We have all read many posts on those Altoid Tin kits, at least I hope you have. They look like a fun project, affordable, and useful. Put your hands up if you liked the idea, but couldn’t convince yourself because it was too wimpy or small to be effective. What’s a tinkering survivalist to do? Make it better and a little more robust, at least in the eyes of the creator.
by Pineslayer, contributing author
So my mission that I chose to accept, was to build a survival kit based around a wide mouth 32oz stainless steel single walled water bottle. This container would try and house the 10 Cs of survivability with some multi functional items inside. My main concern, if you could call it that, was to have the kit be robust enough for possible long term use.
Related article: Coffee Can Survival Kit for Your Vehicle
It is a thrift store find, 32 oz single walled stainless steel wide mouth, cost one or two bucks, I can’t remember. It was covered by paint with some companies logo, so I took it to the bench buffer and it came out with this cool tiger striped hue. Make sure you use a single walled unit or when you go to boil some water in, if it is a double walled insulated piece, you could find yourself with a face full of shrapnel. The air between the walls will expand and find a weak spot. Now there are other containers that would work for this project, but I wanted one that would be easy to carry full of water and virtually unbreakable. If your bottle has any decals or paint on it, get rid of it, it will cause noxious fumes. Wide mouth so you can stuff things in it and get them out, and easier to clean.
The quintessential USGI Ripstop nylon poncho in woodland camo. I have it packed in a drawstring cotton bag with 6 aluminum stakes. The cotton bag may weight a little more, but I like them over nylon for some kits for two reasons.
First, cotton makes great char cloth and second it can double as a sediment filter with less than clear water. I chose the ripstop over the old school rubber coated bullet stopper that was issued through the ‘80’s for weight reasons, bulk was a factor too. As a side project I took a old unit, installed a poncho liner, it is ridiculously warm and as rugged as anything out there.
I went outside in 22 degree temps, wind howling, in a T-shirt and flannel house pants, A.K.A pajama’s, felt like I could walk for miles and not get cold. I think I stayed out for about 15 minutes bringing firewood up to the house. Sorry, got off in the weeds there! Back to our regularly scheduled program.
There are many recreational options, too; Outdoor Products, EMS, GoLite, and so on. All great units, especially when the rains starts, just make sure it has grommets or straps at the corners for shelter making. The sil-nylon units are very light, more expensive and hard to repair, so if you can carry an extra pound, avoid them. I chose the poncho over a tarp for the obvious fact that a poncho can be worn effectively for protection from weather while on the move while still being able to string it up for a shelter.
What’s in the Container
Here’s where the fun begins. Before we detail the contents, remember most of us have our pockets filled up and this will embellish our ability to make it home or to whatever our destination may be and we are trying to make a kit that most people can afford to throw in a pack and forget about it.
- A knife – schwing! I went for a Cold Steel Pocket Bushman. I bought more than one during their Christmas sale. Now before you balk, have you had one in your hand? I have more knives than I know and this is the one that brings affordable to the table and throttles it. This knife is sharp, strong, and plays like a fixed blade for less than $30. Let that soak in. It is a real deal, you need one or a dozen; think stocking stuffers. Mine is wrapped in a higher-end cotton bandana for silence and more cotton, plus a functioning head wrap.
- A hank of 550 paracord, 20’.
- A pot hanger, makes the steel bottle more functional and gives you a way to pull it off the fire.
- A compass. Now I went with a pinned ball unit, because it fit in the bottle. A Suunto wrist compass is a good option too.
- Some duct tape, I have about 10’ of 200mph tape. Yea that is what it is called, it will pull the skin off of you. Gorilla tape rocks, too.
- I opted for these light sticks. Batteries were my Achilles heel on this one. I almost always have a flashlight or headlamp on me.
- A sewing repair kit. Safety pins and sail needle that is big enough to repair anything. Regular needles and thread, buttons, and I put a magnet in there to keep the steel from banging around. This is a good place to wrap some additional tapes. There is a little room left for other small items.
- A firekit. Now this is a fun thing to assemble and maybe as essential as anything. Bic lighter, firesteel ⅜ x 3”, fatwood, wetfire cube, some homemade tinder (wax coated jute twine), shredded inner tube, storm matches, and TinderQuik. You can also make your own fire starter for free.
Now there is a little space left in the bottle. It could hold some more matches, another bandana, another lighter or two. I like Tesla Coil lighters, but any lighter will do. The point is maybe I could/should put a small flashlight in there, some fishing items, or signalling stuff. It is a work in progress, but is ready to go
Total Weight of the Compact Survival Kit
Poncho and stuff 1lb 10oz, and the bottle stuffed came in at 1lb 12oz for a total of 3lb 6oz. Now, weight was not an issue for this assembly; I was going for ease of carry in a pack or any bag and affordability. The weaknesses of this kit are lighting – I prefer headlamps – and no handgun. Easily fixed, but originally this set up was to be carried in an environment that guns were/are forbidden.
There it is. Tell me what you think!