Top 10 Survival essentials

Gordon from Bushcraft Survival Australia runs us through the essential equipment we should all be carrying on our outdoor adventures 

WORDS AND IMAGES BY GORDON DEDMAN

Have you ever thought about what could go wrong while you’re out exploring the great outdoors? Sure, a lot of us don’t really give it a second thought, but the reality is preparing and carrying an emergency kit containing the bare essential supplies could literally be your saving-grace if things don’t go according to plan. Maybe you wind up lost after a big day bush walking, or you injure yourself while out mountain biking. Heck, if you lose control of your vehicle and crash in a remote location, it would be mighty handy to have a few essential items to help you get through the situation, right? With that in mind, we picked the brains of bush craft and survival expert, Gordon Dedman to got the low-down on his pick of the top 10 things to carry in your survival pack. 

CUTTING TOOL (KNIFE)

This is probably the most important tool to carry as it literally allows you to make a whole bunch of other essential items from natural resources if required. Plus, to make an equivalent cutting tool from natural materials in the field requires considerable knowledge and time. Ideally it should be a full tang 5” (11cm) carbon or stainless steel knife without serrations or saws built-in to it as these inhibit its practical use. 

COMBUSTION DEVICE (FERROCERIUM ROD)

If you don’t have a cigarette lighter or matches, the best thing you can have with you is a sparking tool such as a Ferro Rod. This is a mixture of magnesium and different alloys that produces a hot shower of sparks when struck appropriately, allowing you to ignite your tinder to create a fire. A fire can be used for warmth, cooking and preparing water for consumption.  

COVERING OR SHELTER 

This could be a re-usable space blanket/tarp which reflects up to 70-80% of your body heat back to you or a large heavy duty garbage bag which can be used as a raincoat, moisture barrier, ground sheet, water carrier, filled with leaves for insulation, cut open and tied into a shelter. To make a shelter from natural materials (lean-to, wickiup, A-frame etc) is very time consuming and requires a lot of resources

METAL CONTAINER 

Ideally pack a metal container and a nesting cup, as you need a way of carrying water as well as boiling it. Boiling is the best way to ensure water is safe to drink, but to make a container from natural materials requires a knowledge of how to make a coal burned bowl, a folded paperback coolamon or bark containers, all which you can boil water in using hot rocks. 

CORDAGE

Parachute cord is the best as it has 7 inner strands and each one of these 7 strands can be broken down into 2 smaller fibres. If you break the cord down to these fibres, you can use them for fishing line, trap making and repair cord. To make cordage or string in nature is very time consuming and requires a knowledge of plant resources and string making.

COMPASS

This allows you to stay on course when moving from A to B and aids in direction finding. A “sighting compass” also has a mirror that can be used as a heliograph or for first aid.
If you don’t have a compass you will need to learn about natural navigation and finding direction from the sun, stars and other means

CLOTH BANDANNA

This has multiple uses: head/neck scarf, filtering device, triangular bandage, sling, cordage, improvised bag, net. If it’s 100% cotton it can be used to make char-cloth too. An orange bandanna can also be used as a signalling device.

DUCT TAPE

Used for mending things, water proofing, cordage, first aid, even to make an improvised water-proof cup.

HEAD TORCH

Used mainly as a light source but can also be used to make fire using the batteries and a piece of steel wool. 

SMALL FIRST AID KIT

This is personal choice but should have any prescribed medicines, items to deal with small cuts, scratches, bites and stings, iodine and alcohol preps, antiseptic ointment, small vial of Condees Crystals (Potassium Permangenate) and an assortment of needles including a cloth sail needle for kit repairs.