Product Review: Bear Grylls Gerber Ultimate Survival Kit

Sam Gravestock prepares for a survival situation.

Firstly a disclaimer no bugs were eaten during this review, I did not leap out of a helicopter nor did I extract water from elephant dung (much to the disappointment of some I am sure), I didn't get anything that tasted of pus or any of the things that Mr Bear Grylls does in his television programmes.

What I did do was test all the items in both day-to-day activities and out in the woods.

A list of all the items within the Bear Grylls Gerber Ultimate Survival Kit:

Full contents of Bear Grylls survival kit
Full contents of Bear Grylls survival kit

Quite a comprehensive content in a small pocket-sized kit that weighs only 278g.

The outer case is black rip stop material with bear grylls autograph on it. It is a zipped pouch - on the zip pull is a very small whistle which although small is capable of producing a significant volume when blown with real feeling behind it (the sound of a whistle is known to travel much further than that of a shouting human hence why whistles feature in every survival kit available commercially).

On the back of the case is a label in orange which provides an aide memoire of the alpine rescue signals in Morse code and also ground to air distress signals optimising the use of space on the outside of the container.

Rescue signals aide memoire
Rescue signals aide memoire

Once the outer pouch has been opened the contents of the bear grylls ultimate survival kit are stored in a clear plastic resalable pouch.

The pouch can be used to contain water - 12 fl oz in total. It can also act as a foraging pouch if the contents are decanted into the outer pouch or a container for tinder or anything else you may require in a survival situation.

The kit contains a Mylar survival kit (you know the one they like to wrap long distance runners in after a race). This is used to prevent loss of body heat by reflecting it back onto the body. It can also be used to reflect heat from a fire onto you (don't get it too close to the fire as sparks will melt it). It can also be laid out as a signal to searching rescue aircraft.

The windproof and waterproof matches come sealed in plastic to maintain water resistance (the striker is vulnerable to moisture). They light easily and provide a long flare as almost two thirds of the match's length is the head. They can be a little temperamental once the chemical head has burnt out but with good tinder, a tried and tested fire lay and sufficient fuel prepared prior to lighting, the flare is more than sufficient to light a fire. Fire is a very useful survival tool providing heat, a lift in morale, a means to purify water, cook food to make it more appetising and nutritious, act as a signal, and assist in making tools to list but a few uses.

In the fire-lighting items provided within the Bear Grylls Ultimate survival kit is also a spark stick; this produces bright super-heated sparks when struck with the striker provided, capable of igniting assorted tinders including cotton wool which is also provided in the kit. The Striker also has a bottle opener incorporated in it. (I'm not sure why because in my view if I have bottle of beer to open I'm not in a survival situation, unless it is lager). The striker and spark stick do need a change in technique to the spark sticks I usually use but with a little practice sparks will fly.

The kit has a rescue whistle within it, giving the survivor two whistles; this would be useful if surviving in a group or allowing you to attach one to your person so as not to mislay it. The whistle is again loud and audible from a great distance.

Outer case with one of the two whistles included
Outer case with one of the two whistles included

Another signalling item provided is a heliograph mirror. This is a mirror with sighting hole to enable you to direct sunlight at a specific area. It is visible over a distance and can be used to signal search and rescue aircraft (note I am reliably informed that a heliograph can look like gunfire from the air which could spoil your day if it is misinterpreted in that way! And up the survival situation significantly!)

For illumination there is a LED keychain torch bright enough to see within the near distance. You could also use it to signal at night.

The Bear Grylls ultimate survival kit has a wire saw in it for processing wood for fire or shelter. It cuts well although - again technique is the key.

For the acquisition of food the survival kit has a fishing kit with fishing line, hooks of varying sizes weights and swivels (I must admit I have limited fishing skills or knowledge but I am informed by a friend who is a passionate angler this collection of items would be sufficient to put fish on the menu).

It also has a small spool of brass wire for making snares with (if I am honest I would like to see a lot more wire provided in the kit as I like to have enough to make quite a few snares thus hedging my bets to increase the likelihood of snaring some grub).

Every good survival kit needs a knife and this need is met in the Bear Grylls ultimate survival kit by the Gerber clutch multi tool. Coming with nail file, Phillips screwdriver, flat head screwdriver, bottle opener (another one! Plenty of beer to be drunk in this potential survival situation), tweezers for fine work, an awl for basic repairs or making rudimentary clothing, spring-loaded pliers with wire cutters incorporated and a knife blade. The Gerber clutch provides a multitude of tools in a small package. If I had to grumble I would prefer to see a locking bade on the multi tool. In a survival situation a folding blade could add to the unpleasantness but this isn't a major problem as with the other equipment you get in the kit you shouldn't have cause to use the knife in such a risky way in the first place.

The Bear Grylls ultimate survival kit has two different thicknesses of cord in it, the thicker being about the same thickness as para cord but without the inner cords and the thinner cord about the thickness of dental floss. The thicker cord can be used for making shelters or basic tools; the thinner cordage for finer work such as making fish hooks.

The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival kit also contains a small and basic sewing kit - when in survival situations you have to look your best! (Ok I jest; repairing damaged clothing will maintain its ability to provide you with suitable protection from the elements).

The last thing the Bear Grylls Ultimate survival kit contains is a priorities of survival aide de memoire printed on waterproof material (I tested it by putting it in the resealing pouch when I tested water capacity). It has hints on shelters, fire lighting methods, Morse code and other survival topics that in moments of high stress will have probably fled the mind of those who find themselves in the sort of situation the Bear Grylls Ultimate survival kit would be required.

Overall the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival kit provides a comprehensive survival kit apart from an absence of method of water purification (I have heard stories of folk taking the water purification tablets internally with the contaminated water thinking this would purify the water inside the body so perhaps this is why they are not included). There is also a mild concern that some of the items with pointy edges such as the fishing kit are packaged in small zip lock bags which could be easily pierced and potentially pierce the clear plastic inner pouch, however these complaints are easily resolved.

In conclusion the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit provides all you would need should the worse happen and is small enough and light enough to always be on you as a backup if the dung hits the fan (you can always extract water from the fan/dung incident). And the components are of a quality you would expect being made by Gerber. Remember survival starts in the mind but a small kit like the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit sure helps!

You can buy the Bear Grylls Gerber Ultimate Survival Kit directly from this site.

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January 2012