IS CLOTHING AN IMPORTANT SURVIVAL COMPONENT?
Preparation means having the proper tools and knowledge to meet an emergency head on. One of the biggest threats to people living on this planet is nature; the elements. You need no further proof of this than to stand outside during a snowstorm in a pair of shorts and sandals. The elements will make short work of your mortal shell if you do not respect their ability to have a lethal effect on you. Before you leave the house you need to be properly dressed for the environment(s) you may encounter. Today, due to an eruption of interest in outdoor activities, there are no shortages of clothing to choose from. The clothing you choose will depend on a variety of outlying factors, primarily where you live, and where you travel, as well as comfort, utility, and affordability. Utility refers to the usefulness of the garment, obviously clothing with pockets may be more conducive to outdoor adventures, than a pair of jogging shorts.
Properly Selecting the Appropriate Attire
The first order of business is selecting the clothing that will be proper for the task at hand. If you are going mountain climbing, there are certain articles of clothing you may need to bring along, find out what they are and ensure you have them. If you’re going on a cruise through the tropics, do the research, dig deep, find out what the temperatures are like, what are the historical weather patterns for the area, is there a chance of hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, monsoon, etc. This will dictate what you need to bring along with you, such as ponchos, wet weather gear, warm weather clothing in case nothing disastrous arises. Do the research on the clothing you need to bring with you, especially if it is of a specific nature, and get it. Bear in mind that you get what you pay for, if this is a risky adventure, it may be prudent to spend a bit more on a better article of clothing.
Employ the principle of layering when dressing for an outdoor excursion and you will ensure the best possible protection is readily available in any type of weather. Layering involves the very simple philosophy of trapping stagnant air between various layers of clothing. This layering concept creates the insulation which gives the wearer flexibility to face a wide variety of environmental possibilities. The greater the number of layers, the better the insulation, however too many layers makes it difficult to move, so there is a balancing act to be mastered here. Layering also provides the wearer with the advantage of controlling body temperature by simply removing or adding layers as needed.
Keep in mind that being extremely warm, can be as harmful as being too cold. Sweating when it is cold outside dampens your clothing, causing it to act as a conductor, which will extract warmth from your body and dissipate it into the air. This will create an uncomfortable atmosphere within the clothing and could cause additional problems over the length of your journey. If you are toting a backpack, make sure it has been situated properly and fits the frame of your body. It should not be worn in a restrictive manner that reduces circulation to the shoulders, biceps, and/or forearms.
How Clothing Can Keep You Safe
The first layer of clothing to consider is thermal underwear. This should be next to the skin. Wool clothing would be the next layer of clothing, a shirt at least for the upper body. A fiber jacket, fiber sweater should be the next layer, followed by jacket or coat consisting of a synthetic fiber. The last layer needs to be both waterproof and windproof, yet made of a breathable material that allows sweat to evaporate, while maintaining integrity against water intrusion from rain and inclement weather.
Footwear should consist of a pair of waterproof boots that are conducive to performing in the environment they will be worn in. Hiking boots are usually a good investment and should be broken in as soon as possible after purchase so that they are ready for use if/when they are needed. It is advisable to take care of your footwear through daily inspection, and repair of visible damage. Always carry a spare set of laces for your boots. If traveling through frigid environments, consider coating the laces in a wax or petroleum jelly to prevent freezing when they get wet. Socks, a significantly important component of the footwear equation. Most hikers and outdoor enthusiasts favor wearing 2 pairs of socks when venturing out. This helps prevent issues such as blisters while providing slightly more comfort. If you do not prefer wearing 2 pairs at the same time, it is still advisable to bring a spare set along.
Windproof pants come highly recommended for activities requiring outdoor participation. The pants you choose should not only be windproof, they should also incorporate “quick-drying” material and be lightweight. They should also have cargo pockets that are easy to access yet utilize a reliable method of securing them and the items they will be used to carry. Waterproof waders should fit easily over existing pants and boots and provide ample room for mobility. If they fit too tightly over your pants you increase the odds of sweating, which will make the rest of the journey miserable.
A jacket should be both waterproof and windproof as it creates the outer shell of your personal space, or environment. It should include a parka style hood capable of covering a hat and the lower half of the face, closing down to form a small window for the eyes to see out of. The jacket should be large enough to fit over existing layers of clothing. The sleeves of this jacket should be long enough to drape over the hand of each arm. You should consider jackets with cargo pockets as well, since they provide more room for carrying gear, such as maps and compasses. The jacket should also drape down the torso, past the waist and down to mid-thigh, or top of knee. There are a wide variety of colors to choose from when it comes to picking a coat, the choice is yours; however, be aware of the fact that should you become lost or stranded, visibility will increase the odds of being located and rescued.
Gloves are an essential part of the clothing complex. Mitten tipped gloves are the recommended choice. The mitten provides a layer of insulation and keeps the fingers together, conserving essential body heat, while the glove allows the wearer the ability to fold the mitten top back over the knuckles and expose the fingers for individual use.
Headgear is also a necessary ingredient of becoming prepared from the clothing aspect of prepping for an outdoor adventure. Approximately 40-50% of our body heat escapes from our heads. Headgear needs to be conducive to the environment you are in, or will be going through. Even in warm weather a breathable hat can help protect your head, face and eyes from the heat.
CAN AN EDC KIT HELP KEEP YOU ALIVE?
After clothing, the next most important aspect of assembling gear arrives in the form of arranging an EDC (Every Day Carry) kit. The EDC kit is something that is carried with you on a daily basis, everywhere you go, regardless of where that happens to be. Some of us carry them on our person, in our purse, or as part of a larger kit we carry in the vehicle, such as a backpack or gym bag. There are a great number of things that qualify as EDC kits, it’s simply a matter of who you ask. The purpose of an EDC kit is to provide the prepper with a minimal amount of gear with which they can survive an emergency ordeal. This minimalist approach is not intended to increase the hardship of the individual affected.
The items chosen for the EDC are considered essential to improving one’s odds of escaping the dire situation and returning to safety. The gear carried in them may be key factors in determining life or death. The items carried in the EDC are determined on an individual basis, taking into account various factors. When traveling to an unknown, or unfamiliar location, always modify and adjust the contents of the EDC to conform to the situations likely to be faced in the new environment. The basic rule of thumb is carry lightweight items that will serve the purpose of assisting you with any survival situations, rather than impeding your performance and hindering the outcome.
In the realm of prepping we focus on assembling EDC kits designed to improve the prepper’s odds of surviving in any and all environments and terrains. The gear we focus on placing in the EDC’s are not only lightweight and utilitarian, they are also inexpensive and user friendly. Inexpensive doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, it simply means they aren’t going to require taking out a second mortgage on the house.
Contents Carried in an EDC Kit
The first item we need to address is the device we are going to assemble the EDC in. This can be anything from a fanny pack type bag, to a gym bag or small backpack. Keep in mind this is not the bugout bag, it is not intended to carry very much gear. Keep it small and lightweight, there are several methods of assembling these in objects as small as an Altoids tin. Whatever device you elect to use for your EDC, make sure you get used to carrying it with you everywhere. That is the purpose of assembling one in the first place. Once you have the device chosen, it is time to fill it with the contents that will keep you safe.
- Waterproof matches
- Emergency candle
- Mag rod and striker
- Sewing kit; needle and thread
- Compass and maps of area traveling in/through.
- Signal mirror
- Signal flare
- Wire saw
- Fishing line
- Fishing hooks
- Paracord, at least 10 feet in length, 25 foot would be better
- Water purification tablets
- Personal water filtration device; LifeStraw
- Space blanket
- Cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, stored in a plastic bag
- Additional plastic bags; large yard cleanup variety for cutting ponchos
Now that you have the EDC assembled you need to become intimately familiar with the gear stored inside. You should know how to effectively use each and every piece of gear stashed inside your EDC. If you are not familiar with it before a disaster strikes, anxiety, panic, and/or the additional stress of the situation may complicate matters to the point of confusion, which could result in the objects hindering your performance rather than enhancing it. You also need to set a schedule of inspection. The gear stored inside your EDC may become outdated as new methods are discovered and new devices and gear are manufactured. You also need to inspect your gear for signs of deterioration. If you ever need to use your EDC, you will need to replace all exhausted items as soon as possible to return the kit to a completed stage and make it ready once again.
Helpful Hints for Using This Equipment
The waterproof matches should be reserved as a last resort solution for starting a fire. Get familiar with using a magnesium rod and striker. It will outlast the waterproof matches by several uses. This is one of the easiest off grid methods of igniting tinder to get kindling going and then a fire raging shortly after. Do not waste the matches.
The emergency candle serves as a source of light, a small source of warmth which can be reflected and amplified through the use of space blankets. If you are a true prepper and made the emergency candle yourself out of tallow, then you also have an emergency source of food.
The sewing kit allows you to make small repairs to clothing and any other fabric based gear that may require a stitch or two to keep it functional.
A compass and maps are obvious, but you need to know the proper way to use them, or they are nothing more than unnecessary weight.
The wire saw comes in handy for harvesting lumber from green trees, as well as from deadfall too big to place in a fire pit.
The fishing kit should include a couple small split shot weights as well as more line than you originally consider. Fishing line can be used for a number of reasons, catching fish and birds among them.
Paracord comes in handy for several things in a survival situation. You can never have enough cordage.
The large plastic bags serve the purpose of providing makeshift rain gear, as well as making it possible to erect a solar still.
In addition to maps and the EDC, it may be a wise idea to include a guidebook detailing the local flora and fauna so that you have a reliable source for identifying and finding food sources.
HOW TO GET A GO BAG TOGETHER
A GO bag, (Get Out) also known as a bugout bag, is a device pre-assembled with GOOD gear (Get Out Of Dodge) and strategically stationed to be readily available in the event of a disaster, natural or man-made. The GO bag is slightly larger than the EDC kit and is designed to be carried by an individual. They are usually assembled using some form of back pack, duffle bag, gym bag, or similar storage device that is easy to carry. The GO bag can also be stashed in the trunk of a vehicle, which will increase the odds of it being where it needs to be when a disaster strikes. We may not always be at home when a disaster happens, but we are almost always within walking distance of our vehicle(s). As with an EDC kit, once this is assembled properly, you need to get familiar with carrying it, having it with you every day, or in close proximity. If you have a family, you may need a GO bag for each individual member of the family depending on age, activities, and schedules.
What You Need to Know About GO Bags & GOOD Gear
There is an enormous variety of durable bags to make a selection from. Backpacks of all sizes are acceptable considerations. These normally range from the smaller versions with a carrying capacity of 4.5 gallons, all the way up to the serious adventure packs manufactured for mountain climbing that have a carrying capacity in the neighborhood of 22 gallons. Prior to making a selection you need to address a few topics; what is the topography of the region you reside in, what is the topography of the regions you are traveling through, what is the topography of the region you are traveling to, how physically fit are you, and how does the bag carry when placed on your body. It is important that you focus on getting a backpack that fits all of your needs. A backpack that is too large, too bulky and too cumbersome, compromises the individual and the intent of the GO bag, which is to get you from a disaster zone to an area of trusted safety.
The GO bag needs to be waterproof, lightweight, comfortable and easy to carry over various terrains for lengthy periods of time. GO bags with side pouches are highly recommended. The side pouches offer the wearer the advantage of easily accessing the most commonly used items. Make sure it is of durable and sturdy construction.
Once you have chosen a GO bag, it is time to begin assembling and arranging the GOOD gear it will be used to carry. Prior to listing the contents, perhaps we should share a few packing tips and advice on carrying the GO bag. The maximum load capacity of your GO bag should be approximately ¼ of the weight of the individual who will be assigned to carry it. To arrive at this number, find the weight the person the bag is being built for and divide by 4. A 200lb. person should carry no more than a 50lb. load. Carry the GO bag as high as possible on the body without causing a restriction in circulation to the arms and shoulders.
When arranging your GOOD gear inside the GO bag, let common sense and logic be your guide. Keep sharp objects away from the inner lining to prevent puncture and damage to the bag. It is usually a good idea to place everything in plastic bags for additional waterproof security, simply because most bags are not 100% waterproof. Using plastic bags for your GOOD gear will also ensure components remain dry and in working order should you need to access certain contents within the bag while the weather is inclement. Deposit the least used items and gear in the bottom of the GO bag and arrange the more commonly sought after items and gear near the top. Use the side pouches to carry items of immediate necessity. This will alleviate the need to remove the bag for every situation. During short rest breaks, refrain from removing the bag, use it as a back rest while you are giving your feet a rest. The more you put on and take off a GO bag, the greater the odds of receiving an unexpected back, or hip injury.
What Type of GOOD Gear Should the GO Bag Contain?
The Bare Essentials for a GO bag consist of GOOD gear you will need in order to have a fighting chance at surviving a disaster of any kind. The items listed here are not furnished by brand name. There are far too many manufacturers and possible products for us to effectively list them all and make legitimate suggestions. If/when we do reference a specific name brand product it is because we have firsthand knowledge of the device and have conducted personal research in the form of testing similar devices and found the one listed to be ahead of the rest. These essentials should include, but are not limited to:
- a pair of side cutting pliers
- a sewing kit
- wire saw
- dental floss
- folding shovel/entrenching tool
- signaling equipment such as flares, mirrors and reflective blankets
- compact fishing equipment such as an ice fishing pole
- fishing tackle
- split shot weights
- Fishing flies.
- 250’ of paracord
- locked blade knife
- knife sharpener
- water purification tablets
- freeze dried food products for 3-5 days
- mess kit
- rasping file
- space blankets
- cutlery set
- emergency candles
- hand crank flashlight
- cooking equipment
- waterproof matches
- magnesium rod and striker
- spool of snare wire
- drinking utensil such as a filtered water bottle
- slingshot and ample ammunition for hunting small game
- work gloves
- signal whistle
- first aid kit
- pocket edibles
- compact tent
- sleeping bag
This rounds out the list of bare essentials to have within the GO bag. The pocket edibles should be protein packed treats that will replenish your energy on the go. Bear in mind that within each of these categorical entries there are additional items to assemble, for instance a first aid kit will have internal components that will vary according to personal preference, as will the mess kit, and cooking equipment.