Survival Gear: Bushcraft & Survival Outfitters
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The #1 skill set you must have under any circumstance is the ability to self-rescue. If you cannot stop a serious bleed or properly clean a wound, then it doesn’t matter how much food, fire starting methods, water purification methods or cool EDC gear you have in your pack or on your person. All that great stuff won’t do you much good if you’ve bled out in a matter of minutes from an accidental slip of your blade. When deciding which equipment, you want to go with you’ll want to look for a quality and reputable stamp on your gear – North American Rescue is a staple in the industry, and they even supply the US military with all of their first aid needs. Another great company is Adventure Medical Kits. So, let’s have a look at some of the most commonly found products when it comes to first aid.
- CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) by North American Rescue
- Quik Clot
- Alcohol prep pads, or iodine swabs
- Compressed gauze
- Butterfly bandages
- Triangle bandage
There are a billion different types of knives out there, so how do we narrow it down to a basic one or two? The knife is your most valuable tool. Provided you have the training and skill set, you could potentially survive in the wilderness indefinitely. However, most of us have not yet acquired that level of skill, so our suggestion is to get your hands on a quality fixed blade knife. A back-up fixed blade never hurts, but you’ll also want to include a folding pocketknife for those simple tasks. In addition to your knives, you’ll want to carry a reliable folding saw and a quality hatchet.
Fixed blade knife:
- Preferably 1095 high carbon steel with sharp 90-degree spine.
- Hatchet (preferably under 27” in length)
The market is flooded with water containers of all sorts, sizes, and materials. For our purposes, as survivalists/bushcrafters/outdoors people, we want to stick with either Stainless Steel or Titanium. Titanium is very lightweight and durable, but you'll pay a premium for cutting down on the weight in your pack. Personally, I began slowly converting my containers over to titanium almost a year ago simply to cut down on the weight I'm humping in my rucksack. I still have plenty of stainless steel gear and there's nothing wrong with that! When it comes to stainless steel, you'll want to keep an eye out for single walled containers. A single walled canteen, for instance, will give you the ability to cook within the container.
- Stainless Steel, single-walled canteen
- Professional’s Choice: Klean Kanteen 40oz. Stainless Steel Canteen
In addition to your water container you'll want to carry a method for purifying your water should boiling your water not be an option, or not be the most convenient option. For the love of all that's holy, please do not rely on a LifeStraw! Get yourself a high quality purification system, for "he who stays hydrated the longest wins", as I like to say. The Grayl GeoPress is a great source for ridding your water of viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts. The last thing you want to end up with is a nasty case of giardia because it will dehydrate you at an incredible rate once the symptoms kick in, which takes a few days once the contaminated water is ingested.
Carrying a GeoPress may not be optimal for some of you who are concerned with saving space in your pack. Fear not! The Sawyer Mini is very small, foldable, and weighs only 1.4oz. total. The MINI is rated for 100,000 gallons of water, comes with a filter, 16oz. bag, syringe for back flushing, and a straw. The MINI filter removes 7 log (99.99999%) of all bacteria (like salmonella) as well as other harmful bacteria which causes cholera and E. coli and 6 log (99.9999%) of all protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium. These removal rates equal or exceed other filter options. EPA guidelines allow ten times more protozoa left in the water than Sawyer MINI filters allow. The MINI also filters out 100% of microplastics.
The uses for a simple cotton cloth are endless! Typically, we want to go with a 42"x42" cotton Shemagh, which is also known as a scarf. A shemagh can be used for water filtration, first aid arm sling or tourniquet, foraging, etc. Some people opt for an orange cloth so that they can use it as a bright-colored signaling device in times of need. Others prefer the earth tones such as coyote tan, olive drab green, or even black.
- Cotton shemagh:
- Orange for emergency rescue signaling
- Black, Coyote Tan or OD Green for concealment
COMBUSTION DEVICES (FIRE SOURCE)
There's no way around it - being able to produce fire is an absolute MUST. With fire comes the ability to warm ones' self, purify water, cook food, and even signal for rescue. The skill set needed to produce a primitive friction fire is something that must be practiced time and time again in order to be absolutely sure that one is able to reproduce the end result in nearly any condition that Mother Nature can throw at you. It is FAR from easy. Ideally, we want to be carrying some modern methods of obtaining that spark that we so desperately need. Here's what we recommend you carry on you at all times.
- Large ferro rod between 4”-6” in length, ½” in diameter
- *We do NOT recommend magnesium rods
- Professional’s Choice: Exotac FireROD XL
Cordage comes in handy in any survival situation. You may need to run a ridgeline for your makeshift shelter, you may need to make a bowdrill kit should your modern methods for fire fail you, or you may need to run a trotline for passive food procurement. Whatever the event might be, make sure you throw a 100' bundle of paracord or bankline in your pack. You won't regret it!
COMPASS (NAVIGATION TOOLS)
Welcome to the most overlooked and underrated survival skill! Do you really know which way North is? Is it True North, or Magnetic North? Ever heard of Lateral Drift? If there's one skill that most people breeze right over it's navigation. Don't allow yourself to get lost in the woods because it will be far more difficult to get back on track than you think. Choose a either a lensatic compass, or a compass with a mirror that is made by a reputable manufacturer, such as Suunto or Cammenga.
- Professional’s Choice: Suunto MC-2G Global Navigator
SIGNALING DEVICES FOR EMERGENCY RESCUE
If someone is out searching for you, or a team of people are out searching for you should you get lost (refer to navigation here), then why not have a 'force multiplier' in your kit? Make it easy for yourself to be noticed because some of those teams might be searching via helicopter or drone. Make yourself stand out from the earth tones that blanket the wilderness. We discussed a signal fire and an orange shemagh, but you'll also want to carry a very small and lightweight tool that you can use to reflect the sunlight in the direction of your SAR Team.
- Signaling mirror – SOL Signal Mirror
We all know the famous saying, "...the light at the end of the tunnel." What happens when we see that light at the end of the tunnel? We follow it! Light guides the way for us as a species, but when there is no natural light to be found we must rely on synthetic light sources. When we find ourselves in "the bush", we want to have every available option open to us. Particularly when it comes to our functionality - most of us have two hands and we want to keep them free from obligation as often as possible. This is why we recommend that your first candling device choice be a headlamp. Personally, I love Nitecore, but if I use my Nitecore candling devices I always keep 4 spare 18650 batteries charged for that particular manufacturer at all times. If I'm in a dire situation, or I plan on being out in the bush for quite some time, then I'll opt for one of the Princeton Tec headlamps. They take AA batteries, which are readily available in pretty much every country on the planet.
- Headlamp with spare batteries.
- Professional’s Choice: Princeton Tec Apex 650/550
- Flashlight with spare batteries. Always carry a backup light source that you can fall back on should disaster eliminate your primary candling source.
- Professional’s Choice: 5.11 Tactical Rapid L2 Flashlight
Black Beard Fire Stick, Campcraft Fire Kit, fatwood shavings or splinters, UST WetFire, or even a nice big handful of compacted dryer lint will do the trick.
- Pro Tip: Keep your tinder sources inside a waterproof container, dry bag, or double up on your Ziploc baggies. Your tinder source is only as good as how dry it is!
- Professional's Choices:
- BASIC - Black Beard Fire Stick
- COMPREHENSIVE – Campcraft Fire Kit
Your first layer of defense is your clothing choice, so as they say, “Choose, but choose wisely.” Go with a reputable clothing line that makes clothes specifically for the environmental challenges that you might face. If your budget does not allow for some of the higher end clothing lines, then get yourself a quality poncho. Shoot for a poncho that is larger is size and preferably has snap closures and hollow grommets in all four corners. This allows you unsnap the poncho on either side and use the hollow grommets as tie-off points for your paracord in order to fashion up a quick tarp shelter if the situation calls for such measures.
- Professional’s Choice: Fjallraven outdoor clothing is optimal. Manufactured in Sweden, this company offers tons of options for a variety of geographical environments nearly anywhere on the planet. They make everything from pants & shirt, to backpacks, tents and wallets. As one of our professionals and they’ll be happy to help set you up with your needs.
EDC AND COVERT GEAR
Every Day Carry items are different for each individual. Your EDC might include your wallet, phone, car/house keys, pocketknife, Chapstick, sidearm & spare magazines, covert lock picking equipment, etc. Sky is the limit here. If you practice Gray Man Theory, then you want to carry your necessary gear without drawing attention to yourself. That’s where Wazoo Survival Gear comes in. These guys make some of the best gear in the industry. Check out their product line right on our website.
CONCLUSIONThe world of gear options is a vast ocean with no end in sight and there is never a shortage of new and improved equipment hitting the market each year. Whether it comes to your survival, or your comfort you’ll want to make most educated decision that you possibly can for yourself and your loved ones. Many of you out there are just getting started and need some guidance on where to turn. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local outdoors retailer, join a Facebook Group, read blogs and guides like this one, or simply pick up the phone and call the retailer of your choice. Most ecommerce stores these days do not offer phone support, so shoot them over an email. We’re one of the few retailers out there that offers phone support with professional survivalists on our team who are more than willing to help you make the best choice you can!
Until next time…We’ll See You in the Wild!!!