Ditch Kit/PSK

Discussion in 'Packs, Bags & Pouches' started by Seeker, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    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: Feb 3, 2015
  2. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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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... :D
     
  3. emeraldcoastbear

    emeraldcoastbear Supporter Supporter

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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.
     
  4. PineMartyn

    PineMartyn Scout

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    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
    [​IMG]

    The unfolded day pack and what's immediately inside it
    [​IMG]

    The contents of my bandana bundle
    [​IMG]

    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
     
  5. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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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.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    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
     
  6. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    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.
     
  7. Roamer

    Roamer Guide

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

    Crco Scout

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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.
     
  9. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    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.
     
  10. pure_mahem

    pure_mahem Guide

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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.:4:
     
  11. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Hm. interesting idea... then, I assume, you just tie a knot in it. Good idea. I have an old brass lighter (Smokestone #5) that I carry, with a piece of electrical tape around the seam, to waterproof it (and keep the fluid from evaporating as fast).

    My own experience with Bics (not others, just Bics) has been solid. I dug one up out of the ground once, in a military training area in Germany, that had been buried long enough to rust. I knocked it off on the side of my tank to get the mud out, spun the wheel a couple times, and it lit. I've never had one not work or throw a spark, even after a total soaking... takes a couple spins to dry out, but not hard to do. still, the balloon would give you something flammable to burn too.

    Thanks for the idea.
     
  12. Aloof

    Aloof Scout

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    I saw a small backpackers tarp at WW the other day that might work. It doesn't tack up alot of room(about 2"x2"x5") but opens to 7 1/2'x 5 1/2' i think.
     
  13. otiswolf

    otiswolf Tracker

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    Great set-ups, surely will be incorporating some ideas myself.
     
  14. pure_mahem

    pure_mahem Guide

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    I don't carry a Zippo anymore but when I use to carry one I would find myself taking the flint out of empty Bics to replace the Zippo flint. The Bic flint seems to never wear out where as the Zippo needed to be replaced at least every 6 months. Use to be a very bad Chain Smoker, stopped carrying the Zippo the day I quit. I do however always carry the Bic, lol!

    On the small Tarp have you considered 2 55 gallon plus Drum/Heavy Duty Garbage Bags. The ones my dad got me are like 65 gallon and are a very heavy duty plastic they fold down pretty good. My Emergency plan includes using one as a poncho and cutting the other up the seem and along the bottom to make a decent size tarp. I've tested it and it holds very well with line tied to the corners using a sheet bend. Granted it's not Bullet proof but it works very well and is reusable as long as you take care when you are taking it down, folding it up and storing it. I could see one lasting a very long time perhaps only succumbing to very severe wind conditions and possibly UV breakdown of the plastic. For the tarp part another even heavier duty option would be to get one of the shower curtain liners they sell from walmart but I don't believe they open up quite as large as the drum liner. Just some thoughts best of luck!:4:
     
  15. JLH

    JLH Tinder Gatherer

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    Some very well thought out kits.
     
  16. SamD

    SamD Scout

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    Just a quick note, I did not see any containers for water carry. Next trip to the store for food grab 2 of the plastic bags (with their wire ties) for produce and save the mesh bag from two hams or onions, etc.

    These pack down to nearly nothing. To carry water place plastic bags inside the mesh, fill with boiled AND cooled water, tie closed, run para cord through the mesh to make a handle.

    SamD
     
  17. Foulwind

    Foulwind Guide

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    Nice kit!

    I have a Hobie Outback kayak and have used it to boat in camp in the past. Although, then, I didn't know about this site and Bushcrafting. I'm thinking about your kit and how it directly crosses over for kayaking (Both are on the water)
    The aftermarket seat for my kayak has a zipper pocket and 2 small water bottle holders built into it. The pocket is maybe 10 to 11" across and 8- 10" deep, and currently only holds a 25' section of white "Boaters" nylon rope. (I guess to use as a throw or tow rope)and a steel fish stringer.
    There is no reason this pocket cannot hold a small PSK! The PSK won't be on my person, but I don't see this as a problem. I don't use my kayak on rivers where it might be swept away.
     
  18. pure_mahem

    pure_mahem Guide

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    Since this thread popped up today I thought I'd add since my last post I've adjusted my ditch kit thinking to include the material to make a super shelter in them all. Not that much doing for myself it just involved adding a space blanket. I like giving myself every advantage so I got the SOL space blankets made for 2 people. All my ditch kits have one of those in it now specifically intended for use in creating a super shelter if need be. I previously had one of the cheap space blankets I just don't feel they are adequate to the role I need them to perform.:42:
     
  19. Kurt992

    Kurt992 Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    I have an experience that may make you reconsider. I took a trip the the Boundary Waters last fall and my buddy had his kayak escape from him. The breeze was blowing out into the lake and he had his foot holding the kayak next to the rocks while loading it on a portage. He went to grab another piece of gear and lifted his foot for just a few seconds. A gust of wind took the boat and blew it out into the lake. The boat was moving faster then he could swim. Another buddy and I paddled out and retrieved the kayak, but if we weren't there, he would have been in trouble.

    That event is what convinced me to invest in a HPG Kit bag. It has a number of uses, including a ditch kit. I have also seen some fly fishing chest rigs that would probably work.

    Just something to consider.
     
  20. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    I won't argue with you on this, as it's your neck... and in the interest of full disclosure, I don't always wear a PFD... but the purpose of a ditch kit is to be on your person should you go into the drink and lose your stuff... it's almost impossible to swim a swamped boat ashore, hard to empty, even with two people, and all of that is even more difficult if it's cold... at some point, your best choice is to get ashore and get a fire going. That's mostly what I'm after with this kit.

    I too have heard of (by not personally seen) canoes blown for miles on some Adirondack lakes (Lows and Little Tupper in particular).

    I also like the idea of incorporating a ditch kit into a life jacket... there are some that have a lot of little pockets. Something to look into.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  21. geologist2

    geologist2 Supporter Supporter

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    Great idea guys. I am continually at the problem of the kit is either too small (altoids) or too large and subsequently change it up. I think I have a problem with too much redundancy.
     
  22. SaladFingers

    SaladFingers Tracker

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    Ill be posting mine up in the bushclass elective soon.

    The contents of my USGI pouch are:

    • Water
    Turkey bag/painters tarp
    Ziploc bag 1L
    Milk bag
    40x Purification Tablets
    Small Loaf Tin

    • Shelter
    Immodium
    Nurofen+
    Bepthamen
    Duct Tape
    Eze lap stones
    LM micra
    Thermal blanket
    3x Needles
    10' nylon thread wrap
    floss

    • Fire
    >Fire Starting Kit
    ferro rod
    4x Tinder tabs
    Mini lighter
    Fresnel Lens
    2x Ranger band

    • Signaling
    3x Waterproof Note Paper
    Pressurized ink cartridge
    Pencil

    • Travel
    button compass

    • Sustenance
    15' 188# Kevlar Line
    2x #2 1.5" ss Safety Pins
    2x #00 .75” bras safety pins
    Wire around nail
    30' 15# Line around nail
    6x hooks
    50' 80# line spiderwire fusion around nail
    2x Scalpel #24
    RR2
    Arrow head cards

    Ive taken the ICLE clips off and some thread out and my TSM slides in nicely
     
  23. canoesonmyfeet

    canoesonmyfeet Scout

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    my ditch kit is coming along, i've hit a dry spell as far as camping goes so i'm doing some "remodeling" on my kits.

    so here it is;

    the pack: large alice (not the most comfortable but some sore shoulders will be the least of my concerns in that moment)
    the contents:
    1. Sol Sport utility blanket
    2. Fremont knives farson survival blade
    3. 10 x 10 Kodiak Canvas groundcloth (similar to a blue tarp if that particular blue tarp had a steroid addiction)
    4. wool blanket
    5. ziploc bag (inside: signal mirror, firekit, tinfoil, TP, esbit tablets, hudson bay tobacco tin with charcloth and other tinders inside, and a small pocket fak)
    6. comprehensive FAK
    7. small cook kit (stainless cup, stainless bowl and some silverware)
    8. trusty plastic blue cup from home for drinking
    9. tool kit (basic hand tools, mainly to enable me to fix general things and possibly get into and secure a house.)
    10. leatherman OHT (always on my belt)

    things i plan on adding:
    1. zip ties
    2. chem lights
    3. bolt cutters
    4. lock picking kit
    5. small clothing kit
    6. mountainhouse or some mres
    7. camelbak bladder
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
  24. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Good idea... I did buy some water container bags from the BCUSA store when they were on clearance a few months back. Never thought about using mesh fruit bags for holders. Thanks!
     
  25. Foilist

    Foilist Scout

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    Here's mine. The pouch is a Kriega Stash, and is small enough to fit in a coat or cargo pocket, although I usually wear it on a belt.

    [​IMG]

    Clockwise from the top:

    AMK Heet Sheet
    Small foil loaf pan

    Teabag, bullion, powdered drink, salt

    Wire saw (the decent, SAS one)
    mason line
    Snare wire
    Sewing kit
    Fishing kit

    Beverage bag from MRE
    1 liter water bag
    Purification tabs
    Minimal first aid items

    Compass
    Whistle
    SAK Classic
    LED light
    Pencil wrapped in duct tape
    CRKT Folts Minimalist knife

    Storm matches
    Ferro rod
    Tea light
    Small a Esbit tablet
    Paper book matches
    Jute twine

    I'm pretty satisfied with the water and shelter stuff, but I think I should swap out a couple of things for a few more first aid items.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  26. Gruntinhusaybah

    Gruntinhusaybah Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Have you considered adding road flares to your kit? They're waterproof and will get a fire going quickly in any condition I've encountered.
     
  27. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    No... but on a "fat" trip (few/no portages, when I can travel heavy) that might be a brilliant idea, especially in colder weather (Sept/Oct) in the Adirondacks. Thanks.
     
  28. Roamer

    Roamer Guide

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    Foilist: I wondered when I would finally see a Kriega pouch show up on BCUSA! As a former adventure moto geek, I always thought Kriega stuff was the bomb, although I never got around to getting any for myself. How do you like it for the ditch kit?
     
  29. Fat Old Man

    Fat Old Man Supporter Supporter

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    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  30. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    This says a lot, I'm sure I'm not the first to upset a canoe/kayak on a small shallow stream or easy rapid and had my belt mounted sheath knife and small binocular pouch ripped off and lost while bouncing down on the rocks and catching bank branch snags as well as having lost my belt mounted cell phone during a minor downhill tumble off trail. My PSK/FAK/ land or sea is always in my pockets/life vest and necklace where it belongs.
     
  31. Fat Old Man

    Fat Old Man Supporter Supporter

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    Location:
    SW Tennessee, McNairy Co.
    One thing that might help is to remember the Survival Rule of Threes: 3 minutes w/o air, 3 hours w/o fire/shelter, 3 days w/o water and 3 weeks w/o food and you're highly unlikely to survive.

    My corollary to the Rule of Threes is: Have at least 3 ways to make a fire.

    I would revamp my PSK to prioritize shelter over food- esp. if space is tight. Perhaps a small fishing/snare kit, before you add anything beyond minimal foodstuffs.

    Next make sure you have a vessel to collect water and a way to purify it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  32. Foilist

    Foilist Scout

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    Connecticut
    Kriega is the good stuff for sure. For those who don't know, it is the Eberlestock or Kifaru of the offroad motorcycling scene; very durable and well-designed.

    I got the pouch as a gift and didn't know what to do with it for awhile before deciding it would be perfect for a PSK. It is a good size - not too big or small. It is well-made and feature-packed. It is nearly unnoticeable on my belt.
     
  33. The Woodsrunner

    The Woodsrunner Scout

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    Location:
    Texas
    My ditch kit:

    [​IMG]

    1 liter water collection bag
    jute twine
    2x tinder quik tabs and a bit of steel wool
    B12 pills for energy
    waterproof tablet
    Fresnel lens
    6-8' Gorilla tape
    10 UCO STORM matches and striker pad(these things are epic!)
    6" of rubber tape to attach sling shot bands to fork
    couple cups worth of chicken bouillon
    3-4 cups worth of mint and chamomile mix tea
    20-30' of #12 tarred braided bank line
    Ferro rod
    heavy duty repair needle
    fat pencil
    Case Sod Buster Jr. knife
    chunk of fatwood wrapped in cotton cloth for charcloth. the ranger bands also burn.
    large Bic
    about 20' of #36 bank line
    TruNord Button compass
    slingshot bands
    water purification tablets

    (one thing I need to add is 2-3 fish hooks)
    It is all housed in a Maxpedition M2 pouch:
    [​IMG]

    This is paired with whatever fixed blade I have on me.
    I also want to figure out a way to carry a space blanket and 55 gallon drum liner. Maybe a Maxpedition Cocoon or something.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015

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