Saturday, January 28, 2012

Miscellany: Mulliga's Urban Survival Kit, Part 6

While my blog is mainly about escaping the mundane through art and adventure, this series of posts addresses "escape" in a more literal sense. Here, I present my ideas on a lightweight, inexpensive collection of items for surviving an urban or suburban disaster. Part 1 introduced the concept and went into my choice for the survival kit's container. Part 2 discussed some options for your first aid kit. Part 3 examined water and food. We also looked at some books on survival. Part 4 featured some clothing accessories for your kit. Part 5 tackled various tools for signaling, communications, and navigation. Part 6, the finale, deals with tools for the kit and has some final thoughts...

Not every urban survival kit should have tools. For one thing, they're big and heavy, taking up precious space that could be used for more water, food, or medical supplies. Most tools could also be considered "weapons" - I wouldn't risk taking a standard-sized screwdriver into a courthouse or onto an airplane, for instance. If these considerations don't apply to your kit, though, here are a few things that I'd pack:


Any good-quality multitool is a fabulous thing to have in your kit. You never know when having a screwdriver, can opener, or pair of pliers will come in handy in a disaster, but for about 5-10 ounces worth of weight, you'll never have to worry about being unprepared for those situations. These tools also give you an extra knife blade (assuming you carry a knife already, that is).

Don't buy the crappy bargain bin MTs on sale at Wally World. Spend the money on a good Leatherman Wave or Victorinox SwissTool-type multitool - you'll be glad you did once you actually have to use the thing.


These items are for instances when you need leverage or cutting ability, but you don't want to risk damaging your other tools or knives. A 7" Stanley Wonderbar II isn't going to allow you to break down doors or anything, but you might be able to pry open your boss's locked desk drawer to get his spare car keys, or open up the casing of a random bit of machinery to get at its internals. For a stationary survival kit, a full-sized crowbar, Halligan bar, or such provides you with a great way to force entry in urban environments - they also make decent weapons.

Specialized Hand Tools and Construction Supplies

These are tools that have specific applications. For instance, I like to carry spare automotive tools in my truck's kit - so that I can remove and replace car batteries, change fluids, replace tires, and the like without having to find a 5/8" socket in the middle of a disaster zone. If you marry your kit with a firearm of some sort, it also makes sense to keep some basic pin punches and spare parts with that firearm in case you need them. A kit for a large group of people should include construction tools like hammers, nails, and other raw materials.

Final Thoughts:

Back when people lived and worked in the country, most of this stuff would always be at hand (especially medical supplies, navigation equipment, and tools). In our urbanized, iPhone-equipped modern world, they may not be so common. I realize the tone of the M.U.S.K. series has been pretty dire (after all, the only time you'd need such things is when something goes horribly wrong), so I'll leave you with a peppy number from my favorite pop band, Ivy:

Summer days are long and lonely.
Cars are moving slowly.
The streets are filled with air so still.
I'm trying to get out of the city.
Trying to get out of the city.
Everybody's angry.
It's hard not to be lazy.
It's a bad time to have work to do.
I'm trying to get out of the city,
Trying to get out of the city.


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