In this video I’ve finished off the long parang; putting on a rubber grip and adding some survival items to the handle.

The mention of ‘survival items’ may conjure up images of gun-crazed survivalists preparing to fend off the zombie apocalypse, and many people may think carrying such items is over cautious.

Is it over cautious?  The truth is that although the jungle can be a hostile environment, it is not the hardest one in which to survive. Why is this? Firstly you’ll be near the equator (so you’re unlikely to die of hypothermia), secondly there’s usually plenty of water around (dehydration shouldn’t be a problem) and thirdly, well, it takes weeks to die of starvation.

So why the survival items? With the items I carry with me I am confident that I can build a waterproof shelter, make a hammock to lift me off the ground, start a fire and find clean water… and that I can do all of these things relatively quickly. So, if I have to spend an unplanned night in the jungle, I am fairly relaxed about it and, although I may go to bed hungry, at least I’ll be comfortable.

Having a relaxed approach to a unplanned situation is psychologically important as it means you’re more likely to think clearly and make the right decisions. If I’m lost in the jungle and it gets to about 4pm, I’ll stop and make a shelter/fire/hammock, get a good nights sleep and try to find my way out the next morning with a full day in front of me.

A few years ago two people I know went into the jungle near to where I live and got lost. They’d driven to the end of the tarmac and walked less than 1/2 km along the route for a planned road extension. They’d walked this route many times before so they felt confident of finding their way out and they’d left their mobile phones in the car and didn’t have a parang with them. They got turned around and couldn’t find their way back to the car (this was mid-afternoon).

Their frustration grew (they kept coming back to the same tree) as did a desire to get-the-hell-out of the jungle, so they decided to walk a considerable distance across a valley in their attempt to find the road. Unfortunately they were walking in the wrong direction.

Later that evening the alarm was raised and their car was found. The surrounding area was searched but their was no sign of the two missing people.

It started to rain.

They were found mid-morning the next day (far from where they originally got lost) having spent an extremely uncomfortable night sitting on the jungle floor leaning against a tree trunk (much to the delight of nearby mosquitoes and leeches).

People tend to make the wrong decisions when things go wrong – they panic – whereas being confident in the environment you’re in makes it more likely that you’ll stay calm and think clearly.

Imagine if you’re super-rich and get stranded in a foreign city – no problem, you just check into the best hotel there is and all is well. But if you have no money, getting stranded in a foreign city is no joke. In this analogy, having a parang and a few basic survival items (and the knowledge of how to use them) in the jungle is equivalent to being super-rich in a city.

…and talking of money, the parang and all the modifications only cost about 7 UK pounds (excluding the sharpening stone which cost around 15 UK pounds).

So, put together your own survival kit and only include items that you have tested yourself and that you know how to use (there’s no point in carrying a flint and steel if you can’t throw a spark!)