In his best selling book Survive, Les Stroud shows you exactly what it takes to survive in different survival scenarios. In an early chapter he dedicates an entire section to what he considers to be a highly efficient and lean survival kit. In this post I will explore the contents of Les Strouds survival kit and shed light on different ways you can use each piece of gear.
5 lb coffee container
Les recommends keeping all of the following gear in a 5lb coffee container. This serves to house the gear in a compact space and also to protect the gear from outside elements like water. Les fails to mention just how you are supposed to transport this container. Are you supposed to hold it in your hand or keep it in your cargo pockets? I doubt a coffee container of that size will even fit in the most baggiest of pants pockets. It would be wise to store the container in a bug out bag or stash it somewhere safe. In the event you need the items within you can easily retrieve the contents and use what you need. However, if you’re venturing out into the wilderness I can’t see how carrying this thing around is practical. I do see the importance of keeping your gear stored in a safe container though.
Folding metal cup
Some kind of stainless steel or metal cup is a versatile piece of survival equipment. The cup can be used to boil water and also doubles as a drinking and eating cup. I’ve used cheap metal cups in the past which tend to warp and degrade overtime. These days I’ve been very pleased with this camp set from Stanley. It comes with a handle so pulling it in and out of the fire is no problem. Without a collapsible handle you’ll be waiting a long time for the cup to cool down unless you have gloves or something to protect your hands.
A good multi tool or Swiss Army knife is always a lifesaver. The pliers on the multi tool especially come in handy for a number of situations. I use mine to take hot gear out of the fire like my cooking pieces and also to bend metals into place. You’ll never know what you’ll need the multi tool for but you will always be wishing you had one if you don’t.
55 gallon trash bags
These thick industrial size trash bags can do a lot of good in a survival situation. You can easily create a shelter or use the bags to waterproof your gear. Crossing a river and don’t want anything to get wet? Throw everything in one of these trash bags and call it a day. You can also wrap your shoes up to create instant waterproof footwear during a storm. They also function very well as a makeshift poncho
Use a bandana the traditional way as a means to keep your head from getting sun burnt and to wipe the sweat from your brow. They can also be used to filter sediment and debris from a water source. Note that this does not purify the water. Be careful to boil the water before hand and then filter through the bandana to remove the debris.
The rest of the items below fit conveniently in a large Ziploc bag. The Ziploc bag further waterproofs your gear and protects from the elements.
- 550 cordage – Paracord. Essential for stringing up a survival shelter and other uses to long to list. As they say, you never know what you’re going to need it for but you’re always going to need it.
- Small led flashlight – Any kind of flashlight will do. When darkness hits and there is no electricity the night will be very dark. To navigate your way around your gear and camp you’ll need some illumination. I like a good tactical light like the Fenix PD-35 but any cheap flashlight will work.
- Candle – Candles are the old school way of lighting camp and home. They’re drop dead simple to use and are extremely practical as part of a survival kit.
- Lighter or butane blow torch – Something you can use to light a fire with. A lighter works but a butane blow torch is nearly unphased by wind and other external elements.
- Space blanket – A space blanket will reflect the heat you lose from your body right back at you. This creates a cycle of warmth even in extremely cold conditions. While you might not be comfortable, a good space blanket can keep you warm enough until the morning – and that’s all that matters. Survival is not a 5 star experience at the Ritz-Carlton.
- Ferrocerium Rod – A ferrocerium rod is a man made metal used to create sparks which ignite a fire. The nice thing about them is they can get wet and will still be usable. This is not the case with lighters and matches. With a little practice in the wild you can easily create fire from dry tinder found locally in the environment.
- Strike anywhere matches – A basic set of strike anywheres to add a little redundancy to your fire kit. Keep these in a metal container because plastic has properties which can ignite the matches.
- Signal whistle – Has anybody ever been found by using one of these? I have no idea but Les recommends having one. I can see if you broke a leg in the wild how this might be your only way out.
- Compass – Almost useless without a map but Les still recommends having one. This is one of those pieces of gear requiring proper training to be used correctly. If you choose to get one this compass is the best in the business.
- Painkillers – Ibuprofens, Advils, Tylenols etc. Useful for minor ailments of the human body including any aches or pains endured in a survival situation.
- Knife – Need I say anymore. A good survival knife is worth its weight in gold out in the bush. If there’s one thing you’d want on this list it’s a solid knife at your belt. I’ve written a post on choosing the right survival knife to give you an idea about what kind of knife you want. There’s thousands of knives out there but if you follow a few basic principles you can’t go wrong.
My Review of the Les Stroud Survival Kit
Les Strouds survival kit has taken a lot of flack from the survival community. Either people don’t understand why a certain piece of gear was included or they think his kit is completely missing critical gear. I will say this – The Les Stroud survival kit is extremely lean. This means you’ll need to rely more on your skills as a survivalist.
Everything you need to survive is there. Most importantly you have the means to secure clean water and shelter. Without these 2 elements in place survival is highly unlikely. People wonder why there isn’t 72 hours worth of food in the kit as recommended in most bug out bag guides. The thing is, this is not a bug out bag. This is a survival kit. Man can go 30 days without food but will quickly die without shelter or water. Everything you need to survive is here.
Would it be nice for the kit to have a water filter and everything else that goes into a full blown bug out bag? Sure, but why make it so easy on yourself? This is not a stay at a 5 star hotel. This is survival. With the right skills anybody can survive with the Les Stroud survival kit.
I think the Les Stroud survival kit is good enough for most people with basic skills. The thing is, there is no such thing as the perfect survival kit and who am I to judge one of the best survivalists out there? The nice thing about this kit is everything on it is very inexpensive. You could easily pick the stuff on this list up for less than $50. A good bug out bag with all the goodies will easily run you a few hundred.
What do you think about this kit? Let me know in the comments below.