Break down in the middle of nowhere? Crash in the desert? Get stranded due to weather? Carrying a few basic essentials with you can make the difference between life and death. Here’s how to make a motorcycle survival kit.
For the purposes of this article, let’s assume you’ve already got things to fix your bike handled — tools, tire repair kits, bulbs, fuses, etc — and concentrate instead on human survival. The stuff you’ll need to get you home or to keep you alive while you await rescue.
As motorcyclists, we enter into this a little more prepared than the common man on the street, our clothing is already designed to protect us from extreme weather. A jacket designed to keep you warm in 85 mph wind chill will do just as well huddled around a campfire.
And that’s the quickest way to die in the outdoors — exposure. “The first, biggest killer out there is hypo or hyperthermia,” explains survival expert Cody Lundin. “Another non-negotiable is water. The easiest way to maintain that core temperature aside from clothing is water. Your circulatory system is responsible for heating and cooling the body and to do that your body must stay hydrated.”
So let’s start the survival kit there as the most important item and work our way down to the least.
Or a hydration pack or whatever works for you. You’re likely taking water with you riding already, but it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a little extra. Throw a Klean Kanteen in your tail pack or fill your Kriega Hydro-3 to full, even if you’re only off for an afternoon ride. A little extra weight and volume won’t kill you, but a lack of water will. An unlined aluminum or steel water bottle is rugged and will allow you to heat water over a fire to purify it or cook food.
The easiest, cheapest, smallest and most effective way to make found water suitable for drinking is plain ol’ Tincture of Iodine 2%. Put two drops in your standard water bottle, shake it up, wait 15 minutes and you’re good to go. Those two drops aren’t enough to make the water taste bad and don’t stress if you spill a little extra in there. Don’t be pregnant, have an Iodine allergy or have thyroid gland problems though. You can’t carry unlimited water on your bike, but carrying this tiny little bottle of Iodine can allow you to make as much safe drinking water as you’ll ever need.
In the mountains when the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse? Whether you just need to make it down or are forced to spend the night, you’ll need to get warm. The same material that insulates your home makes a killer waterproof, windproof, breathable layer that packs incredibly small and can be very cheap to buy. If you’re unprepared for precipitation, one of these worn over your motorcycle gear will keep you dry. Or, it will work well as an insinuative layer too.
Silk Glove Liners
“If you can’t hold on to the handlebars because you have frost bite on your fingers, you’re DOA,” says Cody. Silk glove liners are effective, affordable and will fit under pretty much any gloves.
“By putting on a hat and some sort of neck covering, it’s minimally equivalent to putting on a light sweater,” explains Cody. “The good thing about this is the head and the neck are easy places to cover for limited space. A balaclava will be worth its weight in gold for a motorcycle survival kit.” Silk offers excellent insulation for its thickness while being luxuriously comfortable and durable.
First Aid Kit
You can stop most bleeding with the clothing you wear or just man up and deal with the pain of any injury that doesn’t stop you from moving, but adding a first aid kit will give you the ability to clean wounds or deal with problems like diarrhea or allergic reactions (mainline Benadryl in case of snake bite). To make mine, I started with this Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman and added stuff like Ace Bandages, a SAM Splint, a snake bite pump and prescription medicine to create something pretty comprehensive.
On the list of survival priorities, food comes dead last; it takes two weeks to a month to starve to death. But, putting some calories in your body can give you calories to burn for warmth and is a huge psychological boost. Don’t let them take up too much space, but a couple protein bars are well worth packing.