KEY KIT FOR KEEPING WELL AND FIT IN THE WINTER
Without his gear, Batman is just some dude. It is the capacity of the human animal to craft tools that have vaulted us above the lesser creatures. In no place is this axiom better demonstrated than in the arena of survival in hostile environments. Whether it be pushing back the darkness, keeping our minds sharp during long months of dreary winter or warding off the chill, our modern consumer culture has the gear and health equipment you need.
1. FIRE AND LIGHT
The Streamlight PolyTac X USB is a compact, lightweight, rechargeable, all-purpose illumination tool that is optimized for law enforcement, industrial and day-to-day civilian use in any environment. Available in three colors and small enough to hide in your pocket, the PolyTac X USB is both powerful and thoroughly hard core. The light runs off a pair of CR123 batteries or a single Streamlight rechargeable lithium-ion power cell.
- Maximum output: 600 lumens
- Three operating modes
- C4 LED technology
- Charges from any standard USB port
- Solid-state power regulation for maximum light output
- Weighs only 4.9 ounces
George Blaisdell dreamed up the first Zippo windproof lighter in 1933. Thin, lightweight, attractive and functional, that first Zippo lighter changed the way the world made fire. Soldiering on essentially unchanged ever since, the classic Zippo lighter will reliably conjure flame almost anyplace. The classic Zippo is easily refillable with standard lighter fluid and features replaceable flints and wicks. Additionally, the company offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee.
- Available in hundreds of designs
- All-metal construction in many colors and designs
- Windproof design
- Replaceable flints and wicks
- Lifetime guarantee
MSRP Starting at $14.95
Chemical light sticks operate in any weather and provide varying degrees of illumination, even underwater. Disposable light sticks can be used to designate important objects or obstacles and can show your way in the dark or signal rescuers. (And tossing this gear back and forth on a dark night outside can occupy kids for hours.)
- Disposable and cheap
- Many colors, sizes and run times are available
- Eminently versatile
- Easy to use at any age
- Do not generate heat
MSRP $12.60 per 10-pack
2. PROTECTIVE GEAR
Originally designed to keep surgical wounds clean and uncontaminated, these disposable paper masks are cheap, effective and versatile. They can be used to exclude dust when working in mildly contaminated environments or minimize the risk of spreading germs when one is sick. The primary practical utility, however, is preventing the user from contracting respiratory tract infections.
- Lightweight, compact and disposable
- Easy to use, even by children
- One size fits all
- Surprisingly effective
- Comfortable when used correctly
MSRP Prices and package quantities vary
Sunlight reflected off snow can cause horrible sunburns and eventually damage eyesight. (The worst sunburn I ever endured was to the bottoms of my chin and nose after a week spent on an Alaskan glacier.) In addition to basic sun precautions, quality sunglasses are a must gear in bright, snowy environments.
- Polarized lenses protect best
- Choose a style with ANSI-rated impact protection
- Confirm UVA and UVB protection
- Scratch- and fog-resistant coatings are common
- Endless styles available
- Lightweight and compact
MSRP Varies by style
Truth be known, most soaps will kill germs if used correctly. There is even some concern that antibacterial soaps are contributing to antibiotic resistance. I have found the best utility hand cleaners to be those that are easy on the skin. Soap sits by the sink, while a hand sanitizer travels in a pocket or the car.
- Easy to use anywhere
- Skin friendly when properly selected
- Available in many retail outlets
- An inexpensive way to prevent illness
MSRP Sizes and prices vary
3. STAYING WARM
Snood Head and Neck Covering
You can lose enormous amounts of heat out of your uncovered head. A snood is a simple, tubular piece of soft, stretchy cloth that can be formed into a variety of head coverings. The snood can be worn around the neck or over the top of the head. Slip the gear down from the top; then fold the bottom up and over the lower face to cover all the important stuff.
- Lightweight and packable
- Surprisingly effective and versatile
- Available in a variety of colors
Nomex aviator’s gloves are comfortable, responsive and functional. Designed to allow fine motor activities consistent with aircraft operations, these versatile gloves are fire resistant and warm in moderately cold environments. Technically designed for summer operations, these lightweight gloves make great additions underneath mittens or heavier stuff.
- Available in several colors
- Exceptionally comfortable
- Fire resistant; no-melt and no-drip construction
- Leather palms
- Used by SWAT teams and military units worldwide
Mylar is a polyester resin used to make heat-resistant ﬁlms and sheets. The technical term is “biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate.” Originating in the 1950s as the basis for photographic ﬁlm, Mylar has found countless applications in everything from spacecraft to weather balloons to survival gear. Light and heat reﬂective, sheets of this stuff fold up to about nothing and make great improvised blankets.
- Forms an extra wind- and waterproof barrier around blankets and sleeping bags
- Lightweight and cheap
- Endlessly versatile
- Helps keep a casualty warm in a crisis
- Sized to fit most adults
MSRP $16.76 pack if 12
3. STAYING WARM / 4. HEALTHY BODY
Originally crafted to keep your mitts warm on nippy days, chemical hand warmers have myriad medical uses. Toss a couple into a sleeping bag or gloves when warming chilled extremities. Slipping them into your boots can help ward off cold injuries. The practical applications are limited solely by your imagination.
- Easy to use
- Lightweight and disposable
- Safe and nontoxic
- Activate in air
- Last up to 10 hours
MSRP $8.67 pack of 4
Fever Reducers and Pain Killers
Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and Naproxen are some of the most commonly used medications in the world. Acetaminophen reduces pain and has an excellent safety profile but does little to curb inflammation. Ibuprofen and Naproxen are much better anti-inflammatory medications but can be hard on your stomach, particularly at high doses or with protracted use. All three will help reduce fever. Incorporating these drugs into your survival gear is eminently sensible. Dosing information will be on the labels.
- Generally well tolerated
- Available in multiple strengths, flavors and delivery methods
- Versatile and effective
MSRP Varies by brand and other options
Many of the medications we use to treat viral respiratory tract infections are actually designed to treat allergies and are subsequently not terribly effective. Understanding the component parts, however, can help address specific symptoms. Dextromethorphan suppresses coughs. Phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine target congestion. Doxylamine is a sedating antihistamine that can help you sleep. Combination products can help you get through the night more restfully.
- Medications can be targeted to specific symptoms
- Generics help keep costs down
- Ameliorate the misery associated with cold and flu
- Generally safe when used as directed
MSRP Varies by size
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Prepper Fall, 2018 print issue of American Survival Guide.