Originally Posted By: KenK
.For the essentials I tend to see two types: (1) when you're out and about you have a set of gear. That gear has to do what you need it to do. Most outdoors folks know what they need and how to do it - or they learn through the years.

(2) It's the second set of gear - what I tend to call survival gear - that is the "other" stuff. The idea is that it needs to be with you pretty much at all times. It's with you went you step out of camp to go to pee in the woods. It's with you went you take a short walk after dinner. It's with you went you when your canoe dumps and the rest of your gear floats away from you downstream. Because that gear has to always be with you it has to be small and lightweight.

I've spent many years coming to this forum, reading books, playing with building survival kits, and playing/practicing with the kit tools. After all this time I see how much money I've spent buying individual gear bits. Ouch.

In the end my best advice is to buy ONE Doug Ritter Personal Survival Pak (PSP), and buy ONE Doug Ritter's Personal Survival Pak PLUS, and then work carefully to follow the recommended instructions for supplementing the pak PLUS with additional needed gear. Use the smaller PSP to play with the tools inside to be comfortable with them, and leave the contents of the Pak PLUS as your real survival kit. In the end you will save a bunch of money ... on shipping alone!!

Don't forget to replace the water sanitizing pills as needed.

If it's not too late, the other bit of advice I have is to stop looking for the ultimate gear!! That will run you poor and make you crazy. You just can't win that game. Get a decent knife (Mora?), a decent compass (Sunnto?), and other decent gear (???), ... and then spend most of your time and money enjoying the amazing outdoors.

Just a couple of comments to a very thoughtful and useful post. For a guy who hangs out a lot on ETS, I have been in genuine survival situations very infrequently - perhaps two episodes in my lifetime. But I have done a lot of "rough camping," especially involving SAR operations, which gets you close to the edge rather frequently.

Rather than two sets of gear, I like to think that I have one set, with some critical redundancies, especially fire starting, and perhaps shelter/overnighting (at a minimum, a light bivvy sack). Your load needs to adjust to the situation and season.

The three B's are critical in obtaining good equipment - Bag (as in sleeping), Boots, and Backpack. You won't have much fun if your foot gear doesn't allow you to cover ground safely and comfortably, if you can't carry your load efficiently, and you don't get a good night's sleep. That isn't everything - you will probably enjoy some food and water from time to time, but the three B's are a good start to fitting

When you are faced with surviving/rough camping (and you will, sooner or later), I feel it is essential that you are equipped with gear with which you are familiar and comfortable. You have spent many good nights in that bag, and cooked many meals with that stove, etc. This is not the time to break into an unopened bag and fondle unfamiliar goodies. You will be stressed - at a minimum, tired and hungry, and very likely hypo/hyperthermic and starting to run on auto pilot.

Exceptions to this would be a signal mirror and whistle, not normally employed, but always carried. Some day you will be glad they were along.

And yes! get out there and use your stuff. Enjoy and learn and increase your capabilities. That is what it is all about.
Geezer in Chief