We asked Robert DeLaurentis to put together a survival kit that even a daredevil would love. “These are the eight things you can’t live without,” he said. The Earthrounder said that while each flying situation calls for its own selection of items, a core kit will always come in helpful.
DeLaurentis said that in most cases the smartest choice is to stay with the airplane. However, there are cases in which it may be best to move away from the crash site and seek help. “In those situations you might need to be as light as you can,” he said. Here’s his core kit:
“This is the coolest thing ever,” DeLaurentis said. While traditional flares last only about three minutes, a laser flare lasts for more than 48 hours. And because it uses battery life only when you’re triggering it, the light could last longer if you use it carefully. The range is 20 to 30 miles, and you can carry an additional battery.
You could certainly get a more purpose-built lighter, but for cheap insurance it’s hard to beat a Bic. Plus, DeLaurentis said, Bics are more convenient and easier to find than more specialized tools. They will light dozens of fires, melt ice, heat water, or cook food. “There’s a million uses for flame,” he said.
$5.99 for four
It’s easy to see why the InReach is DeLaurentis’ favorite piece of gear. The core function—an ability to lay down a trail of electronic breadcrumbs almost anywhere in the world—is a worthy benefit. The InReach adds more by enabling text, basic web browsing, and even some weather information. Subscriptions start at $11.95 a month.
What can you say about a great multitasker? The Victorinox version includes can openers, screwdrivers, knives, and a saw. “I can open it with one hand and my teeth if I need to,” DeLaurentis said. The tool can be used to cut light brush for shelter or to cut rope. DeLaurentis likes that it can cut a seatbelt, too.
DeLaurentis calls this the Tim Kneeland shelter in honor of the survival expert and his many uses for the humble tarp. “It’s not just a shelter,” he said. You can quickly wrap yourself in it to protect from the wind, make a lean-to, or any number of other uses. Plus, if you get a dedicated survival tarp, it folds small, and is light and durable. A tarp from Home Depot could work for the budget-minded pilot.
$24.99 and up
Small braided nylon cord is a core piece of any survivalist's bag. Whether you’re a proper frontiersman and snag your dinner or you simply use it to tie your tarp to a tree, a length of cord takes virtually no space, adds negligible weight, and offers dozens of uses.
$4.99 and up
The LifeStraw and products like it are a revolution in the survival and outdoor world. These efficient little tubes can take dirty, muddy water and make it safe to drink. DeLaurentis said that without hope you can live for only three seconds, without air for three minutes, and without water for three days. That’s why he carries a LifeStraw wherever he flies.
If the LifeStraw has one limitation it’s that it doesn’t store water. That’s what the Sawyer Squeeze bags are for. These inexpensive bags collapse to take up very little space in the airplane, but expand to hold a significant amount of water. You can store water in the bag and then drink it with the LifeStraw. DeLaurentis threw out his canteen for desert flying and replaced it with a few Sawyer Squeeze bags.
$7.99 to $9.99, depending on size
Robert DeLaurentis’ full list of recommendations is available on his blog.