“Every survival kit should include a sense of humour”

I resent having to carry a first aid kit.  I have never used anything from my first aid kit and, when it comes to packing it, a reckless little devil on my shoulder whispers to ‘leave it at home’ and ‘save the weight’.  I don’t listen and (albeit begrudgingly) stuff the kit into my bag.

Personal Survival Kits (PSK) and first-aid kits have a couple of things in common – 1) hopefully you won’t have to use them and 2) if you make either kit too small they become practically useless: a first aid kit consisting of a couple of band aids isn’t really a first aid kit…it’s just a couple of band aids (UL trekkers take note!).

However, PSKs have an almost universal appeal – the idea that everything you need to survive can be packed into an Altoids tin is a satisfying one (although the reality may be far less satisfying).

As I get older I find myself getting lazier and less tolerant of carrying around stuff I don’t use.  I certainly don’t want to duplicate items and have, for example, a PSK with a lighter/firesteel/purifying tabs/whistle etc in a tin when I have the very same items in my pack.  In truth, if you can guarantee that you will never be separated from your main pack (or lose your parang) the PSK concept becomes redundant as your main pack and parang are in themselves a PSK.

So this begs the question, how likely is it that I should end up lost in the jungle either without my pack or separated from it?  My view, in the jungle at least, is that this is an unlikely scenario but far from being impossible.  Anyone who has been ‘turned around’ in the jungle will know only too well how easy it is to get disorientated if you’re distracted and not paying attention.

The simple solution to all this is to pack those essential items that you need for survival in a pouch attached to your belt rather than keeping them inside your main pack.  I’ll cover what items I carry in another post, but in this video I wanted to look at the PSK knife – i.e. a knife that is small enough to fit in a waist pouch – and see what  it can do and what it can’t.

Let me be very clear about something – small PSK knives like the ones in the video are poor substitutes for a parang (or even for a full handled Mora or Hultafors).  Although splitting wood and other tasks can be done with these tiny knives it is going to be more difficult to do so and, as a result, take much longer for you to complete those tasks.  Equally a PSK is a poor substitute for your main pack and gear and, should you ever be in a position where the PSK is all you have, then you should allow much more time for setting up camp than you normally would.