Making a Homemade Survival Kit
Homemade survival kits are easy to make and cheap to put together. Almost everyone has their own list and all have some common items. I use the following when going deep into the smoky mountains where it is easy for a non-native to get lost. I mark my trail and have never been lost, but there is always the potential. I also carry my kit when entering deep woods in my native state on extended trips.
My survival kit is not one of the ‘coffee can’ kits many people put together. Mine fits into a small military bag with a shoulder strap that I carry on my shoulder. This kit will also fit into a small backpack. You can adjust it to suit your needs.
- Matches in a water proof container, I double up by placing mine in a small ziplock
- Space blanket and 2 disposable ponchos (the latter can double up as a water proof cover over a brush shelter or lean to)
- String (about 15 ft.) wrapped around my mini Maglite or a stick. Useful for brush shelter when willow bark isn’t available and many other uses
- Toilet paper
- Pocket size fishing kit with fishing line
- Pocket size sewing kit
- Nylon braided rope-25 ft. loops through attachments on the exterior of my bag
- Fire starting blocks (I carry one for an emergency, but make my own fire starting bundles from the wild)
- Good Knife
- Duct tape wrapped around a tongue depressor. Great for many things including a shoe whose sole comes loose
- There are some items I include in my basics such as I have a magnesium fire starter for back up, and a Leatherman multi-tool that will clip to a belt as well as a compact mess kit that can hold small items
- First Aid & Medical
- Scissors (I found a neat pair of folding mini-scissors some years back)
- Band-Aids, 2 × 2 and 4 × 4 sterile gauze
- A good sticky medical tape (this can double up in a pinch to hold the gapping edges of a wound together. NEVER wrap it all the way around a limb if you do not have appropriate medical training, the circulation can become cut off and gangrene can result)
- Triple antibiotic ointment, it has 3 types of antibiotic
- Aspirin and Tylenol. If you are losing blood aspirin can reduce coagulation factors resulting in increased bleeding. In the case of a bleeding wound use Tylenol
- A small travel size bottle of peroxide. If you have ever been injured 3 days back into the woods with a contaminated wound you will appreciate having this
- Bring along any medications that you take, including an epi-pen if you are prone to life threatening allergic reactions
Food & Nourishment
- Instant soup packs, ramen noodles, small packs of nuts and raisins. Individual servings of instant coffee or tea and single serving tang
- A straw or surgical tubing for extracting water
- Hard candy, helps with dry mouth
Adjust the bag to suit your needs; I have never used the fire starter block. I have always had enough paper in my pockets (or found it on the ground) to start fires and gather kindling from the woods as long as dry is available.
Good places to look for dry tinder in a wet forest are against tree trunks and rock overhangs. Pine wood, hemlock and cedar burn easier; use it for kindling if you can find it. Pine especially gets a fire hot and going quick. Collect ‘twigs’ to feed a new fire, and then graduate to larger and larger wood until the fire is going. Paper is great to start the burn, use a bit of the toilet paper if necessary. Keep an eye for paper on the ground. This may indicate a road is nearby, a hunting camp, or depending upon how long it has been on the ground, the presence of other people in the woods. Even if it is wet, it can dry in a pocket and be used for fire starting.
On camping trips and when hunting, a Ranger vest can provide a lot of handy pockets and can be used as a supplement to a survival kit.