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Minimum Equipment
Minimum Equipment

​​​​​​At minimum​​, bring the following items with you when you embark on a Colorado adventure!​


  1. Proper clothing: Dress for current weather, but remember it can change.

  2. First aid kit: Make sure the kit addresses wilderness emergencies.

  3. Knife: This is your most important survival tool.

  4. Rain gear: Ponchos are best.

  5. Water: Water purification tablets are a smart addition, too.

  6. Food: Think high energy and light weight.

  7. Survival kit: ​​It must provide the Big Three.

Shelter Package

  • 2 per person: gold and silver emergency blankets

  • 1 per person: sheet plastic, 3 mil., 6 ft X 6 ft

  • 1 per person: 50 foot parachute cord

  • 1 per person: electrician's tape, must be cold resistant

Fire Package

  • 2 per person: containers of matches, strike anywhere type, in waterproof containers

  • 1 per person: Magnesium Firestarting Tool© or Metal Match©

  • 2 per person: steel wool, #0000, in Ziploc baggies

  • 1 per person: candle

Signal Package

  • 1 per person: glass 'G.I.'-type signal mirror​​

  • 1 per person: whistle, plastic 'coaches' type

  • 1 per person: daylight fluorescent orange cloth signal panel, 3 ft.​ X 3 ft.

These are the absolutely essential items in a basic survival kit. There are other items yet to be considered, but let’s look at and explain these twelve first.

Emergency Blanket Shelter

The emergency blanket is a handy and versatile item, essential in your survival kit. This heat reflector can also be used to construct a shelter by itself. It’s a good item to have along when there is a shortage of natural construction materials at hand. Remember, this emergency blanket is a heat reflector and nothing else. It is simply a thin sheet of plastic with a highly reflective material, usually on one side only. This side is the silver side. Because of the thin material used in this blanket, they are not particularly strong. They will shatter in windstorms, so they must be backed up with a heavier piece of material to prevent them from coming apart in the wind. If you do not have this sort of backing, the emergency blanket is not adequate as a shelter.

To construct the shelter: 

  1. Tie the cord between two trees or other uprights about three feet from the ground. 

  2. Back/reinforce the emergency blanket with the 3 mil. of sheet plastic, and tape the combination over the cord all the way along the surface. 

  3. Complete a lean-to by straightening the blanket-plastic combination out and placing rocks, snow or other ground litter or debris on the far edge. 

    • ​The wind direction, at least initially, should be over the back of the  shelter. 

  4. Beneath the shelter, put down another emergency blanket with the silver side up

  5. Place insulating material (pine boughs, for example) on top

  6. Build a fire out front. 

    • ​​Now approximately 80 percent of the heat that goes into the shelter from the fire will be reflected down onto you from the top blanket, and heat will be reflected back up to you from the  blanket underneath. In effect, you have a reflector oven which can “toast” you all night long. 

    • Another emergency blanket or piece of plastic thrown over the front of the shelter about one to one and one-half feet will help to hold the heat in.


For fire-making, your first bit of flame capability should be plain old strike-anywhere kitchen matches. Weatherproof these by dipping them in paraffin, and store them in waterproof containers. In addition to the matches, you should include two pads of #0000 steel wool in your pack. This can be ignited by applying a spark from any source, such as touching it to the terminals of a nine-volt battery. Candle wax may be rubbed into any piece of cloth to make a fire starter. Add to this a Metal Match© or Magnesium Firestarting Tool© and you have the ability to start fire in a wide variety of ways.


A glass "G.I.-style" signal mirror is a primary signaling device. Metal mirrors are extremely poor reflectors. "G.I.-style" indicates that this is the type of mirror that incorporates an aiming device to assist in controlling the reflection. This way, you can tell exactly where the light is shining. The​ gold side of your Emergency Blanket also makes an excellent signal panel, ground to air, when placed in a clearing. The same is true of the daylight fluorescent orange cloth. The cloth may be purchased at a fabric store.


Water is an important necessity of life, but water taken from tainted sources can do more harm than good. Make sure that your survival kit includes water purification tablets, preferably Potable Aqua© brand. These tablets, when used in conjunction with boiling, can keep ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’ (diarrhea from Giardiasis) away from your survival campsite.

Other equipment items you may want to consider

  • Fishing tackle: 3 small hooks, 2 flies, 10 yards monofilament line, split shot. Fits into small plastic box.

  • Aluminum foil: Heavy duty, for cooking.

  • T.P.: If you don’t know what that stands for, you’re in trouble already.

  • G.I. canteen cup: Boil water, cook food, melt snow.

  • Flashlight.

  • Snare wire: smooth wire, found in hobby shops.

  • Dental floss: Sew your clothes (place needles in container), fishing line, snare line.

  • Insect repellent: In some areas, a must.

There are many other items you might consider,​​​ but make sure you keep your survival kit light in weight. Do not carry unnecessary items.