DIY “Altoids Tin” Survival Kit
In part 1 of our series we talked about how a survival kit could be as simple or as complex as you wanted and few of the very basic requirements for any survival kit regardless of size. As we said before this series is by no means The Be All, End All of survival kits and what they should have in them. Rather it is a guide that you can use to decide what you feel you need in your survival kit.
The “Altoids Tin” survival kit is probably one of the more minimalistic survival kits you can carry just because of its size. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t pack the goodies you’ll need in there, it just means you won’t have as much support as you would have in a larger kit.
Any type of survival kit you decide to carry should at a bare minimum be able to either provide you with, allow you to make, or make it possible to acquire the basics of survival:
- First Aid
Fire is one of your greatest allies in a survival situation. It provides a sense comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. Fire allows you to make water you find safe for drinking. Fire will allow you to see (at least a little) in the darkness. Fire will allow you to get and stay warm. Fire allows you to make any animal you take for food safer and more tasty to eat.
You should always have at least three means of producing a fire. If one fails or you run out of matches you can still make fire. It is essential that you practice making fire with all the methods you choose to carry with you under all types of conditions.
I spent the last few weeks making fires while in the field with the fire starting aids in this kit in everything from near freezing temperatures to the rain to keep my skills up, you should do the same. Seldom will the conditions be exactly what you would want when you are forced into a survival situation.
While you can make it up to 3 weeks without eating it is not fun! Having a few different ways of collecting food is another essential that any kit you carry should have.
I carry two snare wires that I made and packed into the kit as well as 150 yards of 50# braided fishing line and various hooks and sinkers. With the strength and small diameter of the fishing line it can be used to make repairs to your clothing, sutures, and for lashing.
I always find a way to carry a bouillon cube or two in my kits. They are good for adding a little flavor to a hot drink on a cold night or more importantly to add flavor to that rat you are cooking for dinner.
Always add at least a few basic first aid supplies to the kit. They are for those small scrapes and cuts you may get while being in a survival situation. It won’t be the most comprehensive kit to be sure but it will handle minor wounds.
Water Purification and Other Handy Stuff to Have
550 cord is a god send in a survival situation without doubt. 10′ of 550 cord can allow you to make more snares by pulling the inner lines from the sheathing, lash a rock to a stick for an improvised axe, and make a replacement boot lace, among other sundry things.
I have made a small water carrier with duct tape (I saw that trick on Mythbusters) as well as using it for lashing on a lean-to, patching torn clothes, covering wounds, and about a thousand other things.
The sewing needle can be used to make repairs in clothing and if you sterilize it, to make repairs in you using the fishing line.
It took a bit of experimentation to figure out the “right size” piece of tin foil to add but 12″x3′ seemed to be the best fit for the size container I was going to put everything in. You can make a small pot for boiling water and another for cooking, and an approx. 12 oz “cup” with it and you have something reflective for signaling if needed.
Since this is meant to be a “complete” system I added a small survival knife I made using a utility knife blade, some 550 cord, and duct tape (for the sheath) as a back up to the pocket knife I always have on me. I have used it pretty much exclusively during the field trials I put this little kit through and it held up very well. It did need sharpening when I got done. The thing I did notice, and corrected within a short time, was that its small size make it a little uncomfortable to use after a while, so I found a piece of wood and made a larger handle for it for use while I was in the woods. For storage I went back to the original construction.
Everything is packed in the Sucrets tin, which is about the same size as an Altoids tin, except for the knife, magnesium fire starter, and 550 cord. I placed the knife and fire bar on top of the tin and then wrapped the 550 cord tightly around them and the tin.
The whole kit fits very neatly in a chest or front pocket and at a bit over 9 oz it is easy to carry without noticing it.
I am not a fan of minimalist survival kits by any stretch of the imagination but having something is better than having nothing. That said, by using your imagination, a few basic supplies and skills, a small “Altoids Tin” survival kit can help keep you alive when TSHTF.
I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!
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