Survival Kits

Spark suggested a new topic for survival kits, so here goes. Spark, did you get your name from 'Sparking' debates?

Basic essential kit for me on any outing:

Knife (USMC KaBar size) and Swiss army knife
Silva Compass
Military Poncho
(2) Bic Lighters AND magnesium fire starter
Iodine Tablets
50' 550 Cord
Small roll of snare wire
A few fish hooks
Contractor's grade trash bag

All of this weighs next to nothing and fits nicely in the pockets of BDU pants or a small travel vest which I usually carry. It will give you the essentials for shelter, water, fire and food in most areas.

Now, you can get more elaborate depending on the type outing. If I'm canoeing, I will usually carry a larger knife since the canoe is carrying the weight and tie a long lanyard to the canoe in case of bad canoeing skills.

I will also add first aid gear, a Sawyer's Extractor and an MSR water filter...of course this goes along with the Ribeye steaks, beer, baking potatoes, Playboy magazines, and portable boom box with Stevie Ray Vaughn's Greatest Hits CD. - Jeff

Randall's Adventure & Training

The two most important things that superseed
(sp?) anything are commen sense and confidence in yourself and your gear. maybe that's three. If you don't have much of the first practice alot in your back yard with
the oth er two. The first will save your
hinder (wonder if that will create six *) in many instances when you don't have
much of two or three. If you have a bunch of
stuff and get tired, it will get left behind.
My 2 thousandths of a big bill.
Your gear should be versatile to work in a
varible type of climate and terraine.
Don't walk in tradition just because it feels good!!!!!
Romans 10:9,10
Psalm 91

[This message has been edited by goshawk (edited 19 August 1999).]
Well, i can't think of a better guy to give us pointers on survival gear than Jeff! How about adding a 2 pound Himalayan Imports khukuri just for good measure?

My Custom Kydex Sheath page
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels

I've got several smaller "survival kits"..., but, at this point, I've been working on putting together a single "bug out" pack; one I can carry on my back.., one that will allow me to survive for years.

The items included are listed below. I'm currently in the process of modifying it, somewhat... and adding components for a "car kit", if I have access to an auto to carry my "big bugout package". That would include my backpack bugout kit, plus a supplemental pack, plus clothing bag, plus food bag.., plus Katadyn drip filter, a more comfortable sleeping cushion, etc.

JanSport frame backpack containing

Bottom outside pocket:
First Aid Kit (REI), plus personal medications
Hydroco/APAP pain killers
48 Sudafed 2/dose
2 Battle dressings
1 Moleskin
1 Nail clippers
1 Tube Micatracian
1 Tube Neosporin
100 Aleve
50 Bayer aspirin

Front Pocket:
3 Legal pads
1 Small pad
12 Lithium AA batteries
2 butane lighters w/pen
4 pens
1 pocket sharpening stone
3 Marine Tuf cloths
1 Wilderness survival book
1 Map Chattahoochee Nat'l Forest
1 Map Chattahoochee & Nantahala Forests
1 D'Holder Flat Back Hunter
1 Rust eraser
Bradford Angier Edible Plants book
10 3v lithium batteries
1 Rustfree
1 Rapid-Rod gun cleaning rod

Bottom Main Pocket:

1 pr. Rockport walking shoes
1 pr. Thorlo Extreme Weather socks
1 pr. Thorlo Crew socks
1 pr. Thorlo Combat Boot socks
2 pr. "regular" socks
1 pr. Medium city camo fatigue pants
5 pr. briefs
1 pr. Large black fatigue pants
2 camo T-shirts
1 set long johns

Top Left pocket:
1 pr. Wool socks holding:
1 Gerber stag M2 knife
1 D'Holder engraved hunter knife
1 pr. Dress socks holding:
1 Kilby utility hunter
1 Ferguson Bear Skinner knife
1 Off insect repellant
1 Cutter insect repellant
1 toothbrush
2 carabiners
100 Mini-mag +V .22 ammo
1 Dozier Yukon Pro Skinner knife
1 Leatherman Wave
1 Med. Plastic bag
1 comb

Top Left pocket:
1 Pocket solar AA battery charger
50 Waterproof storm matches
90 Assorted fish hooks
3 alkaline AA batteries
1 Zippo lighter
90 assorted needles
3 spools thread
200 rds. Stingers .22 ammo
31 Lighter flints

Bottom Right pocket:
400 CCI CB long .22 ammo
5" Pocket sharpening stone
1 Silva Compass and instructions
2 .22 brushes and 1 jig

Top Right pocket:
Knorr Chicken Noodle soup
Zatarain Dirty Rice
Epoxy glue
1 Bottle Breakfree
1 bottle Hoppe's #9
4 small cans hard candy
1 jar Danners boot conditioner
4 10/22 magazines
100 waterproof matches
1 Navy "swiss army" knife
1 small pliers
1 Eze-lap diamond rod

Main pocket:
1650 Remington HP .22 ammo
1 coarse DMT sharpening stone
1 fine DMT sharpening stone
11 butane lighters
1 Strike Force firestarter
1 collapsible fishing pole and reel
Busse Battle Mistress
Mad Dog ATAK
400' nylon cord
743' nylon string
LED flashlight
1 Katadyn Pocket water filter
1 10'x10' Sierra Designs tarp
8 boxes waterproof matches
2 small towels
1 buck saw
1 eating utensils
In MSR pots:
28 oz. Salt
144 assorted fish hooks
1 frying pan
5 qt waterbag
1 Platypus water carrier
260 rds. .308 Winchester Silvertips
50 rds. .45 ammo

On outside of pack:
Sleeping bag
Sleeping mat

Steyer Scout
10/22T .22 rifle
Sig 220 .45 pistol
Every day I carry with me a Black hawk industries gas mask leg pouch(without the gas mask) it makes a great utility bag. The contents of the bag are as follows: Tape measure, 50' para-cord, electric tape, wire, multi tool, lightstick, flashlight, antbacterial handwash, bandages, bandaids w/antibiotic ointment, calculator, G.I. tritium lensatic compass, cell phone, tissues, monocular, pepper spray, nylon strap, permanent marker. I am even thinking of puting in a couple of Mcdonalds hambergers and a large coke
Even with all of these contents the bag does not weigh that much, and still has plenty of room. It might seem a little to big for some to carry everyday, but it works for me.


Louis Buccellato

I couldn't leave this one alone.
I don't necessarily carry a "bug-out" pack or a survival bag but I do have some necessities on me, such as 550 cord, 90 MPH tape, a few blades, stones, some band-aids a compass and other sundry items.
Paranoia is a funny thing and affects many in different ways. I myself, while not as paranoid as some, obviously, still find it quite acceptible to be prepared to a certain degree.
Just my $0.02.

The only limitation is lack of imagination.

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!

Jeff sent me a "Heads up" for this thread.

We produced a video almost two hours long, about this topic. There is no perfect kit. Folks are always finding something better to add... but what do we take away?

The video answers a lot of questions and shows a variety of answers to many questions. One of the kits is called the "Mini" kit and fits in a container the size of a book of matches. The other the "maxi" kit fits in a 1 pound coffee can.

To be usable the kit should:
Satisfy the needs presented by the terrain, climate and conditions you are presently in.

Be small enough that you can carry it conveniently... always.

Have accessable parts usable in a variety of ways.

Be maintained every time you go out.

Be used and tested by YOU.


Two things that are now ALWAYS in my little kits, because they turn out to be the most important items... Each one is in a small sample-size plastic bottle:

1 - small bottle of DEET
1 - high SPF sunscreen

Instead of iodine tablets I include a Polar Pure bottle.


I received a private email asking about the snare wire I had in my kit. Anyone wanting to see how simple and easy basic snares are should order Ron's video on traps and snares at This is money well spent if you want to learn the basics of trapping and snaring.

In my opinion, snare wire is an absolute in any survival kit. You can use it for everything from catching food to setting bushhooks to repairing gear. - Jeff

Randall's Adventure & Training

Kirk, I've copied your kit list because I'm in the process of making something similar. Thanks for the tips! By the way, Ron Hoods 3rd video is all on survival kits. Very good and informative, and he tells you how to use the stuff in there.

What does your pack weigh? I suspect it's too heavy to carry without strain, so I have (respectfully) some suggestions:

Lose some of the knives and some of the ammo. If it has really hit the fan, you are going to need food and water more urgently than you need so much redundent stuff. In their place, include more food, and water. If you have the time to stop and pump/treat water, and to search for food, you probably don't need to be so heavily armed, anyway. All the gear you listed has value, but it you can't physically get away, what's the point?

In my opinion, the single most important requirement in the event of a TEOTWAWKI scenerio will be your ability to move fast. Nobody can do that with a heavy pack. I'm about 5'8" and 160#s. The most weight I have ever carried for long distances was 95#s, and it was VERY difficult. It was a climbing trip in the Wind River Mts. in Wyoming in the mid 70s, and featured high altitude and 4 river crossings. Even though I was young, in condition and strong, 90+ #s was 'way too much.

Take a weekend and carry that pack (with equivalent weight of gear) for 10-20 miles. If you have no problems with it, disregard this post.

If there is transportation available, weight is not so much an issue, but that much weight on your back is a killer over long distances and especially over rough terrain.

As folks have written above, analyze your likely scenerio, and plan and equip yourself accordingly. I do not personally expect the worst, but if you have decided to plan for it, you owe it to yourself to be as ready as you are able.


[This message has been edited by Dave B (edited 19 August 1999).]

I've got your videos.., all of them, finally. As a matter of fact, those "revisions" I mentioned above are partly a result of watching your "Survival kits" tape.

I'm adding three manufactured snares to my kit..., locking snare wires. Two snares are for animals from size squirrl/rat up to rabbit. The other from rabbit to size beaver. Plus I'm adding some snare wire.., some wire bought from hardware stores, some from the company mentioned on your website.

I also have several "conibear" traps, for the "full car kit".

And I've purchased some awls, and construction trash bags.

Dave..., my pack is running about 100lbs. Another reason I'm going to revise it

But..., I figure (if I *have* to walk), I'll need to walk about 60 miles, to get into the mountains. I *can* carry 100lbs for a while, even if I don't *want* to. And if we're talking about having to live for *years* in the woods..., I'll give up some initial comfort, to make sure I have the things I'll need.


Sorry..., I didn't see the rest of your post.

I don't wanna drop the ammo. 260 rounds of .308 adds considerable weight, but it offers considerable defense and large game options, too..., for deer, black bear and wild boar.., all of which are in the mountains I'd be headed for.

The .45 is for purely defensive, quick response situations, which is why in included minimal ammo. I don't expect to survive too many of those type scenarios.

And .22... you can *never* have too much of that. I could take a deer with a .22, and probably a boar, from what I understand.., as well as most any small game. And it'd provide make-or-break defense, if it came to that. Better than a sling, or atlatl <sp?>, anyway.

This is for an absolute worst case scenario. Say... martial law has been declared, the military controls nearly all roads and has imposed a curfew, enforcing a "no driving" ban. This assumes hiking out.. at least 'til you get beyond enforcement.

If it's just a lack of car for some reason, but the road is available..., I have a heavy duty cart in which to load the pack, and a few other things.

And if I have a car..., well, like you said, weight is not really an issue.

Oh..., and I further forgot
..., wrapped in the sleeping bag is an REI windbloc fleece vest, an REI windbloc fleece jacket, and a Columbia camo rain-resistant coat made of "silent" cloth. It's somewhat heavy.. and one of my possible revisions may be to replace that coat with an REI Switchback Gortex shell jacket, in a size large enough to fit the two fleece garments underneath.


[This message has been edited by Kirk D (edited 19 August 1999).]
Typically in the jungle, our per-person pack weight is about 35 lbs and is more than enought to sustain us for long periods since most of the food and all of the water is taken from the surroundings. Actually we could live indefinitely with that 35 pound pack weight.

I realize jungle survival is easier when it comes to the basics due to the abundance of the environment. I also realize that we are not carrying ammo or weapons and fighting any type of conflict.

In my opinion, for stateside survival and protection, I would rather lighten the 95# pack load and arm myself with a reliable 22 rifle and ammo if I needed this.

Heavy loading leads to problems with feet and legs. Foot problems will kill you. Period. End of subject. Unless you are conditioned to these pack loads (and most of us are not) you will be immobilized in a short time.

Cresson Kearney, author of the book 'Jungle Snafus and Remedies' makes good mention as to pack loading and other survival problems in a combat situation. He is an authority on combat survival and served as the nations's top jungle training expert. (all of you know me well enough to know I don't use the word 'expert' lightly) He also served with OSS, CIA and did a couple of tours in Vietnam. I've talked with Cresson at length about his experiences. He's now 85 years old and continuing to research combat problems facing the typcial foot soldier.

Anyone interested in a real expert's advice should buy the book, it will open your eyes to small problems most of us never think of until we're in the middle of things. We should have our review of the book and Mr. Kearney up on our site soon - Jeff

Randall's Adventure & Training

HOLY JEEZ! I certainly hope you have a car for all of that, because you are not going to be walking long with all of that.

1/3 of your body weight should be your absolute maximum, especially if you are going to move about for any long periods. Believe me, when I was in the military, I was in phenomenal shape, and carried a 90 pound ruck and it kicked my ass (being the RTO and having an M203 didn't help). Having a 100 pound ruck isn't going to do you any long term good.

From what I can see, and I'll admit, I'm not an expert, and am nowhere near Jeff or Dr. Ron in this field, you are carrying too much weight.

Consider: the basic load for ammo is 210 rounds of .223 for the typical soldier, and he's expected to carry a 40 lb rucksack.
Drop your .22 down to 500-1000 rounds (a brick). Drop your .308 down to 200 rounds. Your .45 is good.

Get rid of some of the extraneous crap (you don't need 144 fishooks, try around 20), and get rid of some of the triple redundancy.
Take 1 hone, or a sharpmaker, but the EZELap should take care of 90% of your needs.

You need room for socks, food and water, because you aren't going to last long without the last 2, and changing your socks more often saves your feet. Get rid of the extra knives, take 2 folders and 2 fixed blades max. Get rid of half the batteries, if you are serious about the recharging.

Cut your cord and string amounts in half. I'm not even sure if you need the 10/22, you may be better off with an M6 survival, since it's your backup or is used for small game. Either way, it's a lot lighter.

Ditch the underwear, if you aren't washing often you are going to chafe etc. I went without in the field, but then again I'll leave that to the experts.

You've got a lot of room for pruning, and again, I'm not an expert or even close, but packing the kitchen sink isn't going to get you far. You're better off packing a bit lighter and making it, it's about your level of comfort.

Are you planning on setting up a firm base, or are you going to forage? Are you going to cache or preposition your gear?


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for

Insert witty quip here
I change my kit around quite a bit, playing with different things to see how they all work out. Anyway, my basic loadout for a tropical or temperate environment is;

1 U.S. Army surplus wool blanket

1 Chris Reeve Project 1

1 decent folder, I used to have a Buck XlTi, but I broke it. The tactical wonderfolder you just thought of would've gotten broke too.

Unknown length of paracord, or 3/8 manilla, for stringing the blanket from a tree so I don't get eaten by aligators or bears or wild boar, or wake up with a rattlesnake, and so the racoons and possums can't screw with me.

1 U.S. Army surplus 1 qt. canteen w/carrier and cup

A pair or two of Levi's 501's, a couple t-shirts, "some" underpants and socks are nice, can do without them. Also my Altamas, but sometimes I leave them behind.

Something to start a fire with.

Bugs are a real problem in my state, not only will they eat you alive, but they'll give you cooties too. There's a bunch of ammourous wildlife too that likes to come and mess with you when you're trying to sleep. We also get tides out in the Glades, and sometimes the "land" you're on ain't land at all and is just a foating, and sinking, island. It's hard to tell because full grown trees will take up root on some, and you don't want to poke around the base too much because that's where the aligators are.

It's not so bad during the winter dry season, except where the watershed's been altered for the benefit of the canegrowers and ranchers, where it can stay flooded all year.

Anyway, that's why I have opted to sling the blanket like a tent/hammock combo up in some tree.

You don't need snares around here. Just use the knife to cut a branch and sleep on the ground. Some possum or racoon will come to screw with you that evening and you can just club him.

Oh, I usualy also bring my 50lbs. recurve bow and a couple arrows, and "some" extra strings. I can make the arrows myself, but the high tech stuff works better. I can take just about anything I care to eat with the bow, and if the arrow don't kill it, the knife will.

If I were to pack a firearm for survival, it'd be some sort of twelve gauge shotgun. There isn't hardly anywhere in the world where firearms are used that you can't get 12gauge shotshells, and that shotgun will do any critter you care to take out. A well placed slug'd probably drop and elephant.

I don't know about th rest of you guys, but if society really does collapse, I'm seizing the opportunity to form a culture in my own image. All that running around in the woods is fun and all, but while you're playing Swiss Family Robinson, some other guy will be establishing his empire and army and then you'll have to live by his rules. I'm starting my empire early.

I'd rather be the atomic mutant lord of the wasteland than the radioactive post-apocolyptic serf.
about the iodine tablets- ive seen these on a lot of lists, including stuff to put in hollow-handle knives.
not all of these lists have included a canteen/bottle/container.
how do you use the iodine? do you make a container in the woods? or use a tarp/trashbag as a puddle?
just curious, cause i havent seen this addressed before.

i hope its not something obvious.

also- ive noticed the spine of the saw on my leatherman wave works great with an artificial flint
Gentlemen; there are some excellent suggestions above. Some items I hadn't thought of. Good stuff.

Here are some minor suggestions of some items I feel worthy of inclusion:

Oral antibiotics. If you get a skin infection, an invasive enteritis (see below)or strep throat and don't have antibiotics, you are potentially dead. I would suggest some amoxicillin for upper respiratory infections. It has a good range of coverage, and is inexpensive, and comes in chewable tabs, so you can afford to carry enough pills to treat everybody. Alternatives would be Augmentin (amoxicillin plus a chemical that makes amox. resistant organisms sensitive to it), or Ceclor (2nd gen cephalosporin).

Skin infections (usually from blisters or cuts) are best handled by a first gen. cephalosporin, such as Keflex. Alternatives would be E-mycin or Augmentin.

Some Zantac or Tagamet. These are great for protecting your stomach if you are taking NSAIDS (ASA, ibuprofen, etc.). If you take ibuprofen on an empty stomach, you are asking for a GI bleed. Dose for ibuprofen is 600mg. to 800mg three times daily with food. Lower dose for smaller people, i.e. most women.

A suture kit with anesthetic would be nice, if you can obtain one. Suturing is a lot easier than it looks. Be prepared with steri-strips or some other sort of sticky tape for closing wounds.

Betadine SOLUTION (not scrub) is great stuff; diluted one part Betadine soln. to 9 parts water (roughly; exact proportions not required, just don't make it any more dilute, as you may not have enough Betadine to be effective) is a good wound cleanser and antiseptic. Doesn't sting either (much).
This does double duty as a water purifier; 10 drops per liter will kill Giardia, amoeba, bacteria and viruses. Don't forget to turn the water container upside down and loosen the screw top to get the Betadine treated water in the threads. You did pack several large (one liter or larger) water containers, correct?

I would add some Lomotil or OTC anti-diarrheal med, such as Immodium tabs, as well. Having the runs while on the trail is annoying. If you have a severe enteritis, not just the runs, you will have a fever, blood and/or pus in stool, and abd. pain.
Ciprofloxacin is a good antibiotic to take for this. Check with your doc; having some Cipro could save your life, and an severe (invasive) enteritis is not uncommon when sanitation is poor.

You did toss in toilet paper, right? Doesn't take that much space, and is also useful for taking notes.

A bandana is a wonderful thing to have. It can be used as head/neck cover, and as a washcloth. Further, if you have one imprinted with various knots, and how to tie them, or a star chart, you have an even better item.

How about a Global Positioning Navigation device? They are now fairly cheap, and while everybody should know how to use a compass, the GPN system is hard to beat for accuracy.

I highly second the inclusion of insect repellent, antibiotic and antifungal creams or ointments. I would add a high power fluorinated steroid cream. This will work on any type of contact dermatitis (poison oak, poison ivy).

How about a reflective mirror; the ones with the hole in the center for signalling? I find that they work well.

A plastic bottle of antibacterial hand/dish soap, such as Palmolive diswashing and antibacterial hand soap, is a good thing to have. Does double duty, and also will be a suitable wound cleanser.

Antihistamine/decongestant tabs (Actifed, Isochlor, Dimetapp, etc.) are really nice. They can be used for their usual use, and are also effective for whole body allergic reactions, when you break out in hives.

SUNSCREEN; large bottle. Indispensible. You can be totally incapacitated and even die from severe sunburn; toss in a few tubes of lip block as well.

Trauma shears. These are like large bandage scissors, with the blades angled about 30 degrees. They will cut through light sheet metal, and are very cheap ($4 or $5).

Photon lights. Lots of them. At the size and weight of a quarter, you can carry lots; enough for everyone to have spares. If you want a larger light, Sur-Fire is the most compact of the bright ones, but burn time is only one hour, and while rechargable battery models are available, most people use the Li cells, which are fairly pricey. Also, they have a reputation for the lamp/reflector assembly being fragile and breaking if dropped.

I would use a Mag-Lite. The smaller (AAA or AA) ones are good choices, and the batteries are fairly compact and light (compared to C or D cells). I prefer the AAA ones myself. The burn time is about the same time as the AA, and while the AA starts out 50% brighter, at half the burn time and beyond, the brightness is the same. A solar charger for AAA or AA cells is a good idea for protracted sojurns. Use the high capacity rechargable batteries from Radio Shack; they are much better than the standard yellow Everyready ones. If you take non rechargable batteries, take Lithium ones. They have more capacity than alkalines, and have a longer shelf life.

Take a book on survival. I couldn't make a figure 4 trap from memory right now, but I'll bet that I could relearn how to really quickly from a manual.

Know CPR. Learn it within the next month. They use replaceable plastic parts so you don't share saliva with others. Absolutely indispensible. Even if you are not planning on hitting the trail.

Latex gloves, sterile or not. Obvious reasons for having these.

Leather gloves. You might have hands of iron, but I don't, and if you are digging through piles of broken glass or rubble, they are indispensible.

A whistle for signalling. Also, have a predetermined plan, such as staying put where you are if you are lost.

Duct tape, and glass fiber reinforced strapping tape for emergency repairs or splints for injured extremeties.

That is it for now. Comments, criticisms, and questions gladly entertained.

Walt Welch, Diplomate, American Board of Emergency Medicine.
thanks walt!!.that is great stuff you said....guys please keep this forum going!. it is great to learn from more experienced fella's
thanks a bunch have you guys checked out the big SAS survival book? it is great! luke
To avoid sunburn, I keep covered up. Not only do I find lotions to feel icky, but they, like any grease, are dirt magnets.

Iodine's pretty gross stuff too, I just boil my water.

The advantage to not carrying those two items is that you if you don't have it, you can't run out of it.

Bugspray probably is a good idea, Lime Disease sucks from what I hear. Fortunately there is this weed I don't know what the proper name for is, but is what I call "ragweed", and if you smear some of that one you the skeeters leave you alone. And it's common as rocks out here.

Not true, there aren't actualy many rocks in Florida. A buncha weeds though.

I don't carry much in the way of medical supplies, mostly because I don't need half of it, a quarter of it I don't know what to do with. The other quarter is in my first-aid kit, but I didn't count that as survival stuff `cause I can live without it.

First aid kit would have;

some duct tape to patch about anything, including me

exacto-knife+blades for scalpel

dental floss and some needles for sutures

those scissor-style tweezers

All the drugs and medication and stuff I don't really need/use. Maybe some chlorine for disinfectant/painkiller. I used to use liquid, but I was recently introduced to a highly concentrated solid form at the pool supply store.