The Three-Part Survival Kit System: Items You Should Carry In Your Pockets

pocket     When most people venture into the wilderness, they often expect to be there for only a short period and thus, they commonly fail to take along emergency survival gear. However, although Mother Nature can be accommodating, she can also be a harsh mistress and especially so when we are careless! Therefore, in a previous article, I proposed the idea that instead of thinking of survival kits as a single item (which is often left at home), you instead think it them as a three part system consisting of the items that you carry in your pockets, the items you carry in your survival kit, and items that you carry in your day pack.

Of course, while I would never actually choose to be limited to the survival tools that I carry in my pockets, I personally consider them to be my most essential survival tools because, as long as I have those items with me, I can build a fire to provide both warmth and light and I can obtain enough food to maintain my health in an emergency situation. Thus, as long as I have access to my pocket survival tools, all I am lacking in an emergency situation is shelter. But, because I know how to build a debris shelter, as long as I am mobile, I can also create a warm, dry, space to protect myself from the rigors of the weather. Therefore, among the items that I carry in my pockets are a butane lighter in addition to waterproof matches, a Stockman pattern pocket knife, a large, folding, camp knife, a DMT Duo-fold diamond hone, a small medicine bottle with monofilament fishing line, snelled hooks, and lead split-shot sinkers, and a couple of pre-formed snares made from lightweight, stainless steel, wire. That way, even if I choose to leave my survival kit at home, I still have the bare essentials necessary for survival contained in my pockets.

While carrying both a butane lighter and waterproof matches may seem to be redundant, the fact of the matter is that fire is an essential survival tool and thus, so is the means to create one. Consequently, although I prefer to use my lighter when starting a fire, it has been my experience that if the flint contained within the lighter becomes wet somehow, the lighter will not light until the flint has dried out and therefore, I prefer to also carry waterproof matches as a backup means of lighting a fire since a fire provides me with light, warmth, a means to cook any small game that I am able to snare or fish that I am able to catch, and a means of keeping any predators at bay since most will not approach a fire. However, warmth and shelter from the elements alone are not enough to enable a person to maintain their health in an emergency survival situation because the Human body also requires fuel to run on. Therefore, in addition to my lighter and matches, I also carry a small medicine bottle in which I have placed a significant length of lightweight monofilament fishing line wrapped around a piece of cardboard along with a collection of snelled fishing hooks and a few lead split-shot sinkers so that I will have the means to catch fish provided that there is a body of water nearby.

In addition, I also carry a couple of small game snares that I have constructed from lightweight, stainless steel, wire which I can use to catch rabbits or squirrels and thus, between the fishing gear, the snares, and the various forage foods that I can find and gather, I can provide my body with enough calories to maintain my strength. However, each of these food sources requires preparation prior to consumption and thus, once I have caught either fish or small game, I also need the means to remove the scales and/or hides as well to eviscerate the animals prior to cooking and thus, a folding camp is also an essential tool in such an emergency survival situation.

Therefore, I prefer a large folding knife with a locking blade that has a length of at least 3 1/2″ and 4″ to 4 1/2″ is even better since I also use it for many other cutting tasks as well such as constructing animal traps, making a fish spear, or even an atlatl and darts for primitive hunting. But, it has often been my experience that such a large folding knife is often too large for the smaller, more delicate cutting jobs that I sometimes need to perform and thus, I also carry a large Stockman pattern pocket knife as well because it has three different blade designs contained in a single knife that enable me to cut and carve with far greater control than I can with my folding camp knife. Last, because a dull knife is practically useless as a cutting tool, I also carry a DMT Duofold diamond hone so that I can maintain the edge on my knives and thus maintain their usefulness as a survival tool.

So, although my pocket survival tools do not provide me with the wide range of abilities that the items in my survival kit do, by carrying the items listed above in my pockets, even if I choose to leave my survival kit at home, I still have the means to build a fire and obtain food in an emergency survival situation.

Written by,


Bill Bernhardt

Outdoor Professional


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