When it comes to survival kits, there are a number of items that could be put into a bug out bag but special consideration should be given to what is needed, practical, and capable of being comfortably carried. (As a side note – I should clarify that I use the term BOB or bug out bag, I use it universally and applies to a kit designed to get out of a situation whether it is leaving home, getting home, or even staying home.) If you find yourself running out the door and have only the items that are packed in your kit to survive with, make sure you have the right tools for the job.
These are the five tools that should be included in every well rounded Bug Out Bag or survival kit that is designed to foster survival in a variety of environments:
1. Fixed Blade Knife – A good fixed blade knife is essential to keep in a bug out bag. It is a tool as well as a weapon if needed. Not only can this be used as a knife, it can be:
- Fastened to a stick to be used as a spear to hunt fish and/or animals.
- Used to start a fire.
- Used to build a shelter.
- Used to split firewood.
- And just about anything else you can think of…
2. Multi-Tool – A logical choice to include is the multi-tool. It is like having half the contents of your tool box in your pocket without nearly the weight. When looking for a multi-tool, consider what you plan or anticipate having to use it for and then look for those features in a multi-tool. I am not much of a brand snob but when it comes to multi-tools, I prefer Leatherman.
3. Folding Knife – When it comes to survival, there is a saying that goes, “two is one, and one is none.” When it comes to having a backup and backups to your backups, knives are a good place to start. Having a secondary knife that is a folder is convenient because it is easy to stick in a pocket and ensure that you always have it with you. When selecting a folding knife, look for one that features a locking mechanism to ensure that it doesn’t fold up on your hand when you are working with it.
4. Survival Chain Saw – I am not a fan of the typical “survival” saw that you tend to see. The ones that are basically a wire with some sand glued onto it. At least is seems that way. These wire saws seem to break easily and a broken saw is worse than no saw in my opinion. At least if you don’t have a saw, then you don’t have the expectation to be able to cut something where if you have a saw and it breaks, you just end up aggravated and not able to cut anything. I prefer the chainsaw style of blade that is found on other models of pocket survival saws.
5. Hand Shovel – While a hand shovel may seem like an odd choice of tool to include in a BOB, there are a number of practical applications that one can be used for. Building shelter, digging out a place to go to the bathroom, extinguishing a fire, and harvesting wild edible plants are all things that can be done with a hand shovel. In addition to the fact that a hand shovel is small, there are now high strength plastic models that are lightweight and compact.
The ability to maintain these tools is almost as important as having the tools in the first place. This is especially vital if the time comes where bugging out becomes a necessity and you might be betting your life on the ability to use these tools. Some of the items to consider including in your kit to help maintain your tools include:
1. Cleaner Lubricant Protectant (aka CLP) – CLP is an item that is commonly thought of as something that is used to clean and maintain firearms but that is not the only use for CLP. Any metal tool can be subject to getting dirty, rusting, or just plain worn out when it is used and exposed to the elements. Even when being stored, it is important to protect them. CLP is available in small quantities (perfect for keeping in your kit), it is light weight, and it is inexpensive. Find it in the firearm maintenance section of your local sporting goods store. Don’t forget to keep it in a sealable bag so that it does not leak all over your gear!
2. Knife Sharpener – Plain and simple, it is pointless to have a knife if you don’t have the means to maintain a good working edge. There are a number of ways to sharpen a knife, find the one that works best for you and pack the appropriate equipment.
3. Small File – Tools like hatchets and saws do not require a razor sharp edge. This makes a small file a great tool to maintain them. A file is also a great means to help remove nicks and gouges from metal tools.
There are a number of tools that could be included in your survival kit and each person’s kit should be a reflection of them and their needs. With that being said, the five tools mentioned above are all tools that can be used for multiple uses, in multiple scenarios and come about as close to being universally useful as food and water. The next time you inventory your survival kit or when you go to put one together, think about what tools you may need and then ensure that you have them before you find yourself needing them.