Mini Survival Kit

by April 25, 2009 04/25/09

minisurvivalkit01A 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

minisurvivalkit02The 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
  • Signaling
  • Navigation
  • Water & Food
  • Shelter & Protection
  • Knives & Tools
  • Medical
  • Multi-Purpose
  • Miscellaneous

Fire & Light

minisurvivalkit04For 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.

Signaling

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.

Navigation

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

minisurvivalkit05For 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

minisurvivalkit06A 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.

Medical

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.

Multi-Purpose

minisurvivalkit03The 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.

Miscellaneous

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.

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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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EdwardvanNatta
EdwardvanNatta

I am looking detail about your product! How can find one this!

Seth
Seth

Hey Brian, what tin do you use for the survival kit? I was thinking about using an Altoids tin but I don't think they're durable enough for something like this.

Richard
Richard

Could you post a file to print out the small fishing knots card?

Karin
Karin

I love this site. Every time I google something about survival, I get a solid hit from this site. I'm just gonna read it all. Thanks so much.

Minstrale
Minstrale

Tin foil absolutely will not hold water for boiling — not even the heavy-duty stuff. This is a myth that's been passed around since I was a kid, yet anyone can dispell it in two minutes.

ke4sky
ke4sky

A small LED light tucked inside a coat pocket or under the hat is not readily visible to the naked by the bad guys beyond very short range, but IS highly visible at night to "friendlies" equipped with night vision, so could be used as an improvised IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) signal.

Brian
Brian

Good info. I also carry a sewing needle or two w/dental floss spun around it.(Goes on needle easy & bomb proof for gear repairs). Any jacket I take to Marlbrough country also has a Fox 40 whistle, compass (better than button type),& a pinch light all looped into the zipper pulls avoiding loss/forget. + 1 in sq glint tape,free matches from restauraunts, MRE TP (save your sox). If you don't have an IR strobe/lens, shine any light inside your pocket or hat and it will work the same.

MrMax
MrMax

Throw in a couple extra thick un-lubricated polyurethane condoms too. I'm serious. I invented a couple of these uses:

1. Carrying water (will only last a day or two maximum. And contrary to belief, there is a way of tying/sealing the top for reuse. Think primitive cordage - reverse twist)

2. Much better suited for collecting rainwater or condensation.

3. Water proof any number of items

-Cell phone, microphone, money, fire equipment, the whole mini survival kit, etc.

4. Medical procedures

-Glove for touching contaminated substances

-CPR barrier

-Sling

-Tourniquet

-Water proofing (cut tip off, pull over bandaged leg or arm, take shower.)

5. Pull over rifle barrel to keep dry and grime free.

6. On a sunny day, filled with water, it becomes a magnifying lens. You can make fire.

7. Belt

8. Bungee cord

9. Bobber for fishing

10. Sun glasses. Not quite, but will protect you from snow blindness. I've done it on Mt Shasta. Someone stole my sunglasses at the summit!

11. Good for carrying meat or other food that you want to keep separate.

12. Slingshot bands. Not very strong, but it can stun a squirrel/rat/bird, which indirectly can provide bait, bone fish hooks, jerky, sinew for extra string for paiute deadfall traps and more.

13. Diversions. Get creative. A loud bang does the trick sometimes. Think exhaust pipes...

14. Smuggling in dire situations... ... Dire.

There's probably a lot more. These are the ones I keep in mind.

MrMax
MrMax

Throw in a couple extra thick un-lubricated polyurethane condoms too. I'm serious. I invented a couple of these uses: 1. Carrying water (will only last a day or two maximum. And contrary to belief, there is a way of tying/sealing the top for reuse. Think primitive cordage - reverse twist) 2. Much better suited for collecting rainwater or condensation. 3. Water proof any number of items -Cell phone, microphone, money, fire equipment, the whole mini survival kit, etc. 4. Medical procedures -Glove for touching contaminated substances -CPR barrier -Sling -Tourniquet -Water proofing (cut tip off, pull over bandaged leg or arm, take shower.) 5. Pull over rifle barrel to keep dry and grime free. 6. On a sunny day, filled with water, it becomes a magnifying lens. You can make fire. 7. Belt 8. Bungee cord 9. Bobber for fishing 10. Sun glasses. Not quite, but will protect you from snow blindness. I've done it on Mt Shasta. Someone stole my sunglasses at the summit! 11. Good for carrying meat or other food that you want to keep separate. 12. Slingshot bands. Not very strong, but it can stun a squirrel/rat/bird, which indirectly can provide bait, bone fish hooks, jerky, sinew for extra string for paiute deadfall traps and more. 13. Diversions. Get creative. A loud bang does the trick sometimes. Think exhaust pipes... 14. Smuggling in dire situations... ... Dire. There's probably a lot more. These are the ones I keep in mind.

Mac
Mac

Good kit guys.

I use the beverage bag from an MRE for my water, that way I can seal it up and keep moving. Never thought about the aluminum foil for a boiling vessel though.

Some good ideas here I will be blatantly stealing to improve mine and my patrols kits.

A good place I found for 550 cord was around that bit on a J-hat (boonie hat) that has the 1" material strip tacked down every 1 1/2". I have about 12ft on mine wrapped around the that strip tightly. A bit of VS-10 and an IR patch on the inside of the crown is handy for signaling to.

Cheers

Mac
Mac

Good kit guys. I use the beverage bag from an MRE for my water, that way I can seal it up and keep moving. Never thought about the aluminum foil for a boiling vessel though. Some good ideas here I will be blatantly stealing to improve mine and my patrols kits. A good place I found for 550 cord was around that bit on a J-hat (boonie hat) that has the 1" material strip tacked down every 1 1/2". I have about 12ft on mine wrapped around the that strip tightly. A bit of VS-10 and an IR patch on the inside of the crown is handy for signaling to. Cheers

Lonewulf
Lonewulf

Thats why when I was a kid we used tinfoil to make a boat that could carry the weight of rolls of pennies. If you fold it into a cup it will hold water just fine to boil it. You have to fold it a couple of times to give it more strength, but it can definitely work. Give it a try. Its not hard to figure out.

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Brian,

Good tip on the dental floss! Agree that the button compass sucks, but when you're packing small there's not much choice. Glad to see you carry an additional compass.

LOL! Never had to use my socks and hope I never do!

What do you mean by shining a light inside your pocket or hat?

Thanks for the comment,

Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Brian, Good tip on the dental floss! Agree that the button compass sucks, but when you're packing small there's not much choice. Glad to see you carry an additional compass. LOL! Never had to use my socks and hope I never do! What do you mean by shining a light inside your pocket or hat? Thanks for the comment, Bryan

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