Pocket Survival Kit Reviews: Coghlan's Survival Kit-In-A-Can - ITS Tactical

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Pocket Survival Kit Reviews: Coghlan’s Survival Kit-In-A-Can

By Mike Petrucci

2 of 6 in the series Pocket Survival Kits

Continuing our series on pocket sized survival kits, today we are taking a look at another sardine can style kit. This one is the ‘Survival Kit-In-A-Can’ by Coghlan’s.

Just by reading over its list of contents you’ll quickly notice that it has an impressive amount of gear inside. The question, though, isn’t really about quantity, but quality.


The idea of these kits is to provide all the necessary survival materials in a lightweight and portable package. Here is the product description, straight from the packing:

Lightweight, compact and watertight, Coghlan’s Survival Kit-In-A-Can contains 38 items which can provide warmth, shelter and energy in threatening situations from the desert to the arctic.


This kit is light. That’s one of the first things you notice. The size, weight and form factor of these styles of kits makes it perfect for a backpack, purse, cargo pocket, tackle box, etc.

As it comes from the factory, it’s watertight and even floats. I do worry a little about puncture though. I’m thinking of maybe a car or plane crash doing some damage but if it’s on your person, you may be alright. Also, I only really stress that a puncture may ruin it because just like the Whistle Creek kit, not everything inside is protected from water.


  • Compass
  • Fire Starter
  • 9.8′ Multi-Use Cord
  • 3′ Wire
  • 4 Waterproof Matches (heads dipped in wax or paraffin)
  • 101′ Fish Line (it’s not real fishing line, just a strong multi-purpose line)
  • Soup Packet
  • Tea Bag (not enclosed and has no label)
  • Sugar Packet
  • Match Book (non water proof… why?)
  • 2 Antiseptic Swabs
  • Razor Blade
  • 3 Twist Ties
  • 12″ Duct Tape
  • Signal Mirror
  • Zip Lock Bag
  • 2 Bandages
  • 2 Nails
  • 2 Safety Pins
  • 2 Fish Hooks
  • Signal Whistle
  • Chewing Gum (flavor didn’t last long)
  • Sewing Needle (could be used for repairing gear or maybe even a crude suture)
  • Energy Candy (tasted like regular peppermint candy to me)
  • Note Paper
  • Pencil (plastic with graphite insert)
  • Survival/First Aid Pamphlet (useful because in a stressful situation, people tend to forget the basics)

Testing Notes

  • The fire starting cubes burned solid and hot for 3 and a half minutes. I didn’t do a full “camp fire test” because they were identical to the previous kit’s cubes. They also burned completely out at 5 minutes and 10 seconds.
  • The gum was Dubble Bubble and tasty but they really could have picked a gum that has longer lasting flavor. I used the gum as bait for fishing but didn’t catch anything.
  • Using a trashed water bottle, I made a makeshift fishing reel. It worked to keep the line from tangling but it’s worth noting that they do not include true fishing line.
  • I made some hot tea with the tea and sugar and my wife even enjoyed it!
  • The soup broth was amazing! Honestly, it is probably the one thing I would covet the most in a real survival situation. I would ration that little packet to no end and probably use it with everything from just water to any animals I was able to catch and cook.
  • The weight of this kit on my scale registered at only 2.9 ounces.
  • The amount of duct tape felt adequate. There is just so much you can do with it that I don’t think you can ever have enough.
  • These survival kits are so small and portable that it even fits in the tiny compartment under the rear seat of my motorcycle!
  • To make a more functional signal mirror, I used the razor blade and cut a small hole in the middle of the included reflective paper.
  • The compass worked well enough to provide a basic sense of direction.


  • Cost
    • 5/5 – Very inexpensive, especially for what is included ($10-15)
  • Waterproofness
    • 3/5 – While it’s completely waterproof when unopened, you’ll have to transfer the contents into the included zip lock bag to maintain the level of water proofing. Puncture of hard objects is also a concern with these aluminum kits.
    • IPX7 rated (submerged to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
  • Size/Weight Portability
    • 5/5 – About as small and light as you can make a survival kit. Fits very well in almost anything. Even the tiny under-seat compartment of a sport bike!
  • Shelter
    • 1/5 – This is where these small kits get into the most trouble. They just don’t have anything other than a razor blade and some string to help construct a structure.
  • Water Purification
    • 3/5 – You can boil water in the container itself but due to its small size you’ll be running for refills non stop.
  • Food
    • 4/5 – I gave the Whistle Creek kit a 4/5 in this category but after seeing this kit, that should be knocked down. This kit includes two fish hooks, wire for snare, as well as hard candy and gum. It won’t be easy to find food to eat but accounting for the size of this kit, I’m impressed.
  • Fire Starting
    • 4/5 – Two fire starting cubes, waterproof matches, and a regular book of matches should really help you get a fire started.
  • Signaling
    • 3/5 – This kit came with a flexible mirror-like signaling device but it is in no way a true signaling mirror. That doesn’t mean that you won’t attract attention though. It’s a welcome addition. Also, the whistle actually worked very well and seemed to be plenty loud, unlike the last kit’s whistle.

Overall Remarks

I know a lot of people scoff at these little kits and write them off as pure novelty but this is actually one that I would recommend. Although, it’s more of a last resort kit than anything else.

This kit is way more full-featured than the Whistle Creek version. So if you were going to choose between the two, I’d say go with this one. The amount of included gear should (in theory) allow you to survival longer. Once again, this isn’t really the ideal survival kit but it’s perfect for a stocking stuffer or inexpensive gift that actually works to some extent.

Stay tuned for more pocket survival kit reviews coming your way!

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  • Adam

    This is a great series of articles. I keep looking forward to the next addition. It’s worth stating that these kits are great as an augment or supplement to what you should take with you on a hike, camping or hunting trip, and by no means an ultimate solution to the challenge of survival. Keep up the great work!!

    • Thanks for the kind words! You hit the nail on the head too. This kit is far from a perfect survival kit but I feel it’s usable if you get creative! Stay tuned for some better kits!

  • quicksaber

    Bovril is a real beef flavoring made in the U.K. been around for over a 120 years. They make it in cubes and it comes in diffrent sizes jars and they make a chicken flavoring too. Just looked it up on google lol. Going to get some to place in my kits and for home use.

  • Excellent review.

    One thing I’ve always wondered, what would serve you better in an emergency:

    1. A sardine can filled with survival tidbits.
    2. A sardine can filled with actual sardines.

    If I had to choose between the two, I’d almost certainly go with the latter.

  • Daniel Garcia

    On all these kits, I wonder why not include two Zip Lock Bags? One the size it had to “restore” survival items and a larger one with a straw included in the kit, to be used for gathering or storing water? Not perfect but given the space you have to work with, I think it would be a smart & simple addition.

  • jon bodon

    I really enjoy this series. I always loved these kits as a kid.
    Great work!
    Thanks 🙂

  • David Smith

    Im sold. Gonna put it in my slingpack that I carry everywhere. Any recommendations on where to buy? Thanks guys!

    • For this kit specifically, Amazon is probably the most reputable place to buy it online. $12.59 http://amzn.to/asjh5F

      Keep in mind, there will be better kits being reviewed shortly but as far as I’m concerned, this is a great supplement to an existing survival kit. It’s hard to turn it down because of it’s size, weight, cost and sheer number of items included.

  • Nice review, that kit is much better than the first.

  • Tony

    Seems to me the water purification grade is too high. Using a tiny little container to boil water sounds to me like a method that would spend a whole lot of fuel and time in order to obtain any reasonable amount of potable water. Sounds to me like more of a 2/5, or possibly even a 1/5.

  • Savas

    Great idea! Thank you!!!

  • Darick

    Anyone else see what you could probably make from the components in this kit? All the basic components for a foxhole radio are there. When I saw the wire, nails, and razor I knew there had to be a pencil. Just an earbud, or the speaker from your soon to be dead cell phone, and you got tunes. lol. They should add instructions for how to make the radio and an earbud.

    • That’s a great point! Creativity is key with these kits. I would also be interested in seeing a radio made from this kit! If you find out how, send me a message and I’ll try it!

  • is it the size of maybe a altoids tin can because mabye you can take the cover and use it as a cover for the survival kit.

  • that was great

  • Keith Rosario

    Thanks for unboxing & testing review of the Coughlin Survival kin in Can. Ive carried it overseas in Harsh environments for medical.relief missions at all times and on and as an adjunct to day and 48 hour packs. I did however break a cardnal rule and not open and test them. These remained in Fanny packs being banged around continuously and abused within the bags and have heldup sealed with minimal dents and no punctures for over 15 years. They aee a must have addition to every pack and pocket. However it should never be the only reliance. Good knives, duct tape water purifiers fire starters and I love the Pocket Chain Saw for shelter, makeshift rafts splints and ofcourse firewood. Keep up the reviews and I am glad I have relied on the Coughlin kit all these years as a survival backup.

  • *cameron

    where did you buy this from?

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