Emergency Kit

I have a plastic touring kayak (Necky Looksha IV). I have the basic emergency gear (paddle float, pump, whistle), but was thinking of putting together a small bag that stays with the boat of other emergency gear. Things like:

  • duct tape (that emergency fix all)
  • cable ties (another emergency fix all)
  • fishing line and hooks
  • basic first aid supplies
  • emergency blanket
  • emergency food (energy bars)
  • small multi-tool/swiss army type knife

    What gear would you suggest be added?

fire making stuff
storm-proof matches

vaseline-soaked cotton balls

bourbon (not necessarily for the fire - makes good antiseptic and mouthwash, not to mention mood-lifter!)

a compass & lighter
Vaseline and cottonballs works incredibly well, just make sure they’re real cotton and not synthetic.

I kept an emergency kit in a dry bag in BC. I had it clipped onto the back of the seat, but after a few days the bag was wet often enough to let the water seep in. I think it was the odd shape and not being able to make a good enough seal. Next time I’m keeping it in a tupperware container because that kept my crackers and tortillas dry (the one I carried was in the cockpit behind the footpegs). I haven’t decided how to secure it in the cockpit yet.


Good start but I would most likely add
a couple extra items.

I’d probably pack a lot of the items in a small coffee can with a lid. Not always the dryest item, but the can comes into play as a make shift cook pot or for boiling water. I also often put in a painters dropcloth - them cheap plastic ones. With some small rope, you know have a tent/tarp. I also pack a fairly good size candle.

clear bags may replace the drop cloth
Thanks everyone for the thoughts. Keep them coming!

On the painter’s drop cloth - that reminded me of some info from a survival class I took a while back. I would exchange clear trash bags (the large size ones) for the drop cloth. They pack a bit better (not as thick), can still be used for a tent (along with duct tape), can also be used as a poncho with appropriate holes cut out, and can also be used to make water (you place over a tee limb, seal it, and let the sun cause the trees to sweat, which is captured by the bag).

Yep - - Bags work good
I’m just used to using those cheap $1.99 wally word thin plastic drop cloths. I keep one in my back pack along with one of those emergency $.99 poncho’s .

If must be dry - Nalgene bottle
A tip I got recently for a sure dry container is to use a Nalgene bottle. You can get them up to at least 4L with the large opening. I don’t know if the HDPE material is sure dry like the polycabonate. I haven’t tried it, but probably will eventually. Anyway, just a thought.

Paul S.


several kits
that are additive to one another…

kits that are in the boat/attached to the boat may or may not stay with you…so at least one big kit in the boat and a mini-kit on the person/PFD. The kit sold here at P.net, the PSK (personal survival kit) is excellent–though not waterproof, you can augment that kit with Gerber nursing bags for water storage. I’ve even added a small bottle of pure iodine crystals that can become supersaturated and the supernatant fluid used to treat water, the crystals are not to be ingested! and thay will produce literally hundres of liters of water before exhaustion {dont use iodine if allergic to it, shellfish, pregnant, etc)…the PSK I’m talking about also has firemaking ability but you should add some cheapo Bic type butane lighters…carry this PSK,a quality knife and a FSK in a 1 liter roll top dry bag like the ones make by Sea to Summitt (around $7) and keep this in a PFD pocket…also carry a tube tent in/on your PFD…The cheap tube tents sold by Cochrans and others are plastic, they come packaged very flat…sew or have someone sew a panel on the back of your PFD just for this one item…shelter and immediate shelter is often the most critical elemement in survival…you can get the ‘packs’ that attach to your PFD and put all this stuff there but if you are like me and dont want the additional weight on your PFD the additional sewn on panel to hold a flat tube tent is not much.

If you believe in tube tents as much as I do then look to Moonbowgear.com I asked them to make a tube tent for me that is syl-nyl…much longer lasting than plastic and they added a pop in (velcro) panel of no-see-um, and speaking of…in that 1 liter dry bag that holds your PSK and FSK throw in some bug dope and sunscreen and if you get the same size as mine you also put in 2 power bars.

never leave your boat
or your gear. which is not to say, don’t think about first aid and second aid, but never leave your boat.

24 Hour Hot Hands…
those heat packages sold at Wally World and other places…they come in differing sizes and useful heat times…I pack a lot of them in the colder months, keep several with your dry clothing…they sure help if you’ve gone swimming and are cold, same thing if you end up stranded for the night on a beach or gravel bar…

Alternative to a coffee can
I have a Nalgene bottle, but have added a SS cup that nests on the bottom for an emergency pot. The whole shebang stores in a stuffsack.

Twine is a multi-purpose fixit, and I like waxed whipping twine or Speedy-Stitcher thread.


Waterproof matches and a lighter. A couple of fuel tabs from the army surplus store can also come in handy.

I just came back from the Bowron
canoe circuit up in BC. It was my second time on the circuit. Did a stupid thing and was dumped in the Cariboo river, Brrr. My canoe splash cover worked and I didn’t lose anything. We exited the river and stopped at the first campsite we could find to dry out. I must have had a dozen lighters scattered thoughout my gear, but quickly found out that only one would work since the rest got wet or damp. I wrap my gear in zip lock bags, had dry bags, etc. Anyway, the lesson learned is absolutely make sure you fire starting equipment doesn’t get wet.

One thing that did go right was that I purchased a Sawvivor (a light weight buck saw) and had an axe to split the wood I sawed. Without these two items it would have been difficult to start a fire since most of the wood was large branches and wet. I needed to spilt to wood to get to the dry heartwood. While these two items aren’t something to carry on you, they will be very helpful if you didn’t lose your boat and gear.

axe and saw
i used to think these items superfluous but now think them a very good idea, especially when paddling for exactly the reason you mention.

Your story reminds me of my formative years on WW (Gruman canoes, of course). When paddling in the cold spring weather of PA, we always carried 15 minute waterproof railroad fusee flares for fire starting.

When you NEED a fire, these are the only way to go.


Don’t forget …
flares, signaling mirror, sewing kit (for your clothes or skin), a book on edible plants (just in case, also makes for good reading in camp), bug repellant, sea salt (to prevent infections from cuts, scrapes, snake-bite), a weather radio with a fresh battery (+ extras), and a lot of common sense (seems to be a rather scarce resourse these days).

and where do we find…
Railroad flare fuses?


here is my kit
I carry a space blanket or two, paracord, flo. pink signal tape. as small flashlight, signal mirror, a second very small compass. as small light knife. several trash bags (for stills or tents), H2O purification tabs, little bit of Duct tape, a secondary cut down first aid kit, three forms of fire starting equipment (lighter matches, and magnesium, a couple of ziplocs, and floss (in case I have to eat a fellow paddler…I imagine most are a bit tough and may get caught between the teeth). And it all fits inside a very small fanny pack which I wear when I feel a threat.

Throw in some condoms or balloons
They are great in first aid kits as covers to dressings, tourniquets and do not take up much room.

Bring along a couple of those
firestarters used in fireplaces. Once lit, they will burn even when it’s raining.