Knowledge is the Most Important Part of a SERE Kit.|
If there is one thing that is certain about SERE kits and Escape and Evasion kits, it’s that no two are alike, (unless yours is military issued) and everyone has their own ideas of what one should contain. This can make putting one together difficult and confusing to put it mildly. Ask ten people, and as they say, you’ll get ten different answers. The truth is that what you need in a SERE or E&E kit, well, depends.
One of the most important aspects of a SERE or E&E kit is the fact that they are intended to help you escape, evade, resist and survive in crisis situations. In order to put together the best kit possible, it’s best to narrow down the most likely situations you will encounter, start with the most basic kit requirements, then build upon that. Entering a high risk area located within a densely populated area is quite different from entering one located in wilderness and the contents of your kit will reflect this. It’s also important to realize that there are varying levels of kits, ranging from what can be considered every day carry kits to full on gear kits intended to be hidden and retrieved later when needed.
For a simple yet effective survival kit that can be easily transported and carried, a good starting point of course is to address the most basic needs of human survival first. In no particular order, the most basic needs are, water, food, shelter and warmth. Rather than make the usual list of items to include, here we’ll suffice it to say that the smallest, most durable and easily carried equipment possible should be chosen, and no more than is necessary for several days stocked.
SERE and E&E kits, however, go beyond simple survival purposes and are intended to aid in resisting, evading and escaping hostile forces. As a result, in addition to survival items contained within a SERE or E&E kit, there will also be many items that can be considered tactical in nature. Versatile knives than can be used as either a weapon or a tool, compact LED flashlights with extremely long run times, a razor wire saw and even small handguns can be included in part of a more comprehensive SERE or E&E kit.
Today’s political climate has made putting together these kits even more difficult. It seems as though everyone, from soldiers on the battlefield to civilian contractors have become fair game for kidnapping and use as hostages. This is probably why universal handcuff keys have seen such an increase in popularity as an integral part of a SERE kit. Since universal handcuffs are the most commonly used form of restraint the world over, it only makes sense to have a reliable means of escaping them should you be one of those at risk of capture. The best of these keys are made from high strength plastic to avoid metal detectors, are small enough to be concealed behind a watch or in a clothes tag, and cheap enough to allow stockpiling of several for wide distribution on your person and among several different kit cache’s. Before simply throwing these in your kit and calling it a day, however, it is wise to practice their use and becoming familiar with the nuances of retrieving them and using them while cuffed in various positions.
The most important thing to remember about an E&E or SERE kit though, is that training is the most important part of any kit. A long list of great equipment is useless without the knowledge to use it to its best potential. Choose your equipment based on the most likely surroundings you are to encounter, familiarize yourself with its use, and if at all possible, obtain training from a qualified instructor. These is a reason that SERE training is an integral part of elite and specialized military training programs for special forces and those embarking on civilian and commercial operations in hostile countries. It’s because without knowledge, even the best kit is of small benefit.