The most important aspect of any survival kit is familiarity. You must make it your own and know its ins and outs for it to be a useful resource. For this reason there is a significant advantage to building your own bug out bag or survival kit. Add what you think will be beneficial in a survival situation based on your environment and your needs.
Emergency First Aid Supplies
Most store bought first aid kits have the basics of initial wound treatment. Generally, they all include band-aids, gauze, medical tape, a pain killer such as ibuprofen, etc. “The basics”. However, when put in a survival situation where your survival or the survival of the group could very well depend on this kit, the basics may not cut it. This is the advantage of gathering your own first aid supplies.
On top of compiling the “right” equipment for your needs, the very act of assembling your own kit means that you will have at least a basic knowledge of the equipment you have on hand and its designated use. Assemble things like medication that you or your partners may need. Depending on your environment, perhaps a burn kit would be prudent including, gauze, antiseptic, etc. For larger wounds you may want to add a medical stapler or a suture kit. The point is that when the time comes when this equipment is truly necessary and you are called on to use it, you do not want to be relying on the generic, often inadequate, resources of a standard first aid. Customize it to fit your needs and environment and familiarize yourself with its contents and their use. After all, some day it could save your life.
Water and Food Storage
In a survival situation, sustenance is key for obvious reasons. Your body needs to stay energized so that you can do all the activities that may be required of you. For instance, things like building a shelter, searching for a path or way out, even starting and maintaining a fire, these all use up energy and that energy needs to be replaced. A good rule of thumb to remember is the commonly held, Rule of Threes.
The Rule of Threes
The average human can last about 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment, 3 days without water, and about 3 weeks without food. These are just benchmarks and everyone is different but this is a simple way of saying, there are certain things your body cannot go without. Assuming that oxygen is taken care of, water and food should be next on your list; we will talk about shelter later.
Adding a hydration pack to your kit or bug out bag is a must. Most bags these days have a built in sleeve for this very thing. They come in different sizes based on the size of your pack or the weight that you are able to carry. If nothing else this will be a clean reservoir of water that can last you a few days with the proper rationing. However, these reservoirs are not bottomless, eventually you will have to find a supply of clean, potable, fresh water.
There are a few fail-safe ways to ensure that your water is potable. First, try to stay away from stagnant water. Water that is not flowing has a higher likelihood of promoting algae and bacteria growth. A disease such as dysentery is caused by bacteria growing in the water and causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. It can make you sick for a good week and if you cannot replace the energy or fluids lost, it could potentially be life threatening.
Now that you have found a flowing source, you still need to exercise caution because microbes and bacteria may still be present. Having a metal pan or bottle will allow you to boil any water you may run across and kill off any bacteria that could get you sick. Another usefully addition to your pack would be water purification tablets or filtration device. With today’s technology, they have been developed to be efficient and portable.
Food and Energy Sources
In terms of food there are dozens of different energy bars containing nuts, granola or vitamins that will help keep your energy levels up in the best survival kit possible. With the proper planning and rationing, a small store of these bas could last weeks in a survival situation.
Finding and Building Shelter
Shelter is a key aspect to survival in any climate. From harsh blizzards to scorching heat and everything in between, shelter increases your chances of survival. Tents are usually the best bet for reliable protection from the elements. Especially when space is a factor, a tent can offer easy setup and storage paired with the ability to keep you sheltered in a range of different climates.
Weapons and Protection
In any survival situation there will likely come a time then you run into a threat from which you cannot run away or camouflage yourself. You will need to fight to stay alive. Having a weapon with which to protect yourself will give you an edge over using your bare hands. On the most basic level carrying a knife or axe will both serve as a survival tool and a weapon if need be, especially in the unlikely event of a Zombie Attack. A handgun will also give you a significant advantage in a fight with a deadly animal or attacker. Being small, they save on space in both the weapon and the ammunition. Depending on the size of your kit or the outdoor activities you are engaging in, a rifle or shotgun will be beneficial in hunting for food and acting as a force multiplier when faced with an opponent.
The biggest lesson in protection is remembering that, in a survival situation, the decision often comes down to kill or be killed. That is not to say that you should be an aggressor. Rather when faced with a situation of life or death, hunger or an attack, killing an animal or fending off an opponent will ensure your survival.