Nearly every survival preparedness website that you might visit will have their own points-of-view and recommendations of and for survival kits (including our own site).
This stands to reason because everyone has an opinion, there are a multitude of use-case-scenarios for a survival kit, and there is a wide variety of hands-on experience (or even lack thereof) in survival kit creation.
There really is no clear right or wrong survival kit, but there are some guidelines you might consider following when creating or choosing your own kit.
SURVIVAL KIT PURPOSE
Before you do anything, you must consider it’s intended purpose.
For what purpose will you need this particular survival kit within its intended use-case-scenario.
Each may be quite different due to the varying demands and requirements of each varied purpose. For this reason alone, there is no absolute survival kit. Ideally, the best are those tailored to your own specific requirements.
Various purposes might include a 72-hour kit which you always keep in your vehicle to assist you while getting from point-A to point-B, or to provide survivability in an emergency. Enough food and water for 3-days as well as a few basic supplies to improve your odds of survival and/or rescue.
A survival kit for a day hike will not necessarily contain 3-days worth of food and water, and will be designed with lighter weight in mind as well as specific tools for hiking in the wilderness, etc.
You might create a survival kit for your boat – which will be tailored for use over the water – perhaps with the inclusion of a flare or extra high powered flashlight, VHF radio, etc.
Maybe you’re creating a mini survival kit to carry on your day-to-day person. Things that fit in a few pockets.
Or perhaps you are putting together a bigger and more well-rounded survival kit to keep at home for general purpose disaster preparedness.
You get the idea? First think about the kit’s purpose and then you can move on…
SURVIVAL KIT PACKAGING
Now that you’ve determined the purpose, it should help you to decide what’s best to hold it all together.
You might need to give some thought to the packaging of subsets within the overall kit. For example, a lighter, matches, and/or some tinder should preferably be contained within waterproof material – perhaps a Ziploc bag or a small plastic container, etc.
Be as efficient as possible while considering what you put everything in. You may discover clever ways to hold some of your contents within the kit, or even on your person.
If your kit might be exposed to the elements (rainy weather, water, etc.) then factor that into the equation when you are deciding what to use to hold everything.
Think of all aspects of the containment, including the color. Do you want it to camouflage with your surroundings or do you want it to be highly visible?
In a backpack? A box? A bucket? In the pockets of your clothes? A tote bin in the back of your pickup or trunk of your car?
SURVIVAL KIT CARRY ABILITY
The use-case-scenario and purpose will determine how you adapt it’s carry ability.
You should always consider whether or not you might need to carry your kit with you. If you might, then be sure that you pay attention to it’s overall weight and how it is to be carried. Logically, a backpack or ordinary ‘school bag’ is one good solution.
A shoulder bag with carry strap. Anything which allows you to free your hands while carrying.
There are MANY available options for various packs and bags. Consider them carefully.
Be very conscious of the weight which you add to your kit if it will be carried (or might be carried). Water is HEAVY (8-lbs per gallon). Some food types are heavier than others.
You may think that you will have no problem carrying ‘x’ pounds of weight for several miles or more, but in reality it may become difficult. This is where it is important to carefully consider every item that you plan to carry, the specific type of pack and it’s quality of ‘carry-ability’.
Consider keeping an additional empty pack so that if you have a 2nd traveler, they can share the load.
SURVIVAL KIT SURVIVAL TIME
Among other things, your typical ’72-hour’ kit should be designed to carry 6,000 calories of food, and to carry 3-day supply of drinking water (and/or a portable water filter).
A 72-hour kit is generally considered an adequate amount of time to get you from point-A to point-B, assuming you have a destination, or to get you out of a precarious jam during an emergency. Obviously, make your own adjustments to fit your needs and purpose.
For each day, plan 2000 calories per person. Count the calories of the foods that you include! For each food container, packet, etc., multiply #-of-servings times calories-per-serving.
In theory, the rule of thumb for water is 1-gallon per day. In reality we can survive with less than that. Environmental conditions may greatly alter the needs for water consumption.
SURVIVAL KIT FIVE C’s
Years ago, Dave Canterbury came up with the ‘Five C’s’ of survival, with the idea being that if you have these five areas covered – you will be far better capable than otherwise.
SURVIVAL KIT SPECIFIC ITEMS
Now it’s time to focus on the specifics of what goes inside your survival kit. For each item there will be many sources and varieties to choose from. Give it worthy thought.
Remember that inexpensive (cheap) things usually do not last long. You get what you pay for.
Always be thinking about multiple uses for a given item. Be creative in your thought process. This will help you if and when you need to adapt solutions to given problems.
There are many different lists of items for survival kits and there really is no right or wrong list. It is helpful though to read other lists…