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Small things can have a big impact in a survival situation

When we think of survival kits or bags we tend to think of either the micro kits in an Altoid tin or full-size bags that are usually well over 30L in size. But there is a place for bags of all sizes, especially those that are 5L-10L in size. These bags are typically either crossbody”sling bags” or they are waist packs – also known as lumbar bags or fanny packs.

The advantage to these is they are something you are more likely to grab for a “short” hike, bike ride, fishing trip etc… anywhere you probably don’t feel like you need a full-sized pack because its “not far” “it’s too humid” or maybe even “I’ve got a car kit”. But what if you suddenly find yourself alone, with no car, or maybe an injury that has sidelined in the midst of a “hike around the lake just at sunset” and now you need to wait overnight for rescue.

The nice thing about the waist pack, is they can be worn as intended or slung like a crossbody bag and they come in a lot of shapes and sizes so finding one that fits you shouldn’t be too hard, and decent ones can often be had for less than $20.

Crossbody bags, also known as sling bags, can basically only be carried one way. However, they do have a bit of interior height advantage and can often carry taller items. These styles include “bottle bags” for carrying large single-walled stainless steel bottle and cup sets, such as the ones offered by the Pathfinder Survival School. They can be “tacticool” or you can go “gray man” in a neutral style and color.

What to pack

Regardless of which style of small back you choose to contain your kit, the basics of what to pack remain the 10’s of Survivability.

You need to include:

  • Cutting tool
  • Combustion device
  • Cover/shelter
  • Container
  • Cordage
  • Candlepower (flashlight)
  • Cotton material
  • Cargo Tape
  • Compass
  • Cloth sail needle

Amazingly you can stuff all of that into just a small lightweight pack if you think it through carefully and limit the amounts. Think of it as a 24hr bag, not a 72-hour bugout bag. For example, skip the bulky paracord and go with #36 Bankline in a shorter length say, 25-50ft rather than 100. That is still adequate to get up an emergency shelter.

Include a smaller 7×7 tarp as your cover or even just a couple of 55-gallon contractor trash bags depending on the time of year. Throw in a mylar space blanket – yes it isn’t reusable, but it is small and cheap. Same with a lightweight poncho. Maybe instead of carrying 4-5 ways to start a fire, you limit it to the three best. Substitute a Leatherman Squirt for a Wave and throw in a folding blade rather than a full-tang knife.

Make sure you include a water bottle and a way to purify water and while you can go weeks without food, no one really wants to do that so make sure you have a snack in there or at least a small packet of Datrex bars or a couple of packets of instant oatmeal. If you have a food saver you can seal them up tight and they won’t take up much room. Or as you are headed out the door throw a bag of nuts or a granola bar in.

While you should never rely 100% on technology to get you out of trouble. The odds are you will have a cell phone on you, and having an auxiliary power pack – especially one that can recharge via solar – is something you should probably consider making space for. Maybe consider something that can do dual duty such as a solar flashlight that can also recharge your phone.

Remember the whole point is to have a bag that is small enough and light enough that they won’t weigh you down, and make it more likely you will have at least some supplies with you in case of an emergency.

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