> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Altoid Survival Kit



Altoid Survival Kit

I love pocket-sized survival kits. For EDC situations, I prefer an easy-to-carry wallet kit, but for a wilderness survival situation, a more full-blown kit is in order. Enter the altoid survival kit.

Who knows what genius initially came up with the idea of using an Altoid tin to hold a survival kit, but survivalists everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude. I'm a mildly obsessive sort, always interested in improving things in whatever that I can...so these kind of kits are right up my alley. Sourcing miniature survival gear and putting together a decent kit is waaay more fun than it should be. 

As I've mentioned previously, I'm in a gift exchange this Christmas. There's a price limit of around $20, and I wanted to see what kind of Altoid survival kit I could pull together for that amount. 

I started by listing out various survival priorities. For each category, I needed to find an inexpensive, altoid kit-sized piece of gear. An interesting challenge indeed. 

Here's the list of the final contents:
Contents of the altoid kit
  • Fire Starting: 
    • Mini Bic lighter 
    • Ferro rod 
    • Four pieces of TinderQuik tinder. 
    • Total cost: about $3 
  • Water: 
    • 1 Qt. Emergency Water Bag (more on these later)
    • Vial with 20 water purification tablets
    • Total cost: about $4.00
  • Compass:
    • 20mm compass
    • Cost: $4.50
  • Cordage:
    • 9 foot hank of 150lb test-weight dacron line
    • Cost: Free--I have about 500 feet of this stuff lying around
  • Signaling:
    • A miniature whistle
    • Cost: Around $1
  • Cutting:
    • A SerePick Folding Razor Saw
    • Cost: I had this lying around doing nothing, so it was free in that sense. If I hadn't had this kicking around, I would have used a folding razor, which is $1.50, and a piece of hacksaw blade, which is basically free. 
  • Lighting
  • Misc
    • A couple of safety pins
    • Cost: Free
  • Total Cost of the Kit
    • $20.00 (approximate)
I'm looking to wedge some gorilla tape into the kit somehow, but overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. The Emergency Water Bag and miniature vial of purification tabs is the best water set-up that I've seen in a PSK-size, and the Nano Light is a great piece of kit. For the cost, this is a pretty darned good set up.

The kit obviously comes up a bit short on shelter/covering, but all pocket kits do. There's just no room for a poncho, spaceblanket or similar in an altoid tin. This kit does have some good cordage, though, which will help when fashioning a debris shelter. Food gathering is a bit short as well, though with the folding razor, saw blade, and cordage you would be able to improvise traps, gigs and so on. 

If I was going to spend a bit more on this kit, the first thing--and probably the only thing, really--that I would upgrade would be the knife. The folding razors are ok and inexpensive, but I'd rather a mini fixed blade like the RSK MK5 or a small lock back like the Spyderco Ladybug. There's not much space for anything additional, save maybe some small nails, fishhooks and maybe some tin foil folded very flat. And there's not much in the current kit that I would want to lose...either the lighter or the ferro rod could go (they're redundant), but that's about it.

Anyways, there's the kit. Fun, affordable little survival project to pull together, and I will be sad to see it go at the gift exchange! Hopefully I get something just as good in return...which is highly doubtful!


  1. Not too shabby. I got probably an entire drawer full of different Altoids Based kids I've made over the years. Lol. It's quite fun and satisfying.

  2. I wrapped duct tape around a credit card-size piece of plastic and trimmed it to fit in the lid.
    In another kit I used 2 heavy duty rubber bands to hold it on and keep the tin from opening.
    Also made some with different items to hand out to homeless people.
    I agree - however had the idea is owed a debt of gratitude.

  3. Another good one, for reference

  4. I will probably wrap some gorilla tape around the Bic...always good stuff to have around!

  5. You could put a "ranger band" around it. Also could tape a couple needles to the inside lid.

  6. A sheet of folded heavy duty tinfoil packed in the lid. That gives a signal "mirror" and a pot to cook in. Add a couple of saftey pins and you have fabric repair and fish hooks.

  7. This is a pretty sweet idea. I've heard of these mini survival kits but I've never really stopped to spec one out. I like your price point and selections. A couple safety pins and some tape are good ideas too.

  8. A small LENS or magnifing glass can play a back-up fire starter. Even some MATCHSTICK with one or two BIRTHDAY CANDLES. A CONDOM can be good water holder if you support it with FISHING-NET HANDBAG. A WIRESAW can be handy even in extreem situations. A bicycle VALVE-TUBE can be used for sucking water, for making catapults, etc.

  9. I took apart bic pen, cut it down to tin size, and wrapped the duct tape around that leaving room to also hold my spool of fishing line. I was also able to use the hollowed out pen to hold 4 waterproof matches on the inside and some water treatment tablets held in by some cotton ball stuffing. Seems to save space and as a bonus you can also use the hollow pen as a straw.

  10. AnonymousMay 27, 2012

    you could use a mini-bic lighter to save (add) more room..Shadowfaxhound

  11. I know I'm a bit late to the party, but be careful with those Streamlight Nano lights. Sure, they're bright as junk for such a small light, but it seems the contacts between the batteries and the light itself wear down and effect the output over time. I bought the pink one for my wife and it wigged out whenever it dangled from her key chain. It pulsed at random times, enough to kill the batteries. I acquired a blue one (go LEO's!) and it dims at random and I really think it's because of the batteries. Streamlight makes a light that's just a tad bit bigger, the Key-Mate, that might work better.