Bushlore Topics > Wilderness Survival

The Smallest Practical Survival Kit

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Here and at another forum there's a been a bit of discussion lately about Altoids Tin PSKs, and Moe started a thread a couple years back on the topic.  His take, and one that I agree with, is that the typical Altoids kit is more wishful thinking than real survival kit.  If you concede at least for the sake of argument that this is true, then the next question is probably how large must a PSK kit be to actually be something you could use to survive in a tough situation?

A few things would seem obvious. First, your AO, the season and your skill level would all greatly influence the composition of your kit.  If you bushwhack in the PNW where there's plenty of water you might get by with just a Whirlpack and some Aqua-Tabs whereas a hiker in Arizona in the summer would probably carry a lot of water.  If the environment is wet that will influence the fire kit you carry, and so forth.  Lastly a feller that's an instructor for the military SERE program can do a lot more with a small amount of gear than your average city slicker that gets out to a state park twice per summer.

So how much or how little gear do you folks feel is needed for a PSK that you'd be comfortable carrying in your particular AO?

knife, lighter, pot, fishing kit.  In FL.

Phaedrus,  I carry a small tin in my front left pocket:

11-foot cordage
ferro rod
matches and striker material
artificial tinder
water purification tablets
chicken bag
pain killers

I am not trying to replicate my gear in miniature.  I just want a minimum set of equipment I can use to be more comfortable in a dire situation.   for me that is fire, water, and navigation.

You can find pictures here:

ADVISORY:  This article is about using a chicken bag as a water container instead of the old survival advice to use a condom.  It also makes a few silly jokes.


- Woodsorrel

I don't try to go minimalist.  I normally have a day pack with first aid kit, sharps, cordage, fire kit, signaling, poncho, water purification and probably a few things I am forgetting.

I take along a small day pack as well.  Knife, metal cup, water bottle, ferro rod and striker, first aid kit, length of paracord or synthetic winch cable, and a small flashlight.  I take a package of soup mix and a few energy bars as well.  Probably other stuff depending on where i am at and the time of year.


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