|Northstar Survival Kodiak Personal Survival Kit|
|Contents List||Photo of Kit||Specs & Ratings|
|Explanation of Survival Equipment and Supplies Ratings|
In most cases the reason for the rating given a particular item will be obvious based on our normal evaluation criteria which can be found by clicking on the Group Heading link and reading the relevant text regarding that item. In cases where a low rating is not obvious, for example, if an otherwise good product is damaged due to poor packing, the reason will be given in the listing. Further explanation and the overall rating of both quality and value for the Survival Kit will be found in the written evaluation which follows the kit contents listing.
Excellent (superior quality and/or performance)
|Qty.||Survival Equipment & Supplies||Rating|
|Howard Glass mil-spec Glass Signal Mirror with nylon cord neck lanyard.|
|Seadog Emergency Whistle with integral clip|
|Signal Panel, orange poly or nylon cloth, 3.5 inches x 5 feet (89 mm x 152 cm) with nylon cord ties centered each end.|
|EMERGENCY DEVICES GROUP|
|Cold Steel Ready Edge fixed blade knife, serrated spear point 2-inch (51 mm) blade, Zytel locking sheath with spring clip. (Japan)|
|Coghlan's Flint Firestarter and Magnesium Tinder Bar with 3.5-inch (89 mm) hacksaw blade scraper and beaded keychain|
|Coghlan's Firestick Tinder, 5 inches (127 mm), cut in half|
|Pink Lady Candle|
|Scalpel Blade packed in foil, #10|
|Waterproof Plastic Match Safe, NO MATCHES INCLUDED (China)|
|Pelican Products Mini MityLite Flashlight, 1 x AAA-cell with orange nylon neck lanyard attached.|
|Fishing Kit in plastic vial
|SHELTER AND PERSONAL PROTECTION GROUP|
|Stearns Plastic Emergency Poncho|
|Chapex Lip Balm, cherry flavor|
|Elastic Adhesive Bandages, 1 x 3 inches (25 x 76 mm)|
|Jumbo Adhesive Bandage|
|Butterfly Closure, medium|
|Vionex Antibacterial Towlette|
|Povidone-Iodine Prep Pad|
|Alcohol Prep Pad|
|Hydrocortisone 1% Cream packet - 1/32 oz. (0.9 g) packet|
|Triple Antibiotic Ointment packet - 1/32 oz. ( 0.9 g) packet|
|Tylenol (acetaminophen) 500 mg|
|WATER & FOOD GROUP|
|Emer'gen-C Drink Mix|
|MISCELLANEOUS & MULTI-PURPOSE GROUP|
|Accessory Cord, 3mm, purple|
|Safety Pin, medium|
|Seven Steps to Survival and Water Treatment Card|
|Contents List with suggested uses|
|Nylon Packcloth Belt Pouch, 7 x 4.25 x 2.75 inches (178 x 108 x 70 mm)|
|Weight:|| 16.1 oz. without knife (456 g)|
17.4 oz. with knife (493 g)
|Size:||7 x 4.25 x 2.75 inches (178 x 108 x 70 mm)|
|Price (04/2003):|| $60 without knife|
$78 with knife
|Manufacturer:||Northstar Survival, Inc.|
In terms of size and weight, 7 x 4.25 x 2.75 inches ((178 x 108 x 70 mm)) and about a pound (0.45 kg), this belt pouch kit feels about right. The pouch is available in orange, blue, black, purple, and woodland camouflage. The zipper extends down both sides to allow the kit to be split open nearly all the way for easy access. There is a storm flap that is large enough to be moderately effective. Inside there is a pocket on each side and elastic loops to hold equipment, plus another elastic loop on the bottom interior to hold a knife, either your own or the optional knife available with the kit. The loops help keep everything neat and organized, ready at hand. There's some room to add your own stuff, but not a lot; the pouch is pretty well stuffed. (view kit unpacked layer by layer)
The optional Cold Steel Ready Edge knife adds $18 to the price of the kit. We're not fans of serrated edges for general purpose survival knives, so it loses points there. The lanyard hole in the handle is just barely large enough to allow the cord in the kit to be threaded through, if you are very careful how you seal the cut end. We'd prefer to see a wrist lanyard already attached. The sheath is designed so that it is relatively easy to seriously stick or cut yourself with the point of the knife through the openings in the sheath while sheathing the knife, not a very good design in our opinion and a potentially serious problem for a survivor. As a result, we rate it as Poor. With a safer sheath it would receive a Good rating.
The Coghlan magnesium block flint fire starter requires two hands. The relative difficulty in using the magnesium for tinder is offset by the inclusion of the Firestick, decent if not the best tinder.
The performance of the mil-spec glass signal mirror is excellent, the best plastic mirror can only come close. The drawbacks are its fragility and weight, the reason we generally prefer better plastic signal mirrors. They have also been known to delaminate over time or when immersed in sea water for long periods. The protective corrugated cardboard wrap and the pouch itself should ensure the mirror is fit for duty, but once removed, a drop on a hard surface is all that's need to break it.
The plastic G.I. style match safe is great, but no matches are included because that would raise the spectre of hazardous materials shipping problems and expense. We have no problem with that, per se. A trip to the grocery or hardware store will solve that problem. The contents list suggests filling with strike-anywhere matches, though no special attention is drawn to this. Worse, nowhere on the outside of the kit or kit packaging will you find mention that the match safe is empty. While it may be that anyone who doesn't open the kit, read the instructions and check out the contents deserves to be a Darwin Award candidate, the fact remains that this sort of thing is all too common on the part of consumers. They buy or receive a kit such as this and never open it until needed.
The accessory cord provided is good quality, but we much prefer parachute cord which can be disassembled for multiple purposes. The trade off is length, you get more in the same volume with the thinner accessory cord. The fishing line could be used for some such purposes, but then what do you fish with?
The "pink lady" candle, which we much prefer over a tea candle, had already softened and was disfigured by the time we got our kit. After any length of time in desert heat it would be a mess and we'd suggest removing this candle if you intend to use the kit in such an environment.
The fishing kit has no small fish hooks. You cannot catch small fish and birds with large hooks. It also took us a while to untangle the hooks and two kinds of fishing line, monofilament and braided, when we opened the kit onto the table. This would probably not be appreciated by a survivor.
The #10 scalpel is too small to be easily and safely used in our opinion, a larger 20-series blade, such as the popular #21 or #22, is far better.
There is a pretty fair assortment of medical supplies that are packed in a 4 mil zipper lock plastic bag. We especially appreciate the better elastic fabric adhesive bandages. While not the very best available, they are still superior to plastic adhesive bandages. The hydrocortisone cream is, in our experience, pretty ineffective, but better than nothing.
The plastic emergency poncho is a good choice, better in some respects than a metalized emergency blanket. The lip balm says on the tube that it has sunscreen, which it should, but there is no SPF rating provided so we are somewhat skeptical about what amount of protection, if any, is provided.
The whistle is not Coast Guard approved or marked as meeting SOLAS spec, but appears to be a knock-off of those that are. The signal panel, while slim, is better than flagging tape provided in some kits, but probably not as good as a square panel of equal coverage, based on tests we have conducted of slim versus wide signals.
No compass is included.
The survival instructions provided are notably deficient. They consist of a business card size list of the Seven Steps To Survival and a couple recommendations for water purification and a non-waterproof page that includes marketing and order information, of little use to the survivor, and a list of contents with some minimal annotations suggesting uses for some items listed.
The Seven Steps was originally developed as a marine oriented survival priority list (not an acronym or mnemonic which make for more effective memory aids), that while not at all irrelevant for terrestrial use, isn't among our favorites. Northstar has modified it slightly by adding "Fire" to final step, "Fun." Moreover, without prior training, this list of single words without any further expansion or explanation loses a lot of its usefulness.
The water treatment suggestions "for prevention of giardiasis" lists boiling for 10 minutes, a a waste of time, resources and energy a survivor might ill afford, and to add eight drops of iodine per quart, but there's no iodine in the kit. Well, that's not exactly correct. The contents list notes that the provided povidone-iodine prep pads can be used (yes, we were able to get eight drops from a pad, just barely). We should note that the efficacy of povidone-iodine used in this manner has not been authoritatively documented. It also eliminates the prep pads for medical use. There is also nothing provided in the kit for use as a water container.
While this kit has a lot of very nice attributes, as noted above, overall however, we rate this kit as "Adequate." Not because of generally less than better quality components, the usual reason for a rating such as this, though the survival instructions are noticeably lacking, but mostly because of what it doesn't include. The key missing items that we think should be included in a kit of this size, such as a compass, dedicated water purification means and storage, could be added, but this kit isn't sold as a partial solution, rather it is presented as a complete personal survival kit.
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
First Published: April 12, 2003
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org