The Basics: Critical 10 C's to Survival

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Brokor, Sep 12, 2015.

  1. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    If you are new to survival and bushcraft, or a seasoned practitioner, a general list of the most basic and essential components may be helpful to assist us in memorizing every aspect.

    Download the 10 C check list: CLICK HERE

    There is a commonly used method to outline most of the basic tools (kit) required for survival. The exact item you choose to use will be entirely based on your own preference, dictated by climate and region as well as skill level and proficiency. You may wish to utilize this basic outline to frame your emergency kit contents, or as a complete solution for other needs, such as a hiking kit or bug out bag.

    (Courtesy of Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School)
    The first 5 C's
    Cutting tool
    Combustion device

    The Second 5 C's
    Cotton bandanna
    Candling device (lamp or light)
    Cloth sail needle (awl)
    Cargo tape (duct tape)

    Based upon this method, I have created a simplified list based on what I personally have found to be the most critical components to making a kit. A few of these are not included in the normal list of 'C's' by Dave and others. I will explain each below, in detail.

    The critical 10 C's
    Cutting tool
    Combustion device (fire)
    Covering (shelter)
    Container(s) (water)
    Compass (and map)
    Clothing (and footwear)
    Carry bag
    Care and rescue (first aid)

    Let's look at each of these and discuss some of the more important aspects. I will attempt to describe the reason each may be needed, and give an example of each one. In no way should you limit your kit just to the item I describe, since you may find a better solution (another brand) based on your own preference or environment.

    Cutting Tool
    This is the knife you will carry. You may also wish to have redundancy, carrying more than one or even complimenting it with an axe or folding saw, or some other bladed tool. You will need to carry a knife which would perform the tasks at hand; wood carving for basic items, to skinning game and to serve as a utility tool. You will want a fixed blade (as opposed to a folding blade), something with a good steel, and is known to function well. For these reasons, I have selected the Mora line of knives. These are affordable and very well made blades, and they come in a wide variety to serve any role. Linked threads for extended information: -(1)--(2)--(3)-

    Combustion Device
    As long as you know how to use it, the combustion device of your choosing will assist you in creating fire when you need it. Some points to consider are - will it work when it is wet? Will it last for an extended period of time? Will it work when my hands are cold and numb? Just like a cutting tool, you may wish to have redundancy in fire making, too. If you chose to use a Mora "Light my Fire" blade, it comes with a built-in ferrocerium rod within the handle. Use the tool you decide to use and actually try to make fire (safely) and test your abilities. Recommended tools in this category: Numyth fire piston, Light my Fire, waterproof matches. Linked threads for more information: -(1)--(2)--(3)-

    This is one of the critical C's skipped by many people, whether it be because they just do not see it as essential, or due to ignorance, I cannot say. Perhaps for most, looking at just a general survival situation, it isn't essential. But, if we are going to talk about survival in this century, I highly recommend implementing sturdy and dependable communications into your routine. The level of communication you implement will be based on your skills and expectations. You can go with iDen secure two way phones, CB radio, Ham radio, or just about anything you find reasonable. This portion of the list also includes AM/FM/SW radio and emergency alert frequencies. You can receive information with radio, and transmit as well as receive with various tools I already listed. Search our forums about any of these at your own leisure. Linked threads for more information: -(1)--(2)--(3)-

    Covering (shelter)
    This can be a daunting challenge to newcomers. But, it's actually not as tough as some may think at first glance. You basically need to protect your body from exposure to the elements. If you can accomplish this task, then all the fluff disappears. Start with a sturdy tarp. Do not buy the cheap 2 dollar plastic blue tarp and store it for a few years and expect it not to be cracked and ruined. You will benefit from a PU coated ripstop nylon tarp, but if the budget will not allow this, a well made poly tarp will work. You want to check the stitching, the grommets (if any), and try it out -test it. The average size tarp is a 5'x8' dimension, but this can vary and it depends on your preference. This topic also includes bedding: a hammock, sleeping bag, wool blanket, or anything else you consider shelter. Again, we have plenty of topics on the forum for these items. Linked threads for more information: -(1)--(2)--(3)--(4)-

    Containers (water)

    Water procurement, water storage, and water treatment -all of these are essential to survival, and in order to do these things, you need a container. To treat water, you will need to boil it. Lots of people choose to use a metal container just because they know they can use this container to boil water. From portable stoves, to kettles and carriers, it's all pertinent to the subject of procuring water, treating it, and storing it for use. The advantages to using a plastic container are, they are lighter and you can carry more of them. Linked threads for more information: -(1)--(2)--(3)--(4)-

    Cordage (rope, paracord, twine)
    From trapping to fixing your kit and even fishing, there are many uses for quality cordage. Try to choose a braided line which can be broken down into individual strands, or use a 550 parachute cord, for example. For those on a budget, common bank line (at least 3 ply) will work very well. Linked threads for extended information: -(1)--(2)--(3)-

    Compass (and map)
    Having a quality compass and topographic map can save your life. Without these tools, you will be at the mercy of your environment, and rely upon guessing where you are going if you are in the wilderness or traveling long distances (aside from general navigation by stars or bushcraft methods). You will need to posses the skill to read a map and to ascertain direction with a compass (terrain navigation). See these linked threads for more information: -(1)--(2)--(3)--(4)--(5)-

    Clothing and Footwear
    Your clothing should be constructed of wool and or cotton canvas for the greatest amount of protection and durability. Some nylon and cotton/polyester blends are acceptable, but keep in mind that you must test out your kit long term to see for yourself which can stand the tests of time. Footwear is also critically important. This is so important to learn: spend the money on quality footwear! See these linked threads for more information: -(1)--(2)--(3)--(4)--(5)-

    Carry Bag
    Your backpack is an extension of yourself, in that it carries all or most of your kit. Therefore, it would be wise to do some research if you already do not have experience with extended hiking and backpacking. Knowing how to properly fit a pack to your body is important, and not all packs are "one size fits all". Know the difference between an external frame pack and an internal frame. Limit yourself to a usable pack which conforms to your body type and environment. If you are carrying a pack with its contents and the total weight is more than 1/3rd your total body weight, you should lighten the load or seek advanced training. Common pack types to search for are USMC ILBE, Webtex PLCE, Kifaru, Tasmanian Tiger, and Kelty. Linked threads for more information: -(1)--(2)--(3)-

    Care and Rescue (First Aid)
    This particular subject includes critical training in emergency response and/or self treatment for injury and injury assessment. An actual course for casualty care is always recommended for those who do not have the training by route of military or qualified emergency response expertise. The basic kit is comprised of more than a few band-aids and a tube of antibacterial ointment, so a little time is required to gain understanding. Linked threads for extended information: -(1)--(2)--(3)-


    All things considered, along the subject of knowledge, which most of these tools really do require in order for you to be well-rounded and successful in any outdoor adventure, another topic I would like to revisit is plant identification and related edible plant guides. This subject goes hand-in-hand with any proposed skill set, since at its very core it establishes a solid baseline for success in the wilderness. I hope all of this information has been helpful, and please do follow all the links I provided and feel free to comment on the threads.

    Extended Information: The Ultimate Bug Out Bag Master List

    This particular thread is meant to be a BASIC guideline for many who just want to get started and find some solid footing on where to begin.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  2. Mountainman

    Mountainman Großes Mitglied Site Supporter+++

    Great thread Brokor. Think the linked thread idea is very good for quick additional info without doing a search off of the original post.
  3. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Bushcraft / Advanced / Primitive Skills
    This is the Primitive Skills portion of the 10 C's I have listed. For each, I will briefly explain and link resources and information to a primitive approach to each of these basic and critical skills.

    Cutting Tool: You could make your own blades. Blacksmithing is not exactly a dead profession, and is making a resurgence. You could also use bone and even learn how to knap flint or other rock material. We are not limited to these methods alone, and could fashion make-shift blades and weapons from found materials, too. -link 1- -link 2- -link 3- -link 4- -link 5-

    Combustion Device: By using skills attained from bushcraft study, one could essentially make fire with a bow drill or various primitive techniques, and under the right conditions, may prove to be beneficial. -link 1- -link 2- -link 3-

    Communication: This does not have a direct primitive substitute, since technology enables significant advantages, but there are some interesting ideas floating about. -link 1-

    Covering: We can always make our own shelter from nature, even fashion a permanent dwelling with our own hands and a bit of skill. Just a simple lean-to can save your life, and learning how to make it is pretty easy. -link 1- -link 2- -link 3-

    Containers: Although not as solid and suitable for combat as modern containers, primitive methods can work. From making a container out of reeds and vines, to animal hide and sinew, birch bark and grasses, there's ample resources in nature to make due with what can be found. -link 1- -link 2- (note: we need more on this subject)

    Cordage: Using the green roots of saplings and various undergrowth and vines, even grasses and cactus, an individual could make very useful cordage in the wild. -link 1- -link 2- -link 3-

    Compass: General direction can be obtained from moss on a tree trunk, or the stars at night. Even the sun plays a part in how we can tell direction and time of day. We can even magnetize a tiny metal fragment or a needle and place it on a leaf suspended in water to make a rudimentary compass, albeit slightly ineffective. -link 1- -link 2- -link 3- -link 4- -link 5-

    Clothing: Humans have been making clothing from animal hides long before recorded history. People in third world countries still wear clothing we would consider to be ancient or prehistoric. -link 1- -link 2-

    Carry Bag: Although not as well fitting and rugged as a modern backpack, a custom bushcraft pack made from utilizing the skill of basket weaving and attaching leather straps from a fresh kill could grant the survivalist a container to carry the essentials. -link 1-

    Care and Rescue: This is not quite a replacement for modern casualty treatment, nor the emergency care of a wounded person in combat, but the closest we may come is to look toward our past. The practice of using medicinal herbs and remedies are so old they blend into folklore and myth. Many useful items can be obtained from nature, and sometimes this knowledge really can save lives. -link 1- -link 2- -link 3- -link 4- -link 5-

    Although I do not fully subscribe to the idea of replacing modern kit with primitive items, I can appreciate the knowledge just in case I am without an item and find myself in need. In this manner, I gain an understanding for the ways of our past, and hope to inspire others to seek out solutions through bushcraft and primitive learning. Perhaps we can remember something we have lost along the way.
    Alanaana, chelloveck, arleigh and 7 others like this.
  4. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    I like your 10 C's better, @Brokor.

    Communications to me, also includes your signaling for rescue. A whistle, mirror and of course, your phone and the message you left with someone reliable before you went out.

    And clothes, your first line of defense. Feet are important. In addition to shoes, maybe a pair of sandals to air out your feet, and to wear around camp. Many times, people never let their feet out of their shoes. Bad feet mean you go nowhere. Trust me, I know. I have had foot injuries and when your feet aren't all well, you are grounded. A towel that is large enough to actually wear is a good thing too. An extra blanket, a shawl or scarf, or if everything is soaked, a towel let you and your stuff dry out while keeping your modesty. A wet towel on you dries out very fast. At least here in Hawaii. A towel also works for both warming and cooling.
  5. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Yes, towels are useful....

    "A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."
    Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)
    One should always know where one's towel is.
  6. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    In survival, skill is fundamental, but efficiency reigns supreme. By all means, know 37 ways to make a fire by friction. But plan things so you can strike a match when it really matters. Ditto for all the other Cs: learn how to create what you need, then pack the most perfect kit you can put together so you don't lose time, water, and calories building your gear from scratch.
  7. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Wow, @UncleMorgan, 37?!? Baskin Robbins of fire making. ;) I know of only five ways myself. And of the five, only tried three. So I can only do three fire by friction methods successfully. Bow drill, fire plow and fire saw. But it's been a while since I have practiced them. Normally, I use a lighter, or a match, or maybe a ferro rod. You know, the stuff that I would most likely have on me when I'm out and about. Those, to me, are the most efficient from an energy expenditure stand point. Next would be the flint and steel, and fire piston. Fire by friction probably expends the most energy.

    So that is my long winded way of saying I agree with you, UncleMorgan. Just the 37 ways hit my brain.
    chelloveck likes this.
  8. tatiana

    tatiana On Hiatus Banned

    Thank You. Have oriented myself now to the beginning.:)[hug}
    chelloveck and Brokor like this.
  9. RangerRick

    RangerRick RangerRick-North Idaho Oath Keeper

    I have about 20 ways to start a fire in a class I teach. Most fun I had, there was a show from UK wanting to do a series of shows on survival up here in North Idaho. I sent them a 5 minute preview and like it but thought I was a bit serious. Now coming from a Brit, I must have been serious. I sent them a second video from my fire making class and my favorite part was showing how to fill a condom with water and letting sunlight shine thru it to start a fire. Never heard from them again, Too funny. Too add to the local fun ,I always give a prize after class . A 60+ year old lady won the prize and carried the condom around the rest of the night and you had to have been there. It was funny.
    Best Regards, RangerRick
    chelloveck, Ganado and Hanzo like this.
  10. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Just received some Amazon Christmas cash. Need to pick up some of the must haves on this list.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
    chelloveck and Hanzo like this.
  11. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Sweet! Your Hawaiian friends could always use some cool gear, @Ganado. I'll talk to @Bear about setting up a Hawaiian bruddahs' gift registry.
    Ganado and Tully Mars like this.
  12. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Motomom34, Ganado and Tully Mars like this.
  13. jlutzcurtis

    jlutzcurtis Monkey

    Very interesting and creatively done! I wonder how you've come up with the basic critical 10'cs to survival topic. Really nice pick and I've enjoyed. Surely this post will help me memorize to prepare my survival plan nicely.
    chelloveck, Brokor and Motomom34 like this.
  14. Rural Alaskan Survivalist

    Good article. Thank you.
    chelloveck and Brokor like this.
  15. kven

    kven On Hiatus Banned

    I consider an autorifle to be more important than those other things, Preferably one with both rimfire and centerfire options, night sights and a suppressor. If you're down to the wire, as this sort of post assumes, why is nobody else that badely off? if they are, plenty of them will shoot you on sight. They will want your gear and not want your competition. None of the other stuff is going to kill you in a second flat. but not being able to stop attackers commonly results in exactly that outcome.

    If your cutting tool is the right sort of modified multiool, you dont need the sail needle, cause you'll have a sewing awl blade. A shemagh should be part of your clothing. All of your shelter element should be wearable as clothing and none of it should be effected by its getting-wet. It should all be useful in hot weather. The Indians and eskimos had no compass or maps, but survived for millenia. If You know your area and what changes with the seaons and you have to follow streams or herds in order to survive, straight line travel doesn't mean much. If you have your own small group and dont stray far, commo can be as simple as a whistle, smoke signals, slashes on trees.

    I consider a big roll of Duct Tape Max to be a major asset. Ditto a 2GoSystems Trifecta XL reflective Tyvek bivy, camo net, 3 of the 55 gallon drum liners, 2 of the full body, 1/4 lb each bugnet "suits" from Amazon, and a 1 lb net-hammock, made of 50x10 ft of 2" mesh monofilament netting and wire-pulling tape as tree-straps. Regular sleeping bags suck, cause they are ruined when they get wet. Wool blankets weigh a ton and are hell to dry out once they get wet. I want nothing to do with either one. When i need insulation for more protection from the cold, I use local dry debris. When you know ways to discretely dry out that debris, you dont have to lug around winter clothing and gear for the 8-9 months of the year that you dont need it.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2023
  16. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I believe you are speaking of a semi-automatic rifle in the post above and it is my experience that a good bolt gun in both rimfire and centerfire are far easier to maintain in a survival situation. I can make pretty much every piece of clothing you mentioned from a surplus woolen blanket. Problem with being nomadic, which is entirely possible, is that the area you venture into will generally be unfamiliar to you. Local dry debris doesn't stay real dry in the rain. I have a waterproof stuff bag for my Marmot 15F mummy bag and a Sea to Summit liner for warmer sleeping or an extra 65 degrees of cold protection.

    I fish so I always have fishing gear packed along with me including my Gerber multi-tool and several knives besides my EDC and SOG Seal Pup fixed blade. I always have one wool USGI blanket in my backpack, it keeps the other gear from clanking about while I hike to my destination. My cook set is nested, Sweetwater purifier, Lifestraw, Solostove, the hand axe is strapped externally as is the folding barracuda saw. Magnesium block and blast match rest inside a plastic sandwich bag within my cook set along with small containers of seasonings. My shelter is a light weight no name dome tent with rainfly I've had for twenty years. I also carry a light weight 6X8' ripstop tarp. I carry my 1991A1 in a shoulder rig for protection from the four legged and two legged predators. Light comes from 2 Protac Streamlight flashlights, one in the backpack, the other clipped to my vest.

    You have to reliably be able to make fire
    You have to have suitable temporary shelter until you can construct something perminent
    You have to be able to acquire food and prepare it

    All that to just go fishing for a weekend in the mountains
  17. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    I dunno man ,somewhere coffee has to be one of these “C”s
    Cruisin Sloth and Dunerunner like this.
  18. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I always forget the coffee, too. I put it out with my aero press and it’s always there when I get home! [reddevil]
    Alanaana and DKR like this.
  19. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    I forgot about the magnifying glass. Used it mostly when I was a kid. But I do carry a fresnel lens in my wallet. Not quite the round one you carry.
    Alanaana and Dunerunner like this.
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