We’ve covered the very basics of a survival kit, The DIY “Altoids Tin” survival kit, and a Military Issue “pocket” survival kit so far. In this article we’ll cover a “complete” store-bought survival kit that was designed to meet or exceed the required FAA survival kit guidelines for small aircraft in Alaska.
Emergency Ration Pack (Advanced Version)
The Emergency Ration Pack (Advanced Version), as the manufacturer calls it, was purpose-built to meet or exceed FAA guidelines for small aircraft survival kits that can also be tossed into a car trunk or pack for use as a survival kit.
The Emergency Ration Pack comes in a Basic (doesn’t have a knife or fishing kit) and Advanced version, both come heat sealed in a silver food grade mylar pouch that also has a “zip-lock” type seal so you can reseal the bag after the heat seal is opened.
All of the contents of the Emergency Ration Pack come sealed in individual “zip-lock” type bags and packed into the heavy-duty aluminium foil pan except the Mainstay 1200 calorie food bar.
The fire making components of the Emergency Ration Pack consist of:
- Fresnel Lens
- Book Matches
- “Storm” Matches
- Tinder Quik Tinder tabs
- Military Gel Fire Starter
The gel fuel pack is military issue and does a great job getting a fire going when using the matches. You can get a good fire going with just a little of the gel and “reseal” the package by folding the top down and placing it back in its “zip-lock” bag. During our testing we were able to start 6 fires with the gel even when we used damp kindling.
The other fire starting methods included in the Emergency Ration Pack were reviewed in Part 3 of our series so we won’t go back over that ground.
I would have expected to find a firesteel or magbar as well for fire starting and was a bit disappointed that I didn’t. I have written the manufacturer to see if that can be included in future kits, I’ll let you know how that plays out.
The Emergency Ration Pack has a Mainstay Food Bar, peanut candy bar, Jolly Rancher’s, Mints, 2 packets of instant coffee, a bullion cube, and 2 packets each of sugar and creamers.
The Mainstay Food Bar is 1200 calories that is broken down into 3 bars of 400 calories each. It has a lemon cookie taste that isn’t too bad and unlike some other “emergency food bars” we didn’t notice an increase in thirst after eating the portions.
We would have liked to see either a single 3200 calorie bar (9- 400 calories portions) or three of the 1200 calorie bars for a minimum of 72 hours worth of food but something is better than nothing.
The candy included in the kit was nice to have on hand for a boost of quick energy and just to satisfy my sweet tooth. The peanut candy bar in the kit was tasty and added a few extra grams of protein (7g) to the food stores in the kit. The only drawback is for those with peanut allergies though according to the manufacturer other high protein “snacks” are included in some kits depending on availability.
The coffee was nice to have first thing in the morning after a night in the lean-to and there is enough for two cups of the hot liquid, though I personally like my coffee a bit sweeter.
The Emergency Ration Pack (Advanced Version) has 25′ of brass snare wire and a basic survival fishing kit just like the Military Scout Pocket Survival Tin we covered in Part 3 of the series.
Just like in Part 3 we were able to catch a couple of fish and snare some squirrels to add to our food store.
The first aid kit in the Emergency Ration Pack has an assortment of items for small wounds like band aids and “butterfly strips”. It also has a small packets of sun screen, lip balm, Advil, “sting relief” pads, triple antibiotic ointment, and rehydration tablets.
While not as comprehensive a first aid kit as we normally carry it is good for those small cuts and scrapes you always seem to pick up while in the field and the sun screen, lip balm, and pain meds add value to the first aid component of the kit.
Navigation, Signaling, and Cutting
The kit has a small 14 mm Mil-Spec button compass to aid in navigation, as we said in Part 3 of the series you aren’t going to be able to follow a specific azimuth but you can hold to North, South, East, or West with relative ease.
The signal whistle puts out 130 db which can be heard at ranges of 1 – 1 1/2 miles through the woods and within a few hundred meters is almost deafening.
The Derma-Safe™ knife is military issue and aside from its orange color is the same knife included in military survival kits. The fact it is a razor knife means you can’t use it for chopping down a tree or two but it is very useful skinning game and cutting cordage.
The pencil is the same type found at mini golf courses and is handy for jotting down a few thoughts or leaving a note on the pad or paper you carry (or should carry) everywhere.
Water and Cooking
The Emergency Ration Pack has a 1 qt Heavy-Duty aluminium pan that we used for boiling water and cooking squirrel during our tests. It held up pretty well and we found the best way to boil water with it was to heat rocks and place them in the pan with the water until it boiled instead of placing the pan directly on the fire.
For cooking after we skinned, gutted, and de-boned one of the squirrels and placed it in the pan with water and the bullion cube from the kit and a little salt and pepper from little packets (courtesy of McDonald’s) we placed it near the edge of our fire on the coals and then piled coals up around the sides, changing the coals as they cooled until we had a nice hot (thoroughly cooked) squirrel stew.
The kit also has a 1 liter plastic water bag that has a “zip-lock” type seal to keep the water in. The outer packaging will also hold about a liter to a liter and a half of water and has a “zip-lock” type seal as well or it can be used (like we did) to hold any left-over food you have.
The Emergency Ration Pack has a set of basic survival instructions included in the kit that covers navigation with and without a compass, food gathering, water gathering and purification, shelter, and first aid and more.
It provides a nice reminder for some of those skills we may not practice all that much (like navigating by the stars) or it will give someone with very skills at least a basic knowledge base to work from.
While we didn’t find everything we would have liked to (like a firesteel and 550 cord) in the Emergency Ration Pack we found it to be a well thought out kit that included those items one would need for a day or two stuck in the woods, which is its intended purpose.
After this test we decided that we would toss a few of these kits into our vehicles (one for each seat in the vehicle) as an addition to the kits we already carry to add to our survivability if we find ourself off the road during a snow storm or turned around in the woods.
They would also make a good addition to your day pack or Bug-Out-Bag for additional security.
If you are interested in getting your own Emergency Ration Pack click here.
I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!
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