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#115815 - 12/13/07 06:02 PM OVERBOARD VEST

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852
ditch vest--overboard vest--survival vest--
lifejacket with stuff in the the pockets..call it what you will...this is what i consider as my main bit of real survival
gear..first a bit of backstory..as you can see from my screen
name and from some of my other posts that i'm a wilderness
canoe tripper..much of the time solo and for at least two
weeks at a time..with lots of experience going back to scouts
in the 1950's i expect that i can handle just about any
unexpected emergency and i know enought to prevent many of
them from even taking place..i.e--i don't wander off into
the woods..stay away from cliff tops..don't run rapids..
THE ONE wilderness emergency that does get my attention is
the loss of my canoe and gear from being swept overboard..
which can happen in a number of ways however how small..
just one example--on a clear sunny day i saw and took photos
of a waterspout form not 100 yards away..it was large enough
that if it passed over my canoe i could have been pulled into
the lake..i had just come off a portage and was still close
to shore and started to paddle to a good solid looking tree
that i would of hung onto..the spout died away..it was very
dramatic--the sound was like a blender running at top speed
and the lake water was pulled hunderds of feet into the air
in a spray that looked like two large horns..the Cree indians
had a name for this--the underwater wildcat---
so--however--out of the canoe..in the water..and lucky
enought to scramble ashore--now what??

well first off a PFD..always have one handy..no i don't
wear it all the time but i know when to put it on and i do.
years ago i just put a few things in the pockets of a
standred fishermans PFD--matches--a few power bars..
over the years more gear was added..foil blanket--flasher.
this is the latest version..with the canoe season over
in Minnesota i took the gear out to inspect and refresh
it for next spring..first a good PFD in a bright color
with a strobe flasher and whistle on the outside..

in the right hand pocket the "food group"..i was hopeing
to find just the right size can with a seal thru ETS..
no luck yet--but i found that the cup from a Swiss army
canteen fit the PFD pocket just right and would hold alot
of food.. the cup is wraped in heavy foil and duct tape
inside two zip lock bags also sealed with tape..on top and
outside the cup for fast access is a Bic lighter and heat
tab..a candle stub went in to fill the last bit of space..

the cup removed from the plastic bags--

all the items removed from the cup.i wraped everthing in
heavy duty foil because i found it kept the items compact
and easy to fit into the cup..

the main food item is this compressed pea soup..not
avalable in the USA because it contains pork.i got
rolls from a friend in Germany..this is the new version
of the "iron ration" given to German troops in WW ONE.
it's very filling and could serve as a base for any kind
of stew i could put together..mostly fish i assume..

now all the items unwraped--from the top down..
the cup for cook hot meals..something i think is %100
nessary to help stave off hypothermia.
Five pellets of soup in one wraping and one by itself--
one fruit-nut bar--three tea bags and sugar packs..razor
blade--back pain meds--cyclobenzaprine..two packs salt..
five tomato soup bullion packs...i instant tea with sugar.
two MRE coffee with sugar packs..spoon--small candles--
and a fire tab...now about these--the soup is the major
part of the food group with the fruit and nut bar next..
i have found that hot drinks really help warm you so i
put in as may as possible..the tea and bullion.the other
items went in as fillers..

on the left side is the shelter pocket..the items
are not as re-wraped as the food..they are from the top.
a signal mirror--WP matches--candle stub--heat tab--
a fishing kit with about 40 feet of 12 pound line..two hooks
and a red and white spoon lure that i know works well in
these waters--it has a metal leader attached..a LED light--
Deet anti bug wipes--a small "cut kit' with bandaids and
iodine wipes --five T3 pain meds..in the plastic bag i have
40 feet of red surveyors cord and a small roll of duct
tape--a foil blanket and foil bag...the weight of all
items in both pockets is about a 1 1/2 pounds..
how would they be used..the plan is to stay in one place,
make a shelter and camp untill found..before i go on
these trips i leave a trip plan with my wife and one other
friend with photos of my tent,shelter and canoe..the
outfitter when i leave my car knows when i should be
back and at the ranger station you are asked about your
possible route when you pick up the camping permit..
if i lost the canoe i would use the cord and foil blanket
to make a shelter--low to the ground and covered with
branches and such to hold in the heat..cook small meals
with the food group..fish and watch the lake for passing
aircraft or other canoe trippers..the signal flashers
would be kept handy..
looking the kit over this year i would replace the razor
blades with the ones that fold into a plastic handle and
keep the first-aid items in one pack..also i will drill
a couple holes in the cup and add a wire bale so it could
be hung over a fire and just not set into one..
looking over Dougs write-ups on PLB i can see that the
investemnt in one would be a good idea as i'm now in my
60's and perhaps more prone to medical problems..
feedback is more than welcome..i hope you enjoyed this..

Edited by CANOEDOGS (12/13/07 06:11 PM)

#115816 - 12/13/07 06:28 PM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: CANOEDOGS]
DesertFox Offline

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 339
Loc: New York, NY
Very nice kit. Well thought out. Thanks for sharing.

#115817 - 12/13/07 06:42 PM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: DesertFox]


Some ideas and items I've never seen or considered before.

#115825 - 12/13/07 08:31 PM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: ]
teacher Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/14/05
Posts: 988
Good thinking here -- did i miss any mention of a knife?

#115853 - 12/14/07 01:32 AM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: CANOEDOGS]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3754
Loc: TX

Nice post! I hadn't thought about a flasher on my PFD. Most of what I paddle are small, local streams surrounded by heavy woods. I'm not sure if a flasher would be useful...

As for the compressed soup, does it come in any flavor other than pea?

When I'm out in my canoe I have a pocketless PFD vest and over that I wear a multi-pocket fisherman's vest with my gear. If I feel I don't need the vest (for instance, shallow, slow moving water on streams 20' across) I sit on the PFD and just wear the fisher-vest with my emergency gear. That way if something unusual does happen I still have my gear even if I'm not wearing the vest. Plus, the vest holds a lot more stuff than any PFD I've seen.

Foraging Texas
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DrMerriwether on YouTube
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#115859 - 12/14/07 02:28 AM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: CANOEDOGS]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
Looks good, the only thing I might add is some kind of compact water bag (probably MRE beverage bags if you can find them, or a turkey bag- an empty bladder is still too bulky) and maybe a flat of chlorine dioxide tablets. Maybe a compact spark based system, like a Sparklite.

The only thing I really don't like is the mylar blanket- the heatsheet bivy would be about the same size and lot more effective, although you might have to shuffle some things around.

Oh, and two heads ups:
-Your duct tape is looking a little punked out, how long has it been in that bag?
-Check the date on your lifeboat matches and protect that striker on the top. They don't last much longer than their "best by" date in my experience, and the proprietary striker is prone to be worn off.

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

#115876 - 12/14/07 08:44 AM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: ironraven]
bigreddog Offline

Registered: 07/02/06
Posts: 253
Nice kit - my suggestions pretty much follow the previous posts:

1.AMK sheets v old spce blankets
2.Knife - even a very small folder would be a good addition(alox SAK maybe? One with a blade and a saw would be very light and useful for converting local trees into useful things like shelter posts and fuzzsticks, and converting caught fish into cookable chunks)
3.Water bag and puritabs - if you can't get a fire going for some reason
4.Anti-spasmodics - if you are in the wilds, getting the squirts is real nasty, quite dangerous and stopped with a tiny pill
5.Whistle - natural partner to the mirror

None of this is heavy or bulky, and should help you a bit

#115878 - 12/14/07 12:50 PM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: CANOEDOGS]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2844
Loc: La-USA
The workvest (Stearns) that I use has limited pockets. I carry a flasher hooked to one shoulder, a 55gal and 35gal garbage bags, signal whistle (tied to zipper pull tab), and a signal mirror. In my Radio Pouch are spare batteries and a flashlight.

When expecting Hurricane winds, we hand out a ziplock bag with 3 Granola bars and 3 nutria fruit bars, and 2 bottles of water. The emergency rations will fit into a pocket but the bottles of water are stored inside of a person's shirt.

The canals we sail through are not as deep as we are tall. If we sink in a canal, we just climb up to the flying bridge and wait for help. If we sink in the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers, we'll be swimming to the nearest bank, and will try to be as comfortable as possible while waiting for rescue.
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#115880 - 12/14/07 01:47 PM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: wildman800]
Dan_McI Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 844
Loc: NYC
Originally Posted By: wildman800
If we sink in the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers, we'll be swimming to the nearest bank, and will try to be as comfortable as possible while waiting for rescue.

You brought back a memory of me trying to pull a pair of pants as my boat heeled over 25 or more degrees, having just broken one side of our push gear and not the other. The barge was pulling us sideways with the gear on the other side. Then, that gear broke, things calmed down, and we chased down the barge. For a few moments, we thought swimming was in our near future.

#115904 - 12/14/07 05:48 PM Re: OVERBOARD VEST [Re: CANOEDOGS]
SwampDonkey Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada

it is good the way you evaluated your potential survival situation and developed a kit/knowledge to address it.

I am in a similar situation making a kit for use if I sink a snowmobile through the ice and I make it to shore. I hope to post the kit if I get a digital camera for Christmas.

What area do you normally canoe in, perhaps we travel the same country?


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