My takeaways from most survival stories and advice are: be flexible and improvise. (I am thinking wilderness survival / stuck in car survival / etc)
I'm concerned that relying too heavily on a big pile of precisely the right emergency gear may give a false sense of security and lead to inflexible thinking and panic.
That would be correct!
Most of the 'Extremists' sit around all day doing nothing and thinking about what government conspiracy *MIGHT* pop up next.
They never get any field experience with actual situations.
This fall, right after this forum opened, I would come back from camping out at the river or lake, and find a dozen new 'Conspiracy Theories' posted up in detail.
In the mean time, we were actually camping, hunting, boating, practicing woods craft...
Learning to do for ourselves instead of buying into the swill that chokes talk radio and pollutes the internet!
I post up threads on how to turn old cans into stoves, heaters, ect.
They post up the latest conspiracy about fluoride in the drinking water.
I post up threads on distilling water with nothing more than a couple of containers and plastic sheeting,
They post up threads about Obama rape and murder squads.
We discuss how to get a fire started in rain, cold or with wet wood,
They post up about the lasted 'End Of The World' (12.12.12 or 12.21.12) dates.
We post up on what parts of a fish you can eat raw,
They post up about religion...
The 'BIG PILE OF GEAR' doesn't have to be so 'BIG'!
Mine fits in a small belt pouch and I take it about everywhere!
SO, lets try this again without the stupidity...
And the need for 'Consumerism' and dedicated usage.
Whenever possible, make your gear pack components do double or triple duty!
I carry two kinds, 'Emergency Space Blanket' and a 'disposable' rain poncho.
(one under, one over)
Both under a buck and take up virtually no room, and weigh virtually nothing.
Mine are so handy I won't leave to go hunting for fishing without them on a belt pouch with some other things.
Keeps the moisture from ground or bedding from wicking into your cloths,
Keeps the rain off your head, moisture out of your cloths,
Reflects heat back to your body,
Works for sealing up injuries, like sucking chest wounds or severe burns or compound fractures,
The Mylar blanket works for reflecting heat back to you from a fire,
The Mylar blanket works for signaling help,
Either one will work for building a solar still for fresh water,
Either one will work as a makeshift water carrier...
The list goes on, but you will have to get into situations where you need them before you will find that out.
Zip Lock Baggies
I also take one or two quart, and sometimes gallon zip lock baggie or two.
You should pack your trash out, and these help for that,
Or in an emergency, they can become first aid supplies, make shift canteens, food storage bags, ect.
It's REAL difficult to make splints, braces, shelters, ect. without cordage and a lot of it!
Cordage is a MUST, and you will find it secreted throughout my gear, on flashlight handles, knife handles, light but strong 'string' and Parachute '550' cord I could use for repelling in a pinch...
3 kinds of fire starting.
I've tried the 'Grizzly Adams' ways of starting fire, and I think one should know how to use a fire drill, or a flint and steel, but it's about the most inefficient way to start a fire!
Personally, I use a cheap butane lighter
to start fires with!
Cheap, easy, effective.
I also carry matches sealed up waterproof.
that will dry out wet kindling enough to start burning is mandatory in my book!
That's as simple as cotton balls, steel wool, or one of the commercial fire starters cut into sections.
In really cold climates, or when I'm around cold water, I carry flairs.
are cheap, effective, and will start a fire when nothing else will.
They also double as rescue signaling devices,
AND, the powdered sulfur kind can provide an antibacterial protection for wounds when opened and the sulfur applied to wounds.
Add a little petroleum jelly to the cotton ball tender
, and the cotton balls are water proof!
They also double as first aid for cracked lips, cracked knuckles, insect bites, ect.
is worth it's weight in gold, and I'll never be without it and a head net
Military in desert and jungle, and hunting in mountains and in Alaska have taught me the value of a head net!
There is no way you can rest, no matter how tired, if you have bugs in your nose and ears, so a head net is mandatory.
And you could use it for other things, like minnow dip net and collection basket for forage you might find.
Insect repellant will keep you from being eaten alive in many locations, and the healthier you stay, the better off you will be.
A compass is pretty well a must...
A good compass and even a general idea of where you are at will get you out safe and sound!
All these things are small, and I take them everywhere, along with a good sheath knife and if I'm out for more than just recreational camping, I take along a canteen...
You might try this thread, this is where we discuss the minimum you should probably have and how to store it.