A sports bra: The ultimate cheap survival device!

When I was a Boy Scout, one of my favorite activities was wilderness survival. I built shelters out of found items, made pots out of raw clay, learned how to identify and eat dozens of wild plants, and mastered a bunch of ways to start fires without resorting to a lighter. In the process, I also assembled my "Emergency Survival Kit," a little bag that was filled with all the things I would ever need if I somehow got kidnapped and dropped off in the mountains. Granted, this was a long-shot, but the Boy Scouts were big on the whole preparedness thing.

I spent tons of money assembling a variety of pricey, arcane items that were necessary to keep myself alive and restart civilization, if doing so were left in my capable hands. Over the years, I regularly packed and repacked my kit, getting rid of snakebite kits and replacing pocket knives, trading out magnesium firestarters and waterproof matches, and trying to decide if a pocket bandsaw was more useful than a set of needles.

In retrospect, however, I realize that I missed the most important item: A bra.

I know what you're thinking and, while there's some good eating in the wilderness, foraging wasn't likely to make me fat. No, the bra wasn't for my potential man-maries, but rather for getting attention. You see, while water purification tablets and catgut twine are all well and good, neither of them is likely to draw rescuers to one's location. On the other hand, as Jessica Bruinsma recently demonstrated, a well-deployed sportsbra is the perfect thing to bring the rescuers a-running.

While hiking in the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, the 24-year old Bruinsma became lost in a storm and fell down a 15-foot drop, bruising her leg and dislocating a shoulder. For the next three days, she clung to a narrow ledge, drinking water from a supply box that she found. Luckily, she landed near the cable for an out-of-service timber transport. Correctly assuming that a well-deployed undergarment would capture the eye of her potential rescuers, she tied her sportsbra to the cable. When the transport was put back on line, workers noticed her bra and found her shortly thereafter.

While I'm loath to endorse cross dressing for Boy Scouts, it does occur to me that the most important thing to do in this sort of situation is capture the attention of potential rescuers. While piles of brush, huge "Help" signs, and fires are all well and good, I can say with absolute honesty that I ALWAYS notice women's undergarments when I see them abandoned in the great outdoors. In light of this recent development, maybe the Boy Scouts needs to reconsider its wilderness survival techniques. I wonder what an official Boy Scout rescue bra would look like.

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He guesses that a pair of BVDs would also work, but is afraid that they might attract the wrong kind of "rescuer."
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