So.....What do you have in your survival "kit?"

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by john_kasaian|1, Jul 26, 2003.

  1. This is in a response to a recent thread, but I thought it might
    better stand on it's own. There is always the possibility of not
    finding one's way back to the car after a shoot, and having to spend
    a night out or worse yet, suffering an injury. Being alone, lost,
    and injured in a wild place is a serious matter and its easy to
    suppose we'd have a first aid kit, GPS or compass and topo map of
    every area we're driving through and all sorts of other survival
    gear with us as a matter of course. Not! At least not while on a
    short jaunt from the car. I find that carrying a LF camera, holders,
    tripod, and the rest of the needed photo gear is about as much as
    I'd realistically be carrying on a short hike. As a habit, I always
    have a book of matches, a mini mag-light, and a leatherman or swiss
    army knife(not for killing chargeing panthers, but for tightening
    screws and cutting sandwiches and apples)a spare pair of socks, and
    a light jacket in the small day pack that I use to carry film
    holders, light meter, lens, dark cloth and filters etc... So my
    question is this: What items in a Large Format kit can be employed
    in a survival scenario? This isn't as hokey as it sounds as a
    person often is unaware of the resources they have at hand when
    confronted with an unplanned night out.
    Heres my contribution:

    Unscrewing a lens element to use as a magnifying glass to start a

    A tripod leg can also be a crutch or splint.

    A sheet of film can splint smaller areas like fingers.

    Pages from a note book for tinder for fire starting.

    Dark cloth can be torn into strips for splinting, or, white side out
    it can be rigged into a burnoose to protect against the sun.

    What would you add to the list?

  2. A ham and cheese sandwich, a package of Lays peanut butter/malt crackers/ and a can of Diet Pepsi. Oh yeah, and since I got old, I stay away from those bad places (If it's more than 100 yards from the road it ain't photogenic -- Brett Weston).
  3. With the terrain we have here in Western Norway, a coil of rope would be the single most useful thing that I don't already bring. I leave it at home to avoid the temptation of rock climbing with LF gear...
  4. An English-Spanish phrase book would be handy for me, in some of the neighborhoods I venture into, and maybe some doggie treats to ward off unwanted canine attention (less confrontational than a pointed tripod leg), and model's releases. I leave the wilderness to you landscape guys.
  5. sheet of plastic & a cup ...
    dig a small hole put the cup in the bottom of the hole, put plastic ontop of the hole,
    cover the edges of plastic with sand/dirt/rocks. and put a small rock / weight in the
    middle of plastic sheet. ..

    water will eveporate out of the ground, and fall into the cup.

    the water might taste earthy, like a cup of indonesian coffee, YUMM!,
    if you area lost in the desert, or the woods, a "solar still" could save your life.

    hoping you don't have to use one!

  6. cxc


    How about a phone?
  7. It's different when I plan to go a few miles but just in case I get drawn out further than intended I have added some things to the 4x5 pack. A very thin emergency poncho, plastic whistle, matches and one of those cheap thin survival space blankets. It adds only a couple of oz. but would sure help if I had to sit out for a night or needed to wait for help.
  8. One fall I was shooting 810 at the Tufa reserve at Mono lake when a nasty cold squall blew in and started sleeting. Since I use a heavy Navy sweatshirt for a dark cloth, it instantly got pressed into service aas it's previous intended use. Then the only question is "take this next shot?.. or freeze to death??" Out here in wild Nevada I should have a snake bite kit, but I don't. I was chasing wild horses around yesterday with the 420 on 4X5 and it started to rain pretty good so I simply went back to the truck. That's my normal survival mode.
  9. Water! At least a 1 liter bottle of water.
  10. Leatherman wave, rope, a mylar sheet I found at a camping store it is a few onces and opens big enough so that I can conserve heat, water purifying pills (iodine) and a compass. I can live with this...
  11. a 4x4 Lexus SUV, Tent, portable generator, portable air conditioner, Refrigerator, caviar, champagne, truffles, Pate, chocolate, satelite TV,portable swimming pool,sauna, goose down bed,orthopedic pillows,Egyptian cotton sheets, camp cook, guide, driver, pack animals to carry cameras, I think thats all I need.

    CP Goerz
  12. C.P., when's your next workshop?

    I always carry a compass and whistle somewhere in my
    clothing. In winter I always have a bivvi bag and something to
    insulate my bum from the snow. With those, I'll survive, although
    all that Rambo stuff makes life more comfortable. Best luxury: a

    The rescue people I know (all Europe) say the best of the
    technological gizmos is a cellphone. Coverage varies: Norway
    is great, Sweden is awful, Scotland is somewhere in between.
    Make sure you have insurance if you call out a chopper in
  13. C.P.: Miss Piggy says that her idea of roughing it is when room service shuts down at 10 PM. I take it that you are also of that persuasion, as am I.
  14. I always carry a Texas snake bit kit which consists of a scalpel, a suction device to draw out the venom, a fifth of Jack Daniel, and a snake.
  15. A comb.

    Since I've lost most of my hair, I don't use it much any more. It does come in handy for prying cactus out of my ... well, you get the idea. Cholla cactus is worse than the "Tar Baby" without a comb.

    Tim, Sunny Tucson
  16. Survival kit depends on location and type of equipment used. 8x10 needs its own little toolbox but I'm seldom far away from the car, whereas the 6x9 can go anywhere. Sweden is generally safe, no need for precautions for snake bites or scorpion stings.

    Multi-tool (I have Swiss-Tool and a leatherman micra). Duct tape. Superglue. Bathroom tissue in a plastic bag (never leave trash behind). Compass, of course. Palm PDA with sunset calculator and tide calculator, perhaps not really a survival tool. Flashlight - the new LED-based lights are amazingly efficient. Spare batteries to my light meter - I learned my lesson once. One large plastic garbage bag for sudden rain. A few business cards.

    Definitely a mobile phone (contrary to Struan's statement above, I find coverage here in Sweden to be excellent, but I guess it depends on where you go and which operator is used). Charged spare battery to mobile phone.

    And (OT), starting this week - the product code for the key to my lug nut locks... Got a flat last week, could not find the key, No details, but it got more than a bit expensive...

    Finally, I'm sure that carbon fiber tripod makes for excellent firewood - another advantage over metal tripods ;-)
  17. Åke, I was really referring to the interiors of the national parks up
    in Norrland. The coverage maps have big holes between the
    major roads and settlements, but it's true you do have to move
    some distance from the car before it becomes a problem.
    Friends in Norway say that it is/was official policy to ensure
    100% coverage as part of their mountain and other rescue
    services. Certainly I've never run out of coverage on my climbing
    trips there.
  18. John,
    How about a GPS system, a satellite-linked cell phone, and a gorgeous tall blonde or
    brunette female to get lost with?
    PS.... maybe we should bring chocolate too!
  19. H.C.-----If I had a blonde or brunette with me I wouldn't need the GPS or cell phone=my wife would track me down!( come to think of it, if I were single and had a blonde or brunette with me, why on earth would I want to be rescued?)
  20. When skiing in high Tatras I always carry a map, an altimeter and a small flair booster (German made) so I can shoot into the sky for help. If anybody notices fireworks in a stormy or foggy weather is another question. Years ago I have been dreaming about two ways radios, but then changed my mind and nowadays will not take cellular phone with me. May be I am a gambler, but to mobilize all my resources, when I go on a tour, I want to rely on myself. (I always go alone). Either you make it or you do not. And the altimeter have saved at least once my life - in spite of a total fog during the entire trip I knew where I was, and at some point the chances of going back or continuing were 50/50.

    I also used to take a heavy dawn sleeping bag guaranteed to keep me warm in frosty T to -30 deg.C. The theory was that if, for some reason, I do not return home on time, the bag would protect me, until the rescue comes. The theory was never tested in practice. However, in recent years I got crazy idea to take my Linhof, instead of Contax RTS (which was too heavy, that’s how I got Linhof!!!) on these tours. Consequently, I leave the bag home because of excessive weight, beyond my capability. The risks are now much greater, but so is the excitement, and I hope I will be able to make many tours this coming winter. If you do not hear from me, or do not see any new winter photographs posted here by next Spring, it means I froze somewhere on the rocks.
  21. I like C.P.'s way of thinking....but the obvious question here
    is........if you were caught out in the middle of nowhere and you
    had to start a fire by magnifing with a LF lens...what would be the
    best focal length? would you use...a Red Dot Artar or a Claron?
    ......decisions ....decisions........
  22. It seems like I've got way too much time on my hands----hows this:emergency sun glasses out of sheet film! Cut the film so it fits over the bridge of your schnozzola and make narrow slits to look through. Attach it to your glasses or rig up something to keep it in place. Handy in sun or snow!
  23. This is my favorite thread this week by far from a humor perspective. The fact that it might save my life someday is a plus.

    Anyway, hopefully adding to the wisdom already shared, how about letting someone else know your plans so that if you don't return at the appointed time they know something is wrong and where to start looking for you?

    The other one concerns working in very hot areas. If your car breaks down or you find yourself far from where you'd like to be, stay put in the shade (under the car is good) until nightfall, and then start walking. There are areas so hot that regardless of how much water you have, your body won't be able to absorb it as fast as you sweat it out. The result is certain dehydration and probably death.

    By the way, the LF nerd in me is compelled to respond to Richard Rau's comment about which lens to use to start a fire. Wouldn't a wide angle be best as it has the smallest image circle and thus would have the sun's light/heat most concentrated in one place? It also would be the fastest lens and thus let through the most light, right? And finally, would multi-coated be best to avoid unwanted light difraction between lens elements? Maybe it would just be better to bring a lighter.
  24. John,
    You could be right, but I would try a 300mm/f:4.5 first. It has the biggest physical aperture of all my lenses, so should gather the most light.

    Struan, cellphone coverage is uneven in West Norway. Whenever I go to my favorite fishing spot, my cellphone shuts itself off in disgust. Myabe that's why it's my favorite spot? One minute walk from the road, and nobody can reach me...
  25. Mea Culpa. Good thing it's too wet for climbing in W. Norway :)

    As for lighting fires, that's what Aero Ektars are made for. Mind
    you, given the number of fires that get started spontaneously
    here every summer by "the bottom of a bottle", a Sigma 35 mm
    zoom is probably the ultimate tool.
  26. So I was in the woods,not lost but well off any trail. I'm on the ground with my Rolleiflex shooting a mushroom and up walks a ranger to tell me no professional photography is allowed. The tripod you know. Think how fast I would have been found if using my 8x10!
  27. Heavy caliber revolver against angry bear.
  28. Up here in the Rockies, the best thing is to let at least one reliable person know where you are hiking. My number two is a portable first aid kit. Cut yourself and start to lose some of that necessary juice (blood) and you are going nowhere… even 50 feet to the vehicle. Hypothermia is the next major concern if lost so carrying a outer jacket in the backpack and taking a hat is a prime factor. I also usually take one of those mini space age silver blankets in the survival kit. Of course I have a fire starter, compass, knife, whistle and a variety of other light carrying things tucked into a very small (9 oz) survival kit but I really do not feel that this is necessary (except maybe the fire starter) if I was lost for 48 hours. I make the decision to carry the survival kit each time based upon where I am going.

    Once again I stress that first-aid and protecting yourself from hypothermia (loss of body heat) is the number one thing for myself in my hiking areas. Hypothermia also has the nasty side effect of fogging your thinking very quickly and with poor judgment there is a very real possibility of hurting yourself or making things a lot worse.

    As a final suggestion I would share with others not to be afraid of staying out all night if you are really lost and darkness is setting in. You are much, much safer by staying put in the dark and have a catnap or two than by wandering around. There is very little to fear from animals, as predators do not typically hunt during darkness. You will be surprised at how much improved your situation will look the next morning by the dawn of light. Patience and clear thinking are the best tools to have and I think most of you already have those. (at least LF Photographers :>)) )

    Oh yeah …..If I have the blonde or brunette female companion with me…please…please…please… do NOT come looking for me. This is the way I wish to go to meet my maker.

    Kind Regards,
  29. ...two sixpacks Bud light against dehydration, a bottle of Jack Daniels against infections, my Buck Survival Knife, a family pack Wrigley peppermint chewing gum, 200 pcs. Marlboro, a Zippo, two dozen condoms against the special seductions and my S&W .357 Magnum Mountain Hunter against those who try to bring me back in real life and my Linhof Super Technika V with the APO Symmar 5,6/100 and 20 rolls of Ektachrome E 200... Uuuuhh, what a dream! :)
  30. pvp


    Heavy caliber revolver against angry bear.
    If you shoot with LF cameras, you're a single-shot guy at heart, so leave the revolver behind and carry a TC Contender in .44 magnum. When facing a charging bear with that, you'll be much more careful in your shooting, just like with the camera!
  31. Hi --

    I just spent a couple of days with a wilderness survival and search and rescue type discussing what's in my pack -- and have a long history of outdoor adventures to draw on. I enjoy the humor of this thread - but this could become somewhat serious.

    My humble opinions:

    A pair of nylon gloves in case you have to save someone else and a bandana should be added to the list. They can be used as tourniquets (not recommended) and as ankle supports for sprains and to tie up splints -- Spare batteries for your lights - new - and tested to make sure they work.

    I prefer a six inch folding saw over a knife. A good one can do (almost) everything a knife can do - plus cut limbs, firewood, etc.

    Thinking ahead is always a good idea. SO take your thinking cap.

    If you sprain or break your ankle don't take off your boots -- you won't get them back on. You'll probably wish you hadn't when you have to walk out without your shoes.

    If you get bit by a rattlesnake -- as I understand it, it's probably better not to cut yourself and suck out the venom -- get to a doctor quickly. Most healthy adults survive snake bites -- The infection from cutting yourself right after getting bit -- might be bad to add to an already difficult problem.

    If you have water - drink it - saving it makes it harder to carry and doesn't do you any good.

    The mini-mag light is not a very good light (it is very tough - and weighs alot) -- I want a light that last about 120 hours - with a flashing mode -- and a light that lights things up so I can really see. Streamlight makes some great lights.

    The best solution for getting lost is not to -- a map, gps and compass -- along with *knowing how to use them*, are the way to gaurentee not getting lost. A cell phone is great way to help yourself get found, but you can't rely on it if you are in a remote area, so a trip plan is essential.

    If you get lost -- stay where you are. In a day you may be miles away and maybe still lost, but no one will be looking where you are, they will be looking where you were.

    Happy trails

  32. Snake Bite is an interesting topic and for me, a confusing one. Every year during first aid class, the treatment changed until finally a few years back they just said "get to a Doctor as quick as you can." Which is great advice, unless you're out in the middle of nowwhere and you're lost. It seems like running around in circles would get the poison going through you a lot faster. In the past, I've heard of a variety of different treatments, what is your favorite? I carry a Sawyer Kit(when I remember) which is a suction pump---the whole thing is about as big as a bar of soap---awhile back I actually had to use it on a 9 year old cousin who got stung by a bee. I can't say if it did or didn't "work" but the fact that someone was doing something(that makes a funny noise) seemed to calm him down from hysteria to a whine. The old tribal treatment on the Rancheria is to get into an icy stream until you can't take the cold anymore, get out and warm up, repeat...repeat...repeat. For dogs, they'd put a block of ice on the ground and the dogs would instinctively go to it, much the same way as humans in a stream. This assumes there is an cold stream or ice available. For horses, the vet told us to carry a 6" tube of garden hose and if ol' Dobbin was bit on the schnozzola to stick the hose up a nostril. Any thoughts??
  33. ....I meant to say "stick the hose up the horse's nostril" Sorry if anyone took the suggestion literally! ;-)
  34. Alan Davenport,

    You right! I like singleshots (have owned couple Contenders and still have Encore in rifle caliber). But facing charging bear (these Finnish bears are big Brown Bears) with single shot! Situation like that I want revolver with caliber like .475 or .500 Linebaugh. OK. Now this forum is more like a hunting forum... :)
  35. Jari, Once while under the dark cloth trying to focus the 'dorf I was charged by a bear, who came to a full stop just inches from where I was, then he politely inquired: "Is that a Hassleblad?" LOL!
  36. John, which country you living? You have kindly bears there...
  37. Jari, even in Alaska, bears weren't much of a problem depending on your location though its prudent to be prepared if you are in "bear country"
    In Watson Lake BC not that long ago, out by the airport, a lady driving along with her invalide husband stopped to take a photo of a Grizzly. The Grizzly started chasing her around the car while her husband sat helplessly inside. A passing bread truck driver stopped and his truck and began chasing the grizzly, I think waving a tire iron and shouting at it. The Griz gave up long enough for everyone to get back into thier vehicles and drive away. The Bear was still in the area, near where I was camping but fortunately I never ran into it.
    Not long ago in Hyder AK, a bear that was making trouble in town was chased off. It returned that night and ate, yes ate, a man camped at a commercial campground in town.
    A couple of years ago, I think it was in Churchill, a native man was killed by a polar bear(not a Chamber of Commerce sponsored event by any means!)
    In our mandated airman's survival gear list we had to have a firearm and ammo, but this was because rescue up there could take weeks and firearm(along with fishing tackle) would enable us to live off the land. What type and caliber was, quite sensibly, left to the pilot and the guys I met usually carried either a .22 rifle(ammo is light wieght and is adequate for small game---if you start dragging a dead moose around you will attract bear & wolves) a cylinder choke shotgun(ammo heavier and bulky, but you can slip a slug into the chamber if you have to deal with a bear---downside is if you dent the barrel in the crash you're SOL unless you've also got a hacksaw) and .357, .41 & .44 Magnum revolvers which can be carried loaded. The idea being that if you're hurt and trapped inside the cockpit you become "canned bear food." The sound of a plane crash in Denali is like a dinner bell to the bears(so I've been told) Not much room in a cockpit to maneuver a rifle and you'd have a heck of a time loading and shooting one if you had a broken arm(which is quite likely in a plane crash)
    In general though, unless you're camping on your own, your guide/pilot will have the "bear medicine" and will stand watch so you can go about your photography, fishing, or whatever it is you're up there paying dearly for. Even on highway work crews, there is one person delegated to "bear security" with a .375 H&H. IMHO, If you're venturing into an area where bears are a dangerous problem, having an extra set of eyes and ears along would be best.
    In California, the bears are kinder and gentler. The rule of thumb is: if you can cover the bear with your thumb, you're close enough! Unless you get between a Sow and her cub, foolishly try to reclaim your Kelty pack(or tupperware of lasagna, or cooler of beer) from a curious bruin, or keep a messy camp there is little to fear. In fact, if a bear( california variety) does nab a cooler of beer, nnd you feel brave, set up your camera at a safe distance. Few things are more interesting than watching a bear drink beer out of a can! FWIW, I'd be more cautious of the homo sapiens in my neck of the woods. I don't know anything about bears anywhere else in the world but I do know they are pretty smart animals and if they see someone crazy enough to lug a field camera, tripod, holders, lenses, spotmeter, dark cloth, filter kit, and artillery they should wisely run in the other direction!
    I have been told that in North America, more people die of bee stings in the wild than from any other animal, and after having a horse I was on stung by meat bees on the Granite Staircase west of Devil's Postpile National Monument I am inclined to believe it----"Check six" and keep your powder & tri-X dry, Pilgrim(wah-hah, wah-hah!)
  38. My apologies! This has gotten way OT! Sorry!
  39. If you shoot with LF cameras, you're a single-shot guy at heart, so leave the revolver behind and carry a TC Contender in .44 magnum. When facing a charging bear with that, you'll be much more careful in your shooting, just like with the camera!
    Right idea, wrong caliber. I have the TC Contender in 454 caliber and at 50 yards with iron sights it is a tack driver. But then the thing with bullets would weight as much as the
  40. Photo.Net deluxe membership: $25.<br>Decent large format camera and lenses: $1,500<br>Sharing photography-related survival tips with a bunch of like-minded goofballs: Priceless<p>

    John K, your "Hasselblad" bear joke made me laugh out loud -- a true LOL.<p>

    By the way, if anyone thinks they can outrun or outmaneuver a bear they're wrong. Bears can get up to 40mph and I've seen a video of one successfully outmaneuvering a rabbit. If you're in bear country, make your presence known (using cow bells and the like) so you won't have to decide if it's better to fight the charging bear mano-a-paw or play/be dead.
  41. John, Good point! I'm not certain of the details of the Watson Lake marathon as it happened the day before I got into the area, except that somehow the Lady and the Bread Truck driver were able to get into thier vehicles at some point and make a getaway---I think it was in '91 or '92(50th anniversary of the Alaska Highway, as I recall.) If anyone is going up that way, there was(I hope still is) a great hamburger place called McWank's, not too far from the totem pole forest.--------Cheers!
  42. pvp


    Whenever I'm in bear country, I always take a companion, and I always make it a point to wear my best running shoes. Once, a friend asked me why I wore running shoes, as it was not likely that I'd be able to outrun a bear. I told him, I didn't need to outrun the bear, just him...
  43. The answer about the bear is that you run downhill. They tend to slow down.

    Sattelite phones are cool, but you might need to sell that 2 0z. 100" f/1 Rodenstock to get it. Yes, I mean the special Anniversary Theoretical Lens.

    My most important item: a tracking device for my film backs. Just remember, it's easier to capture your last moments on rollfilm. And posthumous photos are big sellers.

Share This Page