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There is a big difference between a Survival Kit and an Adventure Pack. A Survival Kit is needed when preparing for a disaster where kids need to be fully prepared for the unexpected. They are generally loaded with supplies for a multitude of scenarios. That being said, with the amount of things needed to survive it is often unrealistic to expect a child to be able to pack it. It’s remarkable how quickly weight adds up and as parents we need to be realistic in their abilities.
An Adventure Pack on the other hand, is packed the same way every single day and your child carries it with them when they venture outdoors. Now the unexpected can still happen, and for that they have the pack. These packs are designed to keep my kids alive for 48 hours: keep them dry, warm, hydrated, fed, and safe until help arrives. These packs are my children’s most prized possession. They always know where they are, and even my five year old knows how to restock it.
Now Doug from Outdoor Survival TV has a fantastic tag line that we now use regularly. Below is a short video of what he puts in his kits.
Stay Put – Stay Warm – Get Bright – Get Noisy
We made Adventure Packs when we moved here, and with personal experience they’ve modified slightly. Here is a list of 15 Essentials:
Make sure you are using a size-appropriate Backpack with good support and that fits well. Check out our outdoor or mountain supply stores, or take a look at the link above.
- Glow Sticks – We purchase these at dollar stores, you can buy in big packages and throw a few in each pack.
- Small Head Lamp – Now there are budget friendly headlamps, but generally they’re terrible. Not bright and the batteries die quickly. Invest in s decent
- Extra Batteries – again quality here is key. Also, wrap in a bandana to keep batteries warm (which will increase battery life) and your child can use the bandana as trail marker if needed
- Heat Parka/Poncho – These are cheap and light. Try and find something in a reflective material or brightly coloured.
- Light Weight Rope – essential for making a shelter, and many other “what-if’s”
- Heat Packs – Also known as hand/foot warmers depending on where you live. We buy these in bulk and always have a few in each pack.
- Snacks – High energy and comfort. Protein bars, granola, even some candy. This is where many people blend distraction and comfort. Would a pack of lifesavers distract long enough to calm down your child a little bit while they wait for help?
- Water Bottle – Teach water conservation and make it a smaller one, remember your child has to carry it.
- First Aid Kit – You can make your own or purchase one. Throwing it in the pack isn’t enough, make sure you teach your kids how to bandage, treat a burn, and disinfect.
- Bear Bell – Highly debated and personal choice. My boys wear one on their packs, but some people believe it’s as much of a dinner bell as it is a deterrent.
- Whistle/Compass Combo – A whistle is ESSENTIAL!! Imagine being 100ft from your child in the woods and still not being able to hear them. Also, teach your children to use a compass from an early age. A vital skill and you don’t want to be trying to rely on google maps.
- Fire Starter/Waterproof Matches/Flint and Striker – You’re the judge here. My kids keep homemade fire-starter in their packs and this year they added flint sticks and waterproof matches.
- Swiss army knife/Leatherman – I find this a complete necessity and my kids adore using theirs. Whether they’re trying to set up camp, entertain themselves by whittling wood or using it for preparing food (even gathering food).
- Para chord Survival Bracelet – This is something new to our kits, but it’s lightweight, useful and the combos can alleviate some of the weight by combining items.
- Nature Journal – With pens and pencils (optional, we use this as part of our homeschooling). This is great for documenting but if they’re stuck and alone it can also be a good distraction and time killer.
Now keep in mind that this is about getting your kids out into nature and improving their critical thinking and confidence skills. For me, this doesn’t mean dropping them off in the woods and going home for a quiet coffee. Our children are allowed to venture off the property onto crown land, but it is season dependant and within limits set out as a family. These packs come on all of our family adventures too and this is where they learn the skills – we learn together.
Do you have any ideas to add? We’re always changing our arsenal as we go, and I’d love to hear how you do it where you are!