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Stranded on a deserted island--which four of these tools would you take?  RSS feed

 
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I saw this on facebook. Of course, the chances of ever being stranded on an island are pretty slim, let alone being able to choose what you bring. But, hey, it's a fun mental exercise!



What would you choose and why?

I think I'd want the:
  • Knife
  • Tarp: Collect rain water, turn into a shelter, catch food you drop from a tree, use to haul stuff, etc
  • First aid kit: Lots of little nifty tools in these, and it's important not to die before being rescued. Plus, the thing's a nice watertight container to store stuff in!
  • Water filter or pot: I'm torn here. The pot is more versatile, but the water filter would do an easier, more efficient job of cleaning water.


  • (Of course, if I were stranded on an island, I'd probably have my purse, which has an emergency blanket, magnifying glass, mirror, cards, matches, candle, water filter, knife and first aid kit and random other things...so I'm already more prepared than if I were stuck with just four of their selections!)

     
    pollinator
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    - Pot
    - Knife
    - And just so I don't look like a copy cat, I'll take the inflatable raft instead of the tarp. (the raft is likely made of more durable plastic)
    - The mirror I guess, as you could make a fire with it and use it to get the attention of distant ships.

    Although, I'm tempted to take the Volleyball just to be able to yell "WILSON". :P
     
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  • Boots
  • Knife
  • Water Purifier
  • First Aid Kit


  • Feet (mine) are critical and in crap condition at almost 60 years of age...
    Knife for everything from kindling, digging, skinning, killing, cooking, hair-cutting, nail cleaning :-), wound cauterizing... never go anywhere without a very sharp knife
    Drinkable water...
    First Aid kit has LOADS of stuff for fishing and tying and straining... so much potential
     
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    tarp
    raft
    fishing rod (which I assume includes hook and line)
    rifle (which I assume includes bullets)

    (I also really, really want the rope, the matches, and the knife, but if wishes were horses...)

    The tarp for shelter, the raft for collecting rainwater, the rod and rifle for feeding myself, and the rifle for ending it all quickly if a rescue began to seem unlikely.
     
    pollinator
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    I like the answers on this issue.

    I would dismiss the thought of taking anything too specialised, or anything whose usefulness can come to an end due to perishability or limited quantities of consumable. This does away with the sunscreen, toilet paper, ipod, flare gun, flashlight, insect repellant, vitamins, fishing rod, rifle, tent, and matches.

    If I were to chose the kind of knife I would take, it would be either a parang or a kukri, each useful for slashing brush, chopping, or self-defense, and at the same time having finer areas on the blade for finesse work.

    I would definitely take the first aid kit, because as mentioned before, so many things can be done with what can be found in a first aid kit.

    The pot would be a necessity, as I opted out of the water purifier, and would be good for turning random scraps of edibles into something safe to eat, if not exactly delicious.

    I will take flack for my last selection, but I will justify my choice.

    My last selection would be the five ounces of weed.

    Now hear me out. In this scenario, I will suggest that in that five ounces of weed, there happen to be seeds. I would carefully cultivate them, breed them, and keep cultivating.

    If I was stuck on the island for a really long time, or for the rest of my life, I would at least have a really good source of plant nutrition from the seeds, and reasonably complete nutrition at that.

    It would also give me a source of rough fibre, really decent for cordage, and if I had lots of time on my hands, probably good enough for rough cloth or even paper.

    Also, the food value of the leaves as a vegetable crop can't be overlooked.

    And finally, while most would consider recreation to be the obvious "useful" contribution of the weed, I suggest that, especially if one is living out one's days on such an island, even if one is careful and extremely lucky, chronic pain will be an issue as one ages. The pain killers in the first aid kit will probably have been used up long since on acute injury, adding constant nagging pain to the boredom.

    The tarp would be nice, but any large leaves can be layered like shingles to shed water from a constructed roof (no details were provided, so I am suggesting there are bamboo, bananas, and coconuts on this island, and some tree with large leaves, useful also for making up for the lack of toilet paper).

    The boots would be nice, but with my luck, they wouldn't fit. Besides, they would eventually wear out. If I needed footwear, I would probably construct something from my surroundings (maybe I would gut a shark with my knife and skin it?) so that when they wore out, I could make more.

    The hand saw is just too specialised a tool for me to accord it one of my four spots, and when dull, a knife is easier to sharpen lacking specialised equipment.

    If I judged that there was anywhere to go, I would build myself a raft much more capable than the one pictured. If I had to leave the island, I would trust something I built to carry me on the ocean before I trusted some flimsy bit of manufactured petroleum product. More likely, I would use one to fish shoals around my island (if I was stuck there, it would be my island), probably with bamboo or hemp fibre nets.

    I could again build a hammock out of bamboo or hemp cordage, as I could make rope.

    Fishing with a rod would be a waste of time. Even if there was sufficient tackle and line, the tackle would eventually get lost, the hooks dull or bent, and the line would tangle, fray, and get weaker as it was constantly spooled and unspooled. You would eventually be left with a slightly used fishing rod, minus any useable line.

    I would construct fish weirs out of bamboo or hemp fibre and bait them with bits of my leftovers, and the aforementioned fish nets. I would also get used to swimming in the salt water with my eyes open, as much could be gathered from the sea floor (my island is surrounded on seven of eight sides by a coral reef, and there are rock lobsters and oysters to eat, as well as, I don't know, six kinds of seaweed or so).

    As to fire, I wear glasses. I would start fire with my lenses, and just keep it going, probably using a coconut with ash and coconut coir inside to shelter a coal each day, just in case.

    With the first three choices, I would have nearly everything I needed to Robinson Crusoe myself a decent life on the island. My fourth would ensure that I have shelf-stable food, medicine, finer cordage, perhaps even textiles and paper, and an occasional recreational release that would probably keep me from longing for that rifle with a single bullet in it.

    And hey, you'd have something besides coconuts and bananas with which to pay your monkey butler, right?

    -CK
     
    gardener
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    Is our deserted island in the tropics or in the arctic?
     
    Chris Kott
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    An arctic island would be a death sentence with that selection of items available. And only four would just delay it.

    I assumed a tropical island because there, at least, there's a reasonable chance of survival. There's no fun in imagining how to best prolong your freezing demise.

    Good point, though. I would probably make different choices based on the type of island.

    -CK
     
    James Freyr
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    hmmm.. Upon paying better attention (which I'm known not to do), I see there's sunscreen and bug spray in the list, so I guess it's implied to be a tropical island. That being the case, I'd opt for the tarp to collect rainwater and use in a solar saltwater dehydrator during dry seasons, the handsaw, the rope and the knife.
     
    Marci Sudlow
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    How on earth would a fishing rod be perishable or a limited quantitiy of consumable?  You've heard the expression "give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."  (Personally I'd prefer a large box of varied size hooks and a large spool of fishing line, but that option wasn't given.)   I suppose if this rod came with only one fishhook, it's usefulness would be ended if that hook snagged on a rock or was "stolen" by a fish that got away, but those eventualities might not happen.   I've had fishhooks that I've reused for years.  Also rifle and rod would at least feed me until I was able to plan and construct weirs or snares.  There might be supplemental food in the form of shellfish, coconuts, etc that would tide me over.

    For the arctic island, I'd need only the rifle for a quick end.  Freezing to death is a hideous prospect.  Being eaten by a polar bear would be faster, but just as hideous in its own way.

     
    pollinator
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    I don't like my choices but from the list I would choose the following.

    1.  Hiking boots.  I imagine myself scrambling around coral looking for mussels and little fish, possibly making fish traps etc. , exploring for natural materials around the island for cordage and food.  If your feet are toast you aren't going to be doing anything.

    2.  A saw.  I could build a raft, permannent shelter and basically create a base camp.  (how long would it stay sharp, who knows.)

    3.  Knife.  Useful in just about every way, would allow for the creation of other tools, harvesting etc.  Stacked Functions

    4.  The pot.   I would have chosen the tent because of the psychology of having initial shelter.  The tent poles and parts could then be used when permanent shelter was built.  Then I realized I didn't have a way to make a stead supply of water so the pot it is.  I was thinking cooking I could steam Polynesian style but H2O is such a big deal. And a pot has stacked functions cooking, water, making things.

    Fire is an issue hopefully I can start a fire with a bow and drill.

    My take on this list is I need tools to make what I need, if there isn't any food source or building materials it's going to be a short stay.

     
    Chris Kott
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    Marci, I have lost lures I bought on the first cast. I have had fish bite through line just above leaders. I have had hooks come back straightened because they were too dull to pierce the fishes mouth.

    And I have had fishing line no more than two seasons old be so worn out that, should you still be able to cast and reel properly, any real fight would snap the oft-kinked line.

    Oh, and I have had fishing rods snap, too.

    My point is that if my life was on the line, I wouldn't want it to be an old, used, abraided fishing line.

    I would set my sights on items that would have decades of useful life, if properly taken care of, as no timeline for rescue was offered, so I assumed that I would be setting up a civilisation of one.

    Give a man a fish, he eats for a day.

    Teach a man to fish with a rod and reel, and he eats until any one of a number of components break.

    Teach a man how to weave fish weirs and set them about the island with bits of his previous meals as bait, and he will continue to eat as long as he makes rounds to check the weirs for fish, rebait them, and rebuild them at need.

    -CK
     
    Marci Sudlow
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    Chris, I guess our different perspectives have much to do with how long we both intend to stay on that island.  You mention decades, whereas I envision a year at the very most, but more likely a month.  I've lost a lot of fishing equipment the same way as you, but I've also had gear that has held up, so...  Also I know how to fish, but building a weir would be a lengthy learning experience, if the island even offered suitable materials.   The guy who opted for the hiking boots has a very good point.  Collecting crustaceans in the rocky shallows would probably be the most reliable food source.  I think on 2nd thought I'd trade the tarp for the boots.  Boots would eventually wear out, but then I'm not planning on a long stay.
     
    Chris Kott
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    If I was planning for an uncertain future, I would, by default, choose items that would retain usefulness the longest, because I wouldn't be able to guarantee that I would be rescued within the lifetime of the rod and reel.

    It's for this reason that I chose the only item that you could reasonably propose to have viable food seed in it.

    I just think that it's poor survival strategy to decide that rescue must happen eventually.

    -CK
     
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    Everybody's answering this question as if it was "what four things would you choose if you had to live the rest of your life on a deserted island"  but the question is only about being stranded on a deserted island.  My priority would be to get the heck off of the island and not die while I wait.  So my main tool of survival would be the flare gun, which I would use to signal for help.  I would use one of the flares to start a fire.  The knife, tarp, and pot are my other three for reasons already mentioned above.
     
    Jarret Hynd
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    I guess this is the fun of the game, everyone interprets things differently and picks different items :)

    To end up stranded on a deserted island in the first place, I imagined the scenario was a bit like: cruise ship sinks, you drift ashore the island with shirts&shorts and by chance a trunk from the ship floats ashore with the 4 items you picked. So I figured any purses, glasses, etc, would have presumably been lost along the way.

    I took "first aid kit" to mean an average one or at least what was able to be seen in the photo. Basically some disinfectant liquids and pastes, gauze, tape, a tiny pair of scissors/tweezers and band-aids. Besides the disinfectants, I didn't find much value in the rest.

    The people who picked flare guns I can understand, since realistically if you washed a shore an island, that means the ship you were on was likely was on a well-traveled route that wasn't too far from the island. If you only had limited opportunities to signal a ship, you'd want to make the most of it. However, my outlook was similar to Chris' in regards to planning for the worst case scenario.

    The above point is also why I chose the mirror as the 4th item - it's a dummy-proof way to start a fire. (the guy in the video actually burns his hand around 1:45) The likelihood of survival is determined by how the first few days go on the island. I catch the odd TV program while visiting friends, and you can see from shows like "Naked and Afraid" that when they can't start a fire in the first 2-3 days: all their energy is depleted, no way to cook foods and they are freezing at night. Even if they get their fire started by day 3, they are pretty much struggling the following 30 days.
     
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    Assuming it's a warm climate, I'd take the 5 ounces and sit back and enjoy the sun.


    Someone had to lower the tone....
     
    pollinator
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    Rifle
    Tarp
    Hunting knife
    Rope
     
    pollinator
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    Thought provoking. Not knowing how long I'd be stranded, I'd need to think long term. It could be weeks or months if I were lucky enough to be near a shipping, fishing, or tourist region. But if I were stranded due to my world traveling solo boat or hot air balloon being lost, I could be so remote as to be stranded for the rest of my life. Let's assume the worse and I'd be there there for years. Then I'd be looking at long term and durable items. If the island is not inhabited, that means that it is small and does not have abundant food sources, otherwise it would have people living on it already. So I assume it will be small, and hopefully has a variety of vegetation. Also I'll assume that it is an island in a tropical area since a hammock, insect repellent, and sunscreen are among my choices.

    1- Tarp.....while immediately handy, after a year it will degrade to shreds. So not good for the long term. I could live without it.
    2- sunscreen. Worthless for survival.
    3- toilet paper. Ditto.
    4- pot. Good item. I might seriously consider this one.
    5- iPod. If I were choosing this I might as well prepare to die.
    6- hiking boots. Not on my list. Most likely I'd already be wearing some sort of footwear. If not, coarse serviceable sandals are easy enough to make out of most available vegetation.
    7- handsaw. While initially useful, it won't be long before it will need resharpening. That would be very difficult to do on a deserted island. So I won't choose this.
    8- flare gun. A smoky fire would do just as well for getting attention, and actually will send a signal further. A flare gun would only be useful if a boat or ship passed nearby. I pass on this one.
    9- inflatable raft. A consideration. It has lots of cons -- how to inflate and re-inflate. How to repair punctures. It sure could be useful for me in the short term. The raft pictured would not be suitable for a long ocean journey to escape the island, so it loses lots of potential value in this point alone.
    10- flashlight. Such a short use item that I wouldn't even consider it.
    11- insect repellent. Useless for survival.
    12- hammock. Yards of useful string for making things. Might be quite useful initially.
    13- compass. Useless. If I couldn't figure out where the compass points are by observing the sun, then I'm on track to die anyway!
    14- mirror. It has its uses, but it's not all that useful for survival, nor rescue as far as I'm concerned. But I could make a nifty fire starter out of it, good fish lures, and sharp mini-knives. But I'll pass.
    15- vitamins. I wouldn't even begin to consider these.
    16- water purifier. Any fresh water source on an empty island is more than likely not contaminated in a way to necessitate the water filter. But most small islands don't have fresh water. If I could know in advance that there was a pond on the island, I'd choose this in order to have easy clean water to start out with.
    17- fishing rod. While the ocean would most likely be my foremost source of food, a single fishing rod will quickly become disfunctional. Now if I could have a whole tackle box full of assorted hooks, that would be a different story. But a single rod & reel won't make much of a difference for long term survival.
    18- rope. Something  handy, especially for the first year. A consideration but not high on my list unless we are are taking about a mile of rope.
    19- hunting rifle. Not a consideration. A small island won't have large game. While the metal may be useful to making other things, I'll pass on this one.
    20- weed. Depends upon the quality. If it has viable seeds, then it might have value. But even so, I think I could pick items with more value to me.
    21- first aid kit. Of course it depends upon the kit, but the picture shows a fairly large one. It most likely has a good assortment of useful items. I'll pick this.
    22- tent. It has plenty of uses other than a shelter, but It won't last. Not as important for me as other stuff.
    23- knife. This is my number one choice.
    24- matches. Initially I'd love to make an easy fire, but with effort and perseverance I could get a fire started eventually without the matches. So reluctantly, I'll pass on the matches.
    25- volleyball. Pass.

    Here's my choices:
    Knife
    First aid kit
    Pot
    The fourth item is a difficult choice. I go with the hammock so that I could make a fishing lift net to provide food for the first few months until I could make functional fish ponds/traps. Since the shoreline sealife won't have enough fats in them to sustain my life long term, I need to harvest fish in order to survive.....since I can't guarantee that the island has coconuts or other suitable edibles to provide fats. Oh by the way, since I'm assuming the island is small, the chance of birds and other wildlife is slim. Birds would be a great food source if they existed. And the unraveled hammock strings could be used to make mist nets for bird catching.
     
    Su Ba
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    Drinking water would my first consideration for the first few days on the island. I would be looking for any possible fresh water source on the island or praying for rain in order to collect it. Assuming no fresh water and no rain, I couldn't figure out how to use any of my choices for desalinating enough drinking water each day to survive. Anyone come up with a solution? I could boil sea water in the pot and collect the steam on a cooling chamber made out of the raft or tarp. But it would taste terrible because of the leaching chemicals, then I'd need the water filter to make it drinkable. Any better ideas?
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Jarret Hynd wrote:
    The above point is also why I chose the mirror as the 4th item - it's a dummy-proof way to start a fire. (the guy in the video actually burns his hand around 1:45) The likelihood of survival is determined by how the first few days go on the island. I catch the odd TV program while visiting friends, and you can see from shows like "Naked and Afraid" that when they can't start a fire in the first 2-3 days: all their energy is depleted, no way to cook foods and they are freezing at night. Even if they get their fire started by day 3, they are pretty much struggling the following 30 days.



    I'm fascinated by the idea of starting a fire with a mirror. I recall as a child that the light from a mirror was pretty warm, but I didn't know it could start a fire. Can a fire be started with a flat mirror, or does it need to be a curved mirror?

    Also, would a mirror start a fire in cloudy weather? I live where it's cloudy 3/4ths of the year, and I'm assuming that a mirror would be useless for starting a fire in rainy or even cloudy weather...
     
    Chris Kott
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    The pot shown includes a lid. One could conceivably just boil sea water constantly, catching the condensate on the underside of the lid. Offsetting the lid so one side overhung the pot, the condensate could be caught on a broad leaf and channelled into a cup made from a leaf.

    -CK
     
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    Jarret Hynd wrote:The above point is also why I chose the mirror as the 4th item - it's a dummy-proof way to start a fire. (the guy in the video actually burns his hand around 1:45)


    In the video a concave mirror is used. I recognize the same kind of mirror that I got at CVS in the US. A magnifying mirror or lens can start a fire easily, but I don't think a flat mirror would, since it can only double the intensity of sunlight at best.
     
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    My choices:

    Pot w/lid
    Hand saw
    Knife
    Fishing rod, spinning

    It also occurred to me  to take items that will last and that I can use to make things with. I want to point out that I've been as far north as Timmons and White River in Ontario. I can verify that there are mosquitos that far north. I've also learned that they are only in some spots so if you find mosquitos you want to move and get rid of the ones hovering over you. Without a boat I'd get in the water and do some diving. I did learn that if it froze overnight there were no mosquitos the next day.

    I'm assuming that I kept whatever footwear I was wearing when I got in this predicament. If I had the tarp then I'd need the rope, but that only leaves 2 choices so, no. I'm guessing that the rod would come with line and hooks. I'd use bait and carve some lures around an extra hook, if available. Speaking of carving, I'd carve a spoon and a fork, an oar for a raft. About the knife sharpening I have a story. I once kept cattle and found a butcher to do his work. On one trip he forgot his metal knife sharpener rod. I forget the name. So he asks me if I have a stone. No I said, don't have one. You don't have a stone. He said you have all this land and no stone. I said you mean a rock, lotsa rocks. So every couple cuts he sharpened his knife on a rock! I did buy a real knife stone.


    This thread reminds me of the Alone show, but worse. There you get 10 choices but it's usually a cold location. I spent a lot of time on picking 10 items. I wanted a froe, to make shingles, Have to pick only from the list. I also spent a lot of time looking for a multi-tool (swiss army knife) with a drill bit, never found one. I was thinking of carving wooden dowels for attaching things... like shingles.

    But were I in this situation I wouldn't be able to take the sun, even the shade. I'm photo sensitive.
     
    Su Ba
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    Chris, good point. I missed that.

    After reading over others choices, I'd still stick with my own. Drinking water would be my first concern, so the pot will be important. I'd still go with the idea of  making a dip net for catching small reef fish. I've seen locals using them here in Hawaii and they are very successful and quick. With immediate food and water covered, shelter would be a cinch.

    It's been fun looking at the choices people make. It's all based upon their own individual knowledge and capabilities. Very, very interesting.
     
    Su Ba
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    In regards of the mirror as a fire starter. The mirror pictured is flat, so as it is it won't start a fire. BUT, it can be modified. Broken into smaller pieces, the right sized pieces could be glued (think, tree sap) to something to make a concave mirror. That something could be the right seashell, coconut shell, beach rock, driftwood, etc. It would be coarse and not highly efficient, but it could help get your initial fire started. So picking the mirror can be a good idea. For myself though, I already am capable of starting a fire in other ways although it will take time and effort. So I'll pass on the mirror.
     
    Posts: 3
    Location: Mazomanie, WI
    dog wood heat woodworking
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    i'm pretty good at suvival skills, so my list is a bit different than other people's, but I'd take;

    the saw from which i can make a knife as well.
    rope for shelter building and to unravel and make a fishing net out of.
    a pot
    and the tarp for water collection and shelter.

    i actually did something like this here in wisconsin where i took a knife, blanket, a pan, some paracord, and my clothes... and lived in the forest for 44 days.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 248
    Location: mountains of Tennessee
    25
    bee cat chicken food preservation homestead hugelkultur hunting cooking solar trees wood heat
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    OODA loop violation OODA loop violation ... been pondering this a while now but keep drawing the same conclusion ... can't make appropriate selections without complete info. Too many unknowns.

    Everyone assumes being stranded on a deserted island is a bad thing. Perhaps it's intentional. My imaginary island has easy to catch lobster. The pilot stranded me there a short while to fly the Lear jet to get some fresh butter & her supermodel friends. Just because the island is deserted doesn't mean there's not a warehouse of supplies staged there.

    Stranded alone or with other people? Do they choose 4 items also? Are they friend or foe? Heavily traveled Caribbean route or isolated in the arctic? Better to try to leave or to stay on island? Who, when, & how would the likely rescuer be? Wild food available or not? Fresh water sources? Hungry critters higher up the wilderness food chain than you? Were you smart enough to bring your possibles kit with you? Most of those listed items are on or near me at all times. Especially if I knew there was any chance of being unintentionally stranded on a deserted island.

    The choices would be different. The wrong choice could be deadly. Not playing this game until all info is gathered. I'll take two O's please.

    What? No internet ... how will they update their status?







     
    master steward
    Posts: 10650
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    1812
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    I'll Play.

    The three things I need for living rough is
    shelter/warmth
    food
    water

    That's my order of priority.  If I get too chilled or let my energy get too low, this hampers my survival ability.

    The things I would want from the list are

    knife
    First aid kit
    Pot (the cooking kind)

    My first aid kit is tiny.  But it includes two knives, scissors, several space blankets, matches, a flint and steel, band-aids, rope, string, a couple of water purification tablets, and you know, first aid stuff.  This takes care of my warmth with the space blankets, fuel for warmth and cooking, and many other luxuries.

    The knife I would choose is my butchering knife.  It's actually not very big but it's sharp, has a built-in flint-like stick that also works as a steel (for sharpening the knife - a sharp knife is essential). 

    A cooking pot, of course, is great for purifying water and cooking. 

    As for the fourth item... it's hard to choose.  A total luxury item like good shoes?  But I always wear sensible shoes.  Rope?  That's useful, but making my own cordage is simple.  A tarp is tempting because I can use it to help capture dew if I'm in the middle of summer - but then again, if I'm in the middle of summer, I can get enough moisture from the foods that are ripe.  I think for my fourth item, since it is a lovely luxury item and we don't really have any suitable natural substitute, is the toilet paper. 

     
    gardener
    Posts: 1655
    Location: USDA Zone 8a
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    I would  want the knife, mirror, cooking pot and  water purifier.

    I could use the knife to cut branches to make a debris hut.  The mirror to start a fire.

    Hopefully I could use big leaves to catch dew or rain into my cooking pot.  If not I could use the water purifier if I found a stream of water somewhere.

    I sure hope that I can find berries or coconuts.
     
    Posts: 23
    Location: Peacham, VT
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    Wait...this is a trick question. The real answer should be "what's your context?" ; )

    But if I have to pick...

    Handsaw
    Pot
    Knife
    First Aid Kit
     
    Not so fast naughty spawn! I want you to know about
    five days of natural building (wofati and cob) and rocket cooktop oct 8-12, 2018
    https://permies.com/t/92034/permaculture-projects/days-natural-building-wofati-cob
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