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#19046 - 09/13/03 11:56 AM Kit Endorsed by Doug?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Someone posted this on the lightweight backpacking forum as a reply to a post about gearlists:
"I would imagine his emergency kit is similar to that advocated by Doug Ritter of www.equipped.org. Next spring there will be a nice $25 kit coming out endorsed by survival guru Doug that will be a must buy....for me anyway."
Is this true? I haven't heard any mention of it before.
Nice that Dougs being called a survival guru <img src="images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />.

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#19047 - 09/15/03 01:43 PM Re: Kit Endorsed by Doug?
Anonymous
Unregistered


How about a kit endorsed by Burt (Gummer)! Might be a tad over $25 tho......

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#19048 - 09/15/03 11:23 PM Yes!
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1947
I must apologize for the delay responding, I have been out of pocket for the past few days.

Yes, such a kit exists and I am sorry you have not heard it first here. <img src="images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I was planning to include some information in a Outdoor Retailer Summer Market review, which should have been published at least a week ago, but events have conspired to prevent me from finishing that in a timely manner. So, here's a preview:

From my perspective, the big news was Adventure Medical Kit's introduction of the “Pocket Survival Pak designed by Doug Ritter” in their Essentials series. Yes, that’s right, I’ve gone and done it. After over a decade of evaluating such personal pocket survival kits and years of frustration because there wasn’t an affordable pocket survival kit with quality contents that I could recommend, it seemed like the only solution was to take the next logical step; a huge step, really, and a bit frightening, to be honest.

The genesis of the AMK Pocket Survival Pak was a chance meeting at the 2001 Rotor & Wing Search and Rescue Conference where I met Frank Meyer, one of the co-founders of AMK, at their booth, the first and only time they exhibited at the conference. He professed that he had made considerable use of the ETS site in developing their original Essentials series survival kits. At some point I commented that while they were nice kits with good quality components, they were still too big and bulky to be considered a personal survival kit from my perspective. Well, one thing led to another and it wasn’t long before we were in earnest discussions about what such a kit would involve.

Designing and even producing a quality personal survival kit with no budget constraints is relatively easy. Doing so while keeping the retail price affordable is the trick. I had no interest in developing an expensive kit, others have done so quite ably, my only interest was in a kit most people could afford that would be worth betting one’s life on. If I was going to put my name on a survival kit, it had damn well better be able to save a life. That attitude also precluded a cheap kit; quality doesn’t come cheap. Affordable was the goal. So, this isn't the ultimate pocket survival kit, but I do think it represents the ultimate value in a kit of this size, a lot of bang for the buck, a lot of lifesaving capability for the buck.

I’d never been inclined to try this myself because I knew I was not cut out for manufacturing or selling it and I could never reach the critical mass to get the costs down (and let’s not even discuss the lack of capital). Assembly is always a choke point for something like this, let alone the issue of distribution and sales to gain that necessary volume. AMK had the reputation for quality, I have known their products as top rate for years, they have been assembling kits from components for years and they had the resources needed to bring such a kit to market. It seemed like a good fit. Eighteen months later, here we are. It has been quite an education for me in how costs of components and labor are translated into retail prices. It’s easy to see why nobody has been able to do this before, there’s not much budget to work with to maintain an affordable retail price.

Ultimately, the goal was a pocket size kit that was good enough to save lives, compact and light enough that it wouldn’t be a burden for anyone to carry under almost any circumstances and affordable enough that everyone in a group could carry their own. Personal means exactly that, and as I have often said, “if it isn’t with you, it can’t save you (tm).”

As with many new product introductions at trade shows, the kits shown were prototypes, final development is still ongoing with a January 2004 expected introduction date. However, the contents and configuration is not likely to vary too much from what was shown and these are the planned components. Again, this is not writ in stone, so don't take it as such.:

1 x Spark-Lite mil-spec waterproof firestarter, orange, one-handed use
(In the September 2003 issue of Backpacker, John Kemple’s review of fire starters rated the Spark-Lite as “Best Buy,” mirroring the high ratings I’ve always given it.)

4 x Spark-Lite Tinder-Quik mil-spec waterproof wax impregnated cotton tinder in zipper lock plastic bag

1 x USCG approved (SOLAS ) Whistle. ACR was shown, also being considered is the Acme Tornado or a new Fox-40 currently under development, orange or yellow with lanyard hole

1 x acrylic Signal Mirror with mil-spec style retro-reflective screen aiming aid for one-handed use, instructions (text and illustration) on back with lanyard hole, protective cover or sleeve to prevent scratches on the mirror’s face while stored in the kit.

(This has been the biggest challenge. The advantages of a retro-reflective aimer are significant and obvious and I would not compromise, but in the end AMK has had to develop their own signal mirror, with my input, because it’s the only way it would be affordable.)

20mm Button Compass, liquid damped, with groove to accept an improvised lanyard ring

6 ft. of .020 inch Stainless Steel Utility Wire
(aircraft grade safety lock wire)

10 ft. of Braided Nylon Cord, 150 lb.+ test
(Twisted line is cheaper, but unravels when cut and isn’t as strong)

26 inches of 2-inch wide Duct Tape
(This is the same small roll included in the AMK GearAid “Go! Repair” kit)

50 ft. of #69 Black Nylon Thread / Fishing Line, 10.5 lb. test
(A compromise, one has to draw the line somewhere, and it does work. I’ve caught some nice fish out of the local lake using this line and the rest of the fishing gear in the kit.)

“Fishing Kit” with 4 x medium Fish Hooks, 2 x Snap Swivels and 2 x Removable Split Shot in a clear plastic vial with cap. Stored in a small plastic bag to prevent rattles.

Heavy Duty Sewing Needle, also in the plastic tube

4 x Safety Pins, also in the plastic vial

(Again, I'd like to emphasize that we have taken extra precautions to ensure the stuff inside the plastic vial doesn't rattle)

3 sq. ft. Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
(much better than standard lightweight foil, sturdy enough that with care can be used to form a container to boil water, and, yes, I've done it a few times)

Miniature #2 Pencil

2 x Waterproof Notepaper, 2.125 x 3.667 inches

#24 Scalpel Blade, in sealed foil packaging

Kit Specific Illustrated Survival Instructions, authored by me, on waterproof paper

Contents list, annotated with suggestions or instructions for use, authored by me

Fresnel Lens Magnifier - 2 x 3 inches, in protective sleeve
(for reading relatively small print of Survival Instructions, particularly if eye glasses or contacts are lost, and as a back-up fire starter)

Pocket-Size Clear Vinyl Pouch w/ resealable waterproof zip closure, 4 x 5 inches, lanyard hole for added security or alternative carry.
(This is the same pouch AMK has used for years for their Pocket Medic and Blister Medic kits, among others, well proven in the field.)

Included in the packaging with the kit will be a pamphlet that includes a list of recommended personal gear to complement or supplement the kit contents plus related safety and survival information authored by me

Total weight of the prototype with all this high quality gear is still just 3.7 ounces and it is only 21/32 inch thick at its thickest, thinner than my wallet. The pouch is sturdy and will stand up to a good deal of abuse, but the entire kit is somewhat flexible (bearing in mind the rigid mirror that serves to anchor the kit), adding to the comfort quotient and ease of carriage in almost any pocket. The top can be folded over to reduce the width to a mere 3.5 inches.

The clear pouch is a compromise between the toughness of metal or plastic hard container and the deficits they bring in comfort, bulk and cost. While it isn’t as durable as a metal or hard plastic container, the clear pouch allows the quality of the contents to be seen, there’s nothing hidden, and to also check on their condition to ensure they are all still there and in good condition. Since it can be opened and resealed (with one hand, by the way), a purchaser can practice with the firestarter and the signal mirror and there is enough room to add personal medications or some matches or a small lighter, water purification tablets, etc., to name a few possibilities.

We decided not to include matches since it raises shipping issues and they are easy enough for anyone to add if desired. There are no life-limited items in this kit, nothing to expire. The only item at all subject to potential deterioration is the duct tape, and it is pretty robust as tapes go. No problems have been reported in the years it has been included in the GearAid kits.

For a goofy photo of me and the PSP at the introduction and of the latest version of the prototype kits, check this out. Again, this is just a prototype and there have already been some detail changes made and there will no doubt be more before it goes into production and the packaged kit especially may not look like this, be laid out in the pouch liek this, when all is said and done:
http://www.equipped.org/pp/pic1261.htm

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Equipped To Survive Foundation. AMK is aiming to have the kits in retail outlets in January of 2004. Please don't hold me, or them, to that, stuff happens. Reception to the kit at the show seemed positive, but AMK still needs to get orders so we won't know for sure for a couple months. That's the second step. The third step required for success is for consumers to buy them. Only time will tell if the consumer appreciates the incredible value the kit represents with the quality of the components, which I do firmly believe it does, and if they have the good sense to buy one for themselves and their loved ones.

The current MSRP is 27.50 which should mean at least some discount sources will be selling it for around $25 +/-. My primary goal right now is to get this kit into production, which is absorbing a lot of my time these days. An unbelievable amount, actually.

I will keep the forum informed as things progress.

Thanks for the interest,
_________________________
Doug Ritter
Editor
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation
www.KnifeRights.org
www.DougRitter.com

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#19049 - 09/16/03 01:50 AM Re: Yes!
Anonymous
Unregistered


Looks good so far, I know it isn't finished but I have to ask why no of our beloved 550 Paracord?

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#19050 - 09/16/03 05:30 AM Re: Yes!
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1947
Bulk and cost.
_________________________
Doug Ritter
Editor
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation
www.KnifeRights.org
www.DougRitter.com

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#19051 - 09/16/03 06:49 AM Re: Yes!
Anonymous
Unregistered


Doug, can i ask how much we are looking at price wise and will they be available internationally?

Cheers

Mark

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#19052 - 09/16/03 12:44 PM Re: Yes!
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1947
Mark,

As noted, the MSRP is $27.50 with an expected discounted street price of about $25 +/-. I have no idea what that will translate into for international markets. The wholesale cost is the same no matter what. I don't know that AMK sells much offshore except to Canada. I will ask.
_________________________
Doug Ritter
Editor
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation
www.KnifeRights.org
www.DougRitter.com

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#19053 - 09/16/03 12:55 PM Re: Yes!
Anonymous
Unregistered


Doug:

This looks great. I did some quick math and the MSRP sounds like a good deal.

My only request is that the compasses they use work properly. My experience with the type pictured is that they tend to stick or bind on the center post.

Chris

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#19054 - 09/16/03 01:24 PM Re: Yes!
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1947
Chris,

I've made every attempt to ensure that all the products work properly and are appropriate for inclusion. Nothing in the kit is rated less than "adequate" by me and of course much is top rated. The compass is the best that they could find for the price and has been tested extensively by me. It seems to be serviceable for the purposes provided, general direction finding and maintaining a straight course in the woods, and in tests did not develop a bubble after repeatedly being subjected to higher altitudes and back down (one advantage of being a pilot. <img src="images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />). The only potentially better compasses we looked at would have more than doubled the price of the kit! We will continue to keep an eye out for better components that can meet the tight budget, but that's the sort of practical compromise one must make to keep the kit affordable.
_________________________
Doug Ritter
Editor
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation
www.KnifeRights.org
www.DougRitter.com

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#19055 - 09/16/03 02:17 PM Re: Yes!
Anonymous
Unregistered


Cheers Doug-you always come up trumps!

Best of luck with sales!

Mark

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