I always carry the typical survival cache with me when hiking in the wilderness. LifeStraw (buylifestraw.com) and Sawyer PointONE (sawyer.com) water filters, a Leatherman multi-tool (leather-man.com), a firearm (usually a Ruger LCP, ruger.com), a small first-aid kit, trail mix, and some other odds and ends make up my go-to gear. But in addition to these items, which I mostly carry in a backpack, I also wear a neck knife survival kit.
If I lose my backpack when I’m trying to cross a river, or, heaven forbid, if I get robbed and someone steals the backpack, I have the neck knife survival kit as a backup for extreme situations. The good news is, building a neck knife survival kit only takes a few minutes, so there’s no excuse for being without one.
Once you’ve settled on a neck knife, you might want to replace the chain or cord that hangs around your neck. Some of the chains the knives come with are cheaply made, so you’ll want to replace it with Kevlar cord. Kevlar cord has a breaking strength of 200 pounds, is flame resistant and can withstand ex- treme temperatures. You can use Kevlar cord to tie objects together when making a shelter, to make snares and traps, and it can even be used as a saw to cut through ropes and some plastic materi- als. The best place to get Kevlar cord is also online since, unlike paracord, not many stores sell it.
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After you’ve swapped out the neck chain, it’s time to get a plastic bag to hold the items for your neck knife survival kit.
I recommend using a freezer-grade bag, which is more durable and won’t tear as easily as a regular sandwich bag.
The first item you’ll want to drop in the bag are some water-purification tablets, like those available from Potable Aqua (potableaqua.com). If you ever get lost while hiking, the ability to get clean water will often be the difference between life and death. In an emergency, you’ll use the plastic baggie as your cup and you’ll drop the tablets in, which is why it’s so critical you don’t tear your plastic bag.
The second item to put in your kit are stormproof matches. Two companies that make good stormproof matches are UCO (ucogear.com) and Coghlan’s (coghlans.com). In addition to the matches, you’ll want to add some dryer lint to make it as easy as possible if you ever have to start a fire while lost. Next, add a commando wire saw to your kit. Building a shelter is crucial to staying alive in the elements and the wire saw will allow you to easily cut small pieces of wood. One company that makes wire saws is Rothco (rothco.com).
After you’ve added the wire saw, you’ll want to add a few bandages to the kit in case you get injured out in the wild, far from help. Once these are added, you’ll want to close the plastic baggie and secure it to the sheath of the neck knife by wrapping duct tape around both.
As you can see, this is a minimalist kit designed for extreme emergencies only. There isn’t a lot of space to work with
on a neck knife, so you’ve got to choose your survival items very carefully, which is why I mainly focus on the ability to get clean water, to build a fire for warmth and to build a sturdy shelter.
This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.