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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Altoid Survival Kit

I love pocket-sized survival kits. For EDC situations, I prefer an easy-to-carry wallet kit, but for a wilderness survival situation, a more full-blown kit is in order. Enter the altoid survival kit.
Who knows what genius initially came up with the idea of using an Altoid tin to hold a survival kit, but survivalists everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude. I'm a mildly obsessive sort, always interested in improving things in whatever that I can...so these kind of kits are right up my alley. Sourcing miniature survival gear and putting together a decent kit is waaay more fun than it should be. 
As I've mentioned previously, I'm in a gift exchange this Christmas. There's a price limit of around $20, and I wanted to see what kind of Altoid survival kit I could pull together for that amount. 
I started by listing out various survival priorities. For each category, I needed to find an inexpensive, altoid kit-sized piece of gear. An interesting challenge indeed. 
Here's the list of the final contents:
Contents of the altoid kit
  • Fire Starting: 
    • Mini Bic lighter 
    • Ferro rod 
    • Four pieces of TinderQuik tinder. 
    • Total cost: about $3 
  • Water: 
    • 1 Qt. Emergency Water Bag (more on these later)
    • Vial with 20 water purification tablets
    • Total cost: about $4.00
  • Compass:
    • 20mm compass
    • Cost: $4.50
  • Cordage:
    • 9 foot hank of 150lb test-weight dacron line
    • Cost: Free--I have about 500 feet of this stuff lying around
  • Signaling:
    • A miniature whistle
    • Cost: Around $1
  • Cutting:
    • A SerePick Folding Razor Saw
    • Cost: I had this lying around doing nothing, so it was free in that sense. If I hadn't had this kicking around, I would have used a folding razor, which is $1.50, and a piece of hacksaw blade, which is basically free. 
  • Lighting
  • Misc
    • A couple of safety pins
    • Cost: Free
  • Total Cost of the Kit
    • $20.00 (approximate)
I'm looking to wedge some gorilla tape into the kit somehow, but overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. The Emergency Water Bag and miniature vial of purification tabs is the best water set-up that I've seen in a PSK-size, and the Nano Light is a great piece of kit. For the cost, this is a pretty darned good set up.
The kit obviously comes up a bit short on shelter/covering, but all pocket kits do. There's just no room for a poncho, spaceblanket or similar in an altoid tin. This kit does have some good cordage, though, which will help when fashioning a debris shelter. Food gathering is a bit short as well, though with the folding razor, saw blade, and cordage you would be able to improvise traps, gigs and so on. 
If I was going to spend a bit more on this kit, the first thing--and probably the only thing, really--that I would upgrade would be the knife. The folding razors are ok and inexpensive, but I'd rather a mini fixed blade like the RSK MK5 or a small lock back like the Spyderco Ladybug. There's not much space for anything additional, save maybe some small nails, fishhooks and maybe some tin foil folded very flat. And there's not much in the current kit that I would want to lose...either the lighter or the ferro rod could go (they're redundant), but that's about it.
Anyways, there's the kit. Fun, affordable little survival project to pull together, and I will be sad to see it go at the gift exchange! Hopefully I get something just as good in return...which is highly doubtful!

Survival Improvising

By Joseph Parish 
Usually most of us are accustomed to jumping in the family car and visiting one of our local stores in order to obtain items for our various needs. In general, most of the minor items which are needed for our day to day survival are fairly inexpensive to replace when wore out or damaged. This is assumed that we are discussing normal circumstances here. 

Our normal process is to replace items as necessary however there will likely come a time when this practice simply will not work. Perhaps there will not be a store to purchase them from or maybe we simply can not find any of the necessary items anywhere. What will that mean to us as survivalists? It means we will need to improvise whenever we can.

An excellent way to practice this concept is to take one item and brainstorm to see how many other uses you can put that item too. Look around you and carefully observe all the natural things that appear to you. Ask yourself what can you use these items for? Once again create multiple uses for anything you can. 

The good news is that in order to increase your chances at surviving your predicament you can let your imagination run wild, add a little creativity and in the end you should be able to devise your own basic survival necessities. The process of improvising in an emergency is going to be one of your foremost needs. By the process of improvising you or your group will be able to make many of the needed pieces of equipment that may be required for your survival and wellbeing. 

One’s military training often provides them with logical steps which should help anyone that needs to quickly improvise under emergency conditions. Your first step should be to determine exactly what it is that you need. When making this determination be as specific as you can. Now that you have some idea as to what you need to improvise take stock of your supplies and the various materials you have on hand. Follow this up with a compiled list of options which you have at you disposal. Pick one of the options that you have reviewed and base your decision on sound judgment. Consider only those which are based upon making the most from your available time, the energy that you have and the use of the materials at hand. Finally, proceed with your established plan and once your project is completed ensure it meet your needs. 

There you have it in a brief and concise manner how you should attempt to accomplish your improvising task when confronted with the lack of necessary supplies and equipment. Get into the habit of watching all around you and thinking of how things you see can be best put to use.

Copyright @2010 Joseph Parish