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How to build a personal urban survival kit will add flexibility to your overall survival and preparedness foundation. We are witnessing an increasing amount of uncertainty in our daily lives. The events of recent months and weeks indicate that this trend may continue.  Therefore, it is wise to develop and maintain a personal urban survival kit to store in your Everyday Carry (EDC) bag or pack. Your addressing the following areas in your kit will give you a good foundation from which to build and improve your kit.

Preliminary Considerations

It is essential to think about what you want for a survival kit before you begin to build one; this is true for any kit. Also, you will want to consider the size of your kit. Some people consider an entire backpack to be their urban survival kit. Others think a kit that is no larger than an Altoids® tin to be their survival kit. So, you must have some practical idea of what you want for a personal urban survival kit. I am recommending that you consider a small-to-medium pouch, such as a 6 x 6 MOLLE pouch or container, such as the GSI® Glacier Stainless 1.1 L Boiler Cup, as a guide for keeping your kit small and compact.

Cutting Device

The first item that should be in your urban survival kit is a cutting device. A fixed-blade or pocket knife is the most common way to address your cutting needs. However, there some other options to think about when choosing a cutting instrument for your kit. A good option is a multitool.  One of the best multitools on the market for this purpose is the Leatherman® Rebar or Sidekick.

Another option for a cutting device would be a good Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. They come as a more traditional pocket knife configuration. However, they still are considered a multitool. One of the best Swiss Army Knives for an urban survival kit is the Huntsman version. The knife has over ten tools that give you a wide range of employment options in an emergency.

Fire Making Device

Fire making is a core element in survival preparation. The second item to have in your kit is one that allows you to make an emergency fire. The best thing for this task is a simple Bic® lighter. However, it is wise to have a second option for making a fire. The UCO® Survival Fire Striker or NATO weatherproof matches also are good options.

Furthermore, having a good tinder source is the second part of your fire-making option. The best tinder source for making fire is the UST® WetFire™ cubes. They will light on fire even if they are wet. Another option for tinder is cotton tinder tabs.

Food Procurement Tools

Food procurement in an urban or suburban setting is different than obtaining food in the wilderness. You will have to muster some creativity in this area. Your food procurement tools might consist of carrying cash or change, an energy bar or bag of trail mix, or keeping a small pry bar or lock pick set. I recommend keeping an energy bar, granola bar, or some trail mix in your kit.

Water Procurement

Your ability to obtain water in an emergency in an urban or suburban environment also will require some creativity on your part. Therefore, it is wise to carry a sillcock key in your kit. The sillcock key will allow you access to water on the side of an office building or gas station. It is also wise to carry a LifeStraw® or Aquatabs® to filter and purify water from questionable sources.

Emergency Shelter

The kit that I am recommending will not be large enough to carry a tarp, tent, or sleeping bag. Thus, you will have to exercise some ingenuity when it comes to shelter. In an urban environment, a shelter can be an abandoned building, garage, or overpass. Remember that your clothing is your first layer of shelter. It is advisable to carry an emergency blanket or bivy sack as part of your emergency kit. These items may have to be carried separately from your kit conveyance, such as in a trousers cargo pocket.

Illumination Device

The urban and suburban areas will have plenty of illumination as a general rule. However, if the electricity is out because a transformer or relay station is out, then having an excellent illumination device is essential. I recommend that you carry a headlamp in your bag or pack. Additionally, it is helpful to keep a micro-flashlight in your emergency kit conveyance. One of the best micro-flashlights on the market is the LRI® Photon Freedom LED Keychain Micro-Light with Covert Nose. We recommend that you get a microlight with a red light to help maintain your night vision.

Signal or Communication Device

A question that arises in an emergency is how you are going to signal for help or communicate with first responders. Our article on the PACE plan for communication will assist your efforts in this area. Your micro-flash light or headlamp can function as a signaling device at night. Your smartphone, with a charge, can be a source of communication. However, a great daytime signaling device is a signal mirror. A small signal mirror will be a vital asset in your kit. Additionally, you will want to add a writing instrument and some paper.

Navigation Device

Most wilderness survival kits have a button or wristband compass. Navigating through a city requires something more than a compass. It would be helpful to carry a folding, laminated map of your town if one is available. In a similar way to the emergency bivy, you might need to store a map in your bag or backpack separate from your emergency kit pouch. Yet, it is essential to have a map available for you to reference at all times.

Medical Considerations

Medical care in an emergency is a universal concern whether you are in a city or the deep woods. It is advisable to carry some first aid items in your kit. A good start for addressing these needs will be an assortment of band-aids, triple antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, a triangular bandage, and Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT).

Remember that your emergency kit is a last-ditch tool to enable your survival. Therefore, the first-aid items that you place in your emergency kit are not meant to be a fully stocked first-aid kit. A larger first-aid kit should already be in your bag or backpack.

Personal Security Considerations

A final consideration for your urban emergency kit will be personal security. One thing that could be part of your emergency kit is a pepper spray canister, personal emergency alarm, or stun gun. The size of your kit will determine what you will place in it to address your security concerns.

As before, remember that your emergency kit is a last-ditch source to enable your survival. The intent is not to build a comprehensive kit. Therefore, avoid the temptation to put too many items in it.

The Carrying Mechanism

The carrying mechanism that you choose in which to store your items should fit your needs. A common mistake is to buy the pouch or box before the items have been purchased. Therefore, assemble the individual pieces before you attempt to buy something with which to carry them. You should try to keep the kit as small as possible while maintaining its practicality for use in your situation.

As you consider your carrying mechanism, there are many options on the market. One of the best ways to keep most of your stuff is the 5.11 MOLLE 6 x 6 or General Purpose Pouch or similar product. One drawback is that these kinds of pouches are not entirely waterproof.

Another consideration would be a one or two-liter dry sack. Yet, one drawback with a dry bag is that you can not carry it on your belt or the cargo pocket of your trousers. The Maxpedition® ERZ or Beefy Organizer also are good options to consider. So, you will have to experiment to see what works best for you.

Final Thoughts

A personal urban emergency kit is a highly individualized kit. It is up to you to assemble it in such a way that it is practical for your needs. There is a tendency to overfill the kit to address every possible emergency scenario. Your emergency or EDC bag or backpack is designed to address the broader concerns and contains more robust survival items.

Remember, your emergency kit is not an exhaustive solution in an emergency. Therefore, as you assemble the items for your kit, ensure that you are entirely comfortable with using them for their intended purpose.

Five EDC considerations for the Summer that can help address your seasonal requirements. Summer is upon us. The current circumstances may hinder us from being outdoors as much as we prefer. However, one this is for sure, we do leave our homes daily for various reasons. The EDC gear we carry is as relent now as it was previously. Summer brings particular concerns and risks to mitigate, such as hydration or heat-related injuries. The following items can help you with your seasonal EDC loadout.

1. Outdoor Element Firebiner EDC Carabiner

One of the first items that you may want to consider is the Firebiner sold at the Sigma 3 Survival store. The Firebiner is a carabiner with an enhancement that will function as a multipurpose item. This carabiner has a spark wheel built into it. As such, it will give you another option for starting a fire in an emergency. I carry a large carabiner on the outside of my backpack to hold my gloves or headgear when it is not needed. The large size of the Firebiner will also function in this manner. Therefore, consider adding some options to your EDC with a Firebiner.

2. Folding Lock Pick Pocket Set

The second consideration to add to your EDC loadout is the Folding Lock Pick Pocket set, also sold at the Sigma 3 Survival store. The urban upheaval of recent weeks indicates that having this option available is important. Many people have to interact with an urban environment, even if your residence in a rural area. Therefore, you could find yourself stuck in a downtown area of your city in an emergency. How many people found themselves stuck on the streets as their way home was suddenly blocked or interrupted by civil unrest? A pocket-sized lock picking set would be handy if you had to make a quick escape into a locked building. Thus, it would be wise to include this small tool in your EDC bag.

3. Buck Knives® 112 Slim Select Pocket Knife

Survival experts acknowledge that having some form of a cutting device is essential to enable survival in an emergency. The kinds and types of knives that one may carry are subject to local, state, or federal laws. Therefore, the knife one carries daily should comply with the law. One pocket knife to consider is the Buck Knives® 112 Slim Select Pocket Knife. The 112 Slim fits will in your EDC bag or your pocket. These knives are excellent for the urban or suburban environment. They will also come in handy as a backup or camp knife in a wilderness environment.

Buck Knives describes this pocket knife as follows:

A new EDC based on an American classic, the 112 Ranger, the 112 Slim possesses the same traditional features but sports a more modern look. The deep carry pocket clip is added based on the overwhelming customer demand and allows for quick and easy access in any situation. With the easy one-handed opening, the 420HC stainless steel blade provides supreme edge retention and is finished with Buck’s Advanced Edge2x Blade Technology. The 7.25” knife folds down to a convenient 4.25” when closed. To decrease the weight and thickness, the heavy bolster and handles are replaced with a lightweight molded nylon while still maintaining the same quality and rigidity of the original 112. Available in four colors; red, blue, black, and chartreuse.

4. Ballistic Panel or Insert

We have seen in recent weeks how quickly civil unrest can arise. Moreover, we also have seen in past years how a lone shooter can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting crowd or public event. As life becomes more uncertain, it would be prudent to consider adding a bulletproof panel or insert for your EDC bag or backpack. Several companies are manufacturing ballistic panels of various sizes. Safe Life Defense® and Bullet Blocker® are two companies that offer high quality, Level III ballistic inserts for your backpack. The addition of a ballistic panel in your backpack will give you a measure of safety instead of some type of body armor. Additionally, a ballistic insert in your EDC bag or pack will help you maintain a low profile while giving some protection against gunshots.

5. EuroSCHIRM® Automatic Dainty® Umbrella

The fifth consideration for your EDC summer loadout would be a quality umbrella that can fit in your bag or backpack. An umbrella can give you shade from the heat or protect you from the rain. One of the best umbrellas on the market is the Automatic Dainty by EuroSHIRM®. EuroSHIRM® is a German company. As such, they offer high-quality backpacking umbrellas that would be practical in any situation. These umbrellas come in a variety of solid colors and patterns. They also provide one with UV protection and one with light reflection. The summertime is no stranger to afternoon thundershowers. Moreover, we are in the hurricane season. A durable, high-quality compact umbrella is a wonderful consideration for your summer EDC needs.

Final Thoughts

Summertime is an excellent time of the year. People tend to get out more in the Summer than at any other time of the year. The gear you carry every day will help make the summer season more enjoyable. As you venture out this Summer, your EDC gear should address your seasonal concerns. It is wise to up our game, as well, when it comes to personal protection and safety. Our EDC gear can help us or hinder us in that effort. These five considerations for EDC gear will ensure that your summer loadout is taken to a higher level of effectiveness in an emergency.

Three basic firearms to include in your security plan will help enable the safety of your family, property, or business. Our U.S. Constitution affords us the right to own firearms as well as all the things related to them. It was clear from our colonial period that one’s basic survival depended on some firearm. Thus, the musket rifle has been one of the many symbols that identify the liberty that we enjoy. Recent events reveal the importance of a home and business security plan that includes a firearm. American’s realize this as reports of soaring firearm and ammunition sales indicate. Therefore, it is only wise to include firearms as part of your security plan.

Firearms come in many forms of handguns and rifles with many applications such as military, hunting, or law enforcement. One should not purchase a firearm haphazardly. It would be best if you kept only those weapons that you are familiar with shooting, cleaning, and maintaining. Admittedly, some firearms are easier to maintain than others. If you are a novice about guns and handling them, get some training by a professional before even thinking about settling on a particular firearm. Equally, one should have some understanding of ammunition and its effects. For example, you should know the difference between a ball-round and a hollow point, or rifle ammunition from shotgun ammunition.

1. Pistol

Your first consideration for a firearm should be a pistol. Pistols often are called handguns. Handguns feature two types of configuration: semi-automatic and revolver. Handguns also come in two types of action: single action and double action. For example, my Beretta® 92FS is a double-action, semi-automatic pistol. My father’s Ruger® Blackhawk .357 is a single-action revolver.

Most experts will advise that a revolver is the best handgun for home defense. A revolver is not subject to jamming as semi-automatic pistols are known to do. Therefore, they will fire when needed in an emergency. One drawback with revolvers is they are limited in the amount of ammunition they can hold. Moreover, a common mistake that people make with ammunition is they try to use .45 ACP in a .45 caliber revolver. Not good. That is why it is essential to know ammunition as well as handguns. Nevertheless, a pistol of any type should be part of your basic suite of firearms for your security plan.  Additionally, ensure that you get your conceal carry license before carrying your pistol.

2. Rifle

A second firearm consideration for your security plan should be a rifle. Rifles in most states are not under the same kinds of laws that govern the purchase of handguns, like 90-day waiting periods. There are many styles of rifles. Rifles come in two common types: bolt-action and semi-automatic.

A bolt-action rifle characterizes the basic big-game hunting rifle. You have to manually pull the bolt back and push it forward to place a bullet in the firing position. A semi-automatic rifle puts the cartridge into the firing position through the automatic action between the magazine and bolt. These are called semi-automatic because you get one shot with one pull of the trigger. However, you do not have to load each bullet manually as you would with a bolt-action rifle. The classic Colt® AR-15 (M-16/4) rifle is representative of a semi-automatic rifle.

Therefore, before deciding on a particular rifle, have a good idea of why you want that specific firearm. For example, do you want your rifle for hunting game, protecting your storefront, or both? The answer to that question will influence what kind of rifle you will purchase.

3. Shotgun

The final consideration for a firearm in your security plan is a shotgun. Shotguns have been around for many years. There are two basic kinds of shotguns: single barrel and double barrel. Shotguns come in three types of action: manual, pump, and semi-automatic. The manual, double-barrel shotgun is more well-known because of the western movies. A pump shotgun probably is the second most recognizable weapon due to the police and gangster movies. Shotguns have several calibers of ammunition that they fire. The most common ammunition is the 12-gauge, followed by the 20.

The primary purpose of a shotgun is hunting fowl. Shotguns are great for this purpose because they fire small balls or pellets in a circular pattern. These shot pellets are small enough that they will not damage the meat on a duck, goose, or pheasant. Many poor people in rural areas own shotguns because they are an inexpensive firearm. Shotguns serve a dual function in rural communities: hunting and home security. Yet, in recent years the cost of shotguns has gone up with their increasing sophistication and popularity. Just like with the other two considerations, ensure you know why you want a shotgun and how it will function in your security plan.

Final Thoughts

These three kinds of firearms (pistol, rifle, shotgun) serve as a foundation for your security plan. We acknowledge that there is more to consider when developing a security plan for your home or business. Local, state, and federal laws need to be understood with an assessment of how they will influence your strategy. These factors require you to develop a risk mitigation plan to incorporate into how you go forward with your plan. The firearms that you choose to be part of your security apparatus should be chosen with care. In an emergency, you do not want to be fumbling around in the dark, trying to disengage the safety. Most criminal activity that results in firearm employment lasts less than a minute in most cases. You do not have the luxury of learning about your weapon at the same time you are attempting to protect your home or business. Therefore, choose wisely, get trained, practice gun employment, and regularly clean and maintain your firearms. They will help you keep your home or business secure in an emergency.

The best U.S. military field gear to consider for your loadout can give you an advantage in the outdoors. Military surplus gear is a favorite among many people. Whether you are an urban prepper or an expert outdoor adventurer, military field gear will be part of your loadout in some way. Therefore, as we consider the best U.S. military field gear to consider adding to your packing list, it is acknowledged that there are many opinions about the equipment in this list. Nevertheless, the gear in this list has stood the test of time. The gear is durable, reliable, and available in most military surplus stores.

1. The U.S. Air Force Pilot’s Survival Knife

The U.S. Air Force Pilot’s Survival Knife tops the list of U.S. military gear to consider for your kit. The knife is not a favorite of bushcrafters. However, for those with limitations on their spending, the pilot’s survival knife (PSK) is the best way forward in assembling your loadout. Outdoor and survival experts agree that a knife is the most critical tool that you will have at your disposal in a survival situation. You will not go wrong with this knife.

The knife is currently produced by the Ontario Knife Company (OKC) as the 499 Survival Knife. It carries the national stock number (NSN) 7340-00-098-4327. However, the knife is no longer part of the U.S. Government inventory. OKC sells the knife for around $50-60, in most outdoor stores like Cabela’s or Sportsman’s Warehouse. If you are interested in more information about this knife, you can read my article on the history of the U.S. Air Force Pilot’s Survival Knife.

2. The Gore-Tex Bivy from the Modular Sleep System (MSS).

Another piece of field gear to consider for your packing list is the Gore-Tex Bivy sack from the military modular sleep system (MSS) produced by Tennier Industries. There are two versions available on the market, woodland camouflage and Army Combat Uniform (Foliage) camouflage. I prefer the woodland camouflage version. However, the camouflage pattern does not matter because the bivys are identical except for the coloring. As of this writing, I am not sure if they have started producing an operational combat uniform (OCP/Multicam) version.

Gore-Tex is an excellent material for the field as it is waterproof, windproof, and abrasion-resistant. That does not mean that it is immune from tearing. It means that with proper use, it will last a long time before any holes or tears appear. Furthermore, the bivy can be used as a hasty shelter in an emergency in conjunction with an emergency blanket or bivy. Thus, as a piece of survival gear, you will not be disappointed by the Gore-Tex bivy sack from the military modular sleep system.

3. The Medium/Large ALICE Rucksack

Second to knives, backpacks are always a favorite topic of conversation among outdoorsmen, bushcrafters, or preppers. It seems everyone has their preferences about backpacks for everyday carry (EDC), backwoods hunting, through-hiking, a Get-Home bag (GHB), or a bugout bag (BOB). A piece of military gear that has stood the test of time is the U.S. Army and USMC ALICE rucksacks. ALICE is an acronym for All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. The ALICE rucksack was issued in a medium and large version attached to an LC-2 Rucksack Frame. A small ALICE rucksack was issued, but it was not widely accepted or used, so it was quickly phased out of U.S. Government inventories.

The medium and large ALICE rucksacks have a lot of storage space for their size. They are made of heavy-duty nylon and strapping. The medium ruck has a capacity of roughly 2400 cubic inches or about 39 liters. By contrast, the large ruck has a capacity of approximately 3800 cubic inches or about 60 liters. There are some advantages and disadvantages with these military rucksacks. However, overall, they are an excellent start to your prepping or outdoor adventuring activities.

4. The Gen I ECWCS Parka and Trousers

A third military gear item that you should consider is the Gen I Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) parka and trousers. Some commercial replicas are just as good. However, for the price, the surplus Gen I or Gen II parka and trousers are a bargain. If your budget can only allow for one item, I would recommend purchasing the parka before the trousers. These items are bulky. So, for space and weight considerations, I would take the parka over the trousers.

The Gen I ECWCS park and trousers are durable and reliable. The main difference between the Gen I and Gen II parka is that the Gen I parka has an inner liner. The Gen II parka has no liner allowing it to have a dual function as a rain parka. The primary color of the Gen I parka and trousers are woodland camouflage. The parka has a national stock number of NSN 8415-01-228-1306 to 8415-01-228-1322. The trousers have a national stock number of NSN 8415-01-228-1336 to 8415-01-228-1352. The Gen I ECWCS parka and trousers are becoming more difficult to find. Therefore, if you can find one in your size, purchase it.

5. One-Quart Canteen with Nesting Cup and Stove

Military canteens are favorite items for most people. They are readily available in most surplus stores. The U.S. military 1-quart canteens that are the most common on the market are made of heavy-duty plastic. It is rare to find a U.S. military canteen that is stainless steel. However, there are some companies producing replicas in stainless steel with a narrow mouth. These represent World War II and Korea War versions.
The U.S. canteen comes with a stainless steel nesting cup and a stainless steel stove insert.

Therefore, if you purchase the plastic canteen, I recommend purchasing the canteen cup and stove to make it a complete field worthy kit. One disadvantage with the plastic canteens is that they are more susceptible to getting mold on the inside. Surplus stores do not clean the canteens out before they sell them. Therefore, ensure they are bleached out, washed, and dried before using them. All U.S. 1-quart canteens will fit in the ALICE or MOLLE Canteen cover.

Final Thoughts

Military surplus field gear has been in use for generations. Remember that you have already purchased U.S. military field gear indirectly through your federal income tax. Part of your federal income tax goes to purchasing this rugged and reliable gear for our military service members. You will not go wrong adding some of this excellent gear into your packing list. It has stood the test of time. It is reliable, practical, and will continue to last if it is properly maintained.

The best U.S. military wool clothing for your loadout will give you an advantage in the field. Military clothing is popular with outdoorsmen, bushcrafters, and preppers. I was fortunate to serve in the military at a time of transition. The Vietnam Era field gear being changed to the MOLLE field gear. Thus, I was able to use some of the wool clothing that was still issued at that time. Survival experts agree that wool clothing is some of the best attire to wear in the field, especially in cold weather. So what is some of the best military wool clothing for your loadout?

1. Wool Boot Socks

The health of one’s feet is critical in an outdoor environment. My article on keeping your feet healthy in the field will help you in this effort. One of the things that will help you keep your feet from failing you in a survival situation is your footwear. The shoes or boots that you wear along with the right socks, will save your feet. Some of the best military clothing available on the market are the wool cushioned boot socks that are issued by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps.

The first pair of socks that I was issued as a recruit in the U.S. Army was the olive drab wool boot socks. They were not my favorite socks to wear. The reason for this is that I was not familiar with how to wear them properly. However, after learning of the value of wool in the field, they are the only socks that I take with me on the trail when I go backpacking or on a trip.

2. Wool Watch Cap and Scarf

The wool watch cap and scarf are some of the best gear for cold weather. The wool scarf can be used as a neck gaiter or face cover. Wool clothing has excellent qualities and has been in use with militaries around the world for generations. The natural fibers of wool retain heat even when wet, and they dry out quickly when wet. Therefore keeping the majority of your body heat from escaping through your head will be aided by the wool watch cap and scarf.

Merino wool products are the preference for most outdoor enthusiasts. Yet, military wool clothing stands the test of time for durability in the field. The wool watch cap and scarf are examples of this kind of item. I have used these two pieces of gear many times in the winter when pulling guard duty in the early morning hours during training exercises in the field. The wool watch cap and scarf are part of my winter kit when going outdoors.

3. Wool 5-Button Sweater

The five-button wool sweater is a hold-over item from the Korean War. However, before the U.S. Army adopted the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS), the wool sweater was used as kind of base layer under the fatigue shirt to help maintain body heat in cold weather conditions. The U.S. Army continued to make them available with acrylic material well into the 1990s due to their popularity with soldiers.

Therefore, if you are looking for this wool sweater, ensure the clothing tag says 100% wool if you purchase one online. Otherwise, you may be buying one made of acrylic. It is better to try and find the 5-button wool sweater in your local surplus store before attempting to purchase one on the internet. Moreover, I wore this sweater throughout my military career, both as an enlisted man and as an officer. The 5-button wool sweater has never let me down.

4. Wool Glove Inserts

The wool glove inserts were issued with the U.S. Army D3A leather work glove shells. Many soldiers complained that these gloves did not keep their hands warm in cold weather. The problem was that the principle of layering was not used with these gloves. For example, a #4 glove insert was being inserted with a #4 glove shell. This created no air space for the body to warm the air around the hands. As a result, the blood flow to the hands was being restricted by these glove shells and inserts.

For example, during my early experience with these inserts, my hands fit a #3 insert, and I would use a #3 glove shell. My hands would get cold in 40°F temperatures. However, when I used a #3 glove insert with a #4 glove shell, my hands would stay warm in sub-freezing temperatures. Additionally, the wool glove inserts are great because they dry out very quickly if they get wet. These wool glove inserts can be used with some of the commercial gloves on the market, such as the Carhartt® work gloves.

5. M-1951 Wool Shirt and Field Pants

Some military wool clothing items that are rare to find but still available on the market are the M-1951 Wool Shirt and Field Pants. These items were part of the updated field clothing and field gear that was approved in 1951 to replace the World War II individual clothing items and field equipment. These items can be seen being used in the M*A*S*H television series.

As stated earlier, wool is a wonderful material because it has flame retardant and heat retention qualities. The U.S. military wool shirt and pants are much cheaper to purchase than some of the more contemporary clothing made of merino wool. Therefore, the purchasing of these items of clothing will be a great addition to your packing list for your field load out. Additionally, be careful when purchasing surplus wool clothing online as it may not be in excellent condition.

Final Thoughts

Clothing that is issued to the U.S. military is some of the best gear on the market. Military clothing goes through an extensive testing process to meet very high standards for durability and reliability in the field. The wool clothing used by our military in times of conflict will aid with keeping you warm and dry in a field environment. These five wool items are some of the best wool gear you can add to your kit as you plan and prepare for an emergency or an outdoor adventure.

You can modernize the SAS survival mess kit for the twenty-first century. The SAS survival mess kit has been around since the 1970s. John “Lofty” Wiseman, who is a retired SAS Sergeant Major, popularized the use of the survival mess kit in his book, SAS Survival Handbook (1986). Wiseman calls it the Survival Pouch in his book.

As with the survival tin, the contents of Wiseman’s survival mess kit reflect the technology and practices of the 1970s. The kit functions as a complementary element with the survival tin. Therefore, one can understand the survival tin as “part A” and the mess kit as “part B.” How can this piece of survival gear be upgraded to address 21st-century concerns?

The Container

The SAS survival mess kit utilizes the standard issued British Royal Army mess kit. They call it a “mess tin.” The mess tin has two nested parts, a large and smaller piece with folding handles to secure them together to form a box-like look. It measures roughly 7 x 5.3 x 2.4 inches. The modern versions of this item are made of kitchen-grade aluminum rather than stainless steel. I prefer stainless steel items when they are available.

The mess tin fits into a large military pouch, such as the ones that hold a box of ammunition for a squad automatic weapon (SAW). The ESEE Mess Tin Kit is the closest equivalent on the market. However, the ESEE kit has a lid rather than a smaller mess tin to fit inside of it. Additionally, there are stainless steel lunch boxes of similar size on the market that can function as a modern upgrade to the British mess tin.

The Purpose of the Container

The mess tin has purposes beyond being a container for survival gear. The primary purpose of the mess tin is for preparing and eating food. As such, Wiseman suggests putting food items in the survival mess tin. The British mess tin is a better mess kit than the U.S. Army one because it can collect and boil water more efficiently. A bushcraft cook pot functions in a similar way to the British mess tin.

Assessment of the Container

The British mess tin is a practical item for enabling survival in an emergency. Therefore, the survival mess tin is a wonderful addition to your survival gear if you are looking to enhance your wilderness, vehicle, or urban survival loadouts.

The Contents

The contents that Wiseman recommends for his survival mess tin are fifteen items. However, these items can be sorted into eight categories of consideration: fire making, illumination, emergency food, food preparation, emergency signaling, and additional contents. As with the survival tin, the size of the mess kit will influence what kinds of contents to store in it.

1. Fire Making

Wiseman suggests putting more survival matches into the mess kit. The principle of incorporating redundancy into your kit considerations is at work here. Again, understand that the mess kit is a complimentary item to the survival tin. Therefore, including extra survival matches is prudent. The best survival matches on the market are the UCO Stormproof Matches. However, the UCO Survival Matches are smaller and come with a waterproof plastic container.

However, if you wish to stay with the military-grade matches, then the NATO Survival Matches by ProForce® should be a consideration. Additionally, there are other fire-making items to consider as substitutes for the matches. You could include a UCO Fire Steel, a regular-sized Bic ® lighter, the SOL Fire Lite Sparker with Tinder, or a NATO Spark Lite kit with extra tinder tabs.

2. Lighting or Illumination

Lighting and illumination in the SAS Survival Pouch is a small LED flashlight. The mini-MAGLITE® flashlight is an example of the flashlight illustrated in the SAS Survival Handbook. However, MAGLITE® and other companies make smaller flashlights that use alkaline batteries, lithium batteries, or have rechargeable batteries. Therefore, when considering a more modern upgrade to a small flashlight, my preference is a MAGLITE Solitaire. Others may recommend O-Light or Streamlight® products. Those are equally good flashlight products.

3. Emergency Food Items

Wiseman recommends putting food items in the mess kit. He also suggests putting a “brew kit” in the tin. The “brew kit” would be tea or coffee bags. However, many beverage companies currently make single-use instant coffee or tea packets, as well as flavored drink mixes like Kool-Aid or Wyler’s® drink mixes. An even better drink mix besides instant coffee or tea would be the sports drink mixes in single-use packets such as Gator-Aide or Propel mixes. A local health food store can assist in helping you find healthy tea or electrolyte drink mixes in single-use packets.

Wiseman makes a strong recommendation for high-fat foods. One of the best items for this is the peanut butter or cheese packets that come with the current Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE). However, there is a growing number of people with peanut allergies, so be careful about what kinds of food items to put in your mess tin. Trail Mix nut packets, beef jerky, or Cliff® Energy Bars are good items to consider for the survival mess kit.

4. Food Preparation Items

The SAS Survival Pouch calls for a pocket-sized folding stove and hexamine fuel tabs. The folding stove that is illustrated in the SAS Survival Handbook is the Esbit Compact Folding Stove. There are more up-to-date substitutes for the pocket folding stove, such as the Vargo Titanium Hexagon Backpacking Wood Stove. The Toaks Titanium Alcohol Stove Pot Stand also is a good option. The Toaks and Vargo stoves fold into a more flat configuration, which makes more room for other items in the mess kit.

5. Emergency Signaling

One of the differences between the survival tin and the mess kit is emergency signaling items. Wiseman suggests the inclusion of a pen flare kit and a signaling panel in the mess kit. The pen flare kit available in the U.S. is the Orion Pocket Rocket Signal Kit. The pen flare kit illustrated in Wiseman’s book is an issued item for the survival vest worn by military pilots. Therefore, the exact one shown in the book is unavailable to most personal. Again, this fact demonstrates the trouble with using military items for non-military purposes.

The signal panel also is a military issued item. However, some alternatives would be just as useful, such as a blaze orange bandana or the small ResQBrite™ panel by Survival Metrics.
Another aspect of signaling is writing messages and keeping notes. Wiseman also suggests keeping writing material in the kit. Some excellent considerations would be the Rite in the Rain Mini Notebook with a golf pencil, small ink pen, or miniature Sharpie® marker.

6. Additional Items

There are some other items to consider if there is room in your mess kit. An emergency whistle such as the rescue howler sold by the Orion company is a good addition. The Best Glide Aviation Survival Equipment Compact Emergency Signal Mirror is an excellent complement to the kit. A good backup compass to consider would be the Sun Company MiniComp II – Miniature Orienteering Compass with Rotating Bezel. A backup knife also should be an option if there is room in the kit. The SOG Instinct fixed-blade knife would be great in the survival mess kit as an additional item.

Final Thoughts

The survival tin and mess kit discussed by John “Lofty” Wiseman are great starts for thinking about resourcing your survival. Your preferences on items will mean your kits will be customized for your unique needs. One can view the survival tin and mess kit as a two-part survival system that will be useful to the outdoorsman, prepper, or survival enthusiast. Therefore, take the time to explore and experiment with different configurations with these kits to find the best one for your needs in the 21st century.

You can modernize the SAS survival tin for the twenty-first century. The SAS survival tin has been around since the 1970s. John “Lofty” Wiseman, who is a retired SAS Sergeant Major, popularized the use of the survival tin in his book, SAS Survival Handbook (1986). The book is currently in its third edition. Additionally, The survival and prepping worlds have made use of Wiseman’s suggestions for the construction of a survival kit.

Consequently, there are many commercial and private versions of this survival item currently available. The primary purpose of the survival tin is to enable survival in an emergency. As useful as Wiseman’s survival kit is to wilderness survival, its contents reflect the technology and understanding of survival from the 1970s. How can this kit be upgraded to address 21st-century concerns?

The Container

A typical survival-type tin utilizes a simple metal box that measures around two inches in width by three inches in length and three-quarters of an inch in depth. It is sometimes called an Altoids® tin. The current SAS Survival Tin being used is 3.5 x 4.625 x 1.25 inches. Therefore, it is larger than the commercial Altoids tin. Moreover, there are arguments about the practicality of using such a container for emergency survival purposes. These arguments reflect the trouble of taking a military item and adapting it for non-military uses.

The Purpose of the Container

The tin box has purposes beyond being a container of smaller items. For example, the use of such a small box allows for making charred cloth for fire-making. Similar boxes on the market have a rubber or foam seal under the lid to make them watertight or waterproof. These features defeat the purpose of the box. The survival tin box has more than one purpose or function. A sealed version of the tin can still be placed in a fire to make charred cloth, but the seals will melt and become useless to keep out water.

Secondary Uses of the Container

Another purpose of the tin is for water collection. A soldier escaping and evading the enemy is always on the move. The tin can be used to quickly gather water from a stream or during a rainstorm for quick consumption. The survival tin also can be employed as a simple stove to purify water or cook a simple meal of edible plants, insects, or small fish. Wiseman suggests wrapping duct tape around the edges to help make the tin watertight until it needs to be used. Unfortunately, the contents become vulnerable to moisture once the tape is removed

Assessment of the Container

The survival tin should not be disregarded as a legitimate container for a survival kit. Its small and compact size makes it ideal for backpacks, cargo pockets on pants, glove compartments in vehicles, toolboxes, or tackle boxes. However, there are some things that you can do to keep the contents dry. The first is using a small Ziploc-type bag. The second is vacuum sealing the contents. A third option would be to put a Ranger band around the edges instead of the duct tape.

The Contents

The contents that Wiseman recommends for his survival tin are fifteen items. However, these items can be sorted into eight categories of consideration: fire making, land navigation, illumination, food procurement, water procurement, wood processing, first-aid, and equipment repair. Furthermore, the size of the container dictates what kinds of items to place into it.

1. Fire Making

The first category of consideration in a survival tin is that of fire-making. How will you make a fire? Wiseman suggests a “matches” and a “flint steel.” Flint steel is a ferrocerium rod. The author suggests the storage of simple wood matches dipped in wax with the stems trimmed. The flint-and-striker that is pictured in the diagram is still available on the market. However, the idea is to have a mini-Ferro rod in the kit. What would be an upgrade to these fire-making items?

One of the most popular replacements for the matches and ferro rod is the miniature Bic® lighter. You can find many survival tins being discussed on YouTube® that have the miniature Bic® lighter in them. However, in sticking with the military nature of Wiseman’s tin, a simple mini-ferro rod with a striker would be sufficient. An example of such an item would be the Bayite® mini-ferro rod. The NATO Survival Matches by ProForce® are a significant upgrade to the simple wooden matches.

2. Lighting or Illumination

Lighting or illumination is a genuine concern in a survival situation. Wiseman suggests a tea candle and a “Beta Light.” Does anyone know what a beta-light is? A beta light is a self-illuminating light using tritium. These are not an item on the market in the United States. A U.S. equivalent version of this U.K. item would be the snap lights or chemlights produced by Cyalume®. Therefore, an option to consider is the micro-flashlight or a mini chemlight by Cyalume®.

Tea candles have been a suggestion for survival kits for many years. There have been improvements to the tea candle. One such improved tea candle is made with bee’s wax. An example of bee’s wax tea candle is those sold by Best Glide-Aviation Survival Equipment. Exotac® also offers a version of the tea candle, the candleTIN™ Nano. These can be a consideration for an upgrade to the SAS Survival Tin.

3. Food Procurement

Food is an essential part of survival. A person’s ability to procure and process food in an emergency survival situation can determine the difference between life or death. The SAS Survival Handbook suggests placing snare wire and some fishing items in the survival tin. These items continue to be a recommendation for survival kits. However, your food procurement items must be tailored to your environment. For example, a fishing kit may not be necessary for a metroplex environment. Nevertheless, an excellent upgrade to the fishing items in the SAS survival tin would be Readyman’s® Enhanced Wilderness Survival Card or the Fisherman’s Survival Card. You can also read my article on making an emergency fishing kit and place that in the tin.

4. Land Navigation

Land navigation is an important skill to know when you are outdoors hunting, fishing, or backpacking. Interestingly, land navigation also is essential for an urban environment. I recently had an experience with OnStar®, where I came within 300 yards of accidentally crossing into Mexico at night. It turned out that the operator put the wrong destination into the directions as it led me through the city where I live.
The SAS Survival Tin calls for a button compass. A button compass is still a good option if you have no compass at all. However, some excellent wrist compasses would make a significant improvement over the button compass. The Suunto Clipper wrist compass is an example of such a compass.

5. Wood Processing

The early survival kits contained a wire saw. The wire saw, or flexible saw is part of the SAS Survival Tin recommendations. However, the quality of the commercial saws tended to be substandard and often failed when employed in the field. BCB USA/UK still sells a wire saw that is constructed using the military standards and specifications for the U.S. Government. A secondary option for a saw would be a small hacksaw blade cut to 1-2 inches in length.

6. Equipment Repair

Equipment and clothing will always need repair. Many combinations of needles and thread will do the task of mending clothing or tears in a pouch or backpack. However, the best dual-use thread is the Kevlar nylon thread. It is useful for repairing damages or as a fishing line. Therefore, I recommend taking a plastic floss sewing bobbin and wrapping as much Kevlar nylon thread on as is practical for both fishing and equipment repairs.

7. First Aid

Medical treatment always will be a concern in a survival situation. Wiseman recommends several medical items to make up a small emergency first-aid kit. Many of the questions are still available on the market. Therefore, use your best judgment about what to put in your kit. The purpose of a survival tin is as an instrument of last-resort to enable survival in an emergency. As such, it will not hold everything that you may desire for your first-aid items.

8. Water Procurement

One of the more interesting pieces of the SAS Survival Tin is the inclusion of a non-lubricated condom to be used as a water-carrying device. The kits sold by BCB in Britain still include a condom. Yet, condoms can fail in the time of need. A more sure replacement for the condom would be the NASCO Survival 1 liter Water Bag. They are thin enough that two could be included in the kit.

Additionally, Wiseman calls for water treatment tablets. Water purification tablets used to come in bulky packaging, forcing them to be placed in a smaller container. However, water purification tablets now come in aluminum foil packaging in sets of ten tablets each. The new packaging makes it easier to put water purification tablets in a survival tin.

Final Thought

John “Lofty” Wiseman gives a solid starting point for thinking about resourcing your survival. One’s preferred content for a survival tin may vary. Yet, the concept of ensuring that you address the basic needs of survival will not change for any type of emergency survival kit. The answering of the questions about food, fire, water, shelter, and first-aid will characterize any survival kit configuration. The SAS Survival Tin is a great place to start thinking through these concerns. The recommended upgrade to the items in Wiseman’s kit will ensure that you have a kit that will address 21st-century survival in the outdoors or the city

Do you have the four essential hand tools for your vehicle? The official winter solstice is just a few days away. Cold weather, ice, snow, blizzards, and extreme temperatures are the experience of this season. Many people in the northern parts of our nation ready themselves for this time of the year. Furthermore, a person driving on the roads in these conditions can find themselves stuck on the side of the road. There are four hand-tools that you can store in your vehicle that can help you to self-recover when you are stranded on the side of the road if you are mired in a rut.

The U.S. Army requires the operators of wheeled-vehicles to carry these four items on their vehicles at all times. They are accountable items. Moreover, many soldiers have lost some of their pay because of losing this equipment. These essential hand-tools have a name associated with them. They are called pioneer tools. The main reason for this designation is that the early pioneers carried these tools in their covered wagons as they moved to settle the western United States. A recent experience of mine reminded me of the value of bringing such tools in your vehicle.

1. Shovel

The first of the essential hand-tools that you should consider storing in your car is a shovel. The size of your vehicle will determine the size and type of shovel that will work for your vehicle. For example, the standard military d-handle shovel would be too large for a small compact car. Moreover, a standard military entrenching tool might be too small for an SUV. Shovels come in various sizes and styles. However, the best shovel for emergency roadside vehicle recovery is the d-handle, round-tip. By contrast, military folding shovels (aka. entrenching tools) are not designed for this type of application. Therefore, I would not recommend them for this purpose.

The best shovel for smaller vehicles is the ANViL® D-Handle Utility Shovel or something similar. Utility shovels are miniature d-handle shovels. They are small enough that they can be stored in the trunk of most sedan-type vehicles, such as the Chevy® Cruze or Nissan® Sentra. The best shovel for larger vehicles is the regular d-handle shovel, such as the Razor-Back® 30-inch, Wood D-Handle Digging Shovel. The digging shovel works best with mid and full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs such as the Chevy® Traverse or Toyota® 4Runner.

Furthermore, the value of carrying a shovel in your car cannot be overstated. A shovel allows you to dig out your stuck vehicle. A shovel can be used to place gravel or dry dirt in front of your tires to help with traction. Also, they can be employed to dig a fire pit or fire trough for building an emergency fire. They also can be used to construct a hasty shelter or windbreak.

2. Ax or Saw

Another of these essential hand-tools to carry in your vehicle is an ax or saw. We could collectively call them wood-processing tools. However, the value of carrying an ax or saw in your car is immense. The saw or ax is useful to cut wood. Wood logs can be laid in front of the tires of your stuck vehicle to provide some traction for your tires. Moreover, a saw or ax can be used, along with the shovel, to build a hasty shelter, build an emergency fire, or any number of other uses or needs in an emergency.

Axes

There are several sizes of and types of axes, as there are saws. You can read my article on woodcutters for more information on axes. The best kind of ax for a small sedan or economy car is the Estwing® 26-in., Camper’s Axe. It is not as heavy or bulky as a regular woodsman’s ax, but in an emergency roadside situation, it will be handy. Yet, the best ax for SUV’s and pickup trucks is the regular woodsman’s ax. The best ax of this type is the Hults® Bruk Akka Forest Axe. Those who are looking for a budget-friendly and dependable ax, there is the Echo® 28-in., Hickory Handle Limbing Axe.

Hatchets

Many people do not travel in large SUVs or pickup trucks. Therefore, storage space is limited in many sedans and hatchback vehicles. If you own such a car, then a hatchet is a good option if your car is too small to carry an ax. Hults® and Estwing® have great hatchets to consider as an alternative to the ax. Hatchets are smaller than axes. However, they give some chopping capability that can be useful if you are stuck on the side of the road.

Ax Principles

The working principle for finding a good ax is the material of the handle, type of bit, and weight of the bit. Remember that in a roadside emergency, you do not need a dedicated heavy-duty wood-splitting ax. Wood-splitting axes are not good choppers. They are most efficient using vertical strikes. They are inefficient for striking at angles or swinging horizontally.

Saws

Another consideration for these essential hand tools is a saw. The best kind of saw for roadside emergency applications is a folding saw. The best folding saws on the market are made by Silky® or Bahco®. I would recommend the Silky® Big Boy or the Bahco Laplander. However, the Fiskars® Power Tooth 10-in., Steel Bade, Folding Pruning Saw is an excellent option to consider. Saws tend to be more efficient in processing wood for emergency fires and building shelters. However, with a good ax and a folding saw, most wood processing needs during a roadside emergency can be accomplished.

3. Pick Mattock

The pick mattock is the classic pioneer and miner tool and one of the essential hand tools that you should carry in your vehicle. They are digging tools. These tools break up hard and rocky ground. The ability to dig around wheels stuck in mud or softened dirt is essential. Shovels are not effective in breaking up icy, rocky, or dry, densely compacted soil. Troops fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and at the Chosin Reservoir found out the hard way that a small entrenching tool is inadequate to break up the frozen ground. Therefore, a good pick mattock is a great asset to keep in your vehicle, if possible.

Pick Mattocks come in two sizes, miniature and regular size. A miniature pick mattock is an option if you are driving a smaller car. However, remember, that like the hatchet, a miniature pick mattock has its limitations. A good pick mattock to consider is the Husky 2.5 lb. Pick Mattock with 36-in., Hardwood Handle. The miniature pick mattock that can be a good option is the V&B Manufacturing Mattock & Pick Combo, 26-In. Hickory Handle, or something similar.

4. Sledgehammer

Sledgehammers are part of the essential tools that you should carry in your vehicle. They are excellent tools for larger vehicles. However, they also should be a consideration for smaller vehicles. The value of a sledgehammer is the ability to drive wooden logs into the ground or heavy stakes. In a roadside emergency, these hammers can be used for several applications. They are great for helping dislodge or breaking up large rocks. Yet, their most common use is to help with securing logs in front of your vehicle tires. Additionally, a sledgehammer can be used to break windshields to get an injured person out of a car. Yet, the most common sledgehammer used for roadside emergency use is the 2.5 or 3-pound sledgehammer. Smaller vehicles can store miniature sledgehammers or a heavy-duty hammer.

Final Thoughts

The storage of pioneer tools (shovel, ax, pick Mattock, and sledgehammer) in your vehicle will pay dividends in a roadside emergency. The size of your vehicle storage space will determine the dimensions of such tools. Your full-sized pioneer toolset can be stored in a military surplus duffel or seabag or your truck bed utility box. Moreover, a smaller version of these tools can be stored in a medium or large gym-type bag. I would also recommend purchasing a military HMMWV pioneer tool rack and mounting your pioneer tools in that manner on your bug-out truck or SUV if you can do so. So, be prepared, be safe, and consider storing some of these tools in your vehicle.

What are the differences between tactical and non-tactical pocket knives? There are two styles of pocket knives that are popular. They are the tactical folder and the non-tactical pocket knife. For purposes of this article, I will refer to them as tactical and non-tactical folders. These knives feature similarities and some differences. Pocket knives have been on the market for many years. However, over the years, I have seen many people discuss their preferred folding-blade knife. Some people advocate one style over another. Yet, despite the many brands and blade configurations, the folding knife has two basic styles: tactical and non-tactical.

1. The Tactical Pocket Knife

The tactical folder, currently, is a knife style that is popular among preppers and outdoorsman. Television reality shows on the topic of survival and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are the source of their current popularity. The tactical folder came about to fill a need in tactical and first-responder applications that the traditional pocket knife could not address. Some examples of tactical folders are the Benchmade® Adamas 275 and the K-Bar® Black Mule.

The Need For A Tactical Blade

The primary feature of tactical folders is the serrated edge on the blade. The traditional pocket knife only has a fine edge blade. The serrated edge helps service members, and first responders cut quickly through the ballistic nylon material. The primary need for this on the battlefield is cutting away tactical gear made of Cordura® nylon to get to a battlefield injury or wound on a servicemember. The tactical folder’s blade design is perfect for slicing through a MOLLE Chest Rig or cutting through a plate carrier in an emergency. Law enforcement personnel would have a similar need to treat a wounded officer in a gun battle.

For example, my experiences with this problem arose while serving in the Army. I had a need to cut MOLLE straps to repair my gear. The traditional fine edge blade on my Swiss Army knife could cut the material, but it took a little effort. Then I used the serrated edge on my Gerber Gator folding knife to trim some excess off of a strap, and in one swipe, it was done with minimal effort.

The Need For A Backup Fighting Knife

The next major feature of the tactical folder is that the blade length and overall length will be larger than a traditional pocket knife. The secondary purpose for a tactical folder is employment in hand-to-hand combat as a backup blade. The Leatherman® or Gerber® multitools are not practical for knife fighting. Therefore, the tactical folder gives some flexibility in the way that it can be used in various tactical applications. Furthermore, the tactical folder’s overall size requires a pocket clip to be part of the handle for convenient accesses and employment.

Quick Deployment Of The Blade

In an emergency, the blade on a tactical folder features a one-hand or assisted-opening blade. The feature is essential for the rapid deployment of the blade for self-defense or emergency first aid to a wounded soldier in the middle of a fire-fight. A traditional pocket knife does not have these features due to the purpose of a more traditional pocket knife. The one-hand opening feature allows a wounded or injured infantryman or special forces operator to employ the knife when one hand or arm is unusable. The feature also is applicable for downed military pilots in a survival situation.

2. The Non-Tactical Pocket Knife

The non-tactical folders are also known as the traditional pocket knife. The non-tactical folding knives, currently, can feature serrated or fine edge blades. However, historically, they feature only the fine edge. The blade style for a traditional pocket knife is designed for outdoor sporting and bushcraft uses. The fine-edge blade is a more practical tool for those applications. The serrated edge is not as user-friendly when attempting to construct simple traps or conduct other bushcraft tasks. The type of blade on a non-tactical folder is more useful for prepping fires and food than the larger tactical folder. Additionally, the non-tactical folder features a thumbnail notch on the blade to assist deploying the blade. Some good examples of a non-tactical folder are the Case® BoneStag Mako® or the Swiss Army Cadet.

A General Use Tool

Traditional pocket knives are more of a tool than a weapon. Although in an emergency for self-defense purposes, the non-tactical folder can be just as useful. Whereas, the tactical folder is designed to be more of a weapon than a tool. However, a tactical folder can be a helpful tool in the hands of an innovative outdoorsman or survivalist. The non-tactical folder’s purpose is as a general-use tool to be used for a variety of applications. These applications can be as a box cutter, splinter extractor, a hasty screwdriver, food processing, or carving a wooden toy for your children.

The Non-Tactical Competition

The traditional pocket knife, in recent years, has begun to feature some of the things found on the tactical folders. As stated previously, non-tactical folders can feature a partially serrated edge blade. You can also find them with one-hand opening features such as thumb studs on the spine or assisted opening. One of the more interesting traditional pocket knives to come out in recent years is the Buck Knives® 110 Auto Knife. Victorinox® is beginning to feature pocket clips on some of their knives.

Final Thoughts

Tactical and non-tactical folding blade knives will be around for a long time. A quality pocket knife is an excellent asset in the field and to carry around town. As a hiker and backpacker, the traditional pocket knife fits my needs for outdoor use. However, when I was serving in the US Army, the tactical folder was the knife that I carried in the field. There are many opinions out there on social media, blogs, and magazine articles about the pros and cons of pocket knives. It is recommended that you experiment with several styles of pocket knives if you are not sure which style of a folding knife is right for you.

The top 3 single-blade pocket knives are under $100. Pocket knives are your best tool to carry for just about every small cutting need. You can carry theses knives everyday or in the field. They will serve you well for many years with proper maintenance. The basis for choosing these knives, in part, is my personal use of some of them and familiarity with others.


The key factors that I look for in a single-blade pocket knife are similar for the multi-blade pocket knife. These factors are practicality, cost, construction, and reputation. The most expensive knives on the market are not always the most practical for my use of a pocket knife. For example, the Bastion Braza EDC folding knife is an example of a pocket knife that goes outside of my requirements for a pocket knife. So what are my top three single-blade pocket knives for under $100?


1. Case® TecX® TL-1

 


The Case® knife company, has a reputation for making high-quality pocket knives. The traditional thumbnail groove and stag bone handled knives have lost popularity in recent years. However, they are still popular with many bushcrafters and hunters. One of the modern lines of pocket knives produced by the Case® company is the TecX® series. The Case® Tec-X® TL-1 is one of the better single-blade pocket knives on the market. The pocket knife is a significant modern upgrade and continues the high quality appreciated in a Case® product.


Advantages


The Case® Tec-X® TL-1 has several advantages as a pocket knife. The first of these is that it features waterproof fiberglass and ABS high impact polymer handle. The benefits of this kind of handle are that it can handle the rigors of everyday use, yet, function adequately in the field. The stainless steel blade is another advantage of this pocket knife due to its corrosion resistance. The implications these features are that the knife is designed to be low-maintenance.


Additionally, the three-inch blade is adequate for most cutting tasks such as making primitive traps, notching, or other small tasks around your outdoor bivouac site. Thus, if the blade is maintained correctly and sharpened, it will be ready to employ in most emergencies. Therefore, the TL-1 is an excellent option for emergency preparedness or Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) considerations.


Disadvantages


The one disadvantage with this pocket knife is that many do not like a 440 stainless steel blade. Bushcrafters, especially, prefer the 1095 or D2 High Carbon steel for a knife blade. Some companies produce a pocket knife with 1095 steel blades. However, for most recreational purposes, a stainless steel blade is better as an overall blade steel for its low maintenance requirements.


The characteristics of Case® TecX® TL-1 are the following:


• 440 stainless steel; Glass reinforced ABS handle
• One-hand opening lock-back knife with Drop Point blade
• Thumb stud and pocket clip features
• Length: 4.5 inches closed and 3.6 ounces
• Price: $22.99


2. Buck Knives® 500 Duke

 


Buck Knives® is another reputable company in the knife-making world. Buck Knives® products find their use in the hunting sports. Hunters are the largest constituency that uses Buck products over the last 40 years. However, other companies, in recent times, have come about to compete with Buck Knives® for the hunting outfitter market.


Despite the growing competition, Buck Knives® produces some quality pocket knives that bear some consideration. One of the better pocket knives from Buck that a person can purchase is the Buck Knives® 500 Duke. The Duke is a great pocket knife to meet both the needs of everyday carrying and on an outdoor adventure.


Advantages


The main advantage of the Duke pocket knife is that it allows for the same cutting options as the 110 Hunter®, yet, without the bulk. The knife is about one inch shorter than its larger cousin. Therefore, it fits well in your pocket. Its 420HC stainless steel blade has the possibility of producing sparks off of the spine in an emergency. However, this action should not be a primary use of the knife. The blade length of the knife is sufficient for using around the campsite or for repairing your gear.


Disadvantages


A primary disadvantage is the blade length of the knife. Some people like to use a pocket knife as a surrogate to a fixed-blade knife. Therefore, they are looking for a pocket knife that has a blade length of four or five inches. Thus, this pocket knife may not be the solution that they are looking to add to their loadout. The blade length of this pocket knife will not be sufficient for processing wood of significant size in the field.


The characteristics of Buck 500 Duke are the following:


• Blade: 420HC stainless steel; Drop Point
• Blade Length: 3 in.
• Handle: Dymalux® Redwood with Stainless Steel Bolsters
• Lock: Lock Back
• USA Made
• Price: $77.00

 

3. Gerber® Paraframe I

 


Gerber’s Paraframe series is one of the more popular pocket knife collections on the market. There are several styles from which to choose. The Paraframe Mini knives are part of the Bear Grylls® line of pocket survival kits. However, the regular-sized Paraframe pocket knives are more popular. These pocket knives offer a good blade material, a decent blade length, and a one-hand opening option with thumb studs. Therefore, many people like to use the Gerber Paraframe pocket knives for their everyday carrying needs.


Advantages


One advantage of the Gerber Paraframe pocket knife is that it is lightweight. I purchased one when I lived in Virginia and began to carry it as an experiment. To my surprise, it was not very noticeable in my pocket. Consequently, I enjoyed carrying the Gerber Paraframe over my Swiss Army knife.


Another advantage of the knife, it features a pocket clip. The clip allows for secure storage when not in use and quick deployment in an emergency. The other knives in this list do not have a pocket clip due to being of a more traditional design.


Disadvantages


The primary disadvantage of this knife is the reputation that some have fostered about Gerber products. As a result, one may be hesitant to purchase this knife as a solution for their needs. My first exposure to Gerber products was when I was issued a Gerber MP 600; U.S. Made Multitool. It was part of my Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) gear. My RFI gear was issued before deploying to the middle east. Coincidently, my experience with Gerber products has always been excellent.


The issue with blades cracking, blades breaking, and other concerns usually reside with the way a person is attempting to use a product. Roughly handling a knife or multitool when you get angry is a quick way to ensure a blade gets broken or cracked. Additionally, I have discovered that if you attempt to use a product for something outside of its design parameters, it will fail every time. Therefore, be careful about how you are using this knife or any pocket knife.


The characteristics of Gerber Paraframe I are the following:


• Overall Length: 7.01in.
• Closed Length: 4.11in.
• Weight: 2.6 oz.
• Blade Length: 3.01in.
• Blade Style: Clip Point
• Blade Material: High Carbon Stainless
• Blade Type: Fine
• Lock Mechanism: Frame-lock
• Handle Material: Stainless Steel
• Opening Style: One-handed opening (Thumb Studs)
• Price: $28.00


Final Thoughts


Pocket knives are a great asset to carry. They allow you the cutting advantage necessary when the need arises. Pocket knives are not weapons but tools to use at the appropriate time and for the proper application. Single-blade pocket knives the oldest version of the pocket knife. They are fun to carry and to use as conversation starters. As you consider a good pocket knife, that is budget-friendly, the three knives in this article are a good starting point