This is lifted from The Handloaders Bench. Posted there by Mortis, and lifted whole with his permission, and with thanks. He's a member here, but can't remember his password -- I’m going to start this with a simple question. “In an Infantry Rifle Platoon , who is the most important person in the platoon?” Today I’m going to take a look at the aspects of survival. Primarily, survival in the wilderness. You can Google Wilderness Survival and get 1,380,000 hits. Google Wilderness Survival Kits and you will get 543,000 hits. You can even Google Terrorist Survival Kits and get 589,000 hits. Granted Google links words within the site description to produce their list, which means you have overlaps in every aspect of survival you wish to search for. Two of the most common links between every site is, 1)FM 21-76, The U.S. Army Survival Manual, which they quote as reference and often will reprint in it’s complete form, and 2) they want to sell you something new and improved for your survival kit. Let’s get some basic rules out of the way up front. 1. Keep everything simple. When injured or suffering from the cold or heat, the more complex the item, the more difficult to use under those circumstances. It doesn’t matter how nifty the tool is, because if you have trouble using it under normal conditions, it will be next to impossible under critical conditions. 2. Never trust anything that requires batteries. I learned this from 23 years of military service. I had a Supply Sergeant get upset because I was ordering anywhere from 50 to 100 percent overage on batteries in planning field operations. He stopped getting upset when I took a volt meter into supply and tested some of the batteries he had available. New batteries that either completely failed or showed to be weak. My wife opened a 4 pack of AA batteries last night. Found one bad in the batch. I will admit this is not as common as one might think, but it happens. Trick is do not depend on anything where 1 battery can mean the difference between living and dieing. 3. Don’t be cheap. Spend the money. After all, your life might depend on it working right more then once., along with the lives of friends or loved ones. This does not mean you have to buy an item because it costs more then others, only that you really need to shop around. It is amazing what you can find at those Dollar For Everything stores. And just because it is not a brand name does not mean it is of less quality then an unknown brand. Shop wisely. 4. Knowledge is survival. Buy the books and manuals, but don’t wait till you are in trouble to read them I have maybe a dozen survival books in my library, but FM 21-76 is time and situation proven. If you have to rely on a single manual or book, that is the one to use. 5. Bulk verse Weight. Both aspects wear on the bodies ability to travel. Back in the 1970’s the U.S. Army developed it’s ALICE system. Super lightweight load bearing equipment, that took a lot of the burden on being a grunt easier. Then they started adding weight and bulk back into the system because you could carry more since it was lighter. Weight literally drags the body down. Bulk, if not properly packed throws off a persons balance, making travel even more difficult. If you have two (2) items that can perform the same function, where one weights twice as much as the other but is one-third (1/3<sup>rd)</sup> the size, a decision has to be made which burden is practical. The weight or the bulk. 6) Choose Your Friends or Allies Carefully. Ok, this aspect of survival is based on the apocalyptic fears of the worst case scenario. Remember, we all have friends that other friends often never meet. And I have learned that within social or even political situations a coming together of like people does not extend into the realm of life or death situations. And a mutual desire to survive does not guarantee a likeness of philosophy. And nothing can ruin a friendship faster the having to terminate the association with a friends friend. Do I have to be bunt here? Ok, most of what I said above is probably already known by the reader, but redundancy never hurts. It help reinforce the memory. The very first item I would suggest anyone building their first kit to get is a good, quality vacuum sealer for packaging. It does you no good to take a tumble into an icy stream, get soaked, injure yourself at the same time, then find out all of your gear is soaked. Plus, the vacuum sealing will reduce some items in bulk to a manageable size. Also the vacuum sealing takes the oxygen out which is the major cause of deterioration of food items and other materials. Remember to pack some type of reseal able bag to repack in later, unless you over size the primary bag for such purpose with duct tape. I would certainly seal any manual that way for it’s own protection from weather and wear. Next, make friends with a machinist. This is not so he can make things for you, but so you can access his trash. Part of the problem with packing and storage is that unless you are willing to pay for specialty packaging, it is hard to find containers to pack some items. One item that I feel requires special packaging are butane lighters. Personally I find them difficult to use in certain aspects without burning your own fingers, (and yes, I smoke), but unless you use those child safety lighters, which are a pain for even us adults, it is always possible that the little valve lever can become pressed, thus leaking out all the butane, making it nothing more then dead weight. With some exceptions, most machinist tooling now comes in plastic, slip tubes. Mills especially come this way. They come in various sizes depending on the size of the tool . If too long for your needs, a little trimming can make any tube suitable for a specific need such as storage of lighters, nails, sewing needles, matches, Band-Aids , etc.. All you will have to do is use a good degreaser to clear out any oils in the tube and you are all set. I have one tube with jeweler’s files in it. The options are unlimited. Also, those small tubes you see at the check-out counter containing Tylenol, Aleve and other pain meds can be used for small item storage once they are emptied. Another place to shop is hobby shops such as Hobby Lobby. When planning you kit, you have too keep an open mind to what can work. And not everything can be found at your favorite surplus store or sporting goods store. And although I have not actually done it yet, I imagine that I can outfit a kit by just shopping at WalMart. Duplication. I have read on several sites to determine the need, then determine which tool works best over all between several tools then only carry that tool. I know from experience that anything can get lost in the brush and if always seems to be a critical item that is lost. This goes back to weight. I am a firm believer that you cannot have enough blades. I had a Lieutenant once asked me just how many knives I thought I needed. I laid six (6) out on the hood of the quarter ton and did not open my personal survival kit for the one in there. Speaking of my personal survival kit from those days, I’d like to say that it was never built to be a Bug Out Kit. After having a slick shot out from under me and then doing a tour with the Air Wing, I determined that having a little extra in case of surviving another downed bird, it would be nice to have something on me to assist in my survival in case I had to dump my ruck to E&E. Course, a trip through the SERE Course at Subic helped with that decision. Being a typical Marine, I never considered giving up ground unless ordered too, but a downed helo in Indian country is another thing completely. Survival vests. Great idea for an air crewman. But I see several problems with them myself. Now, I’m not saying that if a person has one they use and thinks it niftier then sliced bread should not use one. Everything is situational. In this part of the country, the weather is such that I’d need several vests for the weather conditions. Remember, that the vest becomes another layer of clothing. The heat and humidity in these parts during the late spring and summer months can get nasty, therefore I’d need an ultra-light vest, while in the winter a heavier one would be practical. Notice the military has different weight vest for climate, as well inventory checklists for climates. Hot verses Cold climates. Fanny Packs. There are a varity of fanny type packs on the market. Turkey hunters especially have a great selection to choose from. One thing I consider very important if picking a fanny type pack and that is suspenders. Suspenders distribute the weight from the hips to the shoulders and hips. Believe me when I say that walking a couple miles with the weight only on the hips will wear you down quick. If you decide on a pack that does not have suspenders, no problem. Just grab a set of carpenter's suspenders from the hardware aisle and attach them. And yes Mildred, they come in black. I would suggest that even the old hands at this game obtain a copy of the FM 21-76 or it’s newer version FM 3-05.70. But downloading a copy of Appendix A, Survival Kits, from many online sources, will give you one of the best checklists anywhere. These are the basics. You can add or subtract all your hearts desire. Just Google FM 21-76 and watch Google go wild. 86,300 hits. Also be prepared to buy some ready made kit to get one or two items you feel you might need. Sometimes you can only find specific items in ready made kits where the maker has a source to buy them buy the hundreds if not thousands. I am very aware that some items can be made in your den on a leisure evening, and those are great, but such is the life of a survivalist. And not everyone has access to a machine shop to make something neat. So… anyone figure out the answer to the opening question? The most important in a Rifle Platoon is the Ragged Assed Private in the Rear Rank with a Rusty Rifle. He is the weakest link. Therefore he is the most important person because he can bring down the effectiveness of a unit. This concept follows suit with any endeavor, to including the construction of a survival kit. Any kit is only as capable as it’s components. And your life depends on the capability of those components.