On building Basic Survival Kits

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by melbo, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    As always, the most important survival tool is between your ears.
    But, if you have a few things along when your normal routine takes a detour, you will at the very least be more comfortable while waiting for help. I picked up a book on Building Survival kits today. Some very interesting information and a very basic approach to explaining to others.
    (Ever have a problem instructing one to do something you have done for years?)

    Everyone needs a basic, personal kit. This kit should be with you at all times. It can be very small and very basic but it will do you no good if it is in your vehicle when you slip down a hillside when going to take a look at something on the side of the road...

    All kits from mini kits that can be worn on your person to full on Truck Duffel bags have the same foundation. They just add more of the same or an expanded section in addition to the basics. (My truck bag has a Come-A-Long, my Camelbak rig doesn't)

    You should always have the means to do the following on your person:
    • Build a fire two different ways
      Signal for help two different ways
      Gather and purify water and gather food
      Navigate back to civilization
      Construct a shelter in different environments
      Carry out basic first aid

    Remember the saying that "One is none and Two is One" (or something like that) ;)

    To cover these basics in any kit you construct, From a small belt pocket or Altoid tin, to a Backpack kit, you will need to make component selections to cover these needs:
    • Fire and Light
      Water and Food Collection
      Shelter and Personal Protection
      Knives and Tools
      Multi-purpose Items

    Plan for your expected environment and alter as season require. I also like to choose my tools and gear separately rather than buying a "Ready Made" kit. This way it is suited to me and I know that the Items I purchase/make are the best tools I can afford and of a quality that I can depend on.

    I may be adding to this thread as I can. Some of the lists I can put up are from a book, the grammar and tense errors are all mine :D
  2. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    On Fire and Light

    is right up there with the knife as one of the most important tools to man.
    Fire gives us heat, light and can aid us in water purification and meal preparation.

    On a mini SHTF I experienced a couple years ago, I found myself stranded in the mountains with an overturned truck and a 15 mile walk back to a main road. A freak blizzard had popped up and I was in a short sleeve T-shirt. Of course that was the time that my Zippo ran out of fuel. (Had plenty of extra flints in the base, just no juice)

    Some sort of primitive fire starter is a must have item as a backup. There are many different commercially available Flint and Steel tools. They are very inexpensive and very easy to use, especially if you find one that has a magnesium bar with it. This one from Brigade Quartermasters has a block of magnesium, (which burns at 5400 ° and lights very easily), with a flint rod embedded into it. $6.99

    These are also available at most all Surplus stores in some form. You may never need it but very good to have and it's a big morale boost to have a warm fire when you find yourself on an unexpected overnight stay in the woods. A regular Bic lighter is good to have as the Primary source. I've heard that they last longer if they are kept in the original sealed wrapper.


    There are a bunch of small flashlights on the market. I like to try and coordinate my batteries as much as I can so I don't have to Stock a bunch of different spares. For a mini Survival Kit, I really like the small LED, Photon II. It fits on a keychain orkey-chainr pull. The old ones required you to keep pressure on the button to use it while the II has a switch as well. For a medium to large kit, You can look at any of the LED , Xenon, or incandesantincandescentts out there. I like Surefire but a 2 AA mini mag will work just fine.

    LED's are nLEDs bright as Xenon but have a battery life that is far superior. It's a personal Choice as to what you like and what you can afford. I carried mini mag lites for years and always put a small ring in the base and put a length of Para-Cord through it as to keep the Light around my neck. Nice to always have it. For a few bucks, you can find an elastic head strap with a few loops on it that allows you to use the Mini-Mag "Hands Free"

    2 sources for starting a fire and 2 sources of light. If assembling a Tiny/mini kit, the small Photon or similar light would suffice on it's own as i'ts not liits to fail.
  3. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Good stuff.... keep it coming.... [beer]
  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Shaking Torch no batteries needed
  5. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Ya, Quig, great flashlights. They have major flaw that has prevented me from getting one and using it. At our ALSE conference, a vendor wanted to show me how it worked, so he activated the batteries for me. I wouldn't be caught dead trying to get that thing worked up in front of a woman, you will get slapped! :eek:
  6. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

  7. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    :lol: [ROFL]
  8. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Signaling and Navigation

    You need to have some ways to let people know where you are as well as find your way around. Since we are talking basic kits here, we'll keep this basic.

    It is a great idea to keep a whistle in your kit. There are a few whistles that are very loud and optimized for our purposes... They will be heard in loud situations and work when wet.

    This is a list from the book. I have the Jetstream, (actually a few of them), but never paid ,much attention to them before. I'm coming around.

    • Fox 40

    A whistle is much easier than yelling. Get a plastic one so it doesn't stick to your tongue in freezing temps ;)

    The Fox 40 is in use by the Coast Guard. It is extremely loud and can't be overblown, It gets louder with more force. It is omnidirectional and has very good reviews 115 db. I'm going to pick one up. $5ish

    Signal Mirror

    Another good small signaling device is a signal mirror. These are slim and can be commercially made or homemade. (Aluminum foil can be fashioned into a signal mirror)
    I have a few and have never needed to use one.
    *Factoid* Pilots have reported seeing flashes from a signal mirror from 100 miles away... Need Sniper to weigh in on that!

    If you are stranded in your vehicle and need a signal mirror, you could use a CD from the radio of pull off your rear-view mirror for that matter. but back to kits

    You can also look into Smoke grenades, and Flares for other signal options.

    Signal Strobes are also available and some are very small. The Emergency Strobe or "Pocket Strobe", can be seen up to 3 miles away and will last for around 16 hours on the D cell battery

    Have something in your kit for signaling.


    A compass and map of your area can go a long way in assuring you go the short way home. I'm trying to put together a Map and Compass tutorial so I won't go into it here. You should know how to use your compass to find out where you are and how to get to where you want to be.

    For a small/mini kit, get a "button" compass. Make sure it is liquid filled and has a jeweled bearing so that it can swing freely. Non liquid filled units have a tendency to keep moving around. The liquid dampens this movement.

    If you have the room, get a good compass from Brunton or Suunto that has a base plate with a magnifying glass built in. This is helpful in map reading and can also act as a fire-starter backup for your kit.

    Have maps available for wherever you plan to be. You can buy topographic maps that are already water proofed. I think you can buy a waterproofing solution and This book claims you can use Thompson's Water Seal on them as well.

    Again, I strongly suggest that you learn Orienteering so that you can use your gear. It is helpful to note that we can only get 22 miles off of a road in the CONUS, and I think that is in Yosemite...

    GPS is another fine way to get around but I view it as more of a luxury than a necessity. Use one if you have it but always carry the low tech backups...
  9. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    A nice trick I came up with to save from this is to use one of the Tobasco sauce bottles from an MRE and after cleaning it out fill it with lighter fluid. I keep one in my pocket all the time and several in my BOBs. Each bottle holds just about the right amount for one refill of a Zippo.
    As far as the lights they also make some that you crank up to charge the batteries and have an option of 1 or 3 LED bulbs at a time for them.
    One thing I added a while back was a Dynamo NOAA radio, it was just under $50 at Radio Shack and has a siren, strobe, flashlight, cell phone chargeing outlet and attachments, AM/FM/TV1/TV2/NOAA weather radio band radio and the whole thing has multiple power sources, it can runn on 3 AA batteries, the rechargeable batteries like those in a cordless phone, or a crank that will recharge the 'phone' type batteries and will also power the radio while cranking even with NO batteries, and you can also get an AC adaptor. I love this thing and its only about 1 1/2 inches thick and 5 inches or so square.
  10. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Not done with this... Had some busy days and a couple network problems... I'll come back to it
  11. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Good information to review
  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    More info is always a welcome treat!
  13. irish

    irish Monkey++

    In my kit I allways have with me is a cheap plastic whistle with a little screw top on the body. I replaced the layard with para-cord in side I have 6 strike anywhere matches ,some fishing line and hooks barbs taped over a couple of band-aids and 1/2 of a double edge razor blade taped,all wrapped in a none lubed condom for water .The screw off top has a small mirror and clipped to it is a button compasss .
  14. Akheloce

    Akheloce Monkey++

    From a recent survival refresher class I went too...

    A metal cup of some sort. Unbelievably, the USAF does not include these in our parachute seat-kits, but how else are you going to heat anything over a fire?

    I have half a dozen canteen cups laying around, need to find em and stash them where I might need them.
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