Journal Entry #8: Absolute Essentials

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We’ve talked about some unique survival topics in this blog already, yet what kind of survival business would we be if we didn’t cover the basics?

Often times when we read other blogs more or less marketed towards preppers, it’s usually along the lines of “50 items every prepper absolutely needs” or even up to “75 items you need in your bug-out bag right now!” We get it, there is cool stuff out there, but we must remember the first organization in America that got this list right. In fact, they covered the basic kit list with not 30, not 20, but 10 essential items.

That’s right, the Boy Scouts of America and their list for the 10 essentials. This list covers the essentials for young scouts to take on their little adventures. turns out, this list is applicable to everyone. Here are the 10 basic items that the BSA requires for its members:

1)   A Knife, Pocket Knife, or at Least Something Sharp.

This should be a no brainer, but a pocket knife or any solid knife at all should be essential in any kit. This tool is used for whittling, cutting, chopping, slicing and in some cases, self-defense. Some backpackers even save space by using small razor blades in replacement of this essential (we wouldn’t recommend but you do you). The kind of knife you choose will be determined on your needs. If you are a hunter you’ll need a skinning or gutting knife, and if you’re making an urban survival kit you’ll want one strong enough to pry open doors and other containers. The choices out there are endless, but don’t settle for cheaply made.

2)   First Aid Kit

When the going gets tough, you’ll need something to patch up. First aid kits are essential in every pack. They can range from small to large, from pocket size to even full backpacks. However, the kit is only as useful as you are. If you spend up to $500 on a medic pack with surgical tools and fancy wound dressings, but you only know how to apply a boo-boo band-aid on a scraped knee, then you’re SOL in emergency situations. Adjust your kit accordingly and get some training little cub scout.

3)   It’s all about layers (clothing)

Many enthusiasts forget about the magic of a clean pair of socks. Clean spares, some rain gear and additional layer pieces keep you prepared for fast changing elements. Plus, keep your environment in mind. If you’re in a cold climate, then focus on layers with warm fabrics that you can easily take on and off. For sunnier and warmer climates, clothes that are breathable and provide sun protection are always a good choice. The important thing to remember is that it is better to have more layers, than it is to have less layers. You can always remove layers of clothing that you don’t need but failing to pack the appropriate amount will most certainly cause you discomfort, to say the least.

4)   Rain Gear

We all love the rain, until we have to stand outside in it for long periods of time. Rain gear is essential for almost any climate. Ponchos and rain jackets are such examples. Ponchos can also be repurposed as materials for a lean-to shelter.

5)   Water Storage

Hydration, hydration, hydration. Whether it be a water bottle, canteen, a bladder pack, or if you’re weird and you carry those emergency water plastic pouches, you need water. Period.

6)   Source of Light

Light will always be needed if you plan being out for long, whether it be flashlights, lanterns, headlamps, or a torch. If it uses batteries, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring extras along. If you’re using a lamp, some spare fuel will do nicely. We sometimes take our sight for granted, so do yourself a favor and don’t forget a quality light source with backup fuel or batteries.

7)   Provisions

Never forget your sources of caloric intake. Yes, it is true that you can last several weeks without food, but you’ll become very week way before that deadline. MRE’s, beef jerky, veggies, or our favorite food (spam) will be suitable ways to maintain your energy. Consider your own diet, and only pack things you like. Sure, surviving out in the wilderness can suck, but it doesn’t have to suck immensely if you pack food that is nutritious, and you  enjoy. With that in mind, try to pack nutritious foods. Nutrients and calorie rich foods will sustain you the best and give you the energy you need. Candy and sweets are also a great way to get a quick calorie boost in a short amount of time.

8)   Fire Starters

Fire keeps you warm, cooks your food, and keeps you safe. No matter what climate you’re in, you’ll eventually need to start a fire. Having not only one, but several methods of starting a fire can drastically improve your odds of survival. Matches, fire strikers, and even magnifying glasses can get a fire going. However, you can have the fancy gear, but not knowing how to build a fire properly will make that gear useless. Study the different methods of constructing campfires. Building your structure into a log cabin, teepee, or lean-to are examples of such methods.

9)   Sun Protection

We all love sunny weather, if Floridian snowbirds have taught us anything. Jokes aside, the sun is often your friend but can also beat you down like a Mafia Loan Shark. Having the proper sun protection can help deal with the rays of sunshine. Eye protection like sunglasses, sunblock, and headgear are vital. If you are in even more intense sunny climates like the desert, light clothing that covers the skin would help deal with the sun. Even in the tundra, where the bright snow reflects sunlight, can be extremely bright. Polarized goggles or glasses can help deal with this.

10)        Navigation

More often than not, we rely on satellites to help us navigate. However, that is not always guaranteed. Having several methods of navigation, such as a compass, map of the local area, and even a GPS can help you prevent getting lost. If you use anything electronically be sure to stock extra batteries. Also, try to learn some navigational skills in case you lack any of the items listed above, such as navigating the stars and finding north and south without a compass.

These essentials apply to any adventure and they are not only items ,they are also skills that would be worth investing time to learn. No matter where you are, packing these essentials will give you some ease on your trip.

There are many ways to write this list but if there is anything that you fellow readers want to add, please comment below! We always love to share with others.