What Survival Tools are Best to Carry?
This post follows on from “What are the top 5 survival tools” post. The Multifunction shovel proved to be the number 1 survival tool to carry out of them all. However, due to its size and weight there is only really one pack to carry it in, the Bug out Bag.
In the previous post I also showed the versatility of the shovel and now I want to see what that means for the rest of the survival tools. For example, the shovel proved to be an acceptable tool for chopping into trees, so, do you need to carry an axe as well?
To make a really fit Bug out Bag, you’re going to need to keep the weight down and keep it manageable. There is no point having a Bug out Bag that’s so heavy that you don’t want to carry it anywhere. It’s for this reason I am going to eliminate some of the top 5 tools and as we go, I’ll explain why.
I will use Amazon links, not just because I will earn a commission from Amazon if you purchase. The links do provide the information that I’m trying to convey, mostly the product descriptions and zoomable photos. There is also the related products that Amazon provide which will give you an understanding of the massive variety available. Especially with survival gear.
Also, not always do I recommend you purchase these items, I always advise to investigate before making any purchase. And the Amazon links are great for that purpose, so click through and compare with what is available.
#2 Survival Tool – The Knife
Although the knife didn’t score as high as the multifunction shovel, it doesn’t mean that it is not as important. In fact, the knife, along with the pocket survival kit, make up the main pillars of your survival platform. In other words; you can’t lose your knife! It’s for this reason that your knife stays on your belt and the survival kit stays in your pocket, always.
As your knife is carried separate from your Bug Out Bag, its weight has no relationship to the BoB’s carry weight. That doesn’t mean that you should carry the biggest Rambo like knife you can find. Keep in mind that you have to comfortably carry the weight of your knife all of the time.
How Long Should a Survival Knife Be?
I will write a more detailed post on survival knives in the future, so, I will keep this section to the basics. And the most basic point of a survival knife, is that it needs to be comfortable in YOUR hand. While the blade is the business end of a knife and important, your body only connects to its handle.
For example, my outstretched fingers measure 9.5 inches from the tip of my thumb to the tip of the little finger. So, what feels comfortable to me in the hand, might not feel right to you at all. It is for this reason that I have several knives that I like but when using them I have found issues with the grip.
Something like this simple design is all you need. You can even make your own from an old butchers knife if you like, just keep it to these parameters.
Popular survival knife
In general, if you have a handle of 5 inches, then the blade should also be around 4-5 inches long. This will give you a nice balanced feel and control over the knife, when using it for bush craft. It will also give you an all rounder sized knife, that will perform in the tasks that survival situations can bring.
As I said, an entire post is required for proper knife selection, so, I will leave it there with the No.2 survival tool. The most important point to take away from the above, is the overall length of your survival knife. The reason for this, is that the next tool on the list is an even bigger type of knife.
#3 Survival Tool – The Parang/Machete/Hybrid Knife
These are big, heavy beasts to carry around and chop with all day but they have their place in the wild. Mostly, the environment you’re heading into will demand that you carry one of these but only if you absolutely need to. Something like a jungle with heavy vegetation, will be required to make this truly a useful survival tool to carry.
This type of blade was invented for this very purpose and they are built solely for clearing vegetation. There is no need to carry one if you’re intending to chop up firewood logs with it, that is not what they are designed for. Sure, they will chop up and split kindling like no other blade but so will your survival knife.
Use it Or Lose It
With this category of survival tool, it really is that simple, if you need it, then take it with you. Just make sure that you are going to use it and not lug it around for no reason at all. If the environment required me to have one, then I would definitely choose the Parang style blade.
A Parang is a pleasure to use and with the unique blade design you can get several cutting edges from one. The big belly on the blade destroys vegetation or bones, while the tip and heel can shave and do the finer work. Most importantly, the belly design of the blade protects your knuckles from impact with the surface when chopping.
The Best of Both Worlds – Survival Fitness
Survival fitness theory demands that you have versatility and ingenuity in your survival tool designs. This is the reason why the multifunction shovel scored so highly, as it has both of those qualities in abundance. You may be able to get the same result out of carrying a Hybrid knife design, a knife sized Parang in other words.
I purchased this one
Compare with the straight blades
It makes sense to incorporate the abilities of the Parang design with the useful carrying size of a knife. This way you can have the benefits of the blade but only at the cost of of knife sized weight. For example, if the vegetation suddenly becomes more challenging, you can take out your hybrid knife to use instead.
I especially like to have this option, not only for the easier chopping ability but also the insurance from breakage. You can spare your survival knife some of this heavy duty work and protect it from breakage or dulling the edge. Having the lighter weight Hybrid knife in your Bug Out Bag and ready to go is an option now and mostly due to the multifunction shovel’s abilities.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Versatility and ingenuity with your gear will keep on giving you advantages with their use. In this case, the multifunction shovel’s ability to chop firewood does away with the need of a larger Machete blade. However, there is a hole to fill in the area of clearing vegetation, that the shovel doesn’t cover.
Unless you know you’re heading into a jungle, then carrying a lighter weight Hybrid knife is an option. You may even be able to find a balance between survival knife and Parang that can do it all. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with but I like to have knife insurance and carry a Hybrid as well. Find a Hybrid size that is equal to the cost of carrying it around and its usefulness to your situation.
So far, with the multifunction shovel, knife and Hybrid knife, you have coverage in a lot of areas. Chopping, slashing, skinning and slicing are just some of them, which really puts the axe into question. Typically, these type tools are also heavy, which is the final nail in the coffin for this tool.
The elimination of the axe type tool, is a direct result of the earlier ingenuity of the top three survival tools. This is a good thing! As you are making your Bug Out Bag as fit as can be to carry and with all of your needs covered.
In reality, there are a few variables to the scoring of the Axe on the spreadsheet that could easily lower its score. At its worst case, the axe falls down to the level of the next survival tool on the list, the Rifle. I think at this point it is easy to say goodbye to the axe and make do with the tools you have.
#4 Survival Tool – The Rifle
Obviously, this is not an essential tool to carry for survival but it is a fantastic tool to have! And that is what the Bug Out Bag is for; thriving and not just surviving. If you’re serious enough to build and carry a BoB, then you’re not just heading out there to survive, are you?
In order for you to thrive, then you’re going to need to obtain easy meals for little energy loss. Efficient hunting is the payoff to carrying a firearm, such as a rifle and a lesser extent, a hunting Bow. However, while you have other hunting options, the rifle is unapparelled in providing self defence against a wild animal attack.
Not only does the noise of a shot scare away potential threats, it can also alert rescuers of your location. The rifle also scored in the fire lighting task taking it to 24 pts and with the elimination of the Axe, it now sits at #4.
Size Does Matter
Firearms are a very personal choice but as this is a nice to have survival tool, it needs to be fit. By that I mean, it needs to be lightweight, compact and easy to pack in with your Bug Out Bag. Personally, I would likely go for a small calibre .22 rifle that can be collapsed and packed well.
Depending on where you’re heading and expecting to face in the wild, needs to be considered when selecting your firearm. Make sure it is fit for purpose and you’re not carrying it around for unrealistic reasons. If you do carry a firearm, ensure you comply with all local laws and the law of the land. Hunt responsibly at all times and don’t ruin it for others with bad behaviour and cruel, unethical practices.
My spotting scope:
#5 Survival Tool – Multitool/Torch
Once again, due to the ingenuity of the multifunction shovel, a lot more items on the list are eliminated. Which leaves the Torch and Multitool tied on 15 pts and the #5 survival tool to carry. Both of these tools bring unique capabilities that are welcomed in a survival situation and they pack well.
Multitool for Survival Options
A compact Multitool can provide many tools that a survivor will find useful across a number of survival tasks. If you do decide to carry a multitool, make sure it has a really good set of pliers as the main feature tool. Of all the tools that make up a Multitool, it’s the pliers that will be the most useful to a survivor.
Torch for Peace of Mind
I’m not afraid of the dark at all, just the creatures that come out at night. Certainly, having a torch to signal rescuers is a good thing but it only works at night, when rescue is unlikely. Most of all, a bright light is a great deterrent for animals that prefer night time for hunting.
It may be enough to keep them away from camp or even to help you investigate activity in the dark. You also might find yourself running out of daylight to make camp and be thankful you have a flashlight. Keep in mind, that in a survival situation you’re likely to have your hands full or too busy to hold a torch.
It is for this reason I would go for a head lamp as my torch option and keep my hands free. They are compact and have a good burn time but mostly, the light always points where your eyes are looking! Some also have SOS strobe lights and even different colour light, like red, for preserving your natural night vision.
Cheap hands free light
Keep it simple
Too many lamps
What Are the Top 5 Survival Tools?
After assessing the individual tools and understanding their versatility, we come down to the real top 5 survival tools.
- Multifunction Shovel – Covers digging, chopping and has a compass, fire steel, knife/spear, rescue whistle and paracord lanyard. Also, it is a formidable defensive weapon if need be. With hollow handle sections, you could easily pack further survival gear inside. Such as a fishing kit or snare wires and even matches and tinder. This is a great survival tool and well deserving of the #1 spot on the list.
- Survival Knife – A must have accessory for a survivor and should never be out of your reach.
- Hybrid Knife – Add protection to your survival knife by letting loose with a Hybrid knife on the tough survival jobs.
- Survival Rifle – Add protection and enhanced hunting success with a compact survival rifle.
- Multitool or Torch – Complete your tool kit with one or both of these complimentary survival tools.
How to Build Your Own Bug Out Bag?
Now you have settled on your survival tool list, you can think about the other items that should be in your BoB. It’s important that you know in advance what tools you want to carry, as they are the heavy items in your bag. Keeping your Bug Out Bag lightweight as possible is as important as what’s inside.
A future post will cover building a BoB and the other essential items that go with these survival tools. Thanks for reading!
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