> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Question RE: Pocket Survival Kits



Question RE: Pocket Survival Kits

Andy, a regular reader of the blog posted up this question on my recent post on an altoid pocket survival tin. My reply began to get a little long winded, so I thought I would post it up separately.

The question:

"I like the idea of the mini survival kit--I love kits like this. Question though: what is its intended use? Do you keep one in the car? If so couldn't it be a bigger bag? Do you carry it as EDC in your pocket? If thats the case, again what's the intended use. Is this for a "get home" situation or a "somehow I ended up in the wilderness" scenario? Just wondering because I had plans to make a survival kit inside a nalgene bottle, but couldn't come up with a practical purpose for it. What are your thoughts?"

Andy -

When putting together a survival kit of any kind, size and weight considerations play a top role. In a perfect world, we would all have a magical Bag of Holding and carry around 10,000 lbs. of gear. But Gandalf hasn't been selling those lately, so we're left with compromise.

Sometimes you can carry a big pack, or stash one in your car, at work, etc., sometimes you can't.

Another element that you need to consider is your individual level of risk. A soldier in Iraq, a police officer in LA, a mountain goat hunter in Alaska, a construction worker, a corporate zombie and a stay at home mom will all have different levels of risk that they need to account for. The higher the risk, the more I would want to have robust gear with me at all times, and I will be more willing to compromise or sacrifice in other areas. For example, if I'm that hunter in the Alaskan wilderness, you can bet I'll have some fairly serious survival gear with me at all times - a full backpack, probably. If I am the soccer mom in the suburbs, my need for a pack full of survival gear is lessened.

So, size/weight and risk. You've got to balance those elements, while at the same time remaining prepared. That's part of where these smaller kits come into play; they are a compromise of size and weight after an honest consideration of risk.

In a higher risk scenario, and even often in an EDC scenario, these kinds of PSKs should not be your first and only choice for gear. They serve as compact, self-contained backup kits, providing redundancy to other gear that you carry. I like Ragnar's Rule of Threes - have three ways of doing anything important - and a kit like this helps to ensure you have that capability.

The specific survival tin I detailed in my post rides in my EDC bag at the moment, ensuring that I have some basic survival gear with me all of the time. My risk in these kinds of areas (needing a ferro rod, water purification tabs) in an every day situation is pretty low, so I don't feel the need to dedicate more space to those kinds of items in my normal EDC bag. I would not have these items with me otherwise, so that's a good thing. The knife, flashlight and some of the other gear are also backups to bigger/better gear that I carry elsewhere.

If I'm going on a hike, camping or in a situation where I may/would be separated from my pack, I certainly put a small kit like this in my pocket. My risk in these situations goes up - get lost in the wilderness and now you're in a survival situation, break an ankle and you're in similar shape.

 These kits also make great survival caches. They are small enough to keep in small, out-of-the-way spaces. It's doubtful you could keep a full bug out bag in your desk at work, but an altoids kit or a nalgene-type kit could be. Similarly, limitations of available space in a school locker, inside a vehicle, etc. also push prepared individuals towards smaller kits. These can also be hidden elsewhere easily. If weatherproofing is needed, the smaller Pelican cases work well.

That's all I've got time for at the moment, but a few thoughts. If you need to carry and can carry a full sized kit, go for it. If you need to compromise, like most of us, you will need to balance your available size/weight with the risk (or possibility) of needing such items. Have fun!