Absolute Basics – Rory Miller

Trying to brainstorm something for mixed environment (urban/rural, hot/cold, etc.) survival every day carry.  I like working from basic principles forward or from goals backwards.

Completely setting aside the fact that there is no actual need to live (can’t be, since there is this inconvenient 100% mortality rate) in order to live, what are your most basic needs?

I learned Tom Brown’s Sacred Order long ago: Shelter, Water, Fire, Food.
Shelter, because one of the quickest, surest deaths in the wilderness is from exposure (hypothermia or hyperthermia) and conserving core temperature is more efficient than adjusting it.
Water, because that is the next quickest killer.
Fire for a lot of reasons.  It can make the water safe.  It can make food safe.  It helps to make tools.  It increases morale and acts as a signal.
Food.  Most people have more than enough stored energy (the polite word for fat) to go for some time… but when that time is up, you will die.

The Ten Essentials were taught in a survival class when I was a pup: Map, compass, light, clothes, water, food, fire starter, sunglasses, knife, first aid kit.

The essence of small unit tactics: Move, Shoot, Communicate

My dad was more pragmatic, and minimalist, “A good knife.  A rifle doesn’t hurt.”

Survival also happens in a context.  Car might break down in the Eastern Oregon desert.  Maximum survival need of a couple of hours.  Possibility of getting iced into the house with no electricity.  Maximum two weeks, but with the whole resources of my house, which has way more stuff than I can carry.  Plane wreck in remote areas?

Any really extreme survival will be voluntary.  I’m never going to get sucked through a wormhole and have to live in a dinosaur infested jungle.  Won’t have to create a resistance cell when the commies invade. But might decide to do a week with minimal equipment just for the hell of it.

Personality comes into this as well.  I’m a luddite.  I am slowly coming to like my phone, but I hate the idea of betting my life on anything that needs batteries.  The phone is cool– If I’m in the right place it can serve at least three of the ten essentials and ‘communicate’ from the small unit essence.  But if I depend on them to the point I don’t carry a map and compass… Badness.

The last factor that comes to mind is portability.  Your house is probably full of useful stuff and it takes little to put a very complete kit in the car and just forget about it.  But I’m not going to carry a ruck to the grocery store on the off chance that the zombies rise.  If it’s too much stuff, you won’t carry it…and going back to personality, I’d prefer that no one notice I’m carrying anything.  Things are even more restrictive as much as I fly.

Do weapons figure in this?  It’s a potential threat profile, and high stakes.  But I won’t discuss it here.  That’s always a personal decision.  And potentially actionable intel.

Another consideration.  Training is more important than equipment.  There are a lot of things you can do with ingenuity and minimal equipment– and equipment you don’t know how to use is just weight.  But training can influence things another way.  I’ve been trained up to sutures and administering IVs (way out of practice on sutures, though).  The first aid jumpkit I’d like to carry would be huge… and it was appropriate when I was a medic assigned to an infantry unit.  Knowing how to use cool tools sometimes makes you want to carry more cool tools than you can transport.

More thoughts later.

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