The problem with survival equipment is that it gets left behind, not on purpose, but because you’re “just going over there” within sight of the truck or camp or road or where ever.
I have some things that are always on my person, in pockets and never to be left behind. If I get separated from my other equipment I will always have this some basic needs covered.
Here how I organize my stuff: I made a leather packet to put some of the stuff in, it’s about 7 inches wide, 4 and ½ inches high with a closure flap but no snaps or other closure hardware. The idea here is that it will fit smoothly and comfortably in the side pocket of my BDU’s. If the gear rubs your leg raw, you’ll leave it behind. If it isn’t in your pocket all the time you will forget it.
The packet is divided in two sections. One side holds a military issue compass, tritium dial with a heavy cord attached to hang around your neck when in use. The other side has some fire starting equipment. First a Trioxane heat tab, the big ones intended for heating a meal, and some water resistant matches in an extra heavy plastic sleeve. Then there is a 3 inch by 1 inch bar of magnesium with a striker on the edge. Finally, a sealed lighter that a fellow here in Montana makes and sells at gun shows. This lighter uses Zippo parts but is only about 2 inches long and 5/8 in diameter and it does not leak. I have one that still lights up first time every time even after 5 years in the desk draw. Everything goes into the packet, the top flap folds over and then 20 feet of real parachute cord wrapped tight around the packet between the two compartments keeps everything in place.
In my left side pants pocket is a knife and a flashlight. The flashlight is a two cell Mini-Mag-lite. The AAA work fine, I carry a one cell AAA with me all the time, but the AA last longer. I prefer the Mag-lite brand after several “disappointing” experiences with other brands. My knife of choice is a Victorinox “Hunter” with a 3 inch blade and a 3 inch saw, tooth-pick and tweezers. Not the best for whatever, but it is the absolute best knife I’ve ever found that does every at least passably and more importantly rides comfortably in my pocket. Again, it does you no good if you left it in camp.
In my hip pockets I place two large cotton bandanas, one of which is brightly colored, red will do, I’m still looking for one in day-glow orange or yellow that isn’t synthetic.
In my hunting pack for when I’m not “just going to have a look” I carry two more items which I would not want to be without. First is an ax. Frankly, I’d give up a knife in favor of a good ax. Yes, I’ve actually dressed out a deer with just an ax and it works a lot better than you’d think; on the other hand try chopping wood with a knife sometime… My ax of choice is a Fiskars/Gerber model with a 14 inch handle, light, sharp and strong. I wrap the lower part of the handle with parachute cord to improve the grip and plus I’ve got more cord if I need it. I’ve tried the short handled, 6 inch, version of this ax and found it wanting due to the lack of leverage and the handle makes it awkward to wear on my belt, hence it will get left behind.
The other item I would not be without is a Jerven bag. OK, what is a Jerven bag? Well you might know it by its other name Fjellduken Thermo Hunter Skogka. Alright enough Norwegian humor. It is a combination poncho, thermal blanket, camouflaged hunting blind and sleeping bag cover. The best thing I can do is tell you to go to their website and see what the thing is and how it is used. It is also very expensive. It also works exactly as advertised and could save your life. I have sat for over 4 hours in a 15 to 20 mph wind on a day that never got above 5 above and been quite comfortable. I was dressed for the weather but without the Jerven bag, I would not have lasted 20 minutes. Every one of my hunting or fishing partners that has had the Jerven bag “experience” has either bought one or wishes they had the funds to do so.
Stay safe and have fun,