The Gerber Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit is designed to be a very compact, affordable basic survival kit that can fit in vehicle glove boxes, day packs, purses, tackle boxes, hunting pouches, most pockets and anywhere you have limited space but want a simple survival kit, just in case.
What's In It? This Basic Survival Kit includes 11 items (even though Gerber says that it is only an 8-piece kit). So we have:
- An outer ripstop nylon bag
- A clear plastic, waterproof bag
- The Gerber Mini-Paraframe knife
- An emergency whistle
- Fire Steel and a striker
- Waterproof matches
- Snare wire
- Waxed snare thread
- Emergency cordage
- A cotton ball for tinder
- And the Bear Grylls Priorities of Survival pocket guide
Now let’s hone in on each component in this survival kit...
The Outer Pouch The survival kit bag is 4 1/2 inches by about 5 inches and is made of orange rip-stop nylon that will make this kit easy to spot if you accidentally lose it on the trail. On the back you will find waterproof land to air rescue instructions sewn onto the bag. And the internal contents of the bag are somewhat protected from rain and water with this waterproof zipper, that should keep water from coming through the zipper itself, but doesn’t keep water out if the kit should be immersed... since water can still seep in the very edge of the zipper, where there is about an eighth of an inch of gap, even when the zipper is fully closed.
But this zipper should keep most of the rain out of the kit if not left exposed for long periods of time or totally immersed in water.
Not to worry though, Gerber has packed the contents of this kit inside a heavy duty clear plastic zipper pouch that is totally waterproof when sealed correctly.
This is obviously not the most expensive piece of gear in this kit. It’s pretty cheap looking, it’s red, it has a lanyard hole and it works when you blow into it. It’s totally unimpressive to look at or touch. But it does its job and is quite loud... So if you are attacked, stranded or lost, it should help bring attention to your plight.
The Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit comes with a good quality fire steel rod with handle, that’s attached to a striker using about a foot of nylon cord. The fire steel works really well once you scrape off the dark outer coating on the rod and realize that you have to angle the striker too, so that the sharp end scrapes against the fire steel. You'll want to be sure to pull the firesteel rod away from your tinder and not push the striker toward the materials.
If you are working on a wet day, like I did in my video, and your tinder and kindling are a little on the moist side, try scraping a little bit of the firesteel off... without sparking it... onto your tinder. The 2000 degree sparks coming off of the firesteel will start a chain reaction and will help to get your fire going, even in less than ideal conditions.
The Basic Survival kit comes with 10 very large waterproof matches and a striker board that’s a bit like fine sand paper on a piece of thin card stock. I suppose it’s a bit redundant to have matches and firesteel... but fire is so necessary for survival, I don’t mind the backup at all. And matches are relatively small so they hardly take up any room in this kit. The matches are large and burn hot and well when lit.
Cotton Ball - Tinder
Next we have just a simple cotton ball that can be used as tinder if you don’t have anything else available in a pinch or you end up needing a fire in a rain- soaked jungle or something. Cotton balls make great tinder. And the way to use them most effectively is to kinda fluff them up while working your way around them, pulling them apart so that the fibers can catch the sparks from your firestarter. Just for safety... and because you can... I would recommend that you add 2 or 3 more cotton balls to this kit and put a small dab of petroleum jelly on each one. You don’t need to cover the entire cotton ball. Just a little dab will do.
The petroleum jelly is basically thick, viscous oil that will act as fuel for the cotton ball and will help them burn longer and hotter... see the difference here between the cotton ball with petroleum jelly and the one with none. Then just pack all your cotton balls up tight and wrap a piece of plastic wrap around them or use a very small snack bag.
Next, we have about 12 inches of very light-gauge snare wire which is suitable for catching very small game.
Also included is about 10 Feet of white nylon cord. This stuff will come in handy for a variety of emergency needs. Although I would have rather seen 10 foot of paracord included, because paracord is stronger and can be pulled apart to extend its usefulness, the nylon cord in this kit seems to be of good quality and is fine for a basic survival kit.
Now Gerber doesn’t list waxed string in the packaging for my kit... but I just confirmed with them a small roll of this stuff does come in the Basic Survival Kit. This is a nice quality string that you can use for traps and snares...
Gerber Bear Grylls - Priorities of Survival Pocket Guide
As with all of the gear in the Bear Grylls line-up, the Basic Survival Kit comes with the often overlooked Bear Grylls Priorities of Survival pocket guide. If there’s one thing that I’d take over anything else in a survival situation, it would be survival knowledge. And this guide does the heavy lifting for those who don’t have the time or desire to learn the intricacies of basic survival and rescue... Even the novice adventurer can read this guide and be a little better prepared if disaster does strike unexpectedly.
Cool Pocket Knife
And last, but not least, we have the key item that really pushes this kit over the edge and makes it well worth the sub-$20 investment... It’s the Gerber Mini-Paraframe knife. This is a proven, tough, high-carbon stainless steel pocket knife that’s been around for a while. The knife easily slips in your pocket and has a sturdy belt clip on the back. The knife has an overall length of 6” with a blade length of 2.2 inches. The blade is about half serrated and half fine edge and due to the cool-looking handle cutouts, is very is durable while being exceptionally lightweight.
Best of all there’s no plastic and really nothing to break on this knife... which is great for a Survival kit. The blade locks firmly in place with a simple frame lock. My blade came razor sharp. And honestly, if you don’t already have a carry-all knife... I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re tempted to steal this out of your Basic Survival kit and take it everywhere you go... So I recommend from the start, that you grab a second Mini Paraframe knife online for about $10 bucks, so you can keep this one with the rest of your basic survival kit.
So Who is the Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit for?
First, this kit is NOT for the serious survivalist or extreme adventurer or those who would be more inclined to build their own kit anyway... This is a compact and very basic kit that is suitable for camping, hiking, biking, short trips, hunting, fishing, keeping in your day pack or a vehicle glove compartment and a thousand other places where a small, lightweight basic survival kit could be of service in an emergency.
Our Rating We rate this kit at 3.5 out of 5 stars. We like its compact, near-pocket size, and that most of the components are of good quality. At around a $19 online street price, it’s a pretty good value considering that the mini-paraframe knife and fire steel would add up to around $20 alone.
On the down side, although the whistle works, it just looks and feels cheap to me, although it is loud and does its job. It would be nice to see the Bear Grylls emergency whistle replace it in future versions of this kit. This kit also really needs to have at least a button compass and a few first aid items added by Gerber to be a more complete, starter survival kit. Not to mention, a mini LED flashlight would have been a really nice touch... although we know this would have probably raised the cost a bit. But when survival is on the line, a few more dollars is worth every penny.
Regardless, the Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit is a helpful, compact collection of gear and a decent start, or supplement, to a more comprehensive emergency kit, and at less than $20 US the Basic Survival kit may make a thoughtful gift for anyone who wants to be a little better prepared.