Friday, December 27, 2019

Building a Compact Emergency Survival Kit

By Timothy Gamble (December 5, 2015)

A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted a compact emergency survival kit. It needed to be small enough to easily slip into the cargo pocket of my pants or the inside pocket of my jacket or coat, or my vehicle's glove compartment, or in a briefcase, backpack, pocketbook, etc. This was not to be  a part of my EDC, but rather a separate kit to supplement, in an emergency, what I normally carry on and with me.

Bear Grylls Survival Kit
My first thought was to buy one. I purchased a Bear Gryll's Survival Kit at Target for $22.99. It consisted of a bright orange zippered pouch, a water-proof polypropylene inner pouch, 10 waterproof matches with striker paper, a Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife (quite sharp), a fire starter, cotton ball (for fire tinder, I guess), whistle (quite loud), some waxed cordage (think dental floss), some cheap nylon cordage, a bit of very thin snare wire (frankly, not useful), and a couple band aids and alcohol wipes. Also included was a folded sheet of fairly standard wilderness survival instructions. Overall, an okay but not great survival kit. I figure the kit is actually worth about $16 at most, so I paid about a $7 premium just for the Bear Grylls name.

Being a bit disappointed, my next thought was to build one myself. I had tried to build an Altoids tin survival kit previously, but didn't like it -- was just a little too small, limiting the gear too much. Then it struck me, I had the beginnings of a good kit in the Bear Grylls kit I just purchased. All I really needed to do was upgrade a couple pieces of the gear included in the kit, and add some stuff that wasn't included.

Fully stuffed pouch after additions
I liked the Bear Grylls pouch. The size is perfect for what I had in mind, and being bright orange will make it easier to find in an emergency. I added a 3-mode (high, low, strobe) cord lock light to the zipper pull (not to use as a regular flashlight, though it could be in in pinch, but rather to specifically help me see the contents of the bag at night - that's why I attached it to the bag itself.)

Final contents of survival kit

Contents of water-proof inner pouch
The water-proof inner pouch is very usable, but small. I could only fit some of the gear inside (see pic on left). Naturally, I included the fire starting gear - storm-proof matches, Mini-Match magnesium firestarter (an upgraded firestarter over the one originally in the kit), and fire tinder - in the water-proof bag, as well as the Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife, whistle, and cordage.

First aid supplies
I added a second small zip-lock bag with first aid supplies, including 4 band-aids (3 sizes), a 2x2 gauze pad, small pack of Celox, an alcohol disinfecting wipe, 2 iodine pads, 2 packs of triple antibiotic ointment, a pack of medi-lyte, and a couple of Advil. Also in the outer pouch, but not one of the inner bags, is a pair of Uncle Bill's Silver Gripper Tweezers (good for removing splinters, stingers, and ticks) and a pill case with two aspirin and two Benadryl.

A mini roll (50") of duct tape (mine happens to be yellow) and a TOPS Folding Pocket Survival Saw (4-inch blade) rounds out the list of gear, and fits nicely in the outer pouch.

Remember, this kit is supposed to be a compact, short-term, supplement to my EDC and other gear. It is not meant for long-term survival. I think it does very well, covering first aid, cutting (knife & saw), fire making (matches, fire starter, tinder), signalling (whistle, strobe light, fire), cordage, and duct-tape.
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