Sitting around talking about the Apocalypse, as we do, we once told Otto about our ongoing fantasy of packing a basic survival kit. W
hy have we not done that yet?, we asked. We can quote lines from Mad Max 2 and Tank Girl like any good DPW woman can, but for some reason we have not yet taken the first step at home to ensure our own survival (except the knowing-our-firearms part).
It’s easy, Otto said — go get a camping backpack or a rolling airplane pilot’s suitcase from the thrift store, and just throw all this stuff in there and you’re basically good to go. And we got out a pen and paper and he rattled off this list to us.
He says, above all, travel light, and make sure you’re in good enough shape to walk 10 miles each day, and that you know even just a little bit about weapons. But failing that, if you’re an Indoor Kid and you meet a Karate Kid out on the move, you’d better have your gear together enough so you can trade a fresh cup of coffee for some ass-kicking backup.
So here’s Otto’s cursory list for initial survival:
Water and electrolytes, salt
Tea — not just for calories and minerals but for staying awake. Coffee has fewer minerals etc., so tea is better, but if you’re an addict pack some pre-packaged grounds, too
Food — Avoid dehydrated food like MREs or dried fruit because you have to add water, so if you eat it it will dehydrate you, especially if you’re in a situation where you can’t add water because a nuclear weapon has gone off. Canned foods and preserved jar foods are your best bet, and salted nuts in sealed bags (airplane nuts, not pretzels)
Mirror, for reflective surface to signal — the international SOS signal is three flashes or three fires, and this is one situation where it’s OK to build smoky fires
Knives, ax, scissors, razor blades, Leatherman (or similar multi-tool), hammer, a handful of nails (taped together so they don’t go everywhere)
Sharpening steel and flint (very very important to start fires) — hard rock and water will sharpen knives also
First aid kit
Gun and ammo (no speeches please — like Steven Colbert said, the 2nd amendment is there because it has the 1st amendment’s back)
Tent and Gore-Tex sleeping bag
Multifaceted work gloves (weather, climbing)
Bear spray or mace
Single propane stove item and iron skillet (doubles as a weapon)
Metal cup, utensils, cheesecloth or screen for straining water
Candles, matches in a waterproof case
Flashlight and batteries — batteries stored separately in case of nuclear attack or electro-magnetic pulse
At least 100 feet of thin high-tensile nylon or hemp rope — no big stuff
Rain poncho — also useful to collect water / morning dew — or heavy trash bags or tarp alternately
Sewing kit (including leather awl and thimble), leather and denim scraps for patching
A few pairs of socks (and if you’re female, contrary to what they tell you in the movies, be sure you don’t try to negotiate the Apocalypse in 5” stilettos)
Meds for your particular conditions, and any warning bracelets you should put on immediately
Compass, grid map of the local area, angle protractor (the round one, not the circle-drawing one) and grease pencil
Conversion charts, weather stuff, prevailing winds, almanac stuff
And of course a diary and pen; and some large paper and a Sharpie and tape, in case your band or circus plays somewhere after the shit hits the fan and you need to flyer.
Also, did you know you can survive 21 days on just water alone? That’s what Otto says. If you can make tree bark tea, you got about six months. If it’s got chunky hard bark (pine and maple), it’s good, but strip bark (eucalyptus, birch) is bad. Boil it well to make sure you have enough nutrients to get you by.
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