much better shape. See my posts on how to use a map and compass for direction on how to use them together (Part 1 and Part2).
The next item I want to discuss may surprise many people and that is a contractor grade garbage bag(or two preferably). The usefulness of these cannot be understated; they can be shelter, raingear, clothing, waterproofing for a shelter, storage sacks, and if they are the orange variety, you have yourself another signaling device. Many people advocate using these, people like Cody Lundin,Les Stroud,and Ron Hoodto name a few, and if these guys say to carry some garbage bags, you had better take heed.
Your kit should always contain a pair of sunglasses. Protecting your eyes is not laughing matter and could be life or death in certain circumstances. The sun will take a toll on you whether you realize it or not and constantly having to squint will give you headaches and make you tired much faster. In a snowy environment, sunglasses help you prevent a painful burn on your corneas called “snow blindness”. This phenomenon is caused by the snow reflecting the sunlight into your eyes and sunglasses will protect you from a painful burn that could blind you for up to a few days.
The last items to be discussed in this segment are lip balm,sunscreenand bug repellent.Once again prevention is key in this area, lip balm and sunscreen will prevent painful chapping and sun burn and the bug repellent will help keep you from getting eaten alive by insects. Lip balm will keep your lips from drying out and becoming cracked, this is especially important is windy, arid environments as well as cold environments. Sunscreen should be something that people put on every day regardless if they are in a survival situation or not; a painful burn can not only limit what you can do but may cause cancer in the future. Lastly insect repellent will help keep the mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks and other annoying AND disease carrying pests away.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the series to see what else you should be putting in your personal survival kit.
...that is all.