Ever heard of MacGyver?
It was an 80s TV show about a guy who could:
• Short out missile timers with a paper clip
• Get past thumbprint locks using chalk & wax
• Turn camera lenses into magnifying glasses
In real life, there's always a chance of facing survival situations (not as extreme as MacGyver's).
…with limited resources & no one to call for help.
That's when our clothing becomes the first line of defense…
From very uncomfortable problems…
Or even possible death.
Don't think of them as fantastic “MacGyvered” gadgets…
But simply tools that do what they're supposed to (when they're not worn)…
This article discusses 10 handy items every man needs in his Stylish Survival Kit.
This post is brought to you by Anson.
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Before we get into the topic, let's remember the old saying “prevention is better than cure.”
What's the #1 way of dealing with a survival scenario? Do NOT allow yourself to be put into one. This means taking a few precautions – especially when you travel to unfamiliar places.
Never take a hike, drive a car or boat to remote areas without:
- Packed food & water
- A map & compass
- Waterproof matches
- A sharp knife (preferably Swiss army)
- A hooded waterproof & windproof jacket
- A cell phone (in case there's a signal)
But at the same time… you never know what kind of situations may occur. So while there are advantages to packing light – you should also make strategic choices for the clothes you bring. They can help you get through some tough, nerve-wracking circumstances when they aren't worn.
“Survival” clothing can:
- Help you catch food & make fire
- Protect you from the elements
- Cover up wounds & solve issues temporarily
Survival Item #1 – A Long Sleeve Shirt
We tend to buy new long sleeve shirts now and then, either because the old ones no longer fit right or they're worn out by constant washing.
But you may want to bring 1-2 old shirts as part of your survival kit. Here are their uses:
- To stop the bleeding of cuts and wounds. If you've got no actual bandages, just rip some of the shirt fabric instead (so you probably want to pack a cheap shirt). The sleeves are very useful for making a tourniquet.
- To protect your neck and face from sunburn or insect bites. You can drape a shirt over your head in a way that resembles nuns' headgear (instead of a towel which feels heavier).
- To help filter water. Nearly all types of shirt fabric (from typical cotton to polyester) allow pure water to pass through the material. So shirts come in handy when you're thirsty and all you can find is a murky puddle.
Survival Item #2 – A Belt
Compared to shirts, a belt is an easier tool for making a tourniquet. It's tightened with more precision – so it can stabilize an injured arm or leg much better.
You can also remove the buckle and sharpen the prong on a rock – providing yourself with the tip of a mini spear for catching fish.
Speaking of which – have you heard of Anson Belt & Buckle? It's a fantastic small company that's run by a father-son duo in the U.S.
I really like their signature belt & buckle system, which replaces the need for evenly spaced holes to tighten or loosen a belt. Their method allows you to make adjustments by every quarter-inch – so you'll end up wearing belts with a more exact, comfortable fit.
Anson belt systems have a “one size fits all” design. And since every strap can fit waistlines up to 50 inches – there's no need to pick a certain size. Once you receive the product, you just need regular scissors to trim off excess material from the raw end of the strap.
Each buckle or strap is made with the highest quality – and costs about $25. That means you'll be spending $50 for a complete belt system (half the price of a designer belt with holes that's found in stores).
What's even better? There's a LIFETIME guarantee that comes with their stuff. In the event you experience functionality issues, Anson will repair or replace your belt with no questions asked.
So visit the Anson Belt & Buckle website to learn more about this company. Feel free to email or give them a call. I have personally met the founders – and these guys are very nice and willing to answer any questions about their products.
Survival Item #3 – Trousers
I recently came across this educational video on how to turn your trousers into a floatation device. And interestingly, I remember doing this myself!
The clip shows Mike (a former marine like me) as he demonstrates the whole task while he's in the water.
He starts by taking off his pants and joins the ends of the legs together. He covers the holes with 2 strong knots – so most of the air inside will stay put.
He then places the pants over his head, ensuring the zipper areas are sealed and facing down. With the waist section open, he cups his hand and fills the inside with air – then firmly holds the waistband together.
As Mike shows in the end – the whole thing legitimately works. He can lift up his legs in the air and bob around in the water without struggling.
Note: You don't have to rely solely on your trousers during the whole process. You can seal the cuffs even further using a belt, twine or cordage from tree bark.
Although a real life vest is more efficient – this self-made device lasts a good 20-30 minutes before you have to blow more air in. It can actually save your life in the most extreme situations. In terms of fabric, your best bet is to go with denim or other closely woven types.
Besides floatation, there's a small part found on most trousers (especially jeans) called metal rivets – which can be used as strikers when you're starting a fire.
Survival Item #4 – A Heavy-Duty Zipper
Cut out a strong zipper from a pair of jeans to create a small, makeshift saw blade. Will it work like an actual saw? There's really no comparison.
But at the very least – you'll end up with something that's good enough to slice through whatever meat you're cooking over a fire.
Survival Item #5 – Thick Socks
Clean, thick socks come in handy whenever:
- Your hands need protection from cold air or heat from the fire (in place of mitts or gloves)
- You don't have a headband or piece of cloth to keep your forehead sweat-free
- You want to store food such as berries
Bonus survival item: You may also want to pack a non-lubricated condom – which will do an even better job in storing food for later.
Survival Item #6 – Shoes & Shoelaces
Since shoelaces are essentially strings – it's no surprise they can be used in the following ways:
- To form a fishing line (tied to a long branch or twig)
- To bundle together sticks and start a fire
- To set a snare trap
Shoe material is also quite useful in distressing situations when you're stuck in a secluded spot. For instance – you can burn the rubber on your soles in a fire to signal for help during the daytime.
Survival Item #7 – A Pen
In the wilderness, any pointed item is a weapon at your disposal. And that includes the same ordinary pen you write notes with every day.
It may not be as sharp as a knife – but it still makes a great piercing tool when you're hunting for fish in shallow water. But you'll definitely need a good aim. If you miss and it hits the rocky ground, it's likely to go a complete 180 and become useless.
Survival Item #8 – Eyeglasses / Sunglasses
On TV, MacGyver was shown using the broken glass of a light bulb to get himself out of a straitjacket – while being underwater the whole time! So not only did the bad guys underestimate him. They forgot how useful any type of glass was going to be for him.
A pair of eyeglasses (as long as you can see fine without them) or sunglasses can function as:
- A tool for starting fires – similar to a magnifying glass
- A signaling device – mirror-type lenses will glisten under the sun
- A makeshift knife or spear – sharpen the edge of the glass on a rock, or reshape the metal frame
Survival Item #9 – A Thick Jacket
If you think jackets are pretty much useless during summertime or warmer days, think again.
A thick jacket – made of leather or another durable fabric – can be “converted” into any of these:
- A sack for holding a bunch of bulky items or food such as berries
- A blanket (2 jackets are better for this)
- A pillow (roll it up or drape it over your bag)
Survival Item #10 – A Pocket Square
Similar to a shirt – a pocket square can shield your neck and face from harsh sun rays. My only advice is that you specifically make it a bright-colored one.
If it's something like red or pink, it'll make a good signal/distress flag to wave around (in the event you're stuck somewhere high up or down low and you can't shout for help).
Want to learn more practical survival tips? Check out Creek Stewart's Real Survival Info. Stewart is a senior instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft – so he knows all the tricks to making the most lemonade out of lemons.