Building and designing your own personal survival kit can be a very rewarding project – especially if you ever actually have to use it. Since the beginning of time, man has been designing Survival Kits of all types, shapes and sizes. Sure, you can go to any sporting goods store and pick up your basic survival kit…but there’s just nothing like taking the time to build and customize a kit that is tailored specifically to your life and your needs. You can’t just BUY that. This kit takes thought and time and quite frankly can only come from your head. There are suggested guidelines…but ultimately no right and wrong answers. It’s YOUR kit.
Start small. Building an expansive 72 Hour Bug Out Bag Survival Kit can take many hours and can be expensive. A popular challenge within the survival community is to build a small and thorough Survival Kit using an ALTOIDS CANDY TIN. It’s so popular and includes so many survival lessons that we actually offer an afternoon training course here at the WHO School dedicated to building a Candy Tin Survival Kit called SURVIVAL TIN CHALLENGE. Building a kit of this type is a really fun project with some very valuable rewards. First, it’s fairly inexpensive to build a small kit like this. Second, it puts you in the survival mind-set and forces you to think creatively about how and what to pack in the kit. The size of the kit alone helps get your priorities straight real fast. Small survival kits are perfect for Every Day Carry (EDC). I always have a small EDC survival kit in the glove box of my Bronco. They are great for tossing in a drawer at work or for carrying in a backpack or jacket pocket. They are small & lightweight and it just makes sense to have one on hand.
The point of this post is 2 fold. 1st, I’d like to give you a recommended ‘ingredient list’ of sorts for building your own candy tin survival kit and show you a sample of one I have built here at Willow Haven Outdoor. 2nd, I’d like to introduce to you a very functional knife released by CRKT Knives called the RSK Mk5 that was designed specifically for use in small candy tin survival kits.
In any survival situation a good cutting tool is critical. A nice functional knife can go a long way in getting your survival tasks accomplished more effectively and efficiently. A good cutting tool has always been a big sacrifice with building a small candy tin survival kit. Traditionally, we have used small exacto knife blades or razor blades. While these are very sharp cutting tools, they lack in durability to say the least. Then enters the RSK Mk5.
The RSK Mk5 was designed to fit into mini survival tins like an Altoids Tin. It even comes packaged in a survival tin when you buy it. This knife has a Kydex Sheath and a very functional lanyard that acts as an extension of the handle for stability when using the knife for more rigorous tasks. The overall length is 2 1/4″ and the blade length is 1 3/4″. It’s small but mighty and makes a PERFECT additional to a Survival Tin Project. Thus, the base of my Candy Tin Survival Kit is the RSK Mk5. For about $20 or so, it is worth the investment. However, you can always substitute a razor blade or a couple exacto blades for cutting tools. Either way, the first item in your Candy Tin needs to be a cutting tool. Now… let’s get started…
Below is a step by step photo gallery and ‘ingredients list’ for a sample Candy Tin Survival Kit. I would expect that the contents of your own kit will vary depending upon your priorities and lifestyle. That’s OK.
Below are my general thoughts about the main contents of the kit:
I like to pack at least 2 methods for starting a fire. In this small kit I packed 2 waterproof matches (dipped in nail polish) and taped a match strike strip on the underside of the lid. I also packed a small flint fire striker and 2 different types of tinder – 1 cotton based and 1 wax/fiber based.
Buy the RSK Mk5 Knife or use a razor blade or small exacto blades. I much prefer the RSK Mk5. For it’s size, it is a very solid and reliable knife. It’s perfect for cutting feather sticks and many other typical camp/survival/bushcraft chores.
In my opinion you can use the candy tin itself for signaling. It’s not quite as shiny as a mirror but should do just fine. Just buff up the inside silver a bit and you’re ready to go. Toothpaste or chocolate with work perfect to buff it so a glossy shine.
I intentionally did not pack a whistle. I can whistle nearly just as loud using my fingers. If you can’t, then pack a whistle. I will do a future video about how to whistle – survival style.
This is important. Pack a button compass. You should be able to find one of these on a cheap keychain or something. They are hard to find by themselves so typically you will have to buy something else and pry it off.
Very useful survival tool for cordage or random repairs. You can tear it into strips to add length.
Needle & Thread:
Use these for clothing or gear repair. Pack a strong nylon thread – it can double as fishing line, snares or other cordage needs.
You can use this for snares and many other fixes/needs
Can be used as a emergency suture (ouch) or for temporary clothing/gear mends
Self explanatory – you can a pack a few sizes for birds/fish, etc…
A compact button LED light works great. These are bright and pretty cheap. They also last a LONG time. Some people prefer to pack small candles.
You can boil water in the tin itself. I prefer to pack 4 Iodine tablets. It takes 2 tabs to purify 1 liter so 4 tabs can purify 2 liters of water.
Adhesive bandages are small and easy to pack. I also packed 2 pain reliever pills and1 dose of an antibiotic cream. The alcohol prep pad is for disinfecting a cut/wound.
Note Paper & Pencil:
You never know when you need to leave a note. I bought a pad of waterproof paper at an Army/Navy Surplus for a few bucks.
Salt Pack – take with water to fight dehydration.
Sugar Pack – take for quick energy
Paper Clip – use a binding/button/etc…
Tootsie Roll – quick energy
Medication – Pack necessary medication
The Tin Container Itself:
- Use to make Char Cloth
- Use as a drinking/cooking/boiling container
- Use as a signal mirror
There are certainly countless other items to consider packing in a mini survival kit. I’m still surprised from time to time with great ideas from my students. As long as the key survival bases are covered, your creativity is the limit. So my challenge to you is this:
Go spend $2 on a box of Altoids or $20 on an RSK Mk5 Knife and put together a Mini Survival Tin that works for your lifestyle. Then… share it with someone else.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and see your pics. If you have any questions, feel free to post…
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