Recommendations for components: inexpensive mini survival kits

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by Preacher Man, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. Preacher Man

    Preacher Man Moderator Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    I'm playing with the idea of making mini survival kits for the teenage kids of some of my friends for Christmas. I'm thinking the kits will include:

    ferro rod
    Stormproof matches with striker
    mini compass
    small knife
    strong string or cordage
    mini first aid kit (band-aids (4), tripleantibiotic foil (1), alcohol swabs (2), Ibuprofen (6), imodium (6), benadryl (4))
    small flashlight
    Credit card size multitool
    small case

    I'm on a budget and I'll make between 8 to 10 kits. I'm trying get components of at least decent to good quality and as inexpensive for that quality as possible. I'm currently comparing some components and I have an idea of what I'll use for some of them. For example, I think i'll get plain ferro rods and make them a small handle with duck take, killing two birds with one stone. I would greatly appreciate ideas and specific components you would recommend. For example, what inexpensive but decent mini compass would you recommend?
  2. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    What a great idea.

    Could run into money fast though when every item is x8.

    I use and got for my kids, the basic Outdoor Products fanny packs sold at *Mart stores for less than $10. I cut off the straps with a sharp knife (you do have a sharp knife, yes?) and they make excellent organizer kits that can be expanded on.

    For a single knife multi-tool, you can often find a crude Micra knock-off at most *Mart stores sold by fishing supplier Berkeley. They're crude but functional and dirt cheap. The alternative is to buy used Micra's in bulk from the auction sites. You can sometimes get them for about $6 per that way but they typially need some tuning up.

    For firestarting, I would simplify it to just a Bic disposable lighter. Not as "Bear Grylls" cool as a fero rod, but realistically more achievable for most kids to use and they're quite reliable. Save fero rods for b-day gifts for a select few later.

    For a knife, camping supplier Coghlans sells an SAK knock-off for less than $7. That's hard to pass up. For about $15, you can get a small Buck or Opinel or if you shop, perhaps something like Victorinox Recruit. The choice here is between a cheap "get them started" knife or a real knife that could break your budge when done x8.

    For a compass, I think you face the same trade-off cost wise. I gave my kids (x2) the basic Silva model because that's a proper compass. Below that, I'm not sure it matters. I would just get the cheapest thing at *Mart.

    We started our kids on Engergizer/Everready headlamps. When they got old enough to not loose them once a year, we upgraded them Petzls.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Rupestris

    Rupestris Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2006
    I carry my duct tape and budget mini pry tool/bottle opener like this:


    PM sent
  4. SirJames


    May 17, 2002
    Those all metal credit card tools are largely crap and dead weight. If you can't afford a small knife the get scalpals.

    Check local dollar stores for waxed cotton earplugs, the make excellent inert (won't leak, corrode gear) tinder. Alternatively get 100% cotton square makeup pads, put petro jelly in the centre, fold them over, tie them with floss leaving a tail and drip the whole thing in wax to seal it.

    For a mirror, go to a large automotive store and they will sell sheets of thin plastic mirror that can be cut up with a sharp craft knife and glued into a tin (leave the protective plastic film on).

    Buy the mini Bics in orange, large Bics take up too much space in the tins.

    The main thing is to think of the skill level of the people receiving the kits, you may be ok with a firesteel but they likely won't be.
  5. billym


    Jan 8, 2006
    Tinder; Make Vaseline cotton balls.
    Mini Bic; skip the ferro rod for beginners. Add some matches; Uco sells some packages of storm matches with several strikers.
    Cordage; buy in bulk and cut to size will cost less.
    Light; lots of cheap serviceable key chain sized LEDs.
    Whistles are pretty cheap in general.
    Knife; if it needs to fit in an Altoids type tin then; a Victorinox classic, Gerber LST and Case Mini Black Horn. All three are around $15 or less.
    You need to add a signal mirror (w/ instructions).
    You need to add easy general instructions for the user including then S-T-O-P and "Hug a tree" concepts.
    Build First Aid kits from items bought in bulk.

    You can get mini LED lights and glow sticks in the fishing gear dept. Range Range

    The more LED/Glow, signaling the better.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  6. Preacher Man

    Preacher Man Moderator Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    Thank you for all the great ideas and suggestions. Keep them coming.
  7. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I've used 500ml wide mouth nalgenes as kits, of course those are a bit of a cost. If you have a local surplus store you can also look into decontamination kit boxes or soap dishes as containers. the ITW nexus howler whistles are large and bulky, but cheap and do the job well. Mini-bic for fire, and mason's line for cord. its not fancy, but it is a bright color, reasonably strong, and cheap.

    I would leave the knife for another gift, but that's just me.
  8. LG&M


    Dec 19, 2005
    Interesting idea. I might start the kit with a container , knife ( Mora) fire, ( orange or red bic) then invite them to build the rest with you where you show them how to make tender, shelters, fire, purified water ect.
    After all skill is better then gear.
    edit, the buck maxlite might be better then the Mora. I find the scand grind can be fragile in young inexperienced hands.
    I have seen the buck as low as $ 16.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  9. comis

    comis Gold Member Gold Member

    May 17, 2013
    ferro rod
    Stormproof matches with striker
    mini compass
    small knife
    strong string or cordage
    mini first aid kit (band-aids (4), tripleantibiotic foil (1), alcohol swabs (2), Ibuprofen (6), imodium (6), benadryl (4))
    small flashlight
    Credit card size multitool
    small case

    I think this is a great gift idea and you've already got something good going.

    For mini compass, it's a hit and miss thing, many may malfunction easily given time. The only two that I do like and use are from TruNord and the Nato small compass, but they are more expensive.
    How about a small signal mirror?
    A few heavy duty 55 gallon trash bags are always handy.
    A 1L size ziplock bag and few water purification tablets.
    I think those "credit card" multitool could be quite difficult to use in real time, maybe a cheap folding blade(Gerber LST? Fit in Altoids kit) or even a very basic swiss army knife?
    Bic lighter

    Maybe do a google search for survival instruction, and here is one I do like:
  10. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    I don't blindly stuff whatever into mine. I live on the arid prairie, so it makes little sense to me to pack fish hooks etc. I pack to my regionally specific needs. And I can just toss a few extras into a pocket or two when up in the forest.
  11. Preacher Man

    Preacher Man Moderator Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    I don't know why miss using a bic lighter instead of a ferrorod. Although they are they have seem me use a ferro rod, they do not have the experience to use one effectively. The mini bic makes better sense for the context. And I'll check the waxed cotton earplugs viability as tinder. Have never used them, but it makes sense they would work well. The heavy duty 55 gallon trash bag is also a good suggestion.

    Great suggestions all. Thank you. any other suggestions would be appreciated.
  12. jonnyt16


    Jul 17, 2007
  13. Preacher Man

    Preacher Man Moderator Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    Thank you.
  14. flyfishnevada


    Sep 17, 2015
    I agree, the Bic lighter is far better. Cheap and they last forever. Check out Black Owl Outdoors on YouTube. They've had a Bic laying in the forest since last November that they check on every few months. It's seen snow, rain, cold, heat but still lights first time.

    Think about a container that can serve two purposes. A wide mouth nalgene bottle is a good one. A steel or aluminum wide mouth bottle is even better. You can cook with that. Both can carry and store water

    A small filter straw is a good item. Paracord for the cordage. Real 550 cord will give you eight strands if you pull it apart, seven inner strands and the sheath. A small knife is worth it's weight in gold. You can find good quality folders for under $20. Kershaw Oso Sweet folders are $16 on Amazon and they are great knives. Zipties, plastic bags, duct tape, cotton swabs, bandanas, etc. weight nothing, take up very little room but have hundreds of uses.
  15. mec003


    Jan 1, 2015
    Chapstick is a must for me. I also carry a bic lighter all of the time. I usually have a Ferro rod also, but the bic is the one that is much easier to use. A bandana. I like to keep chewing gum too. Single use wet naps from a restaurant are a handy item.
  16. Zoomie517


    Sep 24, 2015
    FWIW, I just tested a bunch of tinder ie petro smeared cotton balls, dryer lint, Wet Fire, etc. The petro cotton balls burned like white phosphorous compared to everything else. They can be sealed and compressed in mini jewelry ziplocs, maintaining a very small footprint. And dirt cheap on your budget, allowing you to invest in the kits elsewhere. We have a ton of them here at the house. Be happy to donate some to the cause. Just PM me your addy.

    I'm a little weird about knife selection (imagine that!) Minimum acceptable real knife for me would be Mora or Opnel. I also understand that this may fall outside of acceptable if you're trying to maintain something the size of an altoids can.

    The big question is, are you going to take them out and teach them the basic skills to capitalize on this gift? I suspect that the 'cool factor' of your generous gift rises exponentially when they truly understand what can be accomplished with it.
  17. panzertroop


    Aug 8, 2008
    Lots of stuff can be found at wal mart as well as dollar stores. good luck!
  18. MaximIsayev


    Dec 17, 2014
    How about some safety pins? They can be used to fix up clothes in a pinch, or could be made into fishing hooks or such. Also, don't forget twine, makes great tinder when you break it up, and it can't hurt to have some spare cordage. Duct tape is great, but electrical tape works well in a pinch too, and it's narrower and easier to store. As far as mini compasses go, I've had a few cheapie ones but they always seem to get stuck, would not trust those. How about some magnets and a needle/thread instead? The needle can be made into a compass, or it can be used with a thread/fishing line for patching up stuff in the field.
  19. Raymond1000


    Oct 8, 2006
    Tinder Quick is good quality, non-greasy starter fuel. They are available in bulk. They are good rattle stoppers in Altoids kits.

    A beginner probably wants to use a whole piece to start a fire. You can cut one in half, or thirds, and still get your fire started.

    They can also be used as ear plugs.
  20. ChadHahn


    Mar 23, 2006
    A knife I like in my Altoids tins is the SAK Classic SD. It's small but has pretty good scissors and tweezers. For tinder I take a drinking straw, cut it to the length that fits the long way in the tin and fill it with Vaseline soaked cotton balls. You can get three or four in the straw. Safety pins are good as are a few needles wrapped in heavy thread.


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