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From Graywolf Survival – Family survival: 5 tips for distributing gear

On the Heinnie Blog we have talked a lot about the types of gear you should carry for certain activities and how you can best plan to prevent anything from going wrong.

One thing we haven’t mentioned much though is what to do if you are out with other people. This could be trekking, travelling, or bushcrafting.

In this post Graywolf Survival looks at how best to distribute kit amongst a group of people. For the purposes of the article he looks at a family of three; a dad, mum and one child. Realistic, but when reading this make sure that you keep in mind the numbers and abilities of the people with you. An example of this is a 12 and 17 year old child are very different, in terms of size and strength at a minimum. However, comparing a 30 year old man and a 40 year old man, there isn’t too much in it. The point we are getting at is that there is no one size fits all approach, but Graywolf has definitely made a great start looking at this topic:

The first point made in this article is:


1) Have redundant survival capabilities

Just as with the critical things in your individual survival/bug out bag, you need to make sure you have redundant capabilities (not necessarily redundant gear). I go into some detail on this in The ‘Two is one and one is none’ fallacy so you may want to read that one too. Essentially, each bag should be able to allow you to cover all your survival bases but not all gear works in every scenario, so having different ways to do the same thing just may come in handy.

For example, you may be carrying a Trangia alcohol stove in one pack. They’re super portable and pretty capable little stoves (I have one), but they require alcohol (the best I’ve found is Yellow Heet but Everclear can be used in inclosed spaces and for wounds etc – check out this post for more fuel ideas).

If you only had three stoves, you’d be stuck when you ran out of fuel. Instead, in one of the other bags, put something like the Emberlit wood stove (which also rocks). It’s not as convenient as the Trangia for cooking but you can use twigs/branches/cardboard/etc for it, so you’d essentially never run out of fuel and it takes up almost no space and weight.

For the third bag, you could use a Solo Stove or other solution. The nice thing about the Solo Stove is that it can not only use wood/paper like the emberlit, you can drop the trangia down inside it to make it more efficient and hold your pot above it.

Don’t forget that each bag needs to have water and be able to filter water too. I thrown in a Sawyer Mini in each bag but only put the plunger in the main bag.


This point is a crucial one. Having two (or more) of the same or near identical items for any task is asking for trouble. As Graywolf points out having a number of cooking options is ideal, but having all of them running off the same fuel type is foolish. Consider different sizes, different brands and different fuels/battery types.

Family survival: 5 tips on distributing gearThe next section on the article looks at:


2) Be able to survive with any one bag

You may have three bags in your plan but that doesn’t mean you’ll have three bags when you find yourself in a survival situation (or if SHTF). It’s all well and good to have a tent on one pack and just a poncho in the other two if you have all three bags but what happens if you lose your main pack or can’t get to it in time for you to have to head out?

After you’ve identified what you want to put in each person’s bag, consider them one at a time. For each bag, would that one bag support the three of you if that bag is the only one you have with you at some point? Obviously, you’ll probably be able to carry more and better equipment in your largest bag but maybe you could put some better equipment in your smallest bag to compensate. You may not be very comfy if all you have is the little bag but it should at least have the basics to keep you alive.


It seems like a no brainer, but it’s a mistake easily made. The easiest way of us advising you on how to do this is to lay all your equipment on the floor and split items up evenly. That way you know you have one of each item per pack (or near enough). Now, going back to how we started this article consider the people carrying the items. If they aren’t as strong, make sure they carry lighter/smaller items. Because you’ve already divided up the items you can simple swap ‘like-for-like’ items across piles. Once you’ve done this you should have three (or more/less depending on numbers) piles of items split evenly so that each pack can sustain the user.

We don’t want to swipe his entire article (that just wouldn’t be right), but it is well worth reading the rest of the article here.

What do you think of the article and the points he raised? Is there anything he has missed? We’d love to hear you opinions on what’s been said by him and us!


One thought on “From Graywolf Survival – Family survival: 5 tips for distributing gear

  1. Anthony - 10:54 am 24/10/15

    Good post,

    But when giving small children kit your primary focus should be on their protection,

    A whistle and flashlight, (and if you are in an environment with dangerous wildlife a “mugger alarm” can help deter animals,) and a thermal blanket, (if they know how to use one) Make sure they understand that IF THEY GET LOST not to move, to sit down and blow their whistle and you will come to them, DO-NOT-MOVE

    The flashlight helps keeping children calm in darkness and easier to find,

    If they are old enough to walk on their own that is the minimum kit they should have,
    And if possible attached to their clothing (coat etc)

    If older you can teach them to use more kit (make it a game, build shelters, make fires, make sure they don’t drink water in the wild (or even from some taps in the world LOL) without boiling it first, and kids can be drawn to berries, so teach them to stay away from wild food, (until they are old enough and skilled enough to know the difference between toxic and non toxic, stay clear)

    When it comes to the right time to let them use knives it has more to do with their character than age, their degree of common sense being the primary guide here, (there are even “adults” that I would not trust with a knife, never mind an axe or hatchet)

    But being aware of the dangers of anything sharp but not to fear it is useful,
    (There is a very good blog post on the subject of knife safety and children here: )

    Remember you can survive with just a (survival) knife, a way to boil (and carry) water and a supportive environment, (or just a can opener if trapped in Tesco’s LOL)
    Everything else is a luxury, if you have the common sense and skills,
    So as they learn their kit should grow accordingly, before long they should have a fully functioning kit,

    And by the time they hit teens (as long as you give them music) you can use them just like pack horses LOL

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