In this article I’m going to run down all the gear I’m planning on taking to my Pathfinder Basic class in 2020. For those who don’t know, Pathfinder Basic is a 72-hour survival immersion class where students, with limited equipment, are expected to learn and demonstrate a range of survival skills. These foundational skills are the “basic” requirements onto which more advanced skills are built upon.
I imagine most folks reading this article are somewhat familiar with Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder School and the school’s survival classes, so I’ll move on to the core of this article.
On the Self Reliance Outfitters’ website you will find a general list of the equipment you should bring for each class. In this article I’m going to cover the specific gear I’m taking for the basic class.
The 10 C’s of Survivability
- CUTTING TOOLS:
- Knife – PSK Mountaineer the Mountaineer is a beast of a knife with a nice scandi grind and rugged aesthetic that I dig. Some my find this knife a little too large, but I find it nimble enough for most tasks. Possible alternate choices for me would be the ESEE 6HM (one of my personal favorites) or a carbon Mora Garberg. I love the ergonomics on the Garberg, but I don’t have one in carbon steel.
- Saw – Silky Gomboy 270 The fastest folding saw in the west, only kidding. It’s the fastest folding saw in the world. I find this saw to be far superior, in regards to cutting, than any other folding hand saws on the market.
- COMBUSTION DEVICES:
- Lighters – 2x Bic Lighters, Full Size I don’t believe there’s a more reliable lighter in the ballpark of a standard Bic, don’t cheap out you’ll regret it.
- Magnifying Glass – 10X Magnifying Glass If you haven’t practiced solar ignition, you probably Should. It’s an entertaining way to make fire.
- Ferro Rod – 1/2 x 5 in Ferro Rod Nothing against larger ferro rods, but I happen to have a couple of these already.
- Flint & Steel Set – Emberlit Flint Striker and Flint
- Emergency Space Blanket – Grabber All-weather Space Blanket
- 55 Gallon Drum Liners – 4x Contractor Trash Bags 6 Mil These bags don’t come cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold.
- Wool Blanket(s) – 1x EKTOS 90% Wool Blanket Twin (4.4lbs), 1x Swiss Army 70% Wool Blanket Twin If I don’t buy a second Ektos blanket this is what I’ll be taking. I won’t like carrying the weight but I’m sure I’ll sleep well, which is extremely important. Alternatively, the current Pathfinder School list is allowing the use of a Helikon Swagman Roll instead of the wool blankets. I’m trying to get one, but they are hard to come by at the moment.
- Paracord – 50ft Paracord Planet Paracord Make sure your paracord is high-quality nylon cord. Some of the cheaper stuff is made from polyester and is absolute trash.
- Bankline – 100ft Catahoula’s #36 Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine This stuff is great cordage, great for making shelters, traps, fishing and so much more.
- Compass – Suunto MC-2 In my opinion, there’s no better compass for the money.
- Pacing Beads – DIY Ranger Beads. I made my own set because I wasn’t happy with the quality of what I’ve seen elsewhere.
- CLOTH & REPAIR:
- CANDLING DEVICES:
- CARGO TAPE:
- COMBINATION TOOL:
Additional gear (not part of the 10Cs)
- NOTEPAD & PENS
- CLOTHING (appropriate for weather conditions in Southeast Ohio)
- Propper BDU Pants – Any rugged BDU style pants should suffice, these have a knee pad pocket that I might have to utilize.
- Helikon Defender Mk2 Long Sleeve Shirt – I wanted an overshirt for the chilly evening temps, this one should do nicely for summer nights.
- 2x Darn Tough Merino Wool Micro Crew Socks
- 2x Boxers, Merino Wool
- 2x T-shirts, Merino Wool
- Waterproof Leather Boots
- Boonie Hat – I usually wear a ballcap, but not knowing the conditions I figured a wide brim would keep the sun from burning my ears and if necessary keep the rain at bay.
- Buff, Marino Wool – I’m not 100% on this yet. I’ll probably bring it and decide if I want to carry it around. I do like to have these around my neck when I’m sleeping sometimes. It’s just enough to keep the chill off sometimes.
- Helikon Poncho – It’s hard to go wrong with a poncho, makes a great ground cloth if nothing else. If it rains I’ll be set too.
- FOOD, SNACKS, ETC.
- I ended up writing an entire post dedicated to the food for this trip which you can find here: https://elementbushcraft.com/pathfinder-basic-survival-class-food-recommendations/
- HYGIENE ITEMS
- MEDICATIONS, FIRST AID, BUG SPRAY, ETC.
- Hiddenwoodsmen Day Ruck (25L)
- 2x TAG 100oz Hydration Carriers for added capacity
- 10×6 MOLLE Pouch added to the top – Keeping all of my food in there
A Few Question Mark Items
These items have been mentioned in more than one of Dave Canterbury’s videos, but are NOT mentioned in the current SRO class list. I don’t know if these items are still allowed but I’ll bring them to class and see if they are. Better to have and not need, than need and not have.
- Steel Wool
- Mini Inferno Fire Starters
- 1″ Roll of Gorilla Tape – Personally, I prefer the 1″ roll over the 2″ the majority of the time. Though it’s pretty easy to make strips with the standard 2″ roll.
- Sleeping Mat – I’m going to have a sleeping mat for my camp setup anyway, so we’ll see if it’s allowed.
- Dry Bag(s), 10L-30L
The gear listed above is everything I’m planning on rucking for the duration of the class to fulfill the course requirements. I’m hopeful to earn my certificate and patch, but that’s on me, not the gear. Remember, the gear is just stuff, the knowledge is what will take you to the next level.
I’ve watched a number of videos and read many articles about the equipment people used for their basic class and I’m confident my choices are solid. I’m sure I will make a few tweaks, but I expect this list to change very little. I’ll be sure to write a follow up once I’ve completed the class. I hope this helps anyone who might have holes in their equipment needs. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.