So you are considering building your own survival kit? Well that is great, you are taking an important step towards protecting yourself and your family in the event of an emergency. There are a lot of things to consider when building a survival kit so where do you start?
First determine what the purpose of the kit is, specifying this alone will make the process much easier. Do you need a small kit to put in your pocket while backpacking? Or a car survival kit in case you get stuck somewhere in the winter? Is this kit for wilderness or urban survival?
Then you must determine how many people will this survival kit support & for what duration of time? Answering this will help you determine the quantity of items needed, which can help you determine the right size bag or pouch.
After you determine the purpose, # of people to support, survival duration, and general size of the kit it is time to dive into the fun part. What are you going to put inside?
Obviously there are a few major survival abilities that all kits should have, they are:
Ability to start a fire
Ability to purify water
Ability to procure food
Ability to create a shelter
We would recommend that your survival kit have at least two different methods to start a fire, for example a Bic Lighter and a Flint/Magnesium Stick. It is also recommended that you keep some sort of tinder in your kit to aid in the starting of the fire. This can be petroleum cotton balls, wood shavings, or any other kind of easy to light tinder.
Tip: Adding a few small candles to your kit can make the fire starting process easier as candles give you more time to get things started.
For water we are lucky to have purifying straws these days, our favorite is the Sawyer Mini because it is so versatile & does such a great job at filtering out bacteria. Drink straight from the source, the squeeze pouch, a generic water bottle, or even hook inline to a water bladder. A coffer filter can work great as a rudimentary first stage filter, taking out bigger particles like mud and grass.
Tip: If you are dealing with a dirty water source push it through a coffee filter first and then use your purifying straw to filter out bacteria.
For food I like to store some kind of caloricly dense bar inside or almond butter packets that are small, caloricly dense, and high in protein and healthy fats. But you can only store so many snacks in a backpacking survival kit, so you must also carry some things that can help you procure food in a survival situation. A fishing kit and snare line could be potential life savers, a small knife like the M-Tech Survival Knife can also be lashed onto a long stick to make a spear. And don't forget your firearm. Always carry it.
Tip: Even if you have a fishing kit on you, you will still need some bait. Look under rocks for worms, in fallen trees for grubs, or in the grass for crickets or grass hoppers.
For shelter, if your building a smaller pocket sized kit you should at least be carrying an Emergency Blanket & a large black trash bag. These items can keep the elements off you & help you maintain your body temperature. A trash bag can also work as a poncho if you simply cut a hole out of the top & sides for your head and arms. If you are building a larger kit for a family or car survival kit I would recommend a tarp, some bungee cords, & paracord to build a sturdier shelter.
Tip: To carry extra paracord without it taking up space inside your kit, try wrapping the handle(s) of your kit using the cobra weave. You will be able to store around a foot of paracord onto every inch of handle using this technique.
Cobra Weave on an Emergency Whistle Survival Bracelet
Besides the essentials that you need for survival there are some other things you might want to consider adding.
Depending on the initial factors that we talked about (Purpose, # of People, Duration) there are all sorts of other accessories that could be added to your survival kit. No matter what you put in your kit make sure that you are familiar with all the items and that you test out any items you are not comfortable with in a controlled environment to ensure your competency.