Survival Kit vs. PLB


A friend brought up an interesting point when we were last out tramping.  There was a group of us and one guy had an army-style molle pouch attached to his hip-belt containing his survival kit.

Now I can appreciate the desire to have a 2nd line containing all the necessities for when you drop-pack and wander off on a detour or to answer the call of nature.  You never know when your quick jaunt off-track could result in a “lesson in geographic awareness” or worse yet a first-aid emergency.


The MSC Bushcraft manual recommends the following should be carried in your survival kit:

  • Emergency shelter
  • Fire lighting equipment
  • Whistle
  • Cord or string
  • Fish hooks and line
  • Sharp knife
  • Bandage and plasters
  • Plastic bags
  • Aluminium foil
  • Pencil and paper
  • Compass

This is a pretty basic kit and is nothing compared to what some Doomsday Preppers will pack away to survive the next tsunami, volcanic eruption, or zombie apocalypse.


However, Nigel and I began to discuss where do you draw the line?  Some of those items are on my immediate person at all times so carrying a duplicate in my survival kit seems like a waste of weight.  For example my Storm Whistle lives on a cord around my neck and my Mercator never leaves my side.

The discussion became even more heated when we introduced a PLB to the mix.  Now I know not everyone has a PLB, dropping on average $550 for a single piece of kit isn’t feasible for everyone.  However, options are available to rent one at a reasonable daily rate so why wouldn’t you grab one and have that extra piece of security.  If I get into a situation where I’m up a proverbial creek without a paddle I’m much more likely to use that PLB than pull out some fish hooks and attempt to catch eels to survive.


Additionally, I’ve met guys who go whole hog on their survival kits.  I won’t list the amount of ingenious things they have included but I was impressed with their attention to detail.  Seriously, you could take just their kit into the bush and you’d have enough gear to build a comfy shelter, survive for weeks on end, and alert rescuers to your location.  But the time and money spent putting together those kits and the associated weight put me off the idea.

Nigel and I decided meeting in the middle would be the best approach.  You should always carry the basics; you’d be a Class A Moron not to.  However, the responsible use of a PLB for me is always going to be preferred.


So, there you go that’s one person’s opinion.  I’ve listed below my normal 1st and 2nd line gear but please leave comments on what you normally include in yours and maybe I’ll learn a thing or three.

  • RibZ pack
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Compass and Map
  • Cotton balls smothered in Vaseline
  • Lighter, flint and steel
  • Emergency bag
  • Waterproof paper and pencil
  • Spare bootlaces (really should replace this with some paracord)
  • Basic first-aid bandages and medication
  • Torch
  • PLB
  • OSM bar