Your emergency survival kit should be compact, light-weight, and contain sufficient gear to support you for several weeks if need be. Your kit should contain as many items as possible that serve multiple purposes. Here is a list of the top twelve items, and some of their uses.
1. MULTI-TOOL WITH BELT SHEATH
This is one of the most important item in your kit. While accessories will vary, a good multi-tool may contain pliers, wire cutter, wire stripper, multiple Blades, can/bottle openers, various screwdrivers, nut drivers, scissors, tweezers, ruler, awl, etc.
Although not very compact, a machete is lighter than most hatchets and serves more purposes. If you have a machete and a multi-tool in your kit, you will not need a hatchet or a knife. The only function lost with this elimination is the hammer on the back of most hatchets, but sticks or rocks will work just fine for most hammering needs in survival situations.
Blades are made of many different types of metals and alloys, in different tempers and thicknesses, widths, lengths, styles, and shapes. Handles are made of many different types of materials in many different shapes and sizes. A good survival machete will have a semi-flexible blade 18 inches or longer that is easy to sharpen, yet keep a good edge with moderate use. Most importantly, the handle MUST be comfortable and fit well in your hand. With a machete, you can perform any task that can be done with a large knife or hatchet. It can also be used to dig or pry, or as a formidable weapon. Install and use a wrist lanyard when chopping or swinging a machete.
3. PARACHUTE CORD
The most common type of para-cord has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. That is far heavier than needed for most survival uses. The diameter of this cord is 4mm. That doesn't sound like much, but it adds up. Shop around and smaller diameter cord can be found. Cord with a tensile strength of 200 - 250 pounds is quite sufficient and has half the bulk.
There is an endless number of uses for para-cord. Use it to erect and build shelters and useful camp furnishings, repair clothing and gear, as a sling for containing and carrying loads, bundles of firewood, boughs, reeds or grass for bedding, pull dead branches down from trees for firewood, boot lacing, belts, snares and traps, "burglar" alarms, binding splints, and secure bandages in place, fire starting material... the list goes on. Carry a minimum of 30'.
4. DUCT TAPE
Get a good heavy-duty brand name roll. Use it to repair clothing, boots, tools, and equipment, construct shelters, furnishings, and implements. Use it to relieve hot friction spots on feet to prevent blisters, and wrap around hands for makeshift gloves. Twist into a "rope" if needed, which is good for making snowshoes. It also makes a good mousetrap and decent fire starter.
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