Let's begin with shelter, the top priority of outdoor survival. Exposure to the elements is a leading cause of fatalities in the wild. This kit includes a 4'X 8' poncho which makes a handy lean-to in a pinch for shelter from wind, rain, and snow, to say nothing of its intended use. The poncho is folded with 4 aluminum tent stakes and 50 feet of para-cord and sealed in a 1-gallon ziploc bag for compactness (top right item in the picture). The bag also provides a means of gathering water.

Next to shelter means of providing warmth come a close second. Clothing, blankets, the means to make a fire. The bag at top center contains a mylar blanket; thin, light, and capable of retaining 90% of radiated body heat. A must-have. Also included are a magnesium firestarter and a cheap, disposable butane lighter. That baggie also contains a first aid kit-- gauze bandages, adhesive tape, alcohol wipes for disinfectant, a needle, dental floss, iodine water purifying tablets and a small pill bottle of Advil. The pill bottle also serves as a roll for a 3 foot length of duct tape for gear repairs.

Water, naturally, is carried in the Nalgene bottles included in the waistpack. Believe it or not, there is room for food in the pouch as well, left out of the picture since I ate the handful of Power Bars I had stuffed into the kit for the hike, since I only went two miles into the treeline that day.

A compass and 1:24,000 scale topographic map of my hometown, with a pencil and small notepad, round out the navigation bag. Best not to get lost. Besides, as a Navigator, I'd never hear the end of it if I did get lost. Also in the nav bag are two 12-hour chem-lights, useful for emergency lighting and as trail markers to find one's way in the dark. I usually carry a dozen or so of them in my main pack, and place them at regular intervals on trails if I plan to be out after dark. Additional lighting is provided by a one-ounce, 15-hour LED headlamp and a small keychain LED light I keep in a hip pocket.

This entire getup weighs in at a whopping 5 pounds with water and food and can be carried anywhere. Not mentioned is the Gerber multi-tool that stays clipped to my belt at all times.

It's a bright idea to have this sort of kit handy in the trunk of your car in case of back-road breakdowns. As I go on, dusting off long-unused outdoor skills, You'll see more posts dealing with little tips and tricks of hacking it in the boonies-- effective emergency shelters, firestarting, basic land navigation, and whatever else I stumble across. Stay tuned!

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