As promised a while back, here's a look at one of my personal pocket survival kits. It's not perfect by any means, but I'm pretty happy with it at this point.
When it comes to building a pocket kit for surviving in the wilderness, I try to make sure that I hit the big survival priorities. Pictured above is one of my personal pocket survival kits. I'll walk you through the capabilities that I wanted my kit to have, and I why I've chosen specific gear to meet those needs.
One thing that I like to keep in mind when building any kind of kit is what I call "Ragnar's Rule of 3s," which says to have three ways of accomplishing anything that's vitally important to your survival. You'll see that reflected in my gear choices below.
Full run down after the jump!
The knife and duct tape are ranger banded to the outside of the tin, everything else fits inside. The kit can be carried in a pocket and the lanyard clipped to a belt loop to provide some measure of security. The ranger bands can also be used to carry the kit on a belt.
Here's the interior of the tin. I actually managed to jam a few extra pieces of Tinder Quik in for this shot--it's kind of like a game of Tetris, sometimes you do better then others. You can see the needle taped to the roof of the tin.
And here's the full dump of the kit. Click on the image for jumbo sized. Contents list at the end of this post.
Now onto the capabilities and gear selection.
Fire is of course at the top of the list when it comes to must-have capabilities--warmth, boiling water, cooking food, protection, signalling, the list goes on. This kit has three methods of starting fire--a Mini Bic lighter, ferro rod and a 4x Fresnel lens. The Bic should work in all but the crappiest of conditions, so I've got the ferro rod in there for redundancy and backup.The Fresnel lens is in the kit because it takes up next to zero space and is multipurpose - potential for fire starting, but also magnifying for looking at slivers, etc. Make sure that you get a 4x or higher Fresnel lens--the 2x lenses are lousy for getting things burning.
I've added two small rubber o-rings to the Bic to make sure that the fuel is not accidentally released in the kit. A small zip tie will work as well.
For tinder, I have several pieces of Tinder Quik, which lights easily, burns for several minutes, is mostly waterproof and can be crammed into nooks and crannies. The kit also has three ranger bands, which light easily and burn for several minutes. The altoid tin can be used to make char cloth--and has, which is why the tin is all black/burnt looking. And, of course, there's naturally found tinders.
One thing to note - if you're planning on using a ferro rod, make sure that you have the propper tools to strike one! Don't just assume that your knife can do a good job of it - the Ritter RSK Mk5, in particular, is worthless for throwing sparks, at least in stock form.
The ability to carry and make clean water are also at the top of my list. I've included a very capable WhirlPak bag, also known as an emergency water bag. While the WhirlPak takes up a bit more room than a condom, it's also a much more capable and functional container. It's quite robust, easy to open/close, stands up on its own, and is perfect for SODIS.
For this particular kit, I've included 6 Aquamira chlorine dioxide tablets. In other kits, like this one, I've used a small vial with repacked iodine tablets--you can pack 20-30 tablets pretty easily this way. Iodine is not particularly effective against cryptosporidium though, so it's a trade off. This particular kit did not have the room for a vial, and the Aquamira tablets are effective against crypto, given enough time, so I went with those.
The tablets and SODIS provide two methods of purifying water, and a third would be boiling water, either with another container that I have with me, one that's found, or potentially processing small amounts at a time in the altoid tin--it holds about 4 ounces of water.
Shelter is impossible to pack into an altoid tin, though disposal ponchos, contrator grade trash bags and space blankets are all good options if you step the kit up a bit in size. Instead, I have roughly 12 feet of 250-lb cordage and about 7 feet of paracord in the lanyard to aid in shelter making. I'd be constructing a primitive shelter of some kind, but the cordage gives options.
Being able to find my way back to safety--self rescue--was an important capability. The kit contains a button compass, checked for accuracy. The needle has also been magnetized and can act as an improvised compass if necessary. Along with other methods for direction finding, navigation should be squared away. The light can of course assist with navigating in the dark if that becomes necessary.
Signalling is another important capability I wanted this kit to have. I may not be able to self rescue, which means surviving in place and hoping that help comes. This kit includes a small whistle, 3 feet of rescue orange duct tape and a Streamlight Nano light. Of course, fire will probably be your best bet for long distance signalling. The knife sheath also features a small SOLAS reflective dot. I'm looking to add a slim signal mirror to the kit.
These provide me with the ability to repair things or bushcraft up new tools. The kit includes 4 feet of duct tape (3 feet orange, 1 foot black gorilla tape, wrapped around an ESEE survival card), the previously mentioned cordage, 3 ranger bands, a heavy-duty sewing needle wrapped with kevlar thread, safety pins, a piece of hacksaw blade, a small carabiner, Swiss army knife tweezers and a BFE Labs UltraLight Kit knife.
These tools can be used for food gathering (there's potential for fishing, trapping and hunting), gear repair or even first aid--sticks plus cordage/tape can be used to splint a broken leg, a safety pin can be used to immobilize a broken arm, duct tape makes a decent bandaid, etc. They are simple tools, but provide a lot of versatility.
The Kit Knife is carried on the exterior of the kit, inside an OscarDelta kydex sheath. While the sheath is on the big size for the tiny Kit Knife, it fits perfectly ranger banded on the outside of the kit. This method of carry allows for easy access to the knife, and also provides a mounting hole for the paracord lanyard. I should, at a minimum, also have a larger knife with me, but I include the Kit Knife for redundancy. A cutting tool is an essential to me--whatever belt knife I'm carrying and the Kit Knife provide two options, with found/made cutting tools being the last resort.
As mentioned, I'm looking to add a small, flat signal mirror - most of the ones I've seen are much too thick. I'm also going to make up a small laminated card with emergency information on it - name, blood type, contact info, etc.
I've included links or notes next to items.
- Mini Bic Lighter - lighter colors allow you to see fuel level
- Ferro rod
- Tinder Quik tabs
- Button compass - not sure where to get this model, but I'd buy new from Firesteel.com. They check all of their compasses prior to shipping. Big lots are cheap on Amazon though.
- Whistle - this came from a zipper pull, I think sold at REI. Small and loud.
- 4x Fresnel lens - check eBay
- Altoid tin
- 3 Ranger bands - just pieces of bicycle inner tube
- 12 feet of 250lb-test line - I got a big spool at a military surplus place, haven't been able to find it online. Would probably go with bankline.
- 7 feet of 550 cord in the kit lanyard
- Steamlight Nano light
- BFE Labs Ultralight Kit Knife in an OscarDelta Sheath
- An ESEE survival card wrapped with 3 feet of orange duct tape and 1 foot of black gorilla tape
- Magnetized heavy duty sewing needle wrapped with kevlar thread
- Small piece of electrical tape
- 3 Safety pins
- Piece of hacksaw blade
- Small carabiner - came free with a sea-to-summit spoon
- Swiss Army Knife tweezers