For a quite a while now, I’ve held a strong conviction about the value of the Adventure Medical Kits Pocket Survival Pak designed by Doug Ritter of Equipped To Survive. Quite simply, I believe it’s one of the best values in a pocket survival kit on the market today. Not resting on their laurels, Doug and AMK have teamed up again to add a few enhancements and make an even better kit for the outdoors. It’s their new Pocket Survival Pak Plus.
I first heard about the Pocket Survival Pak plus back in July of 2009 at the Outdoor Retailer show. I then heard some more about it at the 2010 SHOT Show this past January. And, finally, it’s arrived! Essentially, it’s a beefed up Pocket Survival Pak with a few extra items. In addition to the regular contents of the PSP, it also includes a CRKT RSK-MK5 knife, an E-Gear PICO LED light, Katadyn Micropur MP1 water purification tablets, and a 1-liter collapsible water bag. Since we’ve talked about the original Pocket Survial Pak before, we’re just going to focus on the new stuff in this one. But, before we do, we’ll go ahead and list the contents of the original PSP for the uninitiated.
4 Safety Pins
1 Sewing Needle, #18, Chenille
1 Sewing Thread, Bobbin #69, Nylon
1 Waterproof Survival Instructions
1 Aluminum Foil, Heavy Duty, 3 Sq. Ft.
1 Compass, Button, Liquid Filled
4 Fish Hook, #10
1 Fresnel Magnifier
10 Nylon Cord, #18, Braided, (10 ft. 100lb test)
1 Pocket Survival Pak Contents List
6 Safety Wire, Stainless Steel, (6 ft of 0.020″)
1 Scalpel Sterile, Disposable, #22 Blade
1 Signal Mirror, Rescue Flash
1 Snap Swivel, Size 12
2 Split Shot, Lead B
4 Tinder Quick
1 Waterproof Paper
1 Whistle, Rescue Howler
As you can see, the original kit was already stocked quite nicely for a pocket kit–especially for the price. As I looked over the additional contents of the new kit and considered what was already in the original PSP, I have to say that Doug and AMK did a nice job rounding out the PSP Plus with what most folks consider to be essential items for survival in the outdoors. For instance, water is an absolute requirement and they covered that area quite nicely with with the collapsible water bag and the purification tablets. To be honest, something to deal with the water concern should have been in the original kit, but we have to remember that the design team was factoring in cost and size and there’s always going to be a compromise when those considerations come into play. That’s why it’s great to see them come out with a kit that’s a bit more comprehensive for those that want to make sure all the bases are covered. In actuality, purification tablets aren’t my first choice when it comes to a long term water purification method, but they are perfect for a compact kit like this that’s really meant to see someone through 24-72 hours of an emergency situation. The Micropur tablets are among the best of the type, and each tablet will treat 1 liter of water. Just simply drop the tablet into your pouch of water and wait 4 hours for complete treatment.
There are all sorts of critics out there who will give a snort of derision at the thought of a pocket kit, whether it’s the PSP Plus or one of the homemade “Altoids” tin varieties. Usually, it’s the die-hard preppers and “modern day” bushcrafters that have already put together their 210 item pack for just such an occasion. I won’t even argue with some of their logic, as it’s perfectly obvious to even the comman layman that a pocket kit doesn’t hold a candle to a fully specified pack. But, a kit like the PSP Plus has several advantages over such a tricked out rig. First, it can go with you anywhere at all times. Throw it in a pocket or purse and you’re done until you need it. Second, it’s rather innocuous looking even to the most timid of sheeple in our midst. And, finally, it’s a simple pack that contains only essential items that even the most inexperienced can put to use in a survival situation. There’s even a handy instruction sheet included for those folks that felt like woodshop was an advanced placement course. You don’t have to be a true-blue outdoors person to use the kit.
With that in mind, it was probably a good idea to include the RSK-MK5 knife in the kit as well. I don’t think it’s really necessary to review the details of the knife in the PSP Plus since we already reviewed this particular model in an earlier article. But, I will admit that my first inclination when I saw it in the kit was that it was completely unnecessary. My thoughts were that I’m going to have a couple of knives with me wherever I go, so there wasn’t any need for this one. In fact, one of my good friends and colleagues who is an experienced outdoorsman said exactly the same thing when we first started talking about the PSP Plus. That was when we had a bit of an epiphany. Not everyone who has or uses this kit will be an experienced outdoors person, and quite a lot of them won’t have a knife of any kind on their person. Sometimes, there are those of us who review gear that forget things like that with regard to the mainstream population. So, from the perspective of someone who doesn’t carry a knife on a regular basis, I absolutely see the need for the addition of the Ritter RSK MK5. Not only will it come in handy using certain items in the kit, but it can be put to a variety of uses out on the trail as well. For more information about this knife, you can read the review.
Even the most city-oriented folk find themselves in need of a personal light from time to time and a nice industry has bloomed for just this niche. Soccer moms, blue collar dads, and just about every other segment of the population have enjoyed the use of the various keychain style lights that are available on the market today. With that in mind, Doug and AMK decided to include eGear’s Pico Light as part of the PSP Plus. Whether it’s reading a map, checking out the compass, or keeping an eye on the trail, there’s no quetion about the utility of a personal area light. It should be noted that having a way to light up the dark also has a positive psychological impact as well–especially in a stressful survival scenario. The Pico Light puts out around 10 lumens of light and just from rambling around on the net, this seems to be equal to or better than similarly priced LED lights on the market. It operates on 4 LR-41 alkaline batteries and has a runtime of around 15 hours. The runtime of this light also seems to be a bit better than most of their competition in the same price range. Just from personal experience while reviewing the kit, the Pico did quite a nice job with just about all the tasks I needed to be done with a light, such as working around camp, heading to the head, reading various materials, rummaging through the pack, and even walking a hillside at night.
That said, I still have some mixed feelings about this style of light. Personally, I like push-button lights. They are easy to operate with one hand. Unfortunately, to activate the Pico Light, you have to rotate the head a bit to get your light. With a little practice you can come up with a way to do this one-handed, but it’s still a little awkward and not as natural as a push-button type. But, to be fair, it should be noted that the use of a rotary head switch means it’s less likely to accidentally turn on the Pico Light than a normal push-button light. Additionally, it uses alkaline hearing aid style cells rather than lithium. Lithium cells have the advantage of operating more effectively in cold weather and they have a much longer shelf life than alkaline–right around 10 years.
The upside of the Pico Light, aside from runtime and brightness, is that the LR-41 batteries are compatible with the external mini-microphone that I use with my video camera, so there’s a bit of redundancy there for my purposes. It’s a bit of a wash for me, and whatever preferences I have are exactly that, my preferences. Either way, that doesn’t negate the light’s performance or utility. It’s a serviceable light with a nice output and generous runtime at a good price. So, it’s kind of hard to argue with the choice.
Over the past several years, I’ve acquired around 40-50 Pocket Survival Paks. I’ve gotten quite a few for myself stashed anywhere I could think of including packs, coat pockets, fanny packs, and even the glove compartment of my car. But, all of them weren’t just for me. I’ve given some as gifts to friends, family members, and as give aways for Woods Monkey at various outings. That should give you some idea of my confidence in the quality of the gear and the value for the price. With the addition of the new items mentioned above to build out the Pocket Survial Pak Plus, things only get better. You’ve got a cutting tool to help you out in the emergency, a nice personal area light that will give good service time, and you’ve now got a way to collect and purify drinking water to keep you going during whatever crisis you encounter. All of this for around $70.00 on the net (street price).
No, this is not the most extensive survival kit on the market, and it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to provide you with quality essential gear that’s affordable and that will be with you at all times. I liken it somewhat to my Ruger LCP. .380 isn’t the most powerful caliber, and the LCP doesn’t hold as many rounds as 90 percent of the semi-automatic pistols on the market, but the LCP is with me always. It’s compact, light, and reliable. Even if I’m carrying a full size carry piece with me, the LCP still goes along for the ride. Because of its size and weight, I don’t notice it and it’s very comforting knowing that I have a backup plan. I do the same with my AMK Pocket Survial Paks. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m carrying. I might have an intermediate sized survival kit or even a completely decked out survival pack, but somewhere on my person is going to be a Pocket Survival Pak. No, scratch that. Now, it’s going to be a Pocket Survival Pak Plus!