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Time To Vote For PSK Finalists!


woodsmonkeyico85x85Yes, it’s finally time for everyone to settle down with some coffee or your favorite libation and take a gander at the articles submitted from the finalists for the Woods Monkey Perfect Survival Kit.  As mentioned, the prizes for the winner will be a Charles May Custom OSK knife, a custom lanyard and survival bracelet from Scott’s Knots.

Below are the three finalists for our contst.  We appreciate everyone that particpated, and regret that everyone can’t win.  There were some good ideas and different style kits out there, and it’s evident that there’s more than a few folks that know what they are doing.  The three finalists are listed in alphabetical order by last name.  We didn’t want to put them in any kind of random order and have people guess our intent with the order placement.  We also left everything in the articles alone and only did the formatting required to place the articles on our site.

Voting starts today as soon as you would like to vote.  Voting will carry on through 11:59 p.m. EST June 30th, 2009.  In order to vote, please email us at .  When you send your email to us give us either your full name or your username.  The email you send to cast your vote must come from the email address associated with your Woods Monkey member account.  So, make sure you use the correct email when you send us your vote.  When you send us your email include the following information:

  • Your full name or username associated with the email on the Woods Monkey account.
  • The Finalist # and/or name of the person you think should win the contest.


We would like to offer some suggestions about things to consider you vote:

  • Completeness of kit to cover most circumstances
  • Versatility of each and all items to use for different things
  • Size and Portability to take with you on the trail.  How easy to pack for what it offers?
  • How many enviornments will the kit handle?
  • Can a person truly make it for a week or longer with nothing but this kit?
  • Have the critical basics been covered to sustain life?

We’re looking forward to seeing what you think about what these guys put together.  Our deadlines are strict, so please make sure to cast your vote before the end of the voting period.  Again, the finalists are listed in alphabetical order by last name.


Finalist #1:  Don Logar

20 Item Perfect Survival Kit

“What are the twenty best items I can include in my kit for long-term (more than a week) survival usage?”

Logar1aWhen I look at the question to answer for this contest, I see two challenges to meet instead of one. There is obviously the 20 best items challenge, but there is also the duration challenge of long- term usage. This immediately put a spin on the type of kit I was conjuring up before the contest started. Long- term usage tells me that the items I pick must be durable, able to take a beating to the elements, so goodbye to that emergency reflective blanket and garbage bag! It also tells me that they must be limitless of use, meaning batteries not required! The challenge is getting interesting!

The kit I put together to meet the challenges of the contest question are composed three- fold. First, I put together the tools necessary to sustain me for long- term survival. These tools are perfect for making everything needed out in the wild. The second part of the kit is composed of raw/ semi- raw materials not found in nature needed to provide you with the materials necessary for quick production of additional items not carried in the kit. The versatility of this part of the kit is only limited to the imagination and the user’s knowledge of the outdoors; for me, it is unlimited. The third part of the kit is things that will help signal others to get me out of the wild should this Woods Monkey ever want or need to leave. Some of the items blend and merge with aspects of the other two parts of the kit idea, but that is due to the multiple uses each item has.

The following are the items of my kit. I did not place them in any order of significance. Each item is followed by the uses I would use them for, but that does not necessarily mean that is all that an item can be used for. I also gave the qualities of each item that I felt were significant to note. The items fit very comfortably in a small daypack. Some of you Woods Monkeys might be thinking that a daypack size kit might be too large, but you have to consider this. If you were to be in a survival scenario for long term (more than a week,) where would you be? My thought to that question was in a very remote location, deep in a national forest or desert. I would not be in a State park or Metro park somewhere on a heavily used trail on a day-hike. The items would be carried in a pack for the trip and the tools would be used everyday as part of my gear. The quick materials would be reserved for survival use. For this contest the items conveniently fit in a daypack to give you a size of the 20 items all packaged up; as if this was all you had, it would be all you would need to survive long term. The amount of the consumable items is also considered for long-term use. When it comes to my consumable survival materials, I would rather have a little too much than just not enough if my life counted on it. As for the daypack size, I can still carry it with me on a day hike where all the sensitive metro hikers go, along with a picnic style lunch and a bottle of wine or a thermos of hot chocolate in the winter, the whole time my girlfriend thinking I was just being thoughtful making her feel that much safer and comfortable in the woods.

Logar2a1.    Ontario Knife Company SP-8 Machete $60- cut, chop, saw, pry, shovel, split, hammer, shave (wood,) chisel, draw. The blade is 1095 carbon steel. Holds edge well and razor sharp. The blade is full tang and ¼ inch thick making it excellent for batoning wood. The machete is THE survival knife throughout the world, whether it is in the jungles of South America or the savannah of Africa, no survival tool is more useful.

2. 12 in x ½ in diameter fire steel $38– start fires, use as a night signal. I chose fire steel over other fire making devices, for example, a butane lighter, due to the fact it makes a spark useful for signaling, in this tool a REALLY big spark. It works when it is wet or even been under water for a long time. The size of this item may seem ridiculous, but there is no comparison of other fire steel rods to this for making spark signals at night.

3.    Arm & Hammer baking soda, 16 oz.$1- treat sunburn, poison ivy, bee stings, use as deodorant, brush teeth, put out fire, remove bird feathers from it’s skin easier, polish rust off your knife, meat tenderizer, takes game taste out of meat, settle stomach, wash clothes, repel ants and ticks in bedding area, body scrub. This item is the hygiene, first aid, cooking, all around best agent to have in the survival scene. I am sure I just scratched the surface with the uses this product has.

4.    Military bandage, muslin, compressed, camouflaged NSN
6510-00-201-1755 $5– dressing/bandage, filter/strainer, hold splints in place, improvising a foot traction harness, hygiene towel/washcloth, headwear, make char cloth, pot grabber, comes with 2 stainless steel safety pins useful for lancing blisters, conduct a neuron-sensory exam, sewing, remove splinters, securing an airway, replace lost screws in glasses, pin arm onto jacket to immobilize shoulder, leather punch, hole punch, buttons, replace broken zippers, fashion into fishing hook.

5.    Duct Tape brand BLAZE ORANGE duct tape 15 yards $3- secure bandages, make butterfly bandages, repair/patch holes, signal for help, mark the trail, insulate your aluminum foil for cups/bowls, make yourself more visible, hold tinder together in windy conditions, make flights for arrows/ atlatl darts, emergency snow glasses, makeshift moccasins (yes, this Woods Monkey has done it,) remove splinters, prevent blisters on hot spots, and speaking of hot spots, an excellent torch material. Highly visible yet animals are colorblind to it when hunting. This is the number one “I can fix anything” item.

6.    Military Poncho $20- rain gear, can be made into a bivy sack, lean-to or A-frame shelter, rain collector, solar still, meat smoking tee-pee, camouflage blind for hunting, channel fish, can be made into covering for a Hudson Bay pack. Made of durable Taffeta material for heavy use/abuse.

7.    Spider wire 50-pound test braided line 1 roll 150 yards $5- tie/ secure anything, use as fish line, sewing thread, hafting arrow heads, securing flights, snare material, make netting. This fish line is braided, not monofilament. Super strong and tough line/cordage. Stronger tensile strength than inner strand of paracord.

8.    Silva Trekker compass model 440 $20- navigation compass, signal mirror, and body inspection mirror. It is a good quality compass guaranteed for life.

9.    Military 550 Para cord 100 feet $6- Heavy cordage for multiple uses from building shelter to string for fire bow to using inner thread for hafting arrows/ spearheads and securing flights. Many, many uses and very strong.

10.    Reynolds wrap heavy-duty aluminum foil, 50 sq. feet $3- can use to make ANY container/lid, cook/store food, reflect fire, make tubing, funnel, fan, light reflector, water distiller, very big signal mirror, makeshift gutters for shelter to channel and collect water, make a fish/frog lure, bobber, sinker, meat smoker, tinder box, burning coal carrying box, and baking oven. Other than a container for making lye, this material holds anything and can meet many of your survival needs quickly, giving you the time needed to procure more durable items from wood or clay.

11.    Gerber multi-tool- pliers $50, wrench, wire cutter, pocket knife, saw, file, can opener, bottle opener, large and small flat screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, awl. I am very pleased with the durability of this tool. I have abused this item and it still performs admirably.

12.    Military Wool Blanket $30- blanket, hammock, shelter, coat/cloak, able to keep you warm even when it is wet. The most versatile sleeping item on the planet. I chose this over my fleece blanket due to the fact fleece can melt when exposed to flame and wool is fire retardant.

13.    Aqua Mira Frontier Pro water filter $20- filters 50 gallons water, comes with a straw useful in siphoning water out of cracks in rocks. I chose this over my 20 gallon Aqua Mira Frontier filter not only because of the capacity, but should it become clogged, it has removable debris filters that can be replaced and/ or washed out and re-used.

14.    Silva 4 in 1 whistle $10- works even when wet. Has a compass that is useful to compare the Trekker compass if I have doubts of it being true. It has a magnifying lens useful for fire making, inspecting self for splinters. The thermometer on the whistle can be helpful to determine safe exposure times out in the elements (too hot or too cold,) and can determine body temperature by taking an axial temp (under the armpit.)

15.    Faraday flashlight $10- has unlimited life/use, needs no batteries, visible 1 mile, it is waterproof and it floats. The magnet in it makes the flashlight a crude compass when the flashlight floats in still water. If it should break, the copper wire is useful for snares, the magnifying lens is useful for making fire, the magnet is still good to magnetize your safety pins or some garden wire to make a crude compass and the hard plastic can be sharpened for spear heads/ arrowheads, tools, etc.

16.    Heavy Duty Slingshot Rubber Band $2- make a slingshot/ bow, make a Hawaiian fishing spear, use as a tourniquet, tubing can be used to siphon water out of tight places. Can be attached to the water filter tube connection for extra long siphon as well.

17.    Military style metal canteen $10- holds 1 quart of water for travel/ storage, use as a hot water bottle to keep me warm in my wool blanket, and water can be boiled easily in canteen if needed.

18.    Smith’s knife sharpener $5- has carbide and ceramic sharpeners to keep blades sharp. The sharpener is pre-set positioned taking the guesswork out of the sharpening process. Simple to use. Sharpens the machete and multi tool fine. A dull knife in the woods is useless.

19.     General-purpose garden wire 50 ft $4- Useful for rigging snares, securing heavy framing for shelter, fashion sewing needle, drill, make hooks/ buttons, suspend a cooking pot from a tripod, re-enforce aluminum foil for containers, buckets, frying pan, etc. The wire is steel making it able to be magnetized as a crude compass from the magnet of the flashlight. The green insulation can be easily removed with the Gerber multi-tool if needed. Like the duct tape and paracord, this item has many uses.

20. military style pocket chainsaw $20- process more easily firewood, construct shelter, saw bones for tools/ soups, etc. Batoning wood is much safer when the wood piece has flat ends. Safety is paramount in survival. Saw can be sharpened with multi tool file in the field.

With this kit, as long as I can find water and sustain myself with food from my surroundings, I can survive in the wild for a very long time; much longer than the “more than a week” part of the contest. No survival kit will replace the knowledge needed to survive in the outdoors. It is just extras to make your survival that much more probable.

Don Logar
American Badass / Woods Monkey
Southern Ohio

End Of Logar



Finalist #2:  Jeff Mays

Mays1aJeff took a slight different approach, and submitted his contest entry as a PDF file.  Nothing wrong with that.  Just make sure that you don’t miss the article and think he only submitted a picture. We have embedded the PDF File here for you to download and read. Jeff has also included additional pictures within the PDF file as well. If you have any issues getting it to download, please let us know and we can email it to you.




End Of Mays


Finalist #3:  Kevin Renkavinsky

Renkavinsky1aI am no expert at anything but have picked up a few tricks over the years of hunting, fishing, camping and though my time on the trail. My main considerations when spending time in the back country is dehydration and mitigation of exposure risks. The following are 20 items that I consider important. When setting up this kit I collected gear from my daypacks, longer range packs used on the Appalachian Trail and my BOB. I believe that any survival setup must be lightweight within reason. The larger the system the less chance it will actually be on hand. The total weight for the gear including the host pack is 6 lbs 7 oz minus water. The pack used for this kit is an Osprey Daylite that is around 750 ci but often day hike and hunt with larger sub 2000 ci packs.

I have attached photos of the pack, gear and my best attempt at self photography. The reason for this pack is to conform with my gear weight and bulk requirements. Also it has an integral survival whistle buckle on the sternum strap. So I get a free item.

1. 50 feet of paracord.
2. AMK Thermolite bivy.
3. Suunto M-2 compass.
4. Kaytadyn Exstream (true spelling) XR filter/purification canteen.
5. Lexan signaling mirror.
6. USGI wool gloves.
7. Medium weight hiker’s wool socks.
8. D2 Ka-bar fixed blade knife.
9. Golite Poncho with Sil nylon stuff sack (container does not count as a separate gear per rules).
10. Hunter orange synthetic balaclava.
11. Leatherman Super tool 200.
12. PT Rebel EOS headlamp.
13. 1 roll of gauze.
14. Blast Match fire steel.
15. Mantas bug net.
16. 1 pack of 25 NATO windproof/waterproof matches.
17. 1 oz tube of Antibiotic Ointment.
18. Duct tape wrapped round a playing card.
19. Snow peak trek 900 cook pot. Lid becomes a fry pan/separate cup. 30 oz capacity.
20. 70 oz Platy water bag.

Reasons for the gear.

Renkavinsky2a1. 50 Feet of black 550 paracord. I could have included more but in reality 50-feet is all I pack on a typical outing.  I would only need about 20 feet to setup the Golite poncho as a flying A-frame shelter. The extra could be used for snares however never actually snared anything to eat. Being a hunter I have always had a firearm. But I do know how to set a snare and understand how many animals traverse though their environment. I have used paracord to lash items to my pack and for replacement shoe laces etc in the field. Hypothetically the paracord could be used in the construction of a splint or snowshoes.  But the main purpose is for shelter construction.

2. AMK Thermolite bivy. Far better than a cheap Mylar blanket. Even better than an AMK heat sheet bivy or blanket. It can be used if injured and provides a waterproof/windproof shelter.  Has foot vents to regulate temperature. Overheating in all seasons tends to be a bad thing..

3. Suunto M-2 compass. A good compass at a reasonable price. I would have liked to include a map but there are times when despite my best attempts I can’t get a local map. So didn’t include that with the kit. I normally keep an eye on the direction traveling at fairly regulator intervals.

4. Kaytadyn Exstream XR filter canteen. This is a two for one deal. Works as both canteen and complete filter/purification system. Not the fastest but more than sufficient. Also good to drink on the fly as there is no down time that often comes with most purification tabs. Water is one of the most important considerations. You can live a long time without food but could go belly up fast without water.

5. Lexan signaling mirror. I really want to be found and a signal mirror could be seen a long way off if someone can find open country. Plus nice to see areas of your body outside of view.

6. USGI wool gloves. Thin and flame resistant.. Important for drying clothing near a fire. Also good for handling hot cook wear within reason. When camping/hiking in fall or winter I am wearing gloves but a backup set is key and these take up very little pack room.

7. Medium weight hiker’s wool socks. Your feet must be kept in good working order. Frost bite or a nasty blister can put the hurt on big time. Even if the boots are waterproof often condensation will dampen socks. Sleeping with dry socks and hanging the damp pair under a tarp or near a fire goes a long way towards a more comfortable sleep and setting off on the right footing the next day. These socks are wool and like the gloves can be dried next to a fire with reduced risk of going poof. The medium weight will function in all seasons.

8. D2 Ka-bar fixed blade knife. A big knife can do jobs that are harder or even more dangerous with a smaller blade. Also nice to have a backup if the multi tool is lost. The blade is larger than needed but still I like the knife.

9. Golite Poncho with Sil nylon stuff sack. One of my most used gear items. Works well for raingear and windbreak. There are tie-offs to setup as a tarp. I have slept under the Golite with a bivy sack and found the combo to be a workable fast shelter system that can be setup for various weather conditions. A more grounded A-frame for harsh conditions, higher flying A-frame or a lean-to for more moderate weather. The poncho can be used for a rain catch. I have done this by placing a cook pot under the edge with the greatest runoff when setup as a tarp. Another method is by placing it on the ground and collecting the water from the lowest spot. I have never filtered or boiled fresh rainwater but everything has a risk. The poncho could be used as a ground cover or rain/windproof blanket if too injured to setup as a tarp. Maybe could be tied up and stuffed with leaf litter for a ground pad but have never tried that.

10. Hunter orange synthetic balaclava. Worn when hunting to avoid being shot. More often worn at night when winter camping to keep my head and face warm. If rolled up makes for a nice hat or used over the face if conditions are very cold. I would have picked wool over synthetic but direct contact with my face or head over a longer time frame results in an allergic reaction. Guessing it could replace many of the banahnna uses. Maybe wetted and draped around the neck for hot conditions or used as a pre filter to prolong the life of my Kaytadyn. Never done those as always pack a bandanna however would be willing to try new things if needed.

11. Leatherman Super tool 200. I could spend all 2000 words on this alone but picked the Super tool due to its larger size. Smaller multi tools can be harder to use when the hands are cold therefore increasing the risk of injury.

12. PT Rebel EOS headlamp. One of the best LED headlamps made. Has a 50 lumen high/flashing mode that could be seen from a great distance at night. A 24ish lumen medium mode that is bright enough to hike with and a true low around 5-6 lumens that burns regulated for 50 hours with an additional 50 hours of direct drive. A headlamp is always packed as it gives more work time in camp and often used for night hiking on known areas. But I would not recommend using a headlamp for wandering around all night looking for a way out. The risk of injury if lost is just too great. Being regulated I can use lithium batteries in winter for better cold weather runtimes.

13. 1 roll of gauze. The gauze + duct tape + anti bacterial cream = bandage. The gauze can be used as tinder.

14. Blast Match fire steel. The fire steel will work when other fire starters may fail. The Blast match can be used one handed. I often use this with white birch bark, inner bark of cedar trees, dry grass, and pine tar. Will work with premade tinder such as cotton balls mixed with Vaseline. For this exercise I didn’t pack them however have an alternative that will be discussed later.

15. Equinox Mantis sleep screen/bug net. Can be used with the Thermolite bivy for a bug free night. I have slept under the stars before and the bugs tend to come out just before dusk and dawn. This can reduce your total sleep and that increases the risks for everything. Exposure is a death of a thousand cuts. The net can be worn over the head too if the bugs are very bad during the day. Just looking at it makes me think that there are the makings of a fish trap or large hand net. Never done this but necessity is the mother of invention. It has multiple shock cords plus tie-offs for easy adjustment and a small YKK zipper. Not perfect but at 4.5 oz much better than nothing.

16. 1 pack of 25 NATO windproof/waterproof matches. Burns very hot and will not go out. I have the blast match but wanted a second way to start a fire. I have experimented with natural fire starting methods but this for me is a work in progress.

17. 1 oz tube of triple antibiotic ointment. Great for cuts and scrapes which are the most common injuries in the back country. These ointments are nearly 97% petroleum jelly. For tinder a dab mixed with a small cut section of torn up gauze will work in much the same way as cotton ball/Vaseline tinder. Toss a spark on it and the combo will burn very well. It is just a little bit harder to ignite however very workable. I have done this to fire up my packable wood stove. Being mostly petroleum jelly it can make for a replacement Chap Stick however I am no doctor so can’t comment on medical safety with this application. Chapped lips are another thing that can keep me up at night in the backcountry.

18. Duct tape wrapped round a playing card. The mini roll is about an inch thick and maybe 2 inches in length. This has always been more than enough. Like the multi tool there are too many uses to list them all. I tend to use it for a makeshift bandage and field repairs.

19. Snow peak trek 900 cook pot. This is a two for one deal as the lid becomes a small fry pan/cup. I use cook pots for boiling water, melting snow, cooking food, water collection and sometimes for a warm water sponge type bath. Guessing the mesh container could make for a small scoop net.

20. 70 oz Platy water bag. Very UL and allows for greater water storage. The Platy has less possible failure points than most full hydration systems. Also could be used for a hot water bottle inside the bivy. Best to get all the water possible. If you don’t drink enough it is much harder to regulate body temperature. This can make for a world of hurt in all seasons.

All items that can be affected by water are packed in zip locked bags. These containers could also be used for forage storage or extra camp water storage/rain traps. The Sil stuff sack used keep the Poncho partially compressed could also serve these purposes.  For the shelter system I would also take steps to insulate myself from the ground though the use of natural materials like pine boughs, leaves etc. Clearly a fire would also be employed for the obvious advantages both physical and psychological.

Thank you for reviewing my kit.

End of Renkavinsky


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