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Thread: Ditch Kit/PSK

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    Default Ditch Kit/PSK

    Hey guys. I've been meaning to post this up for awhile. As it is an overcast day threatening rain, and I didn't feel like going outside (I don't know what's wrong with me), I decided to do it today.

    When bushcrafting, hiking, or backpacking, separation from one's pack results in falling back on what one has in one's pockets, hence the PSK. Most of the ones I've seen fit in an Altoids tin, and contain some basic tools and equipment, often a small blade, firesteel, compass, fish-hooks, cordage, etc. I have always disliked the miniaturization of the items, though they are cool, and I recently had to pull out my mini-compass on a cloudy day when I got lost squirrel hunting and had forgotten my normal pin-on one.

    Canoe-ers call their PSK a "Ditch Kit". What if you swamp on a cold day and all your stuff goes on down the river or to the bottom of the lake? How now, brown cow? Some folks put their bits and pieces into the pockets on their life jackets, others in small containers in cargo pockets like land-based folks.

    I played around with several pieces of gear for a long time, trying to figure out something bigger, but not so big that I wouldn't or couldn't wear it. I prefer to carry everything I need in a small daypack, but the canoeing piece never fit that mold.

    So here's what I came up with. I stole a lot of it from you all, some from Kephart, some from Mors Kochanski, and some from Cody Lundin's "98.6*, the Art of Keeping Your A$$ Alive".

    This first pic is the packed-up kit. I took a USGI SAW magazine pouch as the overall container. I wanted something that would ride out of the way, in the small of my back, and I hate hard stuff in my rear pants pockets and cargo pockets. The belt is a modified USGI belt. I bought two and cut one off about 30" long. I sewed it to the other one using a continuous stitch on the ends and along the lower edge. On the top side, I put 3x bar tacks. I can stick a 24" bucksaw blade in there now, and it won't fall out, cut the bottom (teeth ride up), or me. The metal container is a small Trangia mess tin about 6" x 3" x 2", with a handle. I also have the larger one, but it doesn't have the folding handle. You can waterproof the whole works by running a strip of electrical tape around the seam. I have fastened a couple safety pins and a large and small sewing needle to the lid with a small strip of duct tape.
    IMG_5398.jpg

    This is a closeup of the belt with the sawblade inside. You can see 2 of the 3 bartacks, and the teeth. If you make one, offset the bar tacks... they're not centered on the whole belt. you need space to one side or the other so be able to slide the blade in.
    IMG_5399.jpg

    This is all the stuff that fits in the kit...

    Off to the left, with the blue center, is my fishing kit. It's basically a plastic snuff 'tin' containing a reel from a roll of Teflon tape. this holds a bunch of fishline. I've drilled a couple holes in the case and rolled some pre-rigged fish-hooks around it, then taped them down. Inside the case are a few split shot sinkers. outside, rolled up in a wad in the middle of the case, are some pieces of red felt for frogs (they'll bite anything red). All of that fits inside the snuff tin.

    On top of that is another Skoal can, this time the waxed cardboard one with the metal lid. There's a full spool of brass snare wire inside. This does NOT fit inside the Trangia mess tin (nor does the paracord donut).

    The two round things next to those are a roll of dental floss and a spool of nylon thread, both wrapped in plastic bag corners and taped, to keep them clean.

    Inside the lid is a small donut of paracord, and behind/under it, the needles and pins.

    Under the tin are two containers. One is liquid iodine for water purification. The other is salt. Kephart said it best, paraphrasing, "Trout with salt are better than trout without."

    The next little pile, off to the right of center, is fire stuff. Fresnal lens ($1 at walmart vision center), mini-Bic lighter, waterproofed matches, and a Mentos case with a mag bar/firesteel and scraper inside.

    Furthest right is my 35+ year old boy scout Silva compass (without a bubble after all these years) and a small (2x3?) glass signal mirror. Cody Lundin was adamant that a glass one was better than metal. It's well padded, inside the Tragia tin, and if it breaks, I'm really hosed.
    IMG_5400.jpg

    And here it is all packed up. You can see that there is PLENTY of room left next to the Trangia tin. If I didn't already have a saw blade, my Bahco Laplander would fit in here, lengthwise. I pushed the snare wire and paracord down into the bottom to see what room I had left. I think I will add what Kephart called an "emergency ration". I have a small Mtn House Beef Stew meal that would fit, or I can go with jerky and pinole, or a small container of dried bean powder and rice, some bouillon or soup mix, cocoa, tea, or what have you. I have a lot of space left on top of the kit too, up in the top of the ammo pouch (about 2" more). I would like to come up with some sort of small tarp to go in there. Have the spare diamond-shaped tarp from my Hennessy Hammock that might do the trick, but open to suggestions on that one. I will also try my USGI casualty blanket, but I think it's too big. Any suggestions are welcome.
    IMG_5401.jpg
    Last edited by Seeker; 03-23-2013 at 02:26 PM.
    "Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you." John Muir


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    you would not believe how long it took me to get everything back in the dang tin after photographing it all...
    "Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you." John Muir

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    I really like your ditch kit. It shows some good thinking. I've raided those same sources, so maybe I'm prejudiced, but I've always like a smaller kit. Not as small as an Altoids tin (although I have one like everybody else), but mine is (at this point) still larger than yours and so can be awkward to wear in a canoe,although I've done it. I've been making a few bags in an attempt to replace the one I've carried for years.I'm still in the mindset of a cross-shoulder strap-like a possibles bag-but I like your idea of a centerback belt mount. I may steal that from you. I'll try to get some pictures posted later. By the way,what are the rough dimensions of your bag (I'm basically too lazy to look it up)? Anywhoosis-good looking kit.
    "High technology has done us one great service. It has taught us the delight of performing simple and primordial acts- chopping wood, building a fire, drawing water from a spring."-Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American writer

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    Default My ditch kit

    Very nicely thought out kit Seeker.

    Whenever I'm hiking in the bush, camping, or canoeing, I carry a ditch kit. Unlike yours, it's not as comprehensive a survival/emergency kit, but the idea behind mine is that it's just a few well-chosen items that I can carry on my person (not in a pack, not in my boat) at all times, so that if I were suddenly separated from my boat and the rest of my gear, I'd still have some essentials on me.

    A ditch kit can consist of just what you always carry in your pockets, or it can be a small fanny pack or belt pouch, just so long as it's something sufficiently light and compact that you'll not be tempted to take it off when you get hot, tired, want to relax, or have camp chores to do. My ditch kit is always on my person, except when I'm sleeping or swimming, and even then, it's always within reach.

    Below are the contents of my ditch kit with some photos. The kit is by no means exhaustive of what I'd need were I to lose my gear in rapids or some other unexpected manner, but for 3-season camping, it has most of what I'd need and it's small enough that I have it on me at all times.

    - Leatherman multi-tool (worn on belt)
    - paracord bracelet (worn on wrist)

    - Tool Logic folding knife with integrated Ferro-rod & whistle, plus small supply of charred cloth
    - micro flashlight (can be used hands-free)
    - micro lighter (waterproof)
    - pill container for pain killers and anti-histamines
    - button compass

    - ultra-light & compact day pack:
    - Frontier emergency water filter (a carbon filter straw)
    - cotton bandana
    - mylar space blanket
    - flatband slingshot
    - small ziplock bag:
    - salt packets, insect sting wipes, adhesive bandages, moleskin, threaded needle, charred cloth


    The main components of my ditch kit and where I carry them


    The unfolded day pack and what's immediately inside it


    The contents of my bandana bundle


    Seasonal items not shown above:
    - bear spray canister (worn on belt except in winter)
    - bug dope
    - chemical hand/foot warmer packs (winter only)
    - fishing line, hooks, & sinkers (in my wife's kit only)
    - Epi-pen (for my wife's bee sting allergy)

    I'd be interested in feedback and knowing what others value in their ditch kits and why.

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin


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    Nice kits, boys.....The GI pouch remindes me of the one I have been carrying for alot of years....they make a nice sized starter container.




    Any way, this kit is belt worn/truck carried and has evolved over 25-30 years. Started just as a plastic 2 piece cigarette box (waterproof) , now is a little bigger.
    Fits in Mil. First aid pouch.

    From bottom left:
    1-Coghlars-Pack II 1st aid kit.
    2-sticks gum
    1-instant coffee
    1-small plastic box (from ear plugs) w/fishing line/hooks/sinkers/corks) also 4 aspirins.
    1-small bottle of water purification tabs (sealed with wax)
    1-roller paper/wax fire starter
    1-candle end
    1-box matches
    1-small metal match (flint and steel)
    1-lighter

    Next row: from left
    1-compass
    1-Swiss Army knife
    1-led flashlight
    1-plastic cig box)
    1-p-38 can opener
    1-razor blade
    1-folded up piece of alum. foil
    1-box/50 rds .22 ammo
    4-quarters
    1-plastic spoon
    1-sewing kit (from hotel)
    1-emergency blanket
    1-mirror
    25ft-nylon strapping (from before I knew about paracord)
    1-Military issue First Aid pouch
    1-Zip-Loc bag


    You can tell it's older as I always carried quarters for pay phones......don't even know if they have pay phones anymore....LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by emeraldcoastbear View Post
    By the way,what are the rough dimensions of your bag?
    Mine is 8.5" x 6.5" x just shy of 3". If you Google it, you'll see 7 x 9 x 3, which is close, but not quite right.

    And for those who might not know, there are 2x Alice clips AND a wide loop thingy on the back. Not MOLLE clips, but I bet they make one that size... I just hate Desert and ACU camo. My pouch was about $12, iirc.
    "Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you." John Muir

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    Nice kits! Seeker, where do you get the Trangia tins?

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    Great thread, guys. And indeed ... there is content and carrying vehicle differentiation between a Ditch Kit and a PSK. I'll try to post my setup once I get out of the field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roamer View Post
    Nice kits! Seeker, where do you get the Trangia tins?
    Well, my wife eventually found me that one on Amazon... but BEWARE!!!! the picture did not match the verbiage...I originally ordered what I thought was the larger one with a handle, and the picture seemed correct. but what I got was NOT with a handle. I complained and tried to return it. Amazon graciously let me keep it. A month or so later, at Christmas, my wife surprised me with the handled one, though smaller. I just now asked her about it, and she said it came straight off my wishlist on Amazon... so apparently the small one has a handle and the large one doesn't, as least on Amazon.

    Maybe someone knows where you can get the large one with the handle, but I don't. Sorry.
    "Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you." John Muir

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    Just want to add that because these ditch kits are associated more with canoeing and the fact you will get submersed (most likely) if you need them You all may want to additionally take your Bics and put them inside a balloon to completely waterproof that piece of your kit.

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