After hearing that my next door neighbor had been missing in the mountains for the past few days, I began thinking of what I would think was necessary to have in a kit incase I ever got lost, or broke down out in the middle of nowhere sometime. There are a gazillion things people could pack along with them, but I am making my list up from experience, and training I have had with Search & Rescue over the years. Plus, the fact it has to be able to be carried on a bike without taking up all the room in the saddlebags is another key factor.
Now since I figure a first aid kit as a separate item, I won’t go into what is included in that. But a decent store bought one, along with an Ace Bandage, a roll of gauze, and a couple of feminine napkins (they make GREAT compresses), a tube of sunscreen and a roll of surgical tape should get you by.
Here is what I have included in a survival kit:
First Aid kit
6 inch Glow Sticks (2)
Spool of twine
Waterproof matches, full lighter, or flint and steel
Flashlight & Batteries
While some of these things seem quite obvious, some may not. So I’ll give a quick rundown on each item, and how they are used. I am also quite sure, that if you think about it, there are a few things you could add to your own survival kit. Try them, and see if they work for you.
First Aid Kit: Like I said before, with just a few additions, a store bought first aid kit will handle most problems you’ll encounter.
Whistle: You know the kind. The plastic, or metal, whistle your gym teacher used in school. They can be found in most outdoor shops. When you are lost, hurt and can’t respond to searchers, a good loud whistle is worth its weight in gold. The whistle will carry a lot further than your voice will, and its shrill sound is a definite attention getter out in the middle of nowhere.
6 in Glow Sticks: Despite what you see on TV and in the movies, signaling to a plane or helicopter isn’t that easy. Even if you are out in the open you may not get seen. So you use one of the glowsticks, tied to about 6 feet of twine, and start twirling it like a lasso at arms length over your head. Now you have just gone from being a small dot on the ground to a big round glowing object that stands out from the background even in the day time.
Spool of twine: Use the twine to tie the tarp to your bike for a shelter if need be. A 150ft long spool of twine is more than you’ll need, but still smaller than a 50ft coil of rope. And, if you have to cut it later it’s no big deal.
Small tarp: Use it as a shelter to keep yourself out of the weather somewhat. If you tie one end to the bike, you can tie the other end to rocks, or some other solid thing and you have a place to sleep that is fairly dry.
Knife: Do I really need to tell you why you want this included?
Everything else on the list is so obvious as to why you should have it, I’m not going to waste your time or mine typing it all down. It is just common sense, you want to stay as dry and warm as possible without always having a bunch of stuff weighing you down on the bike all the time.
I mean, think about it. You go for a nice day ride up into the mountains, and end up finding some cool little road you never rode before. Or you hear about some place that really peaks your interest, so you go check it out. Then you break down, or worse, out in the middle of nowhere. No cell service, and miles from the nearest phone. Since no one knows for sure where you are, including maybe even you, it looks like you’re going to have to hunker down and overnight it. Better to have a little something with you to keep yourself alive, and able to get the attention of anyone that DOES happen to come by. Don’t you think? I hope you never need it, but in this day and age, who knows what is going to happen. So just take care and watch out for yourself. If a little time spent putting a bike survival kit might keep you safe, I’d say it was worth it. Wouldn’t you?
Catch ya on the road sometime…