So I’ve been putting together survival kits of late, and come across a number of cheap options which I thought I might share. I’ve been thinking that it would be better having 5 slightly lower quality items that I’m not afraid to lose, than 1 fantastic ultra reliable item that will make me cry (or worse, in a survival situation) if i lose or break it.
This sort of survival kit on the cheap is, I must say, all made possible by the wonderous cheap stuff coming out of china. Since most high quality, genuine name brand stuff now also comes out of the same factories in china, the knock-off stuff is now pretty good, if a bit hit and miss sometimes with the quality control. While it may not be as good as the real deal, for the price I think its worth it.
One great example is the pocket knife below – the gerber knock off shown below is less than a tenth of the price of my CRKT M16-13LE. Now, there’s no dispute that the CRKT is a far better knife, but the cheapie is still very solid. Steel is a bit softer, but it still holds an edge decently and is easy to sharpen. The CRKT is my EDC, but the cheapies go into the various kits I have.
Folding knife – Tanto blade, probably 440a or 440c not properly hardened or similar steel – holds an edge fairly well, but is quite easy to sharpen. Quality control is a potential issue – 1 of 3 had a poorly made liner lock which required repair before it locked properly. At around AU$7.50 each delivered (3 to 5, cheaper for higher quantities), i bought a bunch for my various kits.
LED torch (“Flashlight”)
This one runs from AA, AAA and CR123. Runtime on a rechargable CR123 is about 60 minutes. It has a constant current constant voltage regulated driver, as it gives consistant light intensity right up until the battery protection circuit kicks in. With AA and AAAs you get a dimmer light. Different brightness modes would be nice, but the battery flexibility I think is a bigger bonus. At around AU$11 each delivered, one goes in each kit.
Fixed blade survival knife. A number of chinese sellers on ebay sell these for around AU$25. Full tang, very solid construction, nice handle scales. Blade geometry is nice for slicing (eg skinning), and a nice size for survival work – not too large. The only downside is the sheath, which is functional, but not particularly good.
Another handy one is a small cylindrical zippo style lighter. This one features a screw on lid with an o-ring, meaning that the zippo fluid (aka coleman fuel, naptha, shellite) doesn’t evaporate like normal zippos.