Baseline Survival Kit one of my thoughts in relation to survival gear is that it should be functional, reliable, multipurpose, simple, and modular. That is why I think that it helps to organize your gear in terms of “layers”. The first layer items are the absolute minimum that you need to survive! I then build off this “base layer” and add second, third, and so on. My baseline kit consists of three items. The first is a Mora Companion knife with a high carbon steel blade. The second is a Light My Fire scout 2.0 model fire steel. The third is a generic cigarette lighter.
The Mora Companion is the knife that I carry on a daily basis. I believe that the knife was and is the original multi-tool. No it doesn’t have a pair of pliers (unless you have a Swiss army knife) but in a survival situation it can help you, make shelters, gather fire wood, gather and process wild edibles, harvest materials for containers, construct fire making tools, act as a fire making tool, shape eating utensils, create traps for fish and animals, process game, and a hundred other uses.
I carry the Mora Companion because it fits my needs and requirements. When I evaluate a possible survival knife I ignore what’s popular or trendy and instead focus on what makes a high quality knife. The Most important detail of any knife is the steel that it is made from. The steel in a knife blade dictates how well it holds an edge, how good of an edge it can take, how much it will bend and spring back before it breaks, and how easy it the knife is to sharpen. The Companion that I carry comes from the factory sharp enough to shave with, and with proper technique it can be re-sharpened to that level fairly easily.
Another detail about what makes a good knife is the handle, does it fit your hand, is it comfortable during extended use, will it slip in your hand if it’s wet, is it too big/small, all of these are very important questions. The Mora Companion will probably never win a prize for beauty, but the handle is comfortable, non-slip, and my wife, who has small/medium size hands, has no problems using it. Unfortunately I usually have to sharpen it again after she does!
Another consideration is the cost and the value of your survival knife. In a world were better costs more there are survival knives that perform very well for not much money. Mora knives usually cost 14-18 dollars, so for the cost of one meal at a restaurant, you can have a fully functional baseline tool.
The other tools that I consider to be baseline are both fire starting devices. Fire is a means of life, with it you can cook food, keep away the boogie man, it improves your moral, it can keep you warm, it can be used as a rescue signal, it can be used to create containers and other tools, it can boil water to make it drinkable, and easily a hundred other uses. The ability to construct a sustainable fire is literally a lifesaving skill. My baseline kit includes two methods of fire starting; the first is a generic cigarette lighter, the second is a Swedish fire steel made by Light My Fire. The reason for two is obvious, redundancy in a critical area is just good sense.
Cigarette lighters are one of the easiest ways to light a fire, bar none! I don’t smoke and don’t advocate it but due to other people having that habit there are lighters at almost every register and checkout aisle, in other words they are extremely easy to find and buy. The lighter does have some problems, such as the fact that in high winds you have to shield it, if it is wet it doesn’t work well, and in very cold weather it doesn’t work very well either. That said if you take some simple precautions the cigarette lighter is too handy to not carry!
Because the lighter is expendable and it has some problems, I also carry a fire steel. The LMF fire steel is simple to operate, it lasts for 3000 strikes + -, it works in all weather; it works when wet, when cold, it just flat works! With the proper tinder it will consistently light a fire. The fire steel that I carry also has a whistle built into the scraper. As a simple signaling device the whistle conserves the calories it would take to yell, and can be heard farther.
These items are what I consider to be a Baseline kit. That is, with these items, and Good Training, you can survive many scenarios. These items are so important to me that I carry them on a daily basis. The fact that I live in a rural area allows me more freedom than if I lived in a major city. You may not live in such a free environment, in which case you need to adjust your baseline kit to fit your needs, and legal restrictions. And Most importantly PRACTICE!!! A tool is only as good as the hands and brain behind it!