Building a Survival Kit

Survival kits come in many shapes and sizes. In a perfect world, we would all have specialized kits stowed strategically for our home, vehicles, and packs. Although it is not financially possible for everyone to maintain multiple kits, I have included an example of a basic kit that will provide a good starting point. Keep in mind; survival kits are as unique and diverse as we are. When you start to build yours, be sure to personalize and tailor it to your unique needs and lifestyle. The following contents listed do not represent an exhaustive list of items you will need, and are provided for illustrative purposes only.

Basic Survival Kit

Fire-Proof Container. A large backpacking pot with a folding handle and tight-fitting lid is optimum, but a coffee can will suffice. The idea is to have the ability to use the container your survival gear is packed in to melt snow, gather and boil water, or cook your dinner.

Fire-Starter. Waterproof matches, disposable butane lighter, your choice of tinder, fire starting gel packs, and magnesium are good choices. You should always include as many different ignition sources as possible to help you start a fire.

Saw. There are many types of survival kit saws on the market. Most are very small and portable, composed of 2 rings connected by a flexible cutting wire. A small saw can be extremely useful to help cut dry limbs into manageable sized pieces of firewood or build a shelter.

First Aid. A basic first-aid kit should include small packages of ibuprofen, Imodium, Benadryl, and Sudafed. The small packages are easy to stow and available at most gas stations. Also include Neosporin, iodine, burn cream, assorted band aids and bandages, a Sawyer Extractor, latex gloves, an irrigating syringe, super glue, razor blade, mole skin, and a large ace bandage.

Flash Light. A small, waterproof flashlight can be a godsend if you are lost and it is dark. Even if you make the decision to stay put for the night, a flashlight will help you locate wood for a fire and illuminate the area so you can see to build your fire. A flashlight also works great as a signaling device at night. Small headlamps are a great option.

Signaling Device(s). The smaller, portable signaling devices you can justify in your kit the better. As most survival books will tell you, your best odds at surviving are by being rescued. Include a quality sightable signal mirror, a small strobe if possible, and brightly colored surveyor’s tape.

Parachute Cord. Parachute cord is light weight and can be used for securing gear, building a shelter, repairing tents and clothing, and countless other applications.

Energy Bar(s). Depending on the room available in your kit, stow as many as possible. The old-school Clif Bars and PowerBars without chocolate coating work best because they are tougher to smash and endure well in extreme weather conditions.

Space Blanket. The small space blankets are extremely thin, but can be used to reflect heat in a shelter.

Water Purification Tablets. There are a ton of water filters and purification tablets on the market. Do your homework and find one you are comfortable with. Dehydration is one of your biggest adversaries in the wilderness, and contracting Giardia will not help the situation.

Garbage Bag. Garbage bags work great to collect water, water-proof a shelter, and as an improvise rain coat. In fact, they are much thicker and better quality than most disposable plastic rain coats.

Knife. A sharp knife is essential to every survival kit. Make sure to use a good quality knife and keep it sharp. There is some debate regarding folding knives vs. sheath knives, but as long as you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both, either will suffice.

Tin Foil. A large piece of tin foil can be folded to fit into the most compact survival kit. Foil can be used to cook food or as an improvised signaling device.

Toilet Paper. Include a compact roll of toilet paper in a Ziploc freezer bag. Aside from the obvious, TP makes great tinder. For smaller kits, a small package of Kleenex will work well.

Hand Sanitizer. Small containers of hand sanitizer are available almost anywhere for under a buck. Keeping your hands clean (especially after using the previous item) is critical to help prevent Giardia and other illness. Keep your hand sanitizer in the center of the toilet paper roll, where it is easy to find and helps keep the roll from getting smashed. Many people don’t know that hand sanitizer is a great fuel for starting a fire. It primarily consists of gelled alcohol and lanolin, and a dime-sized drop will produce a blue flame for over 3 minutes.

Duct Tape. God bless duct tape. It can be used to repair clothing and equipment, for improvised first aid, and many other applications. Carry a small roll in your survival kit and wrap additional tape around the lid of your survival kit container lid to help keep moisture out and the contents secure.

3″ X 5″ Laminated Card. Write the names and numbers of your next of kin, local search & rescue, Life Flight, the nearest hospital, fish & game, state police and the forest service. Be sure to include any personal medical information including blood type and allergies to medicine. Tape it to the inside of your survival kit lid.

Other Considerations

Your survival kit should be an accompaniment to the standard items in your pack. On every trip, regardless of the duration, it is a good idea to make a habit of packing the following items in a day pack or fanny pack in addition to your survival kit.

Leatherman Multi-Tool. Pack one on your belt or in your pack at all times.

3 Quarts of Water per Person per Day. More if you can carry it. It’s easy to stow bottled water or a couple of big Nalgene’s in any pack. Even if you don’t get lost, it is important to stay hydrated.

Food. Sandwiches, jerky, energy bars and nuts are all great choices. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches are great. They stay edible for a long period of time, still taste great when they get smashed, and provide substantial energy producing nutrients.

Lightweight Rain Coat. Today’s technology has enabled manufacturers to create incredibly durable and light-weight synthetic (not plastic) raincoats that hardly take up any room. As we all know, the weather can and will change at any time.

Compass and/or GPS. Always a good idea – getting lost happens to the best of us.

Map. Include a specific topographical map of the area in which you will be traveling.

Duct Tape. You can never have enough.

Lighter. It’s always a good idea to have the ability to build a fire for warming up or roasting hot dogs. Keeping an extra lighter in your pack will eliminate the need to break the seal on your survival kit for a non-emergency situation.

Cell Phone. Too many people leave the cell phone in the truck. Or they leave it on and deplete the battery. Pack yours inside of wool glove liners, inside of a Ziploc freezer bag. This keeps it dry and from getting scratched or damaged. Be sure to keep it turned off to save battery life.

Wool Glove Liners and Stocking Cap. Both items are available for under $10 at any military surplus store. Keep them in your pack at all times – I guarantee you will pull them out more often than you think.

Bug Spray. Nasty mosquitoes can be a nuisance, and can also carry West Nile disease. In this case, an ounce of prevention is literally worth a pound of cure.

Extra Pair of Socks. Because once your feet are done, so are you. Stow them in the Ziploc bag with your stocking cap and wool glove liners and they will stay clean and dry and provide extra padding for your cell phone.

Fixed Blade Knife. Fixed blade knives take up additional room, but are more durable and versatile than their folding counterparts. Keeping a knife in your pack, one in your survival kit, and a Leatherman multi-tool on your belt will ensure you always have a sharp blade when it really counts.

Full-Sized Roll of TP: Nature calls at the least opportune times. Be prepared, place a roll of toilet paper in a Ziploc freezer bag, and stow it in your pack. Being married with kids, I strategically place rolls of toilet paper in the glove box, on our ATV’s, and in our packs.

Regardless of the contents in your kit, they are useless unless you are comfortable using them. Buy good quality products and practice using them with your family before you have an emergency. Keep medications and perishable products fresh, and inventory the contents at least twice a year.

Source by MW Lewis

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