A 3-in-1 Hybrid Survival Kit by Adventure Medical Kits
For those of us that love to get outside and head to the wilderness, there will come a time when we find ourselves facing a few problems. A simple day hike is often the most dangerous. Our female adventurers may get lost, the men among us will just get displaced, but either way, our simple hike may turn into an extended stay. You can get lost, fall, turn an ankle or a myriad of other problems can face us every time we step outdoors. One reason these short adventures cause problems is we seldom go out with all the equipment we would normally carry for a multi-day camping trip.
It was planning for these times that brought about the small PSK (pocket survival kit). The concept was to carry a small kit on your person with the bare necessities to help you survive when these problems popped up. There have been an untold number of articles written on these kits and how to put one together. In fact, they have become so popular that several firms have started producing pre-packaged kits. One of the best was designed by Doug Ritter of Equipped To Survive and marketed by Adventure Medical Kits. To say that these kits were well received by the outdoor market would be an understatement. Orders were good enough that Adventure Medical has started to expand their product line of pre-packaged kits.
The latest evolution in this line is the S.O.L. 3. Many of you may have one thought with the initials S.O.L., but in this case we are talking “Survive Outdoors Longer.” Adventure Medical has taken the idea of the pocket kit and has expanded it into what they call a hybrid of three kits in one. They have combined a survival kit, medical kit and a gear repair kit into one kit contained within an 8” x 6.5” x 2” nylon pouch. Granted, this kit has grown past the pocket sized PSKs, but it is still small enough to carry in a day bag without taking too much room.
The “survival” section of the kit carries many of the same, or same type of items you will find in the smaller kits. There is a small button compass to help us find our way out after we have become “displaced” and a Mini Rescue Flash signal mirror if we are trying to signal our whereabouts to a rescue team. Also to help in signaling, the kit contains a Slim Rescue Howler whistle. If needed, there is a large Heatsheets Survival Blanket that can be used as shelter, blanket or signaling cloth. For fire, the kit contains a Ferro rod and Tinder-Quik tender tabs. The last item in the survival section is 3 sq. feet of aluminum foil that can be used to form a container for boiling water or as a fire reflector. The items in this portion of the kit are all of good quality and my only comments are I prefer the larger size of the signal mirror packaged in their “Ritter” Pocket Survival Pak. The Heatsheets blanket is much stronger than you would imagine and has multiple uses including reading material. Survival information is printed all over the orange side of the blanket.
Being able to make fire is one of the most important needs you may have in a “survival” situation. Warmth is a major concern, but you can also purify water by boiling and nothing beats a good fire and smoke as a signaling method. I found the ferro rod and tender tabs to be really good in getting a fire going, but I would prefer a larger diameter rod. The enclosed rod may work forever but a little extra strength for such an important part of the kit couldn‘t hurt. If you want to ruin the peaceful quiet of the wilderness, blow on that Howler whistle a few times. It’s sound will carry much further than your voice and with a lot less effort.
The medical portion of the kit is a vast improvement over that packaged in the smaller kits. The supplies found in most kits have always been one of my pet peeves and American Medical has gone a long way to improve the situation. The items in the S.O.L. 3 will help you for those times when you have more than a paper cut. Besides the standard assortment of small bandages, this kit has added some larger dressings, butterfly closures and a few over-the-counter medications. After Bite itch relief, Antihistamine, antibiotic ointment, Ibuprofen, and iodine may not be needed for life saving situations, but these items can help ease the discomforts that will gradually wear you down. My only suggestion would be for the addition of a large trauma bandage and a package of a chemical clotting agent. These items are available from Adventure Medical and would do a good job of rounding out this portion of the S.O.L. 3. As with any first aid kit, you need to add any personal medications you may require. If you decide to order this kit, I would strongly suggest that you also order a copy of “A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine” by Eric Weiss, M.D. Adventure Medical includes this book in several of their larger medical kits (it can be ordered as a separate item) and is one of the best books I have read on the subject. Read this book and then read it again! Go over the items in this portion of the kit and learn the proper use for each item. First aid is not the subject you want to learn with “on the job” training.
The gear repair section of the kit includes two sizes of cable ties, 40 feet of nylon cord, safety pins, 50” of 2” wide duct tape and a pair of EMT shears. The uses for these items are obvious and can save the day should some simple field repairs be needed for your equipment. Each of these items also have multiple uses that could cross into the first aide portion of the kit. A simple roll of fishing line would round out this section very well. You can never have too much cordage.
The last item in the S.O.L. 3 kit is a LED headlamp. They claim a run time of 25 hours but my testing actually proved it to be closer to 30 hours. The light comes with a head band but also has a spring loaded clip allowing it to be mounted on hats, limbs or anywhere else you need light. I have used brighter lights, but the lens shaped dome does cast a well focused beam. Since it is powered by 2 common 2016 batteries, replacement should not be a problem for anyone. Packing an extra set of batteries is always a good idea.
The whole concept of these kits is to have your emergency gear packaged into one small unit. To do so, you need a package and the nylon pouch of the S.O.L.3 is very well made. The zippered pouch opens completely to provide easy access to any of the gear enclosed. Each side holds a separate portion and there is also a small removable pouch for those extra little items you want to add to the kit. The main pouch is a bright hunter orange to make it easily found in your larger pack and can be used a signal flag by itself. You will also find that each division of the pouch has a clear nylon portion allowing you to see what that section holds. There are times when you just don’t want to have to rummage through the entire kit just to find one item. Part of the kit is a itemized list of all contents. You should keep this with the kit just as a reminder and by all means, if you use something, the first thing you need to do after you return home is to re-stock the kit.
Adventure Medical has done a good job of compiling the items needed to make up this larger kit. There are a few things I would add and maybe one or two items I would upgrade with my own choices, but overall I would rate this kit highly. Just do me one favor. Don’t use this kit as a replacement for your PSK. Carry that PSK in your pocket so you will always have it with you and add the S.O.L.3 to your daypack for times you need just a little extra insurance.