Survival Kit FM 21-76

SURVIVAL KITS

3-5. The environment is the key to the types of items you will need in your survival kit. How much equipment you put in your kit depends on how you will carry the kit. A kit carried on your body will have to be smaller than one carried in a vehicle. Always layer your survival kit—body, load-bearing vest or equipment, and platform (rucksack, vehicle, or aircraft). Keep the most important items on your body. For example, your map and compass should always be on your body, as should your basic life-sustaining items (knife, lighter). Carry less important items on your LBE. Place bulky items in the rucksack.

3-6. In preparing your survival kit, select items that are multipurpose, compact, lightweight, durable, and most importantly, functional. An item is not good if it looks great but doesn’t do what it was designed for. Items should complement each other from layer to layer. A signal mirror in your pocket can be backed up by pen flares in your LBE and a signal panel in your rucksack. A lighter in your uniform can be augmented by a magnesium bar in your LBE and additional dry tinder in your rucksack.

3-7. Your survival kit need not be elaborate. You need only functional items that will meet your needs and a case to hold the items. For the case, you might want to use a bandage box, soap dish, tobacco tin, first-aid case, ammunition pouch, or another suitable case. This case should be—

  • Water-repellent or waterproof.
  • Easy to carry or attach to your body.
  • Suitable to accept various-sized components.
  • Durable.

3-8. Your survival kit should be broken down into the following categories:

  • Water.
  • Fire.
  • Shelter.
  • Food.
  • Medical.
  • Signal.
  • Miscellaneous.

3-9. Each category should contain items that allow you to sustain your basic needs. For example, water—you should have items that allow you to scoop up, draw up, soak up, or suck up water; something to gather rainwater, condensation, or perspiration; something to transport water; and something to purify or filter water. Some examples of each category are as follows:

  • Water—purification tablets, non-lubricated condoms for carrying water, bleach, povidone-iodine drops, cravats, sponges, small plastic or rubber tubing, collapsible canteens or water bags.
  • Fire—lighter, metal match, waterproof matches, magnesium bar, candle, magnifying lens.
  • Shelter—550 parachute cord, large knife, machete or hatchet, poncho, space blanket, hammock, mosquito net, wire saw.
  • Food—knife, snare wire, fishhooks, fish and snare line, bouillon cubes or soup packets, high-energy food bars, granola bars, gill or yeti net, aluminum foil, freezer bags.
  • Medical—oxytetracycline tablets (to treat diarrhea or infection), surgical blades or surgical preparation knife, butterfly sutures, lip balm, safety pins, sutures, antidiarrheal medication (imodium), antimalarial medication (doxycycline), broad-spectrum antibiotics (rocephin and zithromax) and broad spectrum topical ophthalmic (eye) antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen), petrolatum gauze, and soap. Medical items may make up approximately 50 percent of your survival kit.
  • Signal—signaling mirror, strobe, pen flares, whistle, U.S. flag, pilot scarf or other bright orange silk scarf, glint tape, flashlight, laser pointer, solar blanket.
  • Miscellaneous—wrist compass, needle and thread, money, extra eyeglasses, knife sharpener, cork, camouflage stick, and survival manual.

3-10. Include a weapon only if the situation so dictates. Ambassadors and theater commanders may prohibit weapons even in extreme circumstances. Read and practice the survival techniques in this manual and apply these basic concepts to those you read about in other civilian publications. Consider your mission and the environment in which you will operate. Then prepare your survival kit with items that are durable, multipurpose, and lightweight. Imagination may be the largest part of your kit. It can replace many of the items in a kit. Combined with the will to live, it can mean the difference between surviving to return home with honor or not returning at all.

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