I recently received a request to participate in a Q&A for a rather popular prepper and survival website. I was to be one among a few other notable people in the survival and prepper community, each answering the same questions. The answers would all be gathered and posted at a later time on the site.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate. Not because I didn’t want to, rather I felt I couldn’t give a good honest answer without context. The questions, to me, were too broad. Although I could have given generic canned answers, as I am sure the others will, I couldn’t help but feel I would be deceiving the reading audience.
Two of the questions that left me paused were:
- What is my number one non-negotiable item
- What are the other top six items I would include in my kit
After a few messages back and forth—me expressing some concern— the author understood my position and left it at that. Albeit it is all said and done, and I will not be participating, I do feel it is worth some commenting.
Like everyone, we all go through evolutionary stages. The way we think today is not the same we thought twenty years ago. Life experience and gained wisdom molds our way of thinking.
I’m quickly coming up on thirty years of being involved in some way with survival and certainly I am not the same today as I was back then. Back then, I was, for lack of better terms, a bandwagoner. I did and followed the survival doctrine everyone else did. I carried the knife, had a mini-kit, wore the boots, and followed the philosophy of the time. I was so engrossed in the craft, I was filled with confirmation bias—only accepting views that fit my narrative and dismissing other views and ideas. As the years passed, my eyes and mind started to open and I began to ask why?
By nature, I’m a very reasoned and logical based person. If one can’t explain the why of something, void of logical fallacies, I am very dismissive of the idea. Simply carrying a knife because everyone says I should, is not reason enough for me to do it. I need a solid reason, not a bunch of what if imaginary scenarios why I should.
Those two questions left me in a state of thought. Those questions are exactly the kind of flawed thinking in the survival community. Everyone seems to want to nail down that perfect piece of survival kit. And certainly having a bunch of so called experts share their opinions doesn’t help. People tend to mimic people they admire or respect. People tend to carry what other people they admire carry, all without knowing the true why.
A survival situation is very unique and personal. No two survival situations are the same. Each requires it’s own approach to mitigate. Certainly a person stranded at sea has far different needs than someone lost in the woods, even if it happened to the same person at different times of their life. Someone in a life and death situation in the urban environment has different needs than someone who has suffered a broken leg on the trail. Do I need a lighter and a knife if I’m stuck on a raft in the pacific? Do I need fish hooks and bait If I’m stuck in the desert?
The one recurring theme in the survival and prepper community is that it is shaped by fear and paranoia. It is okay to have a little fear. It helps prevent us from doing very risky things. However, one should not let fear control their lives. If that’s the case, one might want to consider staying home and padding every inch of their home.
I don’t have a non-negotiable item and I most certainly don’t have six other items paramount to my survival kit. The time of year, location and activity will shape what I take. I’ll take warm clothes to the mountains and a beach towel and sunblock to the beach. If I go fishing, I will have exactly what I need for fishing. When I hike, I do so in sneakers and shorts. I carry a smart water bottle for hydration and listen to music on my phone. I never carry a knife and only carry a photon II pocket keychain LED for night hiking. When I backpack, my base weight is sub 8 lbs and consists only of things to keep me warm, dry, rested, hydrated, fed, clean and rescued— nothing else. I don’t carry a stove, I don’t cook and I don’t make campfires. Though I have a healthy dose of respect for the woods, I also have one for the road while I’m driving, but I don’t go driving around in an up-armoured vehicle, because I’m afraid of getting hurt in an accident. Neither am I going to tote around a bunch of just in case gear on my back.
At the end of all this, If one is truly looking for that one piece of gear to help in a survival situation, I would say a way to call for help. Don’t run around with the idea of being johnny bad-ass or Rambo. Check your egos. Get yourselves a tracking device where you can press a button to send an I need help signal— Resqlink, Inreach, or Spot are all such devices.
Enjoy your lives. You only have one. Don’t let fear and paranoia control you