Trekking and overnight camping can be fun, especially when you chose to explore and make your own little discoveries on the way. The key to having a safe and successful adventure is to be prepared for anything that may come your way. Always read up and research about your location before setting out on your trip to avoid any mishaps on the way. In case you lose your way back to base camp and for all those “man vs wild” moments, here are a few tools that you should be carrying in your survival kit to get you safely out of the woods and back to civilisation.
Water bottle + purifier
The first rule of survival is, always be hydrated. Carry a water bottle to store as much water as possible. Use a purifier bottle to get rid of any contaminants. It is also advisable to carry a stainless steel bottle which can also be used to purify water by boiling it over an open fire. It is important to purify water before consumption because contaminated water can cause a number of diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and diarrhoea which will cause dehydration and can be fatal in a survival situation.
Tip: Avoid consuming stagnant water, collect water from free flowing sources such as rivers and streams which are less prone to bacterial contamination as compared to stagnant water.
Use a waterproof backpack to store and carry a change of clothing and your survival gear. It is important that you use a waterproof bag to keep your belongings dry, wet clothes in cold conditions could lead to hypothermia and leaves the body susceptible to diseases. Moisture absorbs heat forcing you to use more energy to increase body heat, this, in turn, leads to fatigue.
Tip: Carry a waterproof backpack with many deep pockets/compartments, this way you can store damp or wet clothes in separate compartments without damaging your belongings.
A sharp knife
A sharp knife is an essential part of your survival kit. It can save your life and has literally hundreds of functions. It can be used for hunting, cutting, building a shelter or in self-defence. While choosing a survival knife, make sure it is sharp, thick, has a pointed tip and a sturdy handle.
Tip: While a multi-purpose tool such as a ‘swiss army knife’ is also a good addition to your survival kit, it is advisable to carry a one piece, fixed handle knife with you.
Although fire may seem like a luxury in a survival situation, it is a necessity. Fire can be used to keep away bugs and insects, fight hypothermia, to signal for help, illuminate your surroundings, scare away predators, purify water and cook food. While selecting a fire starter for your survival kit, make sure it’s not something like a lighter which can easily run out of fuel or a matchbox that won’t ignite if it gets wet. Carry fire steel, which creates sparks and some tinder which is highly combustible. Always carry your fire starters in a waterproof container to keep it safe from moisture.
Tip: Before you move on from camp make sure that you safely extinguish the flames, drown the flames with water and then mix the embers and ash into the soil. 90% of all forest wildfires are caused by humans.
Ropes and cords are very helpful in survival situations. They could be used for building shelter, climbing, fishing and setting traps. You should also learn how to tie different types of knots which could be life savers in a survival situation such as the bowline knot and the figure 8 knot which is used for climbing. You could also use your shoelaces for lashing poles together.
Tip: Paracord would be a very helpful addition to your survival kit. It is highly durable, a single stretch of paracord can hold weights up to 250 kgs. Paracord increases in length when wet.
Functioning in a high-pressure survival situation can be exhausting, while hunting for food may be the obvious options, it may not always be successful. You must have some knowledge about the edible flora and fauna that surrounds you. While many berries may look refreshing and delicious, they could even be deadly. To avoid such a situation carry some high-calorie energy bars, they will help boost your metabolism and moral to get you back home.
Tip: Carry a few sachets of electrolyte powder (Electrolytes are salts that are naturally present in our body) that you can add in your water, this will keep you hydrated and keep you refreshed. A recent study reveals that athletes can counter the effects of fatigue for up to 37% longer on electrolyte drinks.
This is arguably the most important addition to your survival kit. It is important to make sure any injuries you may succumb to in the wild are properly cleaned and covered to avoid any further infection. It isn’t necessary to carry an entire arsenal of pharmaceutical drugs in your kit, a small but well stocked first aid kit could help save your life. The basic items every traveller should have in their first aid box are – bandages, gauze, scissors or tweezers, antiseptic wipes,pain relief medication like paracetamol and antibacterial cream.
Tip: Add personal information in your first aid kit such as emergency phone numbers, medical information such as your blood group and allergies.
Torch/Safety whistle (signal)
Torches and whistles are are some of the best means of getting someone’s attention , the piercing sound of a man-made whistle is unmistakeable and may alert people nearby that there is someone in distress. The light from a torch can be used for checking your surroundings but at the same time can be used to attract people nearby,
Tip: You could emit a distress S.O.S signal from your whistle or torch using morse code. To code for the signal is 3 short, 3 long and then 3 short, pause and repeat the signal.