Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Knowledge vs. Gear

There is a constant discussion, verging on debate (often rising to an outright argument), amongst survival circles about whether it’s best to have a plethora of gear, or a brain bursting with knowledge when it comes to survival.
Objectively, of course, a perfect middle-ground would be desirable, but, as always there are various factors which will affect which side an individual chooses to fight for.
Firstly, I’m going to present the pros and cons of each camp (based on following one ideology only), and then I’ll prevent my own view-point and the arguments I feel best support that view. I’ll also touch on the idea of Big-Gear, akin to expensive comprehensive GPS systems, and Small-Gear, such as waterproof matches, or tinned kindling. Where Big-Gear is often professional grade, expensive and highly tested, Small-Gear is often improvised, or available either at local shops or commonly found in the average household.

·        Instant access to any tool required.
·        Many tools designed for ease of use.
·        Multi-function tools make access even easier.
·        Redundancies can be used for barter/trade.
·        Basic gear is always a minimal necessity.

·        Gear can be heavy.
·        Susceptible to failure.
·        Requires space for transportation.
·        May cause owner to become a target if gear is valuable.
·        May be expensive.
·        Equipment without the knowledge to use it is dead-weight.

·        Can improvise many necessary implements.
·        Requires no space to carry, and weighs nothing.
·        Lack of gear/poor appearance will minimize the likelyhood of being targetted violently.
·        Requires little or no monetary outlay.
·        Your Brain’s unlikely to fail.

·        Some kind of reference will probably be necessary to retain all information.
·        Basic equipment is necessary in most situations.
·        Provides little opportunity for trade..
·        Vital knowledge about supplies/weapons/fortified locations may be extracted under duress.

So there we have the pros and cons. Personally I’m a firm believer in the idea of having only basic gear. 
I can navigate by map, so I’m not going to be affected by the loss of a (potentially expensive) GPS system, and every bookshop train station and information centre in the country is going to stock maps. There’s no piece of equipment that I know of that will skin game for you, which is going to be a necessary skill to have in a prolonged bug-out situation. However there are a few situations in which equipment is a bonus, if not a requirement. Water purification can be done using only boiling, but it’s much safer to also filter it, either using a high-grade water filter (Big-Gear, using activated charcoal to filter the water) or coffee filters (Small-tech).
There are also situations in which knowledge comes into play prior to TEOTWAWKI, such as the preperation of portable kindlings stored in sweet tins or the creation of other pieces of gear which otherwise may be unobtainable.

Therefore, in conclusion, there is no better place to be than in possession of equipment the use of which you are well versed in, however there are many things which you can improvise yourself either prior to or during an event, and a binder of paper weighs much less than a GPS,
and a tent, and a professional fishing rod, and a gas stove…

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