Survival Kit (US Marines)

MARINE CORPS ORDER 1543.3 specifies the ‘SK’ (survival kit). It contains components that provide the user with the ability to survive in conditions or situations that force them to operate without logistical support or replenishment. The SK will enhance a Marine’s ability to survive for at least 24 hours and provides the capability of acquiring the four basic life support needs: fire, water, food, and signaling.

Side A contains those components needed for shelter and food gathering. Side B contains those items a Marine may need to immediately start their escape/evasion and rescue. The overall purpose of the Survival Kit is to enhance a Marine’s chances of survival and rescue for 24 hours and beyond.

Side A: Shelter and Food Gathering Side:

(a) Fishing Kit (pretty decent!) contained within Emergency Tin
(b) Finger Ring Saw and extra blade
(c) Survival Blanket with green backing
(d) Plastic Bag, Zip-Lock to hold kit items
(e) Candle, Votive
(f) Snare Wire

Side B: Escape and Evasion

(g) Fire Starter, Magnesium
(h) Knife, Pocket (Camillus)
(i) Signalinge Mirror
(j) Compass, Smoke Chaser
(k) Plastic Bag, Zip-Lock
(l) Whistle, Extreme Cold
(m) Water Bag, Drinking
(n) Matches, Waterproof

Length. 13 in
Width. 6 in
Height. 2 in
Weight. 1.75 lbs

This Survival Kit enables a Marine to perform the basic survival tasks of making shelter, gathering food and water, and signaling. The Survival Kit is a general purpose kit, but it was developed for use in desert; mountain; arctic; and temperate water survival during small boat operations. The intent of the Survival Kit is to have Marines carry it when there is a possibility that they will be placed in a rescue or survival situation.

Both sides have inner bags that are transparent, waterproof, vaporproof, and greaseproof. The inner bags are vacuum heat sealed. the two-sided design allows a Marine to carry the Survival Kit as a single item in a rucksack, butt pack or folded and placed in a trouser cargo pocket. Each half can be carried in the lower pockets of the utility jacket or the Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) jacket pockets.


Any Marines out there? It would be helpful to know if the SK’s issued these days are the same, or a variant of the ingredients list above… leave a comment –


  1. Were you given ANY survival kit? This order is old, from the 1990’s I believe. This is why I am curious to know if this kit (or something similar) is still being given to enlisted Marines.

  2. i’m 6 years removed and i only remember the wing guys ever getting survival kits. air crew and maybe the guys in Force or the Sniper community. 03’s would theoretically always be with units and those units would be supported. i’ll check the order and see if i can get you any further info.

  3. that particular order was canceled. i don’t know if its been replaced.

    1. Thanks for the research, Sol. I still wonder if some Marines are issued survival kits depending on their mission, etc. Or, if the thinking is that the Marine/unit is always within ‘contact’ of support… so why bother… interesting.

      1. I’d bet body parts that certain elements still get them…ANGLICO, Force, Snipers, Radio Recon, Air Crew etc…the thing that makes that so hardcore is that the Marine Corps made allowances for all members to have this gear with them. the mindset has changed but old dawgs teach the young-uns and hell i didn’t even know about this and i went in around that time. good stuff man! once we get a grunt back in the big chair and with the turn back to the jungle this will come back. i guarantee it!

        1. I’m a former MCMWTC instructor and the corps issued us those kits in 1996.

  4. I wasn’t even told but still had enough common sense to have one I think it was implied that we had one

  5. I would add a flashlight to the kit, preferably on your key chain so you always have it. Not only can a flashlight serve as a signaling device but remember a large portion of your day is dark time where “survival” doesn’t take a break.
    Always on my key chain is a maratac AAA flashlight. I also bring a main light in my pack when camping or hunting.

    1. I have a feeling that the SK listed here presupposes that the Marine already has a flashlight of sorts.

      Apart from that, I do agree that for a civilian, keeping a small LED flashlight on ones key-chain is a good thing to do. There are all sorts of them out there. The small plastic ‘squeeze to turn-on’ style is one to consider too (for a key-chain and ordinary quick tasks that don’t require lots of light).

  6. Thinking back on it I was given an order via the company CO to obtain one. still like was mentioned above my pack was my survival kit. I carried more dope and gear than needed but I was hauling so who cared.

  7. I got out before 1990. Never heard of this order. However, in most cases flashlights and batteries are not issued nor are things like wooly pullys, weapons cleaning kits, K-Bars, sometimes not even MREs – until it is a little late in the game! However, I was no 03, rather I was an 04. I procured Chemlights and issued them to my subordinates, had a list pretty much like the above and issued it out stating they needed as much of this stuff as they could get. I got extra batteries, chemlights. I even add the desert goggles, a scarf, K-Bar with or without a bayonet. I even carried non-issue field binoculars. I often had to request 1 DOS for MREs (DOS – Day of Supply) to issue to the Marines under me. On board a ship I was the logistics type, but n the beach, I suddenly became to NCOIC of the Reaction Force of 50 PFCs (no other ranks – ONLY PFCs). I had to dust off my Squad Tactics and shelve my Troop Regs & SLCPs

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