In case you hadn’t noticed … summer is almost here. It seems like the new year started just last week, and now we’re easing up on the halfway point for this year. Ski parkas and snow boots are gone and it’s time to dig out the camping gear and dust it off. It’s time to switch to warm weather survival gear.
With the seasons changing and the temperature along with them, it’s also time to take a fresh look at your survival kit. It’s all too easy to take that gear for granted, once you’ve got it put together; kind of like checking off the box and then forgetting it. But just because you’ve got a survival kit, EDC bag or bug out bag put together, doesn’t mean that you can set it aside and just forget about it.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have multiple survival kits. I keep one in each of my vehicles, one with my fishing gear, my EDC bag that’s always with me and my bug out bag in the hall closet. While these aren’t all the same, each is intended to help me survive, should the need arise.
But I might go a bit farther than most people, especially with my EDC bag.
That kit gets used quite a bit, as it doesn’t just contain survival gear, but things that I might use to take care of life’s little problems. So whether I’m grabbing a safety pin to take care of a split seam in my clothing, using the lighter to light up someone’s birthday cake, or taking the rain poncho out in a storm, things seem to migrate out of my kits, unless I make a conscious effort to put them back.
Reviewing your kit (or kits) once in a while gives you the opportunity to check on the condition of your gear, remind you of what you have in the bag and make an honest appraisal about what might need to be replaced. At the same time, you might find that you’re missing something important, which you didn’t realize when you first put it together. So periodic checks are an essential part of staying prepared.
Most people’s kits need to be looked at twice a year for seasonal appropriateness; once in the spring and once in the fall. The first thing you want to look for in your survival kit are things that need to change with the seasons. Updating to warm weather survival gear a pretty important consideration.
Warm hats and gloves that you need for the winter are not appropriate for the warm summer months. That warm hat should be replaced by something that will protect you from the sun, not something that will keep your ears from getting frostbite. Warm winter gloves need to be replaced with lightweight work gloves and winter coats should be replaced with a windbreaker or rain gear.
Seasonal weather changes affect other things as well. Summertime can be a time of drought in some parts of the country. Whereas you might be able to melt snow for drinking water in the wintertime, you may have to depend more on the water you can carry in summer.
Some Things Just Don’t Last
If you leave a survival kit in your car, boat or anyplace else that can get hot, you might be surprised at the things that go bad in it. Many types of fire starting tinder will go dry from the heat, rendering them useless. My favorite tinder or cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly will only stay good for about six months, before they dry out and I need to replace them.
Food is another thing that you need to check carefully. Heat can affect many types of food negatively, such as dried fruits. Most dried fruits aren’t totally dry when you add them to your kit, but sitting in a hot car trunk will dry them out the rest of the way, making them too hard if not impossible to chew. Other foods, like jerky, can become moldy with time, rendering them useless. I’ve even had canned goods which were part of my survival supplies go bad. Periodic replacement of these items is vital so that when you need them, they are available.
Watch out for any stored water, as well. Water expands when it is hot, obeying the laws of physics. Likewise, it expands when it is cold. This can cause water containers to burst or just from leaks. You might find yourself grabbing a bottle of water, merely to find it empty.
Lighters can also leak or even explode from the heat. While this isn’t all that dangerous, it could put you in a dangerous situation if you depend on that lighter and it doesn’t work. Pens can dry out from the heat. Check anything that can be affected by heat or cold, to make sure it is okay.
Batteries are another thing that you can’t count on lasting, without checking them regularly. I don’t know how many flashlights I’ve lost through the years, because of batteries that leaked inside them. It’s easy to think that your flashlight is okay because it has long-life alkaline batteries in it and it hasn’t been used for a while. But unless you check it, you can’t be sure.
Stuff In Your Bag Gets Used Up
As I mentioned with my EDC bag, supplies in your kit might get used up. It’s great to be able to grab a butane lighter or rain poncho when I need it. But I have to remember that those things are still part of my survival kit. Each time they are used, they need to be returned to the bag, or if the items are used up, they need to be replaced.
We should be especially careful about this with things which can be used up, like butane lighters. While it is easy to think that a disposable lighter is good for 1,000 fires, it is also easy to forget to reduce that number each time we use it. Getting caught in a survival situation, with most of the butane used up wouldn’t be great.
What Should be Updated?
Finally, we should always be on the lookout for what we should replace because we’ve found something better. New gear is coming out all the time, prompting me to buy it and check it out. While not every new survival gadget is worth changing my survival kits over, every once in a while there is something that comes out, which is. Checking my bug out bags gives me the opportunity to ensure that I have added that new piece of gear to all my kits.
One example of this, which happened to me not too long ago, involved a flashlight. I have a small survival kit which I keep in my fishing vest so that I’ll always have it with me when I go fishing. The compact flashlight I put in it was chosen for its size, more than its power. But I recently found a more powerful flashlight that was the same size. I had bought it to check it out, not thinking of this kit until I was making my bi-annual check of the kit. Then I realized that the new light was much better than what I had previously been carrying.
As you continue to gain experience in the art of preparation, you will probably encounter many new items that can perform better than what you are already using. When that happens, it only makes sense to update your kit. You may not realize it at the time when you buy it, but periodically checking your kit can give you an ideal opportunity to put that new gadget to use. Just the process of switching to warm weather survival gear provides lots of opportunities to update your kist and bugout bags.