What’s in a survival kit? – The essential and the optional
A Survival Kit is a set of objects of first necessity that we prepare in advance, in order to have available in the event of an emergency. It is often found by example on lifeboats or on military aircraft.
In our case, it is, therefore, to have at home, a bag containing the necessary to be able to survive in the event of urgent necessity.
Of course, there are different sizes for an emergency preparedness kit. This can go from a backpack to an anti-nuclear shelter, in which you can store non perishable food with a long shelf life to live for several months.
Conceptually, a survival kit must contain the necessary for:
- Providing a basic shelter against the elements (this will often be a tarpaulin, at best a tent.)
- Helping to maintain yourself at a reasonable temperature (clothing, fire kit …)
- Meeting the needs for first aid.
- Providing food and water (possibly with the help of nature.)
- Allowing sending signals to potential rescuers (in case of flooding for example.)
If you want to get a survival kit, you have two options:
Buy a pre-made survival kit
Make your own survival kit
The first solution will generally be less expensive generally speaking. However, it may be that you find yourself with items that you will not need and/or other items to buy extra that can change the price.
The biggest flaw here is that you don’t control exactly what you put in your survival kit. It is always reassuring to know that we have chosen exactly what we wanted to have, especially for things as important.
Whatever your choice will be, here is a list of things which you cannot do without when we speak of survival kit worthy of the name:
- A survival blanket or a sleeping bag to keep you warm
- A knife (if possible a Swiss army knife and a good survival knife)
- Everything necessary to make a fire
- String or rope of paracord type
- Light (flashlight or frontal lamp)
1) Buy a ready to go survival kit
First, be aware that food is rarely included in the survival kits found on the market, therefore you will need to add it by yourself. For food, a solution that seems quasi-optimal, in most situations at least, is that of the survival rations (or combat rations with a long shelf life). For more details, read the part “Make a survival kit yourself”.
Let’s come back to the purchase of kits on the market. There is a very wide variety of choices, which will enable you to cope with different situations, but they are not all that good.
One of the most complete survival kits is the Ultimate survival kit from Gerber. It has been proven that it can cover any unexpected situations. The hardware is not a luxury, but the objective of a done-for-you survival kit is precisely to be able to deal with everything “in an emergency”. It will not replace the true hardware for your daily needs!
- A multifunction knife complete enough.
- A waterproof bag
- A mini flashlight
- A hand saw
- A mirror (to indicate your presence for example)
- A survival blanket
- A fire starter and waterproof matches.
- Cotton ball to start a fire
- Snare Wire
- Emergency cord
- A sewing kit
- A fishing kit
- An emergency whistle.
If I had to add items to this kit to make it more complete, apart from perishable foodstuffs, I will put, of course, a survival knife of good quality, whatever necessary to give first aid in case of a mishap (tablets against diarrhea and painkillers, bandage, an antiseptic, compresses…) and eventually a compass or even a handheld hiking GPS.
If you compare prices, you can, of course, find survival kits cheaper than this one, but I personally recommend you not to buy a survival kit less than 30$. You will have a material of poor quality, and you will necessarily need to spend double to complete it.
There are also survival kits more expensive, like this one. However, if you have 100$ to put in a survival kit (which is not meaningless), I think it is worth to spend an hour and put it together yourself, in order to have something really optimal.
Besides if you have the money but not the time (everyone’s got problems) Why not?
2) Buy an All-In-One Bug Out Bag with Survivor Kits included
An evacuation bag is an emergency kit that allows you to flee in a flash with the vital necessities in case of immediate danger. The evacuation bag is also called “bug-out-bag” (BOB), 48 or 72-hour survival kit, etc.
Civil security services around the world recommend preparing one emergency kit per person in each household.
The emergency go-bag is the first resilience system you will assemble and the most important of all.
The goal is to set up a bag that will contain all your important administrative documents and useful material in case of a hasty departure.
The evacuation bag is not a specialized bag: it is designed for all absolute emergencies.
If our naivety leads us to believe that we will have time to organize ourselves before a crisis or a survival situation thanks to warning signs, the reality is much more brutal.
Situations that seem to happen only to others surprise thousands of people every day: natural and industrial disasters, terrorist attacks, domestic fires, etc.
No one is safe from having to leave their home in an emergency, but very few people are prepared for it.
Assembling a personalized evacuation bag requires time and a lucid analysis of the concrete dangers that can exist.
A serious evacuation bag should include enough food to last 48 or 72 hours, but also contain useful material for protection and food if the situation persists.
Putting together a survival kit is a matter of individual reflection on one’s specific needs: weight limit not to be exceeded, drug treatments to be included, environment (urban or rural, seaside, etc.).
A Perfect All-in-One Bug Out Bag is the LifeShield® All-In-One Bug Out Bag w/ 6 Survival Kits by Frog & CO
3) Make a survival kit yourself
Take our courage in both hands, let’s not give in to the easy solution and build up our survival kit ourselves! Let’s start again from the list of essentials that we have talked about before.
- An emergency blanket: I propose here again to use a product of the brand Bear Grylls: The Bear Grylls Survival Blanket. We don’t own shares with them, promise! But they are products that are adapted because designed for survival, and which are of good quality.
- A knife (if possible a Swiss army knife and a good survival knife). If you are looking for a Swiss Army knife with a very good quality-price ratio, I recommend the Victorinox.
- Fire kit: here you will have to make a choice. The more rudimentary is to buy a fire starter, which simply produces sparks that allow you to light a fire. These systems have the advantage of being virtually inexhaustible, unlike lighters or matches. However, they are not very convenient, and should, in my opinion, be at best a backup solution. If you choose nevertheless for this option I advise you to have at least amadou or cotton balls in a sealed pouch for the wet evening, otherwise, you may eat raw.
The other option, with a less “survivalist” spirit but which remains best from a realistic point of view, is to carry 3 or 4 Lighters (or two Zippo) and/or boxes of waterproof matches enclosed in a sealed pocket (very important).
- String or rope of the paracord type
- Light: you have again two options here; either to buy a flashlight with a dynamo either a classic flashlight of good quality and several batteries in stock. Attention, however, if you buy a flashlight on the Internet not get yourself fooled by 3$ lamps which look nice but which in fact are 2 inches long (you can’t see it on a picture) and don’t illuminate much.
- If you go into the forest, it may be not a bad idea to have a tool for cutting wood: a saw, a hatchet, or a machete.
- To all this, you can add wire (to make snares or build a shelter), a fishing kit, and a sewing kit because it does not take a lot of places and it can be handy!
4) Bug out bag essentials
An emergency bug out bag contains an emergency kit divided into modules for increased accessibility.
Do not hesitate to group the items in Ziplock pockets or bags to organize them in a practical and logical way.
Clothes can be vacuum compacted or folded into a Ranger roll to save space.
It is important to make sure that the most requested items (water, lamps, tools, first aid kit, medical supplies, personal hygiene items) are the most accessible by placing them in the quick access pockets on the front and side of the bag.
Larger objects (e.g. sleeping bag) should be carried outside the bag using the tightening straps to avoid a consequent loss of space.
Copies of important administrative documents (USB + photocopies)
- Identity card,
- Medicare card,
- Driver’s license,
- Family booklet,
- Marriage contract (if applicable),
- Medical record,
- Bank account number(s),
- Deeds of ownership,
- Life/death insurance account number(s),
- Pictures of your home (interior/exterior).
Food & Emergency Supplies
- Survival Rations
- Energy Bars
- Emergency food cans
- Rain poncho
- Sleeping bag
- Heat reflective bivvy
- 4 season compact tent
- Duct tape (for repair)
- 6L of water in emergency rations
- Rigid water bottle (Nalgene)
- soft bottle
- water filter
Lighting and fire
- 8 cyalumes
- 2 Bic lighters
- 2 boxes of matches
- Spares batteries (AA & AAA)
- 1 complete change (underwear/pants/T-shirt/Sweater) to be adapted according to the season
- 1 pair of gloves
- 1 warm hat or 1 light cap depending on the season
- 1 multifunctional headwear (Buff)
- 1 pair of very solid and comfortable shoes or boots (to be placed next to your bag)
- Fixed blade knife
- Multifunctional key
- Static rope
- Wrecking bar
Health and Personal Hygiene
- 1 spare of your glasses if you wear them
- Medical treatment if you have one and medical supplies (extra glasses, batteries for hearing aid, syringes, etc.)
- 1 compact first aid kit
- 1 emergency blanket
- 1 bottle of hydroalcoholic gel
- 1 roll of toilet paper
- 1 roll of absorbent paper
- 1 roll of 30L garbage bags
- 1 toothbrush + toothpaste
- Radio transmitter/receiver
- Power bank
- AM/FM crank dynamo radio
- Survival whistle to signal yourself
- Cell phone with chargers and/or extra batteries
Emergency Bug Out bag adapted to situations
The evacuation bag can contain a specialized emergency module to deal with a specific risk.
Depending on your situation, you may want to supplement your survival kit with material adapted to the conditions: industrial or natural disaster, nuclear accident, etc.
- Waterproof Chest Waders
- Waterproof backpack
- Lifeline rope
- Gas mask
- Thermal insulating gloves
- Fire blanket
- Potassium iodide tablets
- CBRN Combination
- Geiger counter
Let us focus on food and water now
Regarding water, you will need to find it in the cities or in nature. You absolutely need a way to store it, like a canteen or water bottle of CamelBak type; also a good option is a canteen with an integrated filter, a must-have in my opinion! It is easy enough to find water in normal conditions almost everywhere, except maybe in the deep desert.
In addition to this, you will need water purifiers tablets to avoid falling sick if you are far from the city.
Regarding food, it is a little more complicated to find it in the wild.
Of course, if we know that hunger is likely to be a problem (especially if we will be leaving for a long time and we cannot take enough food with us), we must take with us everything necessary to find food.
Fruit picking can provide an easy source of food, but it may be necessary to have a fishing kit and what is necessary to make traps.
If you want to take food and emergency supplies with you, for a few days survival rations are a very good way to easily eat your fill, something pleasant.
If you go away longer, the weight will quickly become unsustainable, and you will certainly need to take freeze-dried food.
What about comfort
Beyond these items which are elements needed in a survival situation, we can focus on some comfort. It does not hurt, comfort is not necessarily a luxury, be well in our head is necessary and may depend on how we feel in our body!
Think for example taking a pair of spare underwear. This allows you to wear them while you washed the first ones and let them dry. A toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as a bit of soap, can also be substantial after a few days of walking.
Word of wisdom
In short, it is necessary to keep in mind that a survival kit must be adapted to your personal needs, to your environment, and especially to what it is intended for.
Once again, this website has the vocation to help you prepare for realistic events quite likely to happen (not against a zombie attack), in a tempered climate.
We recommend that you keep this in mind and remain rational in your preparations; it would be useless, for example, to learn how to fight polar bears!
Survival Prep Life says
Awesome tips…enjoyed reading your content as always 🙂
Wow, that’s quite a list of survival gear to bring along. Gonna have to keep in mind to start doing some squats. Climbing a mountain with that is going to be tough!
Lara Sein says
These survival kits are usually meant for general use and in a situation of emergency you would take your car, if possible, or if you’re on foot you will seldomly climb a mountain with that kind of equipment, except if a tsunami is threatening your life.
Great Tips. Household lint can also make for a good firestarter.
survival kit says
Thanks for sharing this article about the survival kit making process.
Chelsea Gauthier says
We need help with supplies.
Our family is out of toilet paper and we can’t find any in the usual places.
My grand mother can’t get out of the home.
I can get n95 masks at https://freelytrade.com
Please post your extra supplies at FreelyTrade? We’ll pay WHATEVER the market rate is for it!
You’ll save our lives and our neighbourhood today!
Lara Sein says
Chelsea, I don’t know what it’s worth but I will give you a shot and publish your comment.
Lara Sein says
These items are for general purposes but you can always adapt your survival kit with more adapted equipment.
Jim Coffey II says
Great Article Lara,
We have certainly learned our lesson and have prepared personalized survival kits for everyone in the family, including the cat. We personalized them just as you have discussed and we are feeling more than prepared if anything should happen and our family should need to take off.
Thanks for the great tips, especially the paracord. There’s more to that than I thought.
Be Safe, Stay Well
Lara Sein says
A personalized survival kit is always more adapted to any specific situation and environment.
I’m glad you liked the article.
The way you have explain about survival kit is just amazing. Thanks for sharing this article about the survival kit making process.
Lara Sein says
Thank you, Robert