The Risk Wallet Survival Kit


This is a really good idea for people who want to have a solid but minimalist pocket-sized survival kit but don't want to carry around "Tins" as well as Otter and Pelican Boxes on their person all of the time.

First of all, let me tell you where I got the idea.

A long time ago, 1983 to be exact, I found one of the best survival books ever written. That book is titled, "Outdoor Safety and Survival" by Paul H. Risk.

What an interesting last name for a survival expert, "Risk!"

I am not affiliated with Mr. Risk, I have never met him or had any correspondance with him whatsoever. I've just had his book for about twenty-four years now and I'm rather fond of it. I value it greatly and encourage you without reservation to find a copy and to read it until you know it like the back of your hand. It will serve you well. I have mentioned this book elsewhere on this website and it shaped many of my early ideas on outdoor safety…and survival. I learned a lot more but what first caught my eye was the fact that Mr. Risk concentrated on the basics, the basic tools and the basic skills.

If you find a place that is selling the book for over $25.00 I would suggest that you pass them by. Just keep looking until you find one a little bit cheaper and let the other little high dollar shops who like to charge outrageous amounts of money for things sit on their copies.

The book is excellent because the book is practical, there is that troubling word again, "practical." It's not jam-packed with a bunch of mystical filler material for one thing. It's not "cultish" in presentation; there is no slavish devotion to a personality, movement or any spirituality or anything like that. It's just good, solid information that regular people can benefit from.

Some of the information is dated. It was, after all, published in 1983. The only real disagreement I have with Mr. Risk is when it comes to metal matchsafes, that's it. He doesn't like them and I do. Big deal. To be honest, I like them because I have never had a metal matchsafe fail me. I am going to be doing an article on Matchsafes in the near future and I want to cover many of them. Other people have, indeed, had metal matchsafes fail them and that will be covered in the article.

Find the book, buy the book. It has stood the test of time. It's hard to believe it's almost a quarter of a century old now.

On to the Wallet Kit

...Which I have named the "Risk Wallet," for obvious reasons.

I'm not making these things or putting them together for sale. Sometimes when I write something, someone with a load of cash will then go and produce something without so much as a nod.

Well, for those of you that lack ideas and wish to do this, if you decide to make these things and name it the "Risk Wallet," you're actually using his name and you might just get into some legal hot water over it.

The whole idea is a minimalist kit that you can have on you at all times. There are a few kits that fit the requirement but due to size, people's opinions vary widely as to what is "minimalist" and what is "practical" and what is "handy." Actually, Doug Ritter's Pocket Survival Pak is the only kit commerically available that is truly minimalist, practical and handy.

This Risk Wallet Kit is all of those things, but it's not commercially available.It is just something I whipped up for you to think about. It is missing a lot of things; you can't put everything in a wallet. But it's worth a look.

The Suggested Contents

Risk has two pictures of the wallet kit in his book on Page 305. One wallet contains a set of items and then he expands and adds a few more items below it.

Sorry for the poor picture, I had to take a picture of the book because my flatbed scanner doesn't work with this machine. This is just to give you an idea.

The total list of items he has is as follows:

Whistle, fire patches, matches, water purification tablets, needles, dental floss, wire, signal mirror, plastic bags and the wallet (container).

My Contents

The Risk Wallet is the perfect vehicle for using this old heliograph; signal mirror and aiming "paddle."

Instead of messing around with matches and "fire patches," I simply use a magnesium and flint rod. You could also use an original Metal Match if you can find one. Risk highly recommends them and they are excellent. You could use cottonballs in a small Ziplok baggy to keep them dry, perhaps some wood shavings to go along with it - for tinder, of course. A little dollop of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly in the cottonball baggy would do wonders for lighting fire under rainy conditions or after rainfall when a lot of kindling is still damp, etc.

Iodine-based water purification tablets don't react too well with plastic. So I would suggest that you should try other water purification tablets from reputable sources that won't react with the plastic. Iodine-based water purification tablets like "Potable-Aqua" brand should be kept in their original container or switched to a real glass vial, neither of which is going to fit into a wallet which is flat.

There are Chlorine-based tablets in the Penrith Tin, for example, that are prepackaged and relatively flat so they will fit in there. Doug Ritter reminded me about Katadyn-brand Micro-Pur water purification tablets and I just picked some up the other day. Each pill will purify one-quart/one-liter of water. They will fit into a wallet like this or in Doug's Pocket Survival Pak.

The whistle is a giveaway keychain from a boater's safety course; I actually found this one along with the keychain advertisement giveaway compass. The whistle is also very flat, one of the few whistles I have found that work very well in a wallet kit.

The whistle is loud and the compass was checked against my GI Lensatic, as I do with all compasses. It's a good enough compass to get the job done in a pinch. Like all small compasses, button-types, etc., it's a "Thataway Compass."

I like junk, I admit it. If I see something lying on the ground and it's worth something, I tend to pick it up. Boiling water cleans whistles just fine. If I'm in some little shop that has various odds and ends and spy some of these little pieces of advertising genius, I pay the couple bucks and usually pick them up.

Several sewing needles, dental floss, Singer Brand Upholstery and Carpet (heavy-duty) thread, brass wire and a few large safety pins are easily managed in this kit. The sewing needles and safety pins are the heavy-duty type found in US Military Survival Kits, not junk. Excellent stuff. (These items not shown.)

If you dump the matches, which I suggest, and replace them with a flint rod, flint and magnesium rod or a Metal Match, you will need a striker for them. This is easily handled by a piece of cut-off hacksaw blade, ala' the Penrith Survival Kits, or perhaps if you're really into "junk for survival," a used, heavy, automotive feeler gauge.

(If you do choose matches or wish to add matches anyway, use NATO-Issue British Lifeboat Matches or REI Brand Matches. If you choose British Lifeboat Matches, use the strikers from the REI Brand Matches.)

With a little extra bulk in mind, you could use one of the old "Trim Trio" knives that you can read about in my article "Kid's Stuff." You might just have one in the bottom of your junk drawer that you can sharpen up and modify with a striker notch as I outlined in that article. Here is another picture of the Trim Trio knives of yesteryear with a striker notch filed in the blade.

Cheat Sheet

A lot of people call these things "Cheat Sheets." This is a list of important phone numbers, perhaps your credit/debit card number, bank account number as well as other important information.

Get your Cheat Sheet laminated if you can, along with the two "Info Cards" I list below.

Communications

Back in 1983, a telephone call on a payphone probably cost .10 or .15 cents. After a while, it went up to .25 cents. Man, a quarter of a dollar. What a bargain a dime was or a dime and a nickel. Then the quarter became a bargain. Now, if you find a payphone that works, you will be paying .50 cents, .75 cents, 1.00 dollar or perhaps even more. It all depends on location. If you are trapped like a rat in some area, you know, like an airport, God only knows how much they will hit you up for. The vermin in life sure do love a captive audience, just like movie theaters and sporting events, they love to get that gouge in on you.

Remember, thanks to "the war on drugs" (drug dealers using payphones for business) and cheapskate telephone companies (people dropping their hard earned money in the machine and then hanging up before someone answers and then getting the free call-back), many payphones no longer accept incoming calls.

So, if you have to communicate with someone, for whatever reason, if they are not home, you better leave a clear, concise message as to your dilemma because in most cases they won't be able to call you back.

1. Who you are.
2. Where you are.
3. Nearest Cross Street.
4. Landmarks, restaurants, etc.
5. What the problem is.
6. Where you will be.
7. What time you will call back.

Write those seven things out on a small piece of paper and put it in the wallet, that way you will be reminded of their importance and you won't have to think when you might be preoccupied with something else.

The all-important Cross Street - before you call, write down the two nearest cross streets if at all possible. Say you are stuck at some stripmall or gas station that is a little isolated, imagine you are in a car and what your people will be seeing as they come to get you. Get the name of the cross street before the area you are in and the name of the cross street after the area you are located in. They will then know that you are, let's say, "At 307 Fifth Avenue at a closed Crown gas station that has a working pay phone on one end of the lot between Spacely Street and Sprocket Boulevard."

Two dollars in quarters, 8 quarters in all, will fit nicely in a wallet similar to mine.

Add to that a $10, $15 or $20 calling card, available at almost any US Post Office and you will be ready. Wrap the piece of paper with the seven things listed above on it around your calling card.

Just for emergencies, you should have one of them in your regular wallet (or purse for you ladies) anyway.

Two is better than one, put one in your regular wallet and one in the wallet kit.

Travel

Look at your daily commute, examine it carefully. What is the longest distance you could possibly be from home? Just as a baseline, call three local cab companies in your area and ask them how much the fare would be from Point A, your job, to Point B, your home. Carry twice that amount of cash in reserve in this wallet and DON'T TOUCH IT. Don't "borrow" from your emergency cash-stash to buy other things.

Write down the names and numbers of those three cab companies and place that piece of paper with the money in a small Zip-lok baggy. If you have the piece of paper/card laminated, you won't have to worry about the little plastic baggy. American currency survives public laundromats so you don't have to worry about paper money getting wet either. Regular paper? Yes, you do have to worry.

The Wallet

You don't have to splurge and buy some nifty wallet. An old nylon wallet in a junk shop, yard sale or flea market will do just fine. Again, perhaps you have one from years ago in your junk drawers in your house or packed away somewhere. Find it; repair it if you have to, use it!

This is an old nylon wallet I picked up for .25 cents at a yard sale several years ago. I used to use it when teaching people various things for self-defense. It was the Projectile Wallet, meaning, this is the one I used over and over again to throw into some unsuspecting friend's face during training, just to show them how to get the "edge" on someone attacking them, etc.

You will notice this was an advertisement giveaway item from Merit Cigarettes. I never smoked them things! "Merit Cigarettes" is quite the oxymoron.

Free advertising junk is a great thing.

You will also notice in the above picture that, from the factory, one piece of Velcro attachment was never secured. I fixed that quite nicely. My sewing will never win a beauty contest, but it won't come apart either.

Then I sewed up one part of the bill compartment to make a smaller area. Worked like a charm, this really turned out well. Although as I mentioned above, my sewing is not exactly pleasing to the eye.


The Book: Outdoor Safety and Survival

I just wanted to write a little bit more about the book. It's more about the book and me really. I toyed with the idea of writing a review of the book but decided not to. I wanted to do it this way instead.

Without getting mystical, the first time I looked in the book I saw my Dad's favorite pocketknife listed as the type of pocketknife that would make a good survival pocketknife. I wouldn't say this "impressed" me and I don't even know if I believe in the concept of karma or not. It was just a little surreal. Obviously I agree with Mr. Risk, I had cleaned many fish and small game with that knife already. Whittling, carving triggers for twitch-up snares, you name it. That little three-blade Case pocketknife is probably the single most important tool I have ever owned. It was my Dad's for one thing, for another, it taught me a lot about knives, sharpening knives and using knives. That knife has spent a lot of time in my pocket.

It's a shame now; I am scared I will lose it so I don't carry it anymore. Worse yet, I don't want some pinhead that thinks he's an authority figure "confiscating" (it's called "stealing" if we do it...) my Dad's pocketknife because I happened into some area that was restrictive. This is going to be the way of the future, get used to it.

As I was thumbing through the book, I looked at Page 10. My Dad's knife was right there, now it was my knife. What I read up above that picture set the hook and I bought the book.

Here is the section:

"4. CARRY BASIC EQUIPMENT

Three items ought to comprise the very least amount of equipment carried on any outing. A knife, a whistle, and some matches can often make the difference between life and death. Of course, the list may be expanded; later on we will look at the contents of a survival kit and discuss other suggestions for additional items to take along."

1. Knife
2. Whistle
3. Matches

Unfortunately, today we will oftentimes be denied the knife and matches in certain areas, especially the urban centers where we are supposed to rely on the authorities to come to our aid and then, after tragedy strikes, the authorities usually inform us that we're on our own. You know, like during Hurricane Katrina and in the mess that followed.

Before: "You don't need that stuff, we're from the government and we're here to help you..."

After: "You should have been prepared for a disaster, we can't help everyone, don't you believe in personal responsibility?"

Nice.

It's not that matches are so nefarious, but if you have a matchsafe with some matches in it…I can almost guarantee you that most of the authorities won't have any idea what it is and will immediately suspect you are up to no good. Try explaining to someone who used to be employed by the lowest bidder and now has the power of the federal government behind him...try explaining to him what a "matchsafe" is. Good luck.

A pack of matches is going to pass scrutiny in some areas, except airports/airplanes but the storage container for them, the Matchsafe or Matchcase, could be problematic in a lot of areas for obvious reasons.

In the picture below, you see a US Issue whistle and match safe, old friends. I've had them for years. Leave your matchsafe/matchcase at home if you intend on flying.

The whistle, along with the modern-day Photon-brand microlight and something like a "Trim Trio" knife with a flint firestarter can be lifesaving equipment. If you really want to deck yourself out with gear and "Welfare-for-Survival" items like the old keychain pocketknives are not your thing; a Leatherman Micra Multi-tool would fit the bill.

And you can totally forget about taking survival gear on a commercial plane with you, the knife is a NO-NO, the matches are a NO-NO. The matches when placed in a cylindrical plastic or metallic matchsafe-container will be viewed by most people and most "security professionals" nowadays as a BOMB. So, don't do it.

The whistle won't do you a hell of a lot of good. But, to be realistic, you won't need them as when commercial aircraft go down, you are going to have rescuers on the ground very fast. Your chances of survival are not that great anyway…it's hard to blow a whistle with a 20-feet section of control surface on top of you in any event.

Private planes are a different matter as a lot of people survive small aircraft crashes. I guess if you own your own plane you can carry a pocketknife - unless they make some law to try to prevent you from hijacking yourself. Given other decisions they have made regarding security measures, this is not outside the realm of possibilities.

And, no, I'm not kidding. I know a Federal Agent told me Post-September 11, 2001 that he could carry his service weapon loaded and concealed on a flight as he was on official business but he could not carry a pocketknife. You figure it out, I'm tired of trying.

But, as usual, I digress…

I like it that way actually…

Closing

You will see many different Survival Kits on my website. Obviously, I don't carry all of them! Many times I will purchase or trade for something…or something will be given to me. Or I simply experiment with an idea and then I write about it. If I carried every thing on this website, I wouldn't have room for my car keys! These things are placed on my website for you, the reader. The hope is that you will find something that will help you out, it might even save your life. As always, the articles and reviews are there to make you think and hopefully…to experiment on your own. You really need to read all of them and then try to fix something up for yourself out of the massive amount of information available to you, that's the real goal.

One of the things that I have really enjoyed over the years is reading about the little pocket-sized survival kits people have come up with. It's really amazing and it's refreshing to see something positive.

©Don Rearic 1999-2007

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