With the knowledge of primitive methods of fire building, a machete and a working knowledge of edible and medicinal plants a survivor can thrive in the jungle. The word thrive, is not typically used when the subject of survival is brought up, but it is true. With that said unless you know how to make insect repellant from tree bark and light fires in extremely wet humid conditions, the addition of more equipment is advisable. Here are the basics that you should not show up without.


As was pointed out before this is and indispensable tool. For hacking and chopping as well as skinning, gutting, filleting, and digging. Donít forget a good file to keep it sharp. Carry it on its own belt.

Jungle Hammock-

A good quality jungle hammock is hard to beat. They go up quick and save the local flora and fauna from machete happy shelter builders. For the uninitiated a jungle hammock has sidewalls of mosquito net and an over hanging waterproof roof. Be prepared to cough up a few hundred dollars for a good one. The CLARK Jungle Hammock is probably the best on the market, it uses heavy zippers instead of Velcro. A lot of thought was put into them when they were designed.

Improvised Jungle Hammock-

If a cheaper route needs to be taken a nylon hammock, an insect bar (net) and a military poncho with 550? para cord and 4 bungee cords can be used. This system has been used and has been taught for years to US military personnel but it is a half-assed alternative to a good jungle hammock.

Insect repellant-

Of course this is a no brainer. A spray is preferable do to its ease of application. Remember you will be applying it constantly because of rain, sweat and water crossings. The products that have waterproof sun block mixed with them are good for the exposed skin. If you use a product that has a high level of DEET remember that it will melt plastic and break down nylon. That includes nylon-based clothing. Bring triple the normal amount that you would carry in woodland terrain (1 of the 6oz. cans per week spent in the jungle). CUTTERS, REPEL, and OFF are the most prevalent on the civilian market. They are cheap, work reasonably well and come in a spray can form. They use anywhere from 25%-35% of active ingredient. Again they are reasonably effective and you should always have a can in your ruck. The cheap products will be used the most. But a product like MUSKOL or Benís with 99% DEET cut with at least half SKIN-So-SOFT should go along as well. Again you will use the cheaper products that you have the most of the majority of the time.

Fixed Field Blade-

Your favorite fixed blade for the jobs that a machete is just a little much for.


U.S. RSOG personnel are adamant supporters of hands-free headlamps. The new PRINCETON TEC Matrix with the regular halogen beam and the new LED multi-bulb add-on is a winner. Used for many things, swinging a machete in the dark to tying a line to a hook to spot lighting fresh water lobster in the dark is made much easier.

Neck Light-

A neck light is just like a neck knife. It is worn around the neck by a length of 550 cord. It is a back up to the headlamp or in many cases lights the way to find the headlamp. U.S. RSOG cadre carry many different models. The MAG-LITE Solitaire is a favorite, but it uses a AAA battery, which is different than the headlamp. Thatís not the best thing, but an extra battery weighs nothing. The most common is the CMG Infinity. It uses a AA battery and has an LED bulb that will last for a lifetime. The little PRINCETON TEC Pulsar is gaining popularity as well.

Utility Pot-

A utility pot is nothing more than a cooking pot. An entire survival kit can be packed into one of these. Whatever type of cooking vessel that you choose just make sure that you bring it. A Lexan cup is a good idea for all of the medicinal teas and brews that are taken in regularly. A pot that will hold at least a quart is good, preferably with a lid. ?Hard? anodized aluminum is the lightest no-stick cookware. With that said most cadre carry stainless steel MSRs. You can spend a lot of money or not, its doesnít really matter ($12 to $100). Itís all about what you are used to using in the field.

Water Purification-

Whether you carry a high-speed purifier or a bottle of iodine tablets all water must be purified. Even rain water that is collected in a rain catch. Plus the addition of a NALGENE collapsible Cantene is advisable. Buy the big one (96 oz).

FirstAid/Sewing/Fishing Kit-

Nothing special for any of these kits just the standard high quality gear that you always carry.

100-MPH Tape-

Great for a million uses.


Professional grade snares. Many animals can be taken with improvised cordage made from jungle plant life. But improvised snares can be eaten through and or broken easily. Bring 3 small game, 3 medium and 2 heavy kill snares.

Fire Starting Booster-

Do to the wet conditions in monsoon or rainy season a tinder drying booster is recommended. Everyone has his/her favorite. A cheap one is paper-thin sliced pieces of a vehicle tire. U.S. RSOG cadre carry military fuel tabs to dry out tinder and small twigs. Donít forget your flint rod.

Sling Shot-

This is a good piece of gear for any environment but it is especially great for the jungle. Many meaty game birds walk the jungle floors and the tree tops hold another Eco system all together. Collecting fruit from 70 ft. high tree branches can be a burden without a slingshot. The heavy banded surgical tubed, wrist rocket types are the best. Bring extra surgical rubber tubes.

550 Para Cord-

Multiple uses abound for this product. Carry as much as you can.

Insect Head Net-

This has a multitude of uses from fishing to use as a strainer. CABELAís sells a good one that as arm loops. And REI has a good hooded shirt. An insect head net should already be part of your survival kit.


What ever your favorite is bring it. Hot or salty, will give many meals that added punch to keep it all from tasting so Eco. Bring some regular table salt as well.

Poncho Liner Or Lightweight Sleeping Bag-

This piece of equipment is highly over looked because most people perceive that the jungle is hot all the time. And in many cases this is the case. But in the dry season in the Central American Theater the temperature can go from 92 F daytime temps to 59 F nighttime temps. When you are already wet from the daytime activities a temperature swing like that can bring on uncomfortable nights. Not dangerous by any means but you can see your breath believe it or not. So no less than a poncho liner and just as good or better is a 40-degree super featherweight sleeping bag. The dry season is usually from November to March.

A 1-2 lb. bag or poncho liner is a lightweight insurance policy. There were a number of us who spent a good bit of time in Central American in the 80s. Especially around the southern Honduras border. We had told some of the other cadre that it got chilly in the jungle at night. When we deployed recently all those guys that listened to us had prepared. For some reason all of us vets from the jungle didnít, just kind of blew it off. When we got to the survival school the guides/instructors asked us if we had brought sleeping bags. Because they were taking full blown serious cold weather bags with them. Going off the rule that the guide always knows best we scrounged up some sleep gear (parachutes and rag bags). Lucky thing too, because there is a limited amount of dry firewood in the jungle. Just something to think about.

Jungle Uniform

The title of this section maybe misleading because current issued uniforms of any kind are sub-par compared to the high speed light weight civilian clothing on the market right now. ďAdventure wearĒ would be a better description for it. All of the major gear companies have a line of Cool-Max, Super Supplex nylon, brushed Taslan, cotton/polyester/nylon blends, Cordura Plus nylon, and the list goes on. These new wonder materials are tough, soil resistant and the best feature, they dry rapidly! They can be found in every subdued color in the terrain. They can be gotten cheaper through the various on-line gear stores bargain pages.

Some names to watch for are THE NORTH FACE, COLUMBIA, ROYAL ROBBINS, REI, CAMPMOR, EX OFFICIO, GRAMICCI, SPORTIF, again the list goes on. The civilian wear can be found with as many or more cargo pockets as its military counter part. The second best feature next to their quick dry time is the zip-out convertible pants legs that zip off and turn the pants into shorts. The average cost is $35 apiece for the top and bottom. A good thick nylon belt from one of the tactical retailers will hold your pants up tight. Be alert when shopping for the pants and make sure that the pants have a zipper fly and some elastic in the waistband. Because these clothes are civilian designed they donít stick out in a populated area as bad as fatigues.

Since most soldiers do not have a choice as what they wear, it is advisable to pack a second pair of fats in a waterproof bag. When you rack out change into the dry pair of fatigues and in the morning change back into the damp pair. Jungle headgear is simple, the vented classic boonie hat.

Foot Gear

Footgear is just as easy, the U.S. jungle boot is tough and vented to help empty the boot of standing water. Plus as much as we hate them a pair of those TEVA combat sandals for hanging out around the evenings fire while you TRY to dry your boots out for the next day. Our cadre usually wear MERRELL lightweight Jungle Mocs in place of the sandals. The sandals are cheaper no doubt. Only one type of the Jungle Mocs is light enough to use in wet climates. U.S. RSOG cadre wear only one kind of sock. It is the WIGWAM All Terrain CoolMax socks ($8). They are tough cushioned socks that are lightweight and more breathable than most. THORLO and FOX RIVER make good socks as well for hot weather ($12-16).


If your are going to a Central or South American country to train be sure to get all of the recommended immunizations and start taking your malaria medication before you head down. You will need a passport, it can take up to 4 weeks to get it back so get after it as soon as possible. Donít get on the plane without a writing utensil you will need it to fill out customs forms as soon as you hit. WITZ makes a small clear plastic, credit card size waterproof container (get them at Fox Ridge Outfitters). They will hold credit cards and big bills. These are one of the best, note that as outstanding, pieces of equipment that we have ever latched onto. Itís used as a hideout stash. Our cadre carry them around their waist tucked into the pants.

When traveling in third world countries carry at least two different stashes of bills in Velcroed shirt pockets and a small wad in a pants pocket that you pull from as needed. Another stash around the neck in an I.D. pouch is a good idea. DONíT carry big bills in any of these stashes. The WITZ around the waist or in a boot is the main stash. But if you are robbed or pick pocketed they will go for the stash around your neck or in the front pants pocket. Make copies of your passport and take one with you. Leave the other with a friend back in CONUS. You may have to have the copy faxed to you if you are separated from the original (the new ones donít copy well).

Most of Central American Countries are tourist havens so you are usually safer in them than in Mexico. Columbia is a completely different story. When we are on assignment there we are wired for chaos and mayhem. Always tip you guides when the training is over ($20 US is a good start). Guides are natives who are underpaid grossly by American standards.

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