At the recent 2009 Blade show in Atlanta, GA I had the chance to examine a new “survival” kit at the Martin Knives table. Hank Martin was excited to show it to me and was generous enough to provide me with a sample to check out on my own. The kit is made by Best Glide Aviation Survival Equipment (ACE), and is designed for short duration survival. It’s a kit to keep you alive, and in some degree of comfort, until you can be found by rescuers. While many of our readers likely make their own survival kits, chances are we know a lot of folks who don’t. For folks like that, a pre-made kit is just the ticket to throw in their day pack while hiking, the game bag of their hunting jacket, or on their ATV or snowmobile while out enjoying a ride. Even if you do make your own kits, this Best Glide one might still be a welcome addition to your own gear, or a good choice for a spare left in the truck, trunk of your car, on your boat, or other places where you might want to stow one. Let’s take a look at what the kit’s all about and you can decide for yourself.
Ration Pack, Not Just Survival Kit
One of the first things I noticed about this kit is that it doesn’t say “Emergency Survival Kit” but rather “Emergency Ration Pack”. That’s an important difference.Most pre-made kits you see out there are simple survival kits. They contain the basic necessities to help you out of an awkward situation but when it comes to food, you’re generally on your own. The Best Glide kit actually centers on the food, and also provides you with some survival basics as well. The kit itself comes in a heavy duty, airtight, sealed bag about the size of a military MRE pouch. It’s sturdy and reusable too. Once you open the bag, it reseals with a heavy-duty zip lock closure. The contents can be broken down into four main parts: food, water, first aid, and survival. This isn’t a back pocket kit (although it will fit in a BDU cargo pocket), but they manage to pack a lot of stuff into it. Let’s take a look at the contents list:
Coffee, Creamer, Sugar
Solid Fuel Tablets
Water Purification Tablets
Wire (Snare Type)
Fresnel Lens Fire Starter
Basic Fishing Kit
Basic First Aid Supply
Taking a look at the food first, you find three main items in that category. The first is a pack of Mainstay Energy Bars. Each bar breaks down into three servings with 400 calories each. Next is a Goodart “Peanut Pattie” good for another 280 calories. I’d never seen these before but they come from a company in Lubbock, TX, which makes sense since Best Glide’s offices are in Robinson, TX. The last food component is a zip lock bag containing two instant coffee packets, cream and sugar for the same, a bullion cube, and half a dozen pieces of hard candy. The contents of this bag round out the kit to 1500 calories. You probably wouldn’t want to pack one of these for lunch every day, but it’s sure going to be welcome if you get stuck outside unexpectedly for a night or two.
Going hand in hand with food is the water portion of the kit. Best Glide includes three Katadyn Micropur MP1 water purification tablets with each kit. Each MP1 tablet is capable of treating one liter of water. Now, the Emergency Ration Pack is supposed to contain a large zip lock bag for water as well. When I examined an open Pack at the Blade show it did indeed have a bag with it. My kit, however appeared to be missing one! While unfortunate, this isn’t as big of a deal as it may seem. The heavy-duty foil bag that the kit comes in could easily do double duty as a water bag, as could the multiple smaller zip lock bags inside the kit. I’ll presume this is a fluke and that most kits will have the bag included, but even if they don’t, or you puncture or rip the bag, you aren’t out of luck as long as you have the main bag and inner bags to work with. The last part of the Pack that I include in the water procurement section is the foil tin and Esbit fuel tabs. The foil tin is likely there to heat up water for you to make bullion and coffee with. Those are great comfort items when you’re lost, cold, or stranded, but the tin itself could be a lifesaver. With it you have the means to boil water and purify it, even if you run out of Micropur tabs. From past experience, the Esbit fuel tabs will generally heat water enough to for making tea and instant coffee but not enough to bring water to full rolling boil. They do make great fire starters though and with the addition of twigs and other natural tinder should help speed you on your way towards a fire capable of bringing water to its boiling point.
The next part of the kit is a small first aid kit, once again in a zip lock bag. The bag contains four large adhesive bandages, one butterfly adhesive bandage, two packets of triple antibiotic ointment, one packet of Blistex, one packet of Diamode (an antdiarrheal), one packet of Medi-Lyte pills (electrolyte tablets), one packet of aspirin, a packet of SunX sun screen, a Safetec sting relief towlette, a Ben’s Tic and Insect Wipe, and a packet of Acetaminophen. While this kit isn’t going to help you with a major medical emergency, it is going to help take care of those minor things that can just make you miserable. There’s a lot to be said about maintaining a good positive outlook when you’re in a survival situation, and being able to take care of the little annoying things can only help in that regard. The last part of the kit is the actual survival items. This is the part that normally makes up most other companies entire kits. Best Glide covers all the bases with their items, although I’ll fully admit that if I were building my own kit, I’d make some substitutions.
For instance, the kit contains a basic pack of matches for fire starting. In a pinch I’d much rather have these than nothing, but I’d prefer to see a small ferro rod. As a backup though, they also have a fresnal lens so you do have more than one means of fire starting available. The whistle is a decent lifeboat model, and the small button compass is or a type typical for most small kits. The folding razor knife is one that I use in my own kits. No, it isn’t a substitute for a real knife, even a Swiss Army Knife, but it’s better than no blade at all. And for most hunters, hikers, and outdoorsmen it’s only going to be a backup blade anyway. The fishing kit looks decent and contains an assortment of hooks, sinkers, line and even a lure. The snare wire is just that, wire. Wire is handy for repairing or making things, even if you don’t use it to make snares. They also include a small pencil and a tri-fold pamphlet of survival instruction. It isn’t the full Army survival manual but it does cover the basics of shelter, food, water, movement and signaling. It also gives you something to read so that you can kill time waiting for a search and rescue team to get to you.
While there are a couple of items in the kit that I might like to see substitutes for, like the matches, overall I think Best Glide has done a great job of making up a kit that should help make outdoorsmen make it through those rough times that crop up occasionally. They have a good, basic set of survival items, means to procure water, some basic food and comfort items, and the means to deal with small injuries and discomforts. The food alone sets the Emergency Ration Pack apart from most other kits on the market. With a retail price of only $26.25 they’re very affordable too. Enough so that I plan on dropping some in each of my vehicles and keeping one or two available for my daypack for those times when I really don’t think I’ll need a kit, but should probably have one anyway!