|Penrith "Combat Survival Kit"|
|Contents List||Photo of Kit||Specs & Ratings|
Image Map Photo of Kit with Linked Contents
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|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|
|"Signal Mirror" - Reflective Material adhered to inside of tin's lid - 2 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches (6.35 x 9.53cm)|
|EMERGENCY DEVICES GROUP|
|BCB NATO Wind and Waterproof Matches with striker|
|BCB Flint Firestarter with Hacksaw Blade Steel (with sharpened end) and 16 inch bead chain|
|Cotton Balls - "tinder"|
|Brass Button Compass - dry - luminous points, no degree markings|
|Plastic Button Compass - wet - with degree markings alternative to brass compass above (not shown - click for image)|
|Brass Wire Snare|
|Twisted Nylon Line - listed as "fishing line" but has multiple uses - green - approx. 25 lb. test (rating given is for use as fishing line, otherwise Good)|
|Fishhooks - small|
|Wire Saw (w/out finger rings)|
|Hacksaw Blade with "sharpened" end - 3 3/4 inches (9.53cm) long - 24 tpi|
|Potassium Permanganate - 5/16 I.D. x 3 inch plastic "test tube" with cap - approx. 3.75cc|
|"Extra Large" Plastic Adhesive Bandage - 2 x 4 1/2 inches (5 x 11.43cm)|
|Non-sterile Adhesive Bandage Strip, 5/16 x 2 inches (7.9 x 50mm)|
|Non-sterile Adhesive Bandage Strip, 5/16 x 1 5/8 inches (7.9 x 42mm)|
|WATER & FOOD GROUP|
|"Puritabs" Water Purification Tablets (Chlorine Based)|
|Condom (for water storage and treatment)|
|Salt and Dextrose Tablets (450mg Sodium Chloride, 200mg Dextrose)|
|PERSONAL PROTECTION GROUP|
|"Lypsyl" Lip Balm with sun screen (SPF unspecified)|
|MISCELLANEOUS & MULTI-PURPOSE GROUP|
|Sewing Thread on plastic bobbin (half filled) - polyester wrapped cotton|
|Cloth (Duct) Tape - 15/16 inch (24mm) wide (used to seal kit tin - not shown)|
|Single Edge Razor Blades|
|Waterproof Survival/First Aid Instruction Sheets with minimal space for notes|
|Tobacco Style Storage Tin (under "signal mirror" in photo)|
|Metal Handle for tin bottom|
|"Waterproof Patch" - plastic adhesive label on tin's top may be used as an adhesive patch or tape - 2 1/4 x 3 1/2 inches (5.7 x 8.9cm) (not shown)|
|Weight:||6.8 ounces (193g)|
|Size:||4 1/4 x 3 1/8 x 1 1/8 in. (10.8 x 7.94 x 2.86 cm)|
|Manufacturer:||Penrith Survival Equipment|
Penrith Survival Equipment, another U.K. company, offers its "Combat Survival Kit" (£28), another kit modeled after that described by John Wiseman in the "S.A.S. Survival Guide." It is contained in a "tobacco" tin, 4 1/4 x 3 1/8 x 1 1/8 in. (10.8 x 7.94 x 2.86 cm) and weighs in at 6.8 ounces (193g). Contents are generally decent quality, though there are some peculiar lapses. There is a little, very little, space for additions, and more to be gained with some possible substitutions.
Fire starting is provided for with a BCB Flint and Steel (requires two hands to use) and five excellent NATO Wind and Waterproof Matches (plus the required striker). However, the only tinder is a pair of cotton balls in a plastic bag, which are useless if they should get wet, like when trying to start a fire in wet conditions when you need it the most. Tinder should be waterproof. There is also a tea candle, common in such kits. The candle will melt in extreme hot climates, we'd suggest removal if you anticipate carriage of the kit in a desert environment.
Some very shiny metalized material is adhered to the inside of the lid to serve as a signal mirror and it is pretty effective, despite having bubbles due to shoddy application. It too requires two hands to use.
The fishing equipment is marginal, at best; three tiny fish hooks and some twisted nylon line that's better for general purpose use than as fishing line. Instead of a length of snare wire, there is a single pre-made snare approximately 6 inches (15.24 cm) in diameter made of six strands of brass snare wire with a brass thimble to slide easily. Two feet of unraveling nylon cord wa attached for securing the snare.
Cutting equipment includes a nice Wire Saw (similar to BCB's), though no split rings to easily rig for handles; a pair of single edge razor blades (made in the USA!); and a 3 3/4 inch (9.53cm) long piece of hacksaw blade with the end "sharpened," referred to as a "knife" in the instructions, which is stretching it quite a bit. It was so dull it could not readily cut the nylon "fishing line." The 2 1/2 inch (6.35cm) piece of hacksaw blade included with the flint is also sharpened on one end and it was passably sharp, using a chisel grind, and easily cut the line, proof that it's not impossible. Also worth noting, the hacksaw blade could have been nearly an inch (2.5cm) longer and still fit in the tin.
The standard button compass is a fine little (15mm) brass dry compass, no markings except for a pair of luminous dots on the North pointer, one on the South. An alternative kit, at a significant £10.45 savings (a $17 difference based on the exchange rate as I write this), includes instead a BCB plastic wet compass (20mm) that is a bit easier to use, but doesn't have the luminous points, if that's a concern for you (it's not for us). Unfortunately, without some snare wire to make a sturdy loop, there's no good way to secure the compass so it is easy to get at in use and and doesn't get lost, neither the sewing thread or nylon line included in the kit is really appropriate.
A vial (approximately 3.75cc) of potassium permanganate crystals has multiple uses, though the kit already includes better separate solutions for some of these. The generally accepted directions for use (not very well explained in the provided instructions) are to mix with water until bright pink for water purification (chlorine and iodine are easier and quicker), deeper pink for antiseptic use (the cotton balls could come in handy here), and a deep red to treat fungal diseases. It doesn't take much in a quart to get these levels, so what little is there will go a ways. It will also mark snow bright purple as a ground signal. The instruction mention using it as a fire starterand in a pinch it can be mixed (1 part to 2 parts, respectively) with sugar and if impacted between rocks it is supposed to ignite. In my experience this works best with fairly decent quantities and it is not 100% reliable without practice. Alternatively, 10-30 drops of glycerin into two or three large pinches will create enough heat or a fire that will ignite prepared tinder (most antifreeze contains a high percentage of glycerin). Having said all that, with the flint and matches included, odds are you'd never need to use it in that fashion and it'll primarily be used as a disinfectant or signal.
Six "Puritabs" chlorine tablets are included for water purification, along with a condom for use as a container. There is no expiration date marked on the Puritabs, but typically, five years is used for sealed chlorine products and that is what the manufacturer of this product states on its Web site. I have concerns about the instructions that are printed on the packaging (no instructions in the supplied survival instructions): "leave for 10 minutes before use." This is far shorter than other similar products (sodium dichloroisocyanurate) with which I am familiar, or standard directions for use of typical chlorine-based products for water treatment.
The one "extra large" adhesive bandage isn't bad at all, though it is plastic instead of the preferred knit style, but the two small adhesive bandages ("plasters" for the British) aren't even contained in sterile packaging. Hard to imagine the rational for that. Plus, they are so small as to be of questionable value anyway. [UPDATE 06/2001: An ETS reader reports their just purchased kit contains three of the large, sterile adhesive bandages.] Also included, and taking up a great deal of volume, are six salt and dextrose tablets to be used for "severe prolonged sweating." The use of such tablets for general electrolyte replacement has been discredited for many years. Salt tablets only accelerate dehydration in most circumstances. They should only be used sparingly in exceptional circumstances, generally under the direction of a physician, and only when there are substantial quantities of water available and the patient has already been significantly re-hydrated. [UPDATE 06/2001: An ETS reader reports their just purchased kit replaces the salt and dextrose tabs with a package of "Dioralyte Natural" oral electolyte replacement (glucose, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and disodium hydrogen citrate), a better choice for most such purposes, though still requiring plenty of water]
Speaking of taking up volume, for a questionable item, there is also a "tube" of lip salve with unspecified sun screen properties. Not that some lip balm wouldn't be nice to have, especially in the desert or in very cold environments, but it isn't something we'd normally put high enough on the priority list to include in a small pocket-sized kit. Then again, it's not unusual that we have some in our pocket when out and about, so...
A few other features are worth noting. There is a handle for the bottom part of the tin, to make it easier to use for cooking or boiling water. It's not terribly secure, but it works. With the prevalence of multi-tools these days with included pliers, I'm not sure it hasn't outlived its usefulness. The 22 inches (55.9cm) of cloth tape used to seal the can has very strong adhesive and it doesn't deteriorate quickly in the sun. The tin's label can be peeled off and used as a waterproof patch or adhesive. The provided instruction sheets are waterproof and include a "message form" and some space to make notes. The survival instructions are pretty fair for the most part.
The Penrith "Combat Survival Kit" is something of a mixed bag, though generally much superior to the BCB version for the same size and type container, albeit for a lot more money. However, if you opt for the plastic compass instead of the standard brass compass, the price is much more reasonable with no significant impact on effectiveness in our opinion--an excellent value. Lack of decent tinder is a minus and some of the items, such as the so-called fishing equipment, snare, salt tablets, and non-sterile adhesive bandages [the latter two since fixed apparently], definitely make you wonder what they were thinking. This kit rates a solid "good," though you'd do well to modify the contents a bit, which could be done easily at minimal expense, and it would be even better.
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Revision: 02 June 1, 2002
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