A good survival kit is one of those things you just don’t leave the house without. It’s a small insurance policy for what we may run into in life, and the kit we’ll be reviewing today is definately “small”.
You can stick this kit in the pocket of your shorts, a jacket or pretty much anywhere you can fit a wallet… Well, most wallets. If you carry a Costanza you’d be able to fit a kit much easier. Mini survival kits should at the very least hold the essentials for survival, but on a miniature scale.
Note: There is an update to this post available that’s worth checking out. – Mini Survival Kit Update
The basis for this kit came from not only what we learned in the military, but from the book Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John D. McCann. We highly recommend this book to get your head wrapped around the concept of a survival kit. McCann is the quintessential anal retentive survival kit architect, but in a good way. Building a survival kit is really something that must be well thought out in advance.
McCann breaks down the necessary pieces of a survival kit by the categories listed below. This is a great way to break up the contents and will make it easier to describe the mini survival kit we’ve made.
- Fire & Light
- Water & Food
- Shelter & Protection
- Knives & Tools
Fire & Light
For Fire and Light we’ve included a small flint and magnesium firestarter with a striker to spark the flint. The purpose for this is to throw sparks into a pile of tinder and start a fire. If necessary, the magnesium can also be scraped into the tinder pile to aid in igniting. In addition, we’ve sealed six NATO “Lifeboat” matches in plastic along with a striker from a matchbook.
Five Tinder-Quick Fire Tabs are also included to provide a way to get a fire going in wet conditions. The Tinder-Quick tabs can be lit when wet. For sunny days, a Fresnel magnifier is included to use the sunlight to start a fire. This works just like a magnifying glass back in the day (which was a Wednesday) when you used to burn ants.
Also, a small birthday candle is included to keep a flame going if you need to transfer it. To wrap up Fire and Light, a small Micro-Light is included. These can get fairly expensive and it’s best to look for one that contains a dedicated on/off switch because you’ll want the use of both hands to work in the dark.
For signaling we’ve just used a piece from a larger thin signal mirror that was cut with tin snips. You can also polish the inside lid of the survival kit tin to a mirror shine and use that if you run out of room in your kit.
A standard button compass is used for the navigation component, be sure to try to locate one that is liquid filled for longer life and better accuracy.
Water & Food
For a water bag we’ve used McCann’s idea of a Reynolds Oven Bag that has been cut down to half size. The bag is then filled with a quart of water and marked with a sharpie, so if it is used to purify water you’ll know how many water purification tablets to use. Pretty smart idea eh?
The water purification tablets are Potable Aqua tablets that have been repackaged in a small glass vial to save space. Folded aluminum foil is included to fold into a cup, etc… Be careful you don’t bend it too much or it will start to split.
For fishing, a small poly bag with hooks, swivels and weights is added along with another brilliant McCann idea of wrapping fishing line around a sewing bobbin to save space. A package of Bouillon also fits nicely in the kit if trying to catch a rabbit for dinner is pissing you off, because hey, it’s better than nothing… Military trip wire rounds out this category, which can be used to rig snares for food.
Shelter & Protection
For shelter and protection there’s not much out there that could provide you shelter and would fit in a mini survival kit. This category shouldn’t be overlooked because in extreme conditions you won’t last more than three hours without shelter. You can depend on your shelter making abilities, or carry a survival blanket in a pocket as a supplement.
Knives & Tools
A survival wire saw is stashed in the kit for cutting branches for firewood or building a shelter. You could also use it as a garrote if you had to. A pair of X-Acto knife blades saves on space compared to the traditional razor blade and could always be wedged into a split stick to aid in cutting. Two sewing needles are included if an emergency suture situation occurs, or if you need to get crafty.
We shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s also a great idea to always carry a knife, whether it be a fixed-blade or a folder. If there was only one thing to have in a survival situation, it’s hard to argue that a good SHARP knife wouldn’t be it.
A single-use packet of Neosporin will help with cuts so they don’t become infected. You can pick up single use packets of Neosporin for free next time you’re at the doctor. They usually get free samples to give away. Throw in a package of Steri-Strips rather than band-aids to save on space… they’ll adhere better than traditional butterfly closures too.
The multi-purpose category is for items that can benefit you but could fit into multiple categories, like Super Glue. You can find mini tubes of Krazy Glue to put in your kit which could be used for sealing up a cut amongst other things. 550 cord falls into this category too, and you should never be without it. This kit has a small length of the guts of 550 cord and we recommend you carry some additional 550 somewhere as well. We’ll be doing an article on the versatility of 550 cord in the future.
The misc. category includes another brilliant McCann idea of laminating the instructions for the Potable Aqua tablets and a diagram of a few fishing knots, which waterproofs them in case your kit gets wet. Laminate them back to back to save space.
While this mini survival kit review is comprehensive, it may not work for you. Tailor your own kit for what YOU need to survive and you’ll be steps ahead of the sheeple…
Be sure to check out the update to this post, “Mini Survival Kit Update”
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