Survival 101 > How Your Survival Kit Could Kill You

The term survival has become such a catch phrase in today's popular culture; you find its use applied to everything from self-help books, to the primitive skills movement, to prime time reality shows. So for clarification purposes I would like to define “survival”- and how it pertains to, our teaching philosophy, and goals as a company.

First, let’s start with what survival is not. As inferred above, every group has its own definition of survival, and its own ideas of purpose and priorities. If you are a primitive skills practitioner, survival may be seen as the ability to live off the land with primitive tools. From a military standpoint, survival may encompass one’s ability to escape and evade the enemy. Both of these perspectives have validity and application within their chosen fields. However, for the average outdoorsman, these perspectives may or may not sustain life in an emergency situation. 

From our perspective, survival encompasses a set of skills which preserve the existence of the human body in a wilderness or urban emergency. Simply put, survival skills should focus primarily on the preservation of one’s physiological core body temperature (98.6°F). Deviation from this base core temperature - either warmer or cooler, is the #1 killer of those lost or injured in the outdoors, and is referred to as EXPOSURE. The term exposure refers to HypothermiaHyperthermiaDehydration and other environmental related illnesses. These conditions are the true enemy of the outdoorsman. If your survival kit or instructor is not addressing these issues, perhaps you might rethink subscribing to their philosophy.

At we have created our own line of survival kits, Nomad Emergency Kits, which thoroughly address these conditions. Our curriculum and kits are based upon the Rule Of 3s ** survival priorities. They are:

You can survive:
3/minutes without air
3/hours without fire or shelter
3/days without water/sleep
3/weeks without food
3/? without hope


**These "rules" may change according to environment. For the most part they will assist you as they have us in assessing your own survival kits and priorities. Make adjustments accordingly, the life lost may be your own.

After meeting these priorities, obtaining RESCUE and EVACUATION should be next on the list.


Know Before You Go

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “prepare” is defined as: “to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity”. The key word in the aforementioned is “beforehand”. PREPARATION for any outdoor outing begins at home. While a survival kit can sustain your life in an unexpected outdoor emergency, proper preparation and making the following a HABIT will ensure your RESCUE; leave this list of information with at least TWO PEOPLE you trust, get in the HABIT of doing this.

Who:   List WHO will be along on your excursion, general info including ages, fitness levels, any vital medical info, color and type of clothing, as well as shoe size and model. (See article “Foiled” for more tips.)

Where:  Indicate map destination and route. Supply a photocopy if possible, with your route clearly marked.

What:  Include a detailed description of the vehicle you will be driving to the trail-head, including the make, model, year, interior and exterior color, and license plate #.

When:   As accurately as possible, indicate your return time and date. Add additional “lag” time to your estimated arrival - you don’t want search and rescue called out due to your curiosity and tardiness arriving at your indicated time.

Why: State the purpose of your excursion; fishing, bird watching, hiking, bird hunting, backcountry skiing, canyoneering, etc.  


 Be Prepared: Tips to Staying Found

  • Carry a survival kit at all times, even if only out for a day hike. Most survival situations occur while on short afternoon or day outings.
  • Get into the habit of leaving the above information with at least two responsible individuals.
  • Register at trailhead or local ranger station.
  • Study weather patterns, geography, environmental hazards, (e.g. avalanche, flash flooding, dangerous animals, etc.).
  • Know your limits. Don’t overestimate your skill or underestimate Mother Nature.
  • If part of a group, know each member’s strengths and weaknesses. Set your pace to the slowest member of your group.
  • Your #1 survival tool is your brain. Use common sense.
  • Plan for the unexpected.


Your Survival Kit

Whether creating your own or purchasing a commercial survival kit, be certain to address the "Rule Of 3s", as well as the following:

  • Ability to meet a variety of environments and seasons
  • Lightweight and dependable components
  • Portable, convenient to carry
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Multi-use, high quality components
  • Multiple signaling and fire starting tools
  • Effectively addresses survival priorities, “Rule Of 3s”
  • Strong shelter component
  • Affordable
  • Field tested 



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