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Personal Size Survival Kit Review
Bob Cooper’s Australian Mark III Survival Kit
Survival Equipment and Supplies Ratings
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the Survival Kit will be found in the written evaluation which follows the kit contents
Excellent (superior quality and/or performance)
Good (decent, reliable quality and/or competent
Adequate (just sufficient or satisfactory quality and/or
Mediocre (substandard or questionable quality and/or
Poor (inferior quality and/or unreliable
Very Bad (shoddy or seriously deficient quality and/or
Specs & RatingsBob Cooper’s “Australian Mark III Survival Kit”
Weight: 9.4 ounces (266.5 g)
Size: 4 3/8 x 3 x 1 3/8 in. (11.1 x 7.6 x 3.5 cm)
Price: $45.OO ($5.50 S&H)
Manufacturer: Bob Cooper Outdoor Education Pty Ltd
N. American Dist. Fomerly available from David Alloway’s Skills Of Survival, but Allowy passed away in March 2003. We will update this if and when we receive updated information.
Click on links and photos for larger image.
The Australian Mark III Survival Kit from Bob Cooper Outdoor
Education Pty is based on the kit now supplied to the Aussie
military as a personal survival kit, though the manufacturer carefully does not publicize
this fact to avoid offending the military’s sensibilities. It is exclusively imported into North America by David Alloway’s Skills Of Survival. The kit is contained in a pair of nested black plastic boxes
(exterior top: 4 3/8 x 3 x 1 5/16 in. (11.1 x 7.6 x 3.3 cm) / interior bottom: 4 3/16 x 2 13/16 x 1 5/16 in. (10.6 x 7.1 x 3.3 cm)), 1 3/8 inch (3.5 cm) thick overall and weighing in at a hefty 9.4 ounces (266.5 g). The plastic is more resilient than a metal container.
The kit arrived with a plastic cable tie holding the
container together. The supplemental instruction sheet Alloway provides with the kit doesn’t specifically mention this cable tie or that it is intended for shipping purposes only and that after receipt by the consumer they are supposed to remove the cable tie and seal the kit with tape. You only discover this to be the case after opening the kit and reviewing the enclosed sheet of survival instructions, which also include suggestions for additions you might want to make to the kit. Operating on the principle that you can never underestimate the intelligence of the American consumer, we’d prefer to see
some sort of tag attached advising some less-than-enlightened soul how to
proceed, or at least include it in the supplemental instructions.
The advantage of the slip-fit container is that it is
expandable. You can add some of the suggested medical supplies and gear
far easier than with a traditional container with conventional lid, a tobacco
tin for example. The down side is that
the already relatively thick kit gets even bulkier as it expands to hold more. (view kit unpacked layer by layer)
The provided contents include a pair of very bulky plastic bags taking up huge
amount of space that have some resiliency, so that adding a little won’t be
much of an issue, but including all the recommended items would be more than
that. Another advantage is that you end
up with two useful containers once you open and start to use the contents.
The quality of the contents is generally good, though there
are some notable lapses.
A BCB Flint and Steel firestarter is included. We prefer firestarters that can be operated one-handed. The short hacksaw blade (2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm) long) that is attached with an 11-inch (28 cm)
length of beaded chain for use as a striker is also listed in the contents as a saw. One end is also sharpened somewhat to make
an improvised blade of sorts. Better than no saw, we suppose, but if that’s the
purpose, why not include one as long as possible, double that length would fit, which
would be much more functional? The striker itself is redundant since the knife blade will do the job.
A cotton pad is provided as tinder, which would be useless if
it should get wet. As we have pointed out before, we believe any primary tinder
in a survival kit should be waterproof for when you need it the most. The alcohol pads can be used to start a fire, as noted in the contents list in the kit’s instructions and more specifically in Alloway’s supplemental instructions, but they are still not what we’d call a great choice as tinder, and of course if used as such they are not available as an antiseptic.
Signaling is provided for with a good Perry whistle and a
less than ideal mirror. The mirror is
nothing more than a small trapezoid shaped piece of thin acrylic with a reflective
backing, 1 5/8 x 2 3/8 x 1 x 2 5/16 inches (4.1 x 6 x 2.5 x 5.9 cm). A peel-off protective facing will protect the face from scratches, but there’s nothing to protect the
reflective surface from being damaged except some black paint. There is no aiming grid, so it takes two
hands to aim and signal with the mirror.
For a compass, Cooper turned again to BCB, including
their 20mm plastic wet compass. You
could use some of the provided 39 inches (1.0 m) of excellent stainless steel “trace”
wire to make a loop to secure the compass so it is easy to get at in use and
doesn’t get lost.
Originally, Cooper included a purpose-made small fixed
blade, double-edged chisel ground survival knife in his kits. Not everyone was
thrilled with that knife, either the chisel grind or the double edge, and after
Australia enacted its draconian knife laws, he had little choice but to
change. Our kit included a one-hand
opening, liner-lock folding knife with a 2 3/16-inch (5.7 cm) stainless steel mild
clip-point plain edge blade with black aluminum body and made in China. Despite
where it was manufactured, the knife seems to be of fairly decent quality for
an inexpensive knife and we like the locking blade. It held an
edge moderately well and sharpened fairly easily, though there is no sharpening
equipment included. A nicely shaped #24 scalpel blade, in sealed foil
packaging, rounds out the cutting implements.
A plastic vial with stopper holds approximately 2.8 cc of “Condy’s
Crystals,” better known as potassium permanganate. The supplied page of survival instructions covers their use as
both an antiseptic and as a fire starter when combined with half of the glucose
tablet supplied primarily as a “sweetener, energy boost.” (See other uses above) Given the presence of the artificial flint, we once again don’t see much use for this as a fire starter, however is does provide another alternative to the lack of good tinder.
Four “Puritabs” chlorine tablets are included for water
purification, with expiration date marked. I have concerns about the
instructions that are printed on the packaging (no mention in the supplied
survival instructions): “leave for 10 minutes before use.” This is
far shorter than other similar products (sodium dichloroisocyanurate) with
which I am familiar, or standard directions for use of typical chlorine-based
products for water treatment. Alloway’s instructions also cover the use of the potassium permanganate as a water sanitizer, but this isn’t in the kit instructions.
As noted in passing earlier, there are two large plastic
bags included, 20 x 30 1/2 inches (50.8 x 77.5 cm), 2 mil thick. While they are bulky inside the kit, they are far more useful and easier to use than the condom traditionally
supplied with many such kits. There are always trade-offs. Interestingly, Allowy’s supplemental instructions also include a condom in the list of contents and it is discussed in the instructions, suggesting it is better used to keep tinder dry, which given the presence of the plastic bags, is correct, but the condom wasn’t there, so….
A fishing kit is contained in a small zipper lock bag and
includes two each fishhooks that I would describe as small, large and larger,
along with a larger hook to use as a gaff.
The gaff hook is smaller than others I’ve seen used for that purpose,
though it would work for most modest size freshwater fish, just less margin for
error. The large fishing hooks are bigger than we traditionally see in
freshwater fishing kits. There’s an old saw that a small hook will catch a
large fish, but a large hook won’t catch a small fish. By and large I’ve found that to be true.
Included is 33 ft. (10 m) of monofilament line that we estimate to
be approximately 18 lb. (8.2 kg) test. We were told that they couldn’t tell us exactly what
test it actually was since that varies, which we found a wee bit odd. You generally expect the pieces of a kit to
be to a single specification.
There’s a single swivel and two lead sinker balls (yes,
real lead) are larger than we tend to see over here in the U.S., the largest
being a whopping 9/16 inch (14.3 mm) in diameter. We’d be inclined towards more smaller
sinkers, offering more options.
Tweezers are handy, especially for a kit designed with the desert in mind, but we prefer somewhat better quality. When trying to remove the smallest of splinters or cactus spines (glochids), you need really good tweezers/splinter forceps. Minor medical supplies include a pair of Acetaminophen tablets and four good
quality 3M adhesive bandages, along with a pair of alcohol swabs. Our
preference would be for povidone iodine swabs that won’t further injure
sensitive tissue if it gets in a wound.
Sustenance is covered with the aforementioned glucose
tablet, a pair of bullion cubes and a tea bag (also useful for other things).
The survival instructions are minimal, not waterproof, with
the back side blank and meant for notes written with the enclosed pencil. As noted earlier, Alloway includes has own sheet of supplemental instructions.
Bob Cooper’s “Australian Mark III Survival Kit” provides generally good or better quality contents with a few notable exceptions. We like the ease of expansion with the container design, but the overall bulk is a bit of a concern, depending upon where you want to carry it and what clothing you typically wear. Those bulky plastic bags are the culprits, but we cannot take issue with the fact that they are a better choice than condoms. You pays your money and you makes your choice. This kit isn’t inexpensive, but it represents a more or less reasonable value for someone not interested in assembling their own. Lack of decent tinder and the less than stellar signal mirror are a minus and some of the fishing equipment leaves us scratching our head, though it’s not poor quality. This kit rates a solid “good.” It wouldn’t be very difficult or expensive to upgrade a few items and end up with a even better kit, it would just be nicer if it wasn’t necessary, considering the price of the kit. Even as is, it will see you through most any survival situation provided you have a minimum of practical survival skills, always a caveat with any small personal/pocket size kit.
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