Henry Survival Kit: Accidental Field Test

Here is the kit with a .22 LR round, just for reference. It is compact.

Here is the kit with a .22 LR round, just for reference. It is compact.

The Henry Survival Kit

Here’s the scenario. My buddy Sam owns some acreage south of town where we are hunting this year. It takes about an hour to get out to the gate, and then his land is back up in the hills, about five winding miles off of the piss-ant two lane blacktop. You have to have a 4×4 to get in and back out, so I will sometimes borrow Sam’s Jeep Grand Wagoneer. It is a beast, and typically good for the trip.

But not this last time. On Sunday evening, I drove out to check on some game cams we’d put out, and to check on the feeders. I pulled in later than I’d like, about 3:30, and poked around in the woods for an hour or so before I decided to head back. When I cranked up, though, I blew a hose under the hood. A coolant hose split open about six inches or more, and the pressure form the engine was pushing out antifreeze. Now I’m not going to pretend like I know any more than that. I don’t know beans about cars–all I know is that when I raised the hood, I could see the split and the yellow liquid gushing out, and it smelled like hell.

The kit is very well packed, and much harder to repack.

The kit is very well packed, and much harder to repack.

No worries. I’ve got all kinds of people I can call. Or I would have had people to call, if my phone hadn’t been searching for a signal the entire time I was in the woods. It was dead. I know as much about phones as I do about cars, and both were dead. No phone calls. No driving out. The irony is that I’d come prepared. Sort of. About a month ago, Sam picked up some Henry rifles for review. In addition to the two giant lever-actions, Henry sent us a U.S. Survival Rifle and a cute little survival kit. Sam had tossed the AR-7, the survival kit, and a Marble Arms Catch .22 (which holds 50 rounds of .22 LR) into the back of the Wagoneer–so I wasn’t completely out of luck.

Let me step back and provide some context for the inevitable night in the woods. I hadn’t set out to do a practical field test of this survival kit. In fact, I’d borrowed the vehicle that I’d manage to strand in the woods. I was sure that Sam would begin to wonder where his Jeep was. And I’m married. I’d like to think that when I didn’t arrive home, my wife would immediately call Sam and ask where I was–and I have these visions of the two of them coming out to rescue me with a thermos full of coffee and a picnic basket full of fried chicken or something. But it didn’t happen.

The fire starting group is robust. No excuses for not being able to start a fire.

The fire starting group is robust. No excuses for not being able to start a fire.

So I was in the woods. Because I’d assumed someone would come looking for me, I didn’t immediately start gathering wood or trying to find food. I figured if I waited long enough, someone else would happen along.

No one came along. About 5:00, I began to think about where I was going to sleep. I had the back of the Jeep, so I wasn’t hurting for shelter. I had very little to eat–just a few gumballs I’d purloined from my son’s stash. I knew I’d be able to make a fire. I’ve started with just a pocket knife and made fire, so I would certainly be able to do it with the matches in the kit. I didn’t have anything to drink–but this was October in Arkansas, and still humid. I wasn’t going to dry up overnight.

Eventually I went walking. I took the AR-7 with the idea that I’d find a squirrel, at least, and have something to eat. I found a crossroad and some bear scat. There was no water immediately available. After an hour of wandering, without seeing a single squirrel, I went back to start a fire, which allowed for the first practical test of the…

Contents of the Henry Survival Kit MSRP $99.95

  • Basic Survival Instruction Sheet (very handy for basic survival, or for lighting a fire if you’re desperate).
  • Aloksak Water Tight Bag (keep things dry, or it can hold water).
  • Personal Use Fishing Kit (just for you–not for fishing for anyone else).
  • Mini Map Compass (even more useful if you have mini maps–or normal maps, too).
  • Mini Rescue Flash Signal Mirror (could be a true life saver in some places).
  • Beeswax Tea Light Survival Candle
  • Tinder Quick (10–one is enough. These are very flammable).
  • Type 1A Utility Cord (20 ft)
  • Photon Micro Light (this thing is the bomb, as they say, and it glows in the dark).
  • Sewing Kit (hope it isn’t you that needs sewing up).
  • Spiral Wire Survival Saw (I should have made more use of this in the daylight).
  • 1 ft flexible latex tubing (for use as a tourniquet, or great for getting water, gas, etc.).
  • Trauma Bandage and Gauze Roll
  • Adventurer Compact Repair Tape
  • Adventurer Compact Fire Starter (I used this to start my fire).
  • Rapid Rescue Survival Whistle (quite loud).
  • Snare Wire (20 ft)
  • Adventure All Weather Matches (10)
  • Utica Kutmaster Mini Multi Tool
  • Flat Coffee Filter (but no coffee. Actually, this is for filtering crappy water).
  • Water Bag
  • MicroPur Water Tablets (05)
  • 12 Hour Light Stick
  • Space Survival Blanket (like sleeping in tinfoil).
  • Compact Signal Panel
  • Silica Gel (do not eat).
  • Fresnel Lens Fire Starter (I ran out of light before I could fry any ants).
  • Derma Safe Razor Knife (a really nice touch–keep it clean).
I got everything back in the kit except the blanket. Doh!

I got everything back in the kit except the blanket. Doh!

The Survival Kit Box

  • Hard Anodized Aluminum
  • Size: Appx 7.3″ x 4.6″ x 2.3″ (including clasps)
  • Weight: 6.2 oz
  • Fire and Water Resistant
  • Extremely Durable
  • Not recommended for cooking (but it is possible to cook in it and on it).
  • Color: Dark Gray

Of all of this, there are some major groups that stand out. There is the cutting group–and it is nice to have two knives (one to get dirty, one to keep clean and sharp). There’s the fire group. There’s the binding and taping group. Then the signaling group. There is a nod to first-aid, and some symbolic fishing gear. And the space blanket and the box. In reality, there is enough there to survive with if you are trying to survive in a Pangea of readily accessible raw materials.

Need to purify some water? It isn't going to taste great, but that's not what this is about.

Need to purify some water? It isn’t going to taste great, but that’s not what this is about.

In my case, I used four items. The flint-and-steel, the space blanket, the compass, and one tinder wick thing. My fire was mostly symbolic. It told the bear I was there, and showed the deep dark night that I was indeed capable of surviving its mild temperatures. The blanket was nice, if exceptionally loud, as I did get cold once I stopped moving around in the truck. I referenced the compass a couple of times looking for the fastest way to the road, though in the end I followed the road I’d driven in on.

I could have stayed longer. Easily, if I’d found water. There wasn’t anything I immediately wanted other than actual water, or coffee, and a good snack of some sort.

A note about the video below. It is long and uncut, for the most part. I had my camera with me, so I took some video of the lovely experience. There’s proof of the bear, and I start the fire at about the 13:50 mark. Otherwise, it isn’t the most gripping footage I’ve ever produced. Be warned–long and rambling.

Later, when I asked why she didn’t rescue you me, she answered logically enough–“I thought you’d call if something was wrong.” Makes sense. Not that I could have called from that stretch of Arkansas backwater, but whatever. She knows I was a Boy Scout. I’d purposefully put myself in this sort of situation many times. I call it camping. Though I usually take more water and something to eat. Whatever. I guess she had a time threshold on her where’s-my-husband-alarm, and staying out overnight in the woods wasn’t long enough for alarm.

Two means of producing light.

Two means of producing light.

Sam, too. He knew where I was, and wasn’t worried that I hadn’t brought his Jeep back. When I was good and awake on Monday, I walked down to the highway and hitched a ride to a gas station that fried potato wedges in the same batter that they fried their chicken. That Lincoln I had in my pocket was good for a full-on-meal of deep fried gas station goodness. And I made a couple of calls, and Sam showed up with a new hose. His opinion on the whole thing? If I’d known my ass from my elbow, I would have used the duct tape in the kit to wrap the split hose and that would have been good enough to get me out of the woods, at least.

Maybe so. But ignorance is bliss. And aside from getting a bit thirsty, and hungry, and a crappy sleepless night, I have nothing to complain about.

To end what has really been an odd and accidental review, I’ll mention the price. The Henry kit costs $99. What you’re paying for is convenience, really. Everything you need is packed compactly in the can. You toss it in the back and forget about it until it matters. It is ideally sized for hunters who might end up wandering deep into the woods in search of a wounded animal. And, if you don’t find it, you’ll wish you had thought to pack something to eat, too.

If you can find some place to fish, you can. This is realistically not the best fishing kit, but at least it's here.

If you can find some place to fish, you can. This is realistically not the best fishing kit, but at least it’s here.

The presence of bright orange may keep you safe if you get lost hunting.

The presence of bright orange may keep you safe if you get lost hunting.

Bind it, tape it, wrap it up in wire.

Bind it, tape it, wrap it up in wire.

The kit contains a couple of knives and some other tools, too.

The kit contains a couple of knives and some other tools, too.

The space blanket will keep you warm, but it is crinkly and loud.

The space blanket will keep you warm, but it is crinkly and loud.

Not too wide. It will fit easily in a pack.

Not too wide. It will fit easily in a pack.

It isn't intended to be used as a cooking pot, but it isn't out of the question.

It isn’t intended to be used as a cooking pot, but it isn’t out of the question.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • SNNN November 12, 2014, 8:31 pm

    Thing is emergencies are often…unexpected. I keep a fire extinguisher in my jeep
    for example…not because I WANT a fire…but you never know. $99 is not bad
    for something that gives a little piece of mind 8-]

  • Russ October 28, 2014, 3:07 pm
  • Chris Baker October 27, 2014, 10:05 am

    You didn’t take water? Why? I would suggest having a CB or portable ham radio with appropriate license would be a very good thing to have. No license required for the CB in fact. I typically take my radio (a Yaesu FT-60 2 meter/70 CM 5 watt out put handheld) wherever I go and a cooler with my beverage of choice in copious quantities (no not beer, diet Pepsi and one liter of milk) along with several liters of frozen distilled water.

    KK6LOP

    • Paul October 28, 2014, 7:11 pm

      I have a ham radio and a license, but if someone had the radio but no license they could still call for help. Technically its against the rules to transmit without a license, but the rules allow it if it’s a true emergency and someone is in danger. When I got my ham radio I passed the test for the license but had not gotten the license in the mail yet. I bought the radio and heard someone yelling “help there is a car on fire on the interstate!” I told them I would call the police which I did. So even though I transmitted without a license it was ok because it was an emergency. Paul N9TLF

    • Old Clockguy September 19, 2016, 9:34 am

      Yeah Chris, hindsight is always the best knowledge to have, if you’re NOT the one stuck in the woods overnight with all the stuff you WISHED you would have thought to pack. As someone mentioned you don’t PLAN on the unexpected, you don’t pack with the intent to stay in the woods for any time period other than that for which you went there in the first place. If there was some kind of warning gene in our body which would go off if we were heading into a situation we hadn’t expected, there would be no need for the term “emergency situation”, eh?

      In hindsight, it would have been nice to pack a .44 magnum for bear encounters, a backpacking tent and a sleeping bag for an overnight unexpected stay, maybe a poncho, an axe, some dry wood, a sat phone and ham radio (for backup), and a couple burgers (dressed, of course), a large fries with extra ketchup, and an icy Coke. And what in the world was Stevie thinking??? He didn’t even have an extra set of coolant hoses, a can of brake fluid just in case a sharp rock jumped up and bit one of the brake lines, a small set of JB Weld Quick tubes to patch the hole in the brake line that the pesky rock made, at least 3 gallons of gas as backup to the gas gauge going south, man, what a buddy HE turned out to be! OK, enough of the chain pulling for one post ……….

      (Chris, in my defense, I really thought YOU were pulling his chain with your ham radio w/ appropriate license remark until I read the rest of your post so don’t get too twisted in the knickers department.)

  • Jesse October 27, 2014, 9:13 am

    One comment, 1 foot of latex surgical tubing is not going to make a very effective tourniquet. You’ll be much better off (read alive) if you need one by carrying a proper TQ or learning how to use your belt. If you’re bleeding enough to be in “life-or-limb” mode stretchy material is a poor choice. There are some other issues, but this is the only one that could cost someone their life. HTH

    • Administrator October 27, 2014, 9:24 am

      It actually works just fine. Depending on the thickness of the tube you don’t need a ton of tubing.

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