Pocket Survival Kit Reviews: Sardine Can Survival Kit - ITS Tactical

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Pocket Survival Kit Reviews: Sardine Can Survival Kit

By Mike Petrucci

1 of 6 in the series Pocket Survival Kits

Today we’re starting our brand new Pocket Survival Kit Review series on ITS Tactical with a look at the Survival Kit in a Sardine Can from Whistle Creek.

I’m sure most of you have seen this type of kit before, they’re inexpensive, lightweight and easy to carry. While they advertise the kit to have a good amount of survival supplies packed in there, I’m sure you’ve wondered how useful the items are and if they work at all.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably never opened yours for fear of not having a watertight container of survival goodies when you need it. Today I’ll be sacrificing my kit in the name of curiosity.

Sardine Can Survival

This series was sparked when we were discussing this particular kit that my sister gave to me recently as a gift. I tossed it in my EDC bag when I got it, but had always wondered how well it would actually work.

While this is the first kit in a series of many that we’ll be looking at, today we’ll just be focusing on this Sardine Can kit. Besides having a ton of useful items, it’s super light and fairly small. Let’s find out just how useful this kit really is.



The first thing you’ll notice about this survival kit is it’s size. It fits in the palm of your hand and is so light that you would even notice it in a cargo pocket. The kit lists the contents on the front and has a picture of them on the back. It’s also worth noting that most of these items have secondary uses. If you aren’t injured and need more tape, use the band-aid!

Dropping it into a Tupperware with water, you’ll notice it floats. So to really test it, I submerged it in a creek (with the help of my knife) and waited a few minutes. Pulling it out and drying the outside off, it was now ready to open.

The contents were totally dry! My particular kit was banged up and dented from being in my bag so I was a little worried that the structure would be compromised but it held up fine.

When you open the kit up, you’ll notice there are some objects loose and some in a plastic ziploc style bag. I’m not sure why they are separated and not all in the bag for even more waterproofing. The booklet even says that you can put all of the contents of the kit into the included bag (which I tested and they do fit).

Testing Notes


  • I was able to use the can itself to both boil water and cook an egg. Held together very well.
  • The gum was Wrigley’s Big Red. It tasted good and felt fresh, not stale at all. Basically tasted just like you would imagine.
  • Tootsie Roll was a bit hard and chewy but still tasted good.
  • The whistle sucked. If you blew softly, it worked ok but the harder you blew, the crappier it performed. With some strategic duct tape placement, the whistle worked very well as a bobber for fishing.
  • The razor blade cut paper extremely well and even worked for cutting a soda can. I was even able to quickly rig up a basic spear but didn’t have any fish to test it on.
  • The fire starting cube lasted for about 5 minutes but true solid burn time was around 3 1/2 minutes. Testing in the field, I was able to start and keep a real fire going as well as boil water in the can itself.
  • I made some hot tea with sugar which turned out very well. A nice hot beverage instead of water probably goes a long way if in a true survival situation.
  • The compass worked well enough to give you a basic sense of direction.
  • I had a headache so I took the two acetaminophen and it went away (pretty convenient!).
  • I cut a ziploc bag and then “patched” it with the duct tape. I could have used a smaller piece though. And I’m sure know can think of another million uses for duct tape.
  • The fishing line (wasn’t true fishing line) and hook worked well but I didn’t catch anything. I tried a number of techniques but didn’t have any bait or a good lure. The location may not have been the best either. I still think it could work though. Needs some sort of weight but you can fashion that yourself if you’re creative.


  • Cost
    • 5/5 – Extremely inexpensive ($10-12)
  • Waterproofness
    • 3/5 – It’s waterproof when unopened but if opened, you need to place everything in the ziploc bag.
    • IPX7 rated (submerged to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
  • Size/Weight Portability
    • 5/5 – Very small and light, could even fit in a pair of jean pockets.
  • Shelter
    • 1/5 – The only things it provides to help with a shelter is a razor blade (hard to cut wood), fire starter (could possibly burn wood in half), and some string (for lashing).
  • Water Purification
    • 3/5 – The only way to purify water is to boil it in the can. It doesn’t hold much so it will take a lot of trips and boiling. Still possible though.
  • Food
    • 4/5 – This kit has some energy sources (candy) in it but that won’t be enough. The string, paper clip, safety pin, and fish hook could be used to fishing or setting snares.
  • Fire Starting
    • 3/5 – With only one fire starting cube and standard non waterproof matches, starting a fire could get interesting.
  • Signaling
    • 2/5 – While physically possible to signal with the kit or lid, there is no accuracy of your signal.



  • Acetaminophen
  • Adhesive Bandage
  • Alcohol Prep
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Book Matches
  • Tea Bag
  • Chewing Gum
  • Compass
  • Sugar
  • Whistle
  • Salt Packet
  • Energy Nugget (Tootsie Roll)
  • Duct Tape
  • Fire Starting Cube
  • Wire Clip (paper clip)
  • First Aid Instructions
  • Fish Hook & Line
  • Note Paper
  • Pencil
  • Razor Blade
  • Safety Pin
  • Signal Mirror
  • Waterproof Bag

Overall Remarks

It may seem a little gimmicky but I recommend everyone have at least one of these kits. For the size, cost, weight, and the number of useful items, it’s a decent buy. I’m sure it would be hard to survive in the wilderness with just the contents of this kit but it’s a great base level survival kit.

This is one of the cheapest kits out there and includes the least so I would label it as the last ditch worst case scenario kit. Capable but lacking in a few areas. This kit will probably only work the best if you’re creative.

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  • Blade Staker

    Another great series guys!
    Everyone see these things on the Net or in a sporting goods store and I’m sure we all wonder “how good can this be?”

  • waykno

    Better than nothing? Yes—barely. As I’m sure we’ll see later, there are better ones out there. And for not much more $.

  • Davy Jenkins

    This will be a good series. I picked up a couple of the blank Altoids tins from Countycomm and I will be looking here for ideas for what to put in it.

  • Great review!

  • Kevin Larkin

    A REALLY good review. I particularly like that the reviewer even went to the length of cooking an egg in the empty can. That’s really survival, “outside-the-can thinking”. Looking forward to future reviews. Keep it up.


  • Sheep.Dog

    This series looks like the authors will be having fun creating ideas to use the items as. I love putting stuff through T&E. Always fun.

  • Tango7

    Great review!

  • Good review and write-up, Mike, but I’m not at all impressed with these type of products. It’s clear that these tins contain a lot of stuff, but it doesn’t appear to be all that useful. One adhesive bandage, one razor blade, one Tootsie Roll, one fish hook and one safety pin? I’d be embarrassed to say that was my idea of a survival kit. These are “feel good” gimmicks and novelties, but nothing for the serious-minded individual.

    I think we’re better off putting our own kits together. I know I’d feel better simply because it would contain more items, the resources within would be more useful for survival, and it would be tailored to my particular needs – urban, woods, on the water, at night, etc.

    For those with an interest in my view on such kits, here is a recent article I wrote: http://www.self-reliance-exchange.com/?p=8004

    I don’t mean to throw a wet blanket on this review/discussion, but if our lives really depend on this stuff, then we need to get serious about being prepared. A tin can full of a bunch of little items just doesn’t cut it – not even close.

  • Davy Jenkins

    I do not think the purpose of this series will be to get everyone to run out and rely on a off the shelf mini kit. I would hope that in the end we will have a better understanding of what does and does not work and we can better build our own kit.

    • Absolutely correct Davy, that’s our goal for the series.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • I don’t see the value of candy and gum in one of these things. Maybe the gum could keep you from getting thirsty for a while, but I wouldn’t think it’s much good for energy. The space it takes up could have been used for something else more useful.

  • DualBerettas

    Someone should find away to sell various sized sardine cans empty so people can make their own kits.

    • USMC1

      DualBerettas………they do have empty cans for this. Just type in altoids can. You can start there. Hope this helps.

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