|Hold Everything||Suck It Up|
To contain all this stuff you have two alternatives. On the one side are hard cases which range from things like a military surplus ammo container, tool box, paint cans, etc. to purpose made containers like a waterproof plastic Pelican or Underwater Kinetics case or an aluminum Halliburton or waterproof aluminum Hardig case. These hard cases provide additional protection for the contents. Some are waterproof and all offer substantial resistance to fire. Even the plastic cases will withstand an intense fire for a brief period. These hard containers do not lend themselves to being easily carried for wilderness travel, should that be necessary, but many of the cases have an optional shoulder strap available which would help some. None of these containers are lightweight, compared to a soft pack and some are downright heavy. Another drawback is that the rigid containers can be more difficult to efficiently pack with contents, resulting in a bulkier kit which may be a bit harder to store in the aircraft.
The alternative, which is more common, is a soft bag like a duffel, dry bag or backpack. The biggest drawback for these is that the nylon cloth provides little protection against fire since it will melt at relatively low temperatures. These soft packs also offer little or no protection against impact or crushing damage, but are easier to pack tightly with survival gear. Better quality ones are water resistant and the dry bags are waterproof. Lesser quality packs generally won't keep the contents dry. All but the dry bags should be treated with Scotchgard or similar treatments to help keep contents as dry as possible. You can also put the contents of the kit into plastic bags for additional protection. Backpacks obviously lend themselves to wilderness travel.
You could make arguments for either type of container. I chose the soft pack route for normal use since this was affordable for me and allows me to cram more into less space. I use red Cordura nylon backpacks.
Another thing to consider is vacuum packing the equipment and supplies inside flexible plastic film or bags. The advantages are worthwhile, though vary depending on what sort of case or container you use. The supplies and equipment are further protected from the elements or contamination, inadvertent leakage of liquids is contained and it reduces the likelihood of pilfering or inadvertent loss of items due to "borrowing." Some items will need to be individually vacuum packed, other, smaller items, can be grouped together into handy size packages. Group life limited items together so that it isn't necessary to repack every vacuum packaged group of items when it comes time to replace those items.
One possible disadvantage to vacuum packing, depending on how you do it, is that it can make it a bit more difficult to pack the maximum amount in the minimum of space. On the other hand, some supplies will themselves be reduced in size as a result of vacuum packing. This can be done yourself, if you happen to have the appropriate equipment, as typically used for home food preservation and storage. In my limited experience (we hope to have a full evaluation completed soon), the FoodSaver vacuum packaging equipment by Tilia, Inc. is the best available for home use. If you don't have one, you might ask around of friends and neighbors. Both Exploration Products and Eagle Enterprises vacuum pack the contents of their kits.
If you are a pilot, where you place your survival kit(s) in your aircraft is very important. It will do you no good to bury them where they aren't accessible when needed. If I have a full load, I put them on the top of the luggage where they can easily be reached in an emergency (strapped down with quick release straps so they won't become projectiles in a crash). If there are only two or three of us, I strap it down in the rear seat with a seat belt. If only myself, it goes in the empty front seat. In any case, it is best if it is able to go out the door with you when you land.
During your passenger briefing, be sure to point out the kit(s) so the passengers will recognize them in case of an emergency where you are unable to assist. You may want to identify them as "emergency kits" as opposed to "survival kits," depending upon the sensibilities of your passengers.
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Revision: 008 October 12, 1996
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