General Preparedness Information


Over the years I’ve been asked why I never submitted an application to the once popular reality television show, ‘Survivor’.

To begin with, it’s ‘reality television’ so there can’t be any reality associated with it. I admit, I did watch some of the first season of the show, at least a few of the episodes. The premise was for a group of people to scavenge what they felt was needed from a ship, toss it overboard and then drag those items to shore. Only one contestant had the right idea, Rudy Bosch, a former US Navy SEAL and at that time, the oldest contestant on the show. While everyone else was in a mad dash to grab what they thought was useful, old Rudy was asked if he was going to need anything and all he did was smile and reply calmly, “No, I have my knife.”


The show ran for several seasons with new contestants in different locations facing challenges from the environment and each other. After the first season I didn’t bother to watch anymore as it was pretty much the same thing only the faces and locations had changed.

Technically, they weren’t really in a survival situation as there were medics and experts off camera in the event of a serious health or danger issue. To me that’s not a survival situation if there are support personnel on hand.

To some people the idea of a survival situation will totally freak them out. Instead of taking inventory of what they have on their person and what skills they can use, they have a panic attack.

In my ‘other’ life as a wilderness survival instructor, there is an advanced class where the students are required to use the items they have in their personal survival kit that is compact enough to carry on their belt. This advanced class and evaluation lasts one full week with multiple instructors watching as the students rely on what they’ve learned and what’s in their pockets and inside their personal survival kits.

Some of the items in that kit may seem strange but they are there for a reason.

Here’s a short list of those components:

20 feet of duct tape in a flattened role (saves space)

50 feet of 550 para-cord (this is easily found at sporting goods and surplus stores)

Clear plastic bags, the larger the better

8″ wire ties aka zip ties

At this point, most of you are asking yourselves what good can these items do out in the wild?


Here’s what can be accomplished with duct tape, plastic bags and wire ties:


Plastic bag, duct tape and 550 cord:

The plastic bags that I use are actually pallet covers that are 72″ long and 48″ wide.

Clear plastic garbage bags can also be used for water. Not a solar still as some might consider but transpiration which works better, faster and uses less energy to construct.

The amount of water collected through transpiration far surpasses the time, effort and energy one will expend building a solar still.

After completing the basic core classes, the students are capable of surviving for 72 hours or more in the wilderness with just the bare minimum of equipment like what is mentioned above.  By now, there is probably a 50/50 group of readers who are either somewhat excited about being prepared for the worst while the other group is of the ‘who cares’ party. Leaving the disinterested behind, we’ll move onto what is most likely running across the minds of the interested group. How can you carry all that is needed in your pockets?


This key fob made of 550 cord has about 21 feet of usable rope in it. This is one way to always have some 550 para-cord on hand. Duct tape in a flattened role can be slipped into a pocket. You only need about 20 feet of it. The wire ties can be slipped into a pocket and the plastic bags can be compressed into a back pocket or purse. With those on hand, you can gather water and make shelter two basic necessities in any survival situation.

Add to this a good, quality multi-tool like the Leatherman Wave.

This is my preference for a multi-tool as the primary working blades lock into place preventing a blade fold back injury to your hand and fingers.


Imagine if more people learned these skills and actually were able to apply them when needed as needed.


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