The Exact contents of your Emergency kit will depend on where in the world you are hiking, but the contents should always be the absolute essentials for;
- Signalling for help
- Gaining shelter (Staying in one place)
- Keeping warm
- Maintaining a supply of water.
In New Zealand, the lack of dangerous animals, plentiful water, sub tropical summer temperatures, and relatively small distances when carrying a PLB, means my kit can be pretty basic (*1)
Emergency Kit Contents
I divide my kit into two parts,
Part 1: The Absolute Essentials
- Personal Locator Beacon:(PLB)(*3) Kti SA2G 406 MHz transmitter, with strobe light, homing signal, buckle whistle and mirror. Weighs 140gms, 10 year battery life.
- Personal shelter: Pocket Survival bag by NZMSC weighing 140gm, this compressed plastic blue bag opens to 190cm x 80cm for shelter,. Blue is a great contrast colour for searching aircraft.
- Fire steel: I like the Swedish Fire Steel, it is lightweight and reliable with a whistle in the handle.(make sure you practice using the steel before you need it, correct technique makes it work so much better.) Striking sparks at night can also make a great signalling tool.
- Fire Tinder: I carry a couple of Tampons, that are essentially compressed Cotton wool, which burns like petrol when hit by a sparks from a Fire steel. The great thing about Tampons is they come in tight waterproof packaging.
- Pocket knife: A nice sharp(*4) wide bladed pocket knife. Useful for cutting blazes on trees, spearing, shaving tinder and cutting kindling..
- Signalling Mirror: While my PLB comes with a Signalling Mirror, I also kept my original proper Heliograph because it has history!
- Fishing line or Paracord: 15-20m, multiple uses including rigging shelter.
- Tin Foil: Fold up a 30cm square of foil, many mould able uses including a plate, bowl and cooking utensil.
- Light Source: Small ultra light emergency LED headlamp.(some people use small dynamo torches but the storage battery in these fail if not wound regularly)
- Water carrier: Condoms can carry a large amount of water, but also have multiple other survival uses. (try to get larger non lubricated)
- Magnetic Compass: Base Plate (while not part of my Emergency kit the bag also has a map pocket, where I carry the Topographic map I am using.)
- Water treatment: While I prefer UV water treatment, in an emergency Chemical water tablets are a far nicer prospect than the agony of a dose of Giardia or Cryptosporidium.
Total weight: 470 grams
Part 2: The nice to have, but can managed with out
This items I carry in my hiking pack.
- Long Life food: I usually carry a couple of Back Country Freeze dried meals. This food is kept separate from my trip food and not opened for any reason other than emergency.(*5) Freeze dried meals can also be eaten soaked in cold water,, or the water warmed in the pouch over a fire.(the outer label will burn off)
- Repair kit: full of all kinds of useful stuff
Remember – NEVER abandon any of your gear, in an emergency even rubbish can become useful.
(*1) Particularity if you have left a detailed Intentions Plan with a trusted person and have activated a PLB.
(*2)All it takes is dropping your pack to step off the track and take a photo, or pass urine.. taking a fall and not being able to get back to your gear…. or leaving your camp to get water and missing the track…
(*3)I have hiked since before PLB existed and never had a mishap but I brought one as soon as they arrived on the market because the day I do need it, it will be worth every dollar!
(*4)Its worth investing in a small diamond sharpening steel to carry with your knife to keep the edge on, after you have sharpened it properly before you leave home.
(*5) Humans can go without food for several weeks, but only 2-4 days without water, so loosing while losing your pack and food will be uncomfortable, staying warm, dry and drinking water will get you through.