Assembling your bushcraft survival kit

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General considerations

What is a wilderness survival kit?  It’s a package of tools to help you live and survive in the wilderness, this is the simplest answer, but nowadays there are more and more tools to build a kit…
what are really useful and functional?
The main factor to consider when you assemble a kit, it’s the geographic location, a particular environment require appropriate solutions and specific tools, but there are some basic items that you will include, that will perform well many of the tasks needed.
If you don’t know where to begin for your own kit, look at various Army Survival Kit or follow these survival needs below and my example, so you will have a survival kit.

bushcraft_survival_needs

My kit, just an example

The kit that I suggest in this post, is not a classic small ‘Altoids‘ kit or tobacco tin kit, because I want to overcome the limitations of these sizes, to improve the usefulness and reliability, about this, I absolutely agree this post on Paul Kirtley’s Blog, a fundamental Bushcraft web resource.
This could be a stand alone belt kit in combination with a First Aid Kit, but I use to complete the bushcraft equipment that include others essential items and packages like (fixed knife, a folding saw, an axe, a backpack, hobo stove, food, wearing layers, etc…).

The pouch

survival_kit_tin_and_pouches

The picture above shows 4 alternative pouches where to put a kit:

  • the classic tobacco tin – too small for my kit;
  • a vintage leather pouch – i prefer for an old style bushcraft kit;
  • a small dry bag – a good choice for a backpack, but without belt loops;
  • the Condor EMT pouch – my choice for this survival kit, with belt and molle loops.

condor_emt_pouch_survival_kit

I have chosen this EMT pouch because has a good size, a compact design (height: 7″ –  18cm; width: 5″ – 13 cm; depth: 2 1/2″- 7.5 cm) and is very versatile, it has inside elastic straps and a pocket to hold various items and tools.

The kit content

Now let’s explore the pouch content! Use this as a suggestion and feel free to customize and improve your own. These pictures below show my personal kit, with some DIY elements that I’ll explain to you, it’s not a too expensive kit, but despite this, in my opinion, good quality tools.
Note that I’ve added numbers in the black and white picture, only to simplify the description of the objects, it’s not a classification.

bushcraft_survival_kit

Bushcraft survival kit

bushcraft_survival_kit_explained

Bushcraft survival kit: 1. Flashlight; 2. Survival Army knife; 3. Sharpening stone; 4. Survival necklace; 5. Compass; 6. Fire starting kit; 7. Waxed paper; 8. Tealight candle; 9. Paracord; 10. Sewing kit; 11. Fishing kit; 12. Steel wire; 13. Batteries; 14. Waterproof notebook, pencil, pencil sharpener; 15. Plastic bags; 16. Water purification tablets; 17. The survival kit pouch.

  1. A Flashlight with 100 or more lumens.  I suggest buying a torch with good rechargeable Li-On battery or with disposable batteries, there are on the market a large number of very good products.
    I bought Thrunite Archer 1AV on Amazon, it has a max output  of 180 Lumen, not expensive, very good materials, waterproof and with only ONE AA battery (before to start a new adventure remember that a pack of four AA batteries is easy to find also in a local store).
  2.  An affordable back-up knife, to perform specific or different tasks from the main fixed blade.
    This knife could be a simple folding knife like an Opinel, a medium or large Swiss Army Knife Wenger/Victorinox  or a multitools like LeathermanSog and Gerber, there is a great variety.
    I have in my kit a Victorinox Workchamp, a complete version of Swiss Army Knife with 21 functions, it has also pretty good pliers, a metal saw and scissors. I know that the pliers are not a stricly necessary item in bushcraft, but in some survival tasks they can help to make it… Easier!

    opinel_and_swiss_army_knives

    Opinel Carbone N°8, a Victorinox Workchamp and a Victorinox Camper with a Light my Fire firesteel.

  3. A sharpening stone or a sharpening tools for your knives. I’ve an useful Fallkniven DC4, with its black leather sheath. This stone has two different grit: a fine gold diamond face to restore the edge of your blade and a ceramic face to refine your work, you can do this without any lubrification, but in the field you could … spit on it, so the metal will not plug up the stone!
  4. A paracord survival necklace, you should wear it in the outdoor, to carry with you a whistle and microled flashlight, to help enhance your safety and to attract attention in an emergency situation.
    I have in my necklace:
    – a Photon Freedom Microled Keychain flashlight – a reliable waterproof light that you can control with only one button, useful also during your field task;
    – a Fox 40 Micro whistle – a powerful pealess whistle more reliable, particularly in a cold environment.

    Fox 40 Micro whistle (pealess) and a metal pea whistle

    Fox 40 Micro whistle (pealess) and a metal pea whistle

  5. A Compass one of explorer’s best friends, this is the Silva Explorer S  with different map scales on its transparent baseplate to help you read distances on map. It’s very interesting to note that the mirror can replace a signal mirror.

    Silva Ranger S and a signal mirror

    Silva Ranger S and a signal mirror

  6. Fire starting Kit

    Swedish firesteel, Waterproof windproof matches in a waterproof box and cotton wool (as tinder), Proforce Turboflame - Ranger lighter

    A swedish firesteel, Waterproof windproof matches in a waterproof box and cotton wool (as tinder), Proforce Turboflame Ranger lighter

    This is an essential part of any survival kit that should include tools to light a fire in all weather and environment conditions:
    –  a Swedish firesteel, choose larger firesteel rod to create bigger sparks on your tinder.
    Windproof  Stormproof matches in a waterproof box (useful also to preserve fire ember)
    – A Lighter … now a great debate! What is the best survival lighter?
    Bic lighter are really a good cheap and RELIABLE (with capital letters) alternative to other expensive lighter, if you have any doubts… look at this exposure test on Black Owl Outdoors Blog, after five months…
    Zippo fans can follow this instructable to prepare this lighter.
    I’m a Bic fan but I’m curious about jetflame and turboflame lighter, so I bought a Turboflame Ranger Windproof Lighter. It’s an interesting lighter: it has a double flame(so hot flame that can be use for soldering like a mini blow torch) to improve the chances to light a fire and it’s refilliable.
    Now this lighter is in my kit! (but there is also a Bic in another place 🙂 ).

  7.  Emergency Tinder  – additional tinder to light a fire especially in wet conditions.
    This could be waxed paper, vaseline soaked cotton (read my tutorial) , or paraffin waxed cord.
  8. A tealight candle as emergency light or as useful resource to start a fire or having extra heat inside a shelter.
  9. Paracord  you should always have it in your kit it’s very useful in a survival situation.
  10. Sewing kit
    This kit is a ‘First Aid’ for your outdoor clothes or for your backpack and also for other elements of your equipment.

    Two DIY sewing kits.

    Two DIY sewing kits: 1. ‘Vitamin box’ sewing kit; 2. Small metal tin sewing kit.

    The picture above shows two different DIY sewing kit. The first is the most complete for survival needs,
    it’s an used vitamin box wrapped with duct tape (as emergency repair for a tarp, or other elements) and high visibility electrical tape (useful in an emergency situation to signal your movements or your position in the woods). Inside this box there is an extra strong thread, some needles and  some safety pins.

  11. Fishing kit
    diy_fishing_kit
    This DIY fishing kit include:
    – 2 different fishing lines ø 0,20 mm and ø 0,30;
    – various hooks;
    – 2 small fishing floats;
    – round split shot sinkers
    – Some false baits.
    This kit works for my area, you should build your own in relation with your environment.
    * This kit should be only used respecting laws and rules of your land or in a real survival situation.*
  12. Steel wire not essential if you have with you ropes or other cordages.
    * Steel wire should be used for trapping ONLY in a real survival situation, it’s a cruel way to kill animals, respect laws and rules of your land *
  13. Batteries  as survival ‘extra fuel’ for electronic equipment like torch, gps and other.  I have the same batteries type for my torch and gps.
  14. A waterproof notebook and a pencil to take note, to draw, in any situation. I’ve added also a pencil shapener, obviously not essential (you have also a knife) but could be also an useful tinder maker! Watch this video.
  15. Plastic bags  I pack in this kit various size and type of plastic bags as a ‘matrioska’.
    There are some resealable bags (some of these are Ikea ISTAD, the best are aLOKSAK) that I can use to harvest tinder, or other useful things that I find in the wood or even… to carry water.
    There is also a big bag that can be used as a makeshift shelter, or as condensation trap to collect water!
  16. Water purification tablets  as emergency resource for potable water procurement if it’s not possible to boil it.
  17. The survival kit pouch to hold all the kit.

Remember that the best kit ever is the knowledge, so try yourself, use an empirical method to explore the world of surviving, but in safety condition avoiding risk and the imitation of some unrealistic movies examples.

Something to read

Mears, Raymond, THE SURVIVAL HANDBOOK, Oxford Illustrated Press, 1990
Mears, Raymond, THE OUTDOOR SURVIVAL HANDBOOK, St. Martin Press, 1992
Stilwell, Alexander THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES, London, Amber Books Ltd, 2000

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I hope you find this post useful, if you have any question or suggestion… or if you would like to show your kit… Add a link or a picture on this page!

Thank you! Ciao a tutti!
Mattia

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27 thoughts on “Assembling your bushcraft survival kit

  1. I like your kit (probably because it is almost exactly the same as mine 🙂 ). Went through the article all over again and couldn’t find missing items right away. If you still have room you might try to add some mylar or plastic to make a SuperShelter with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cool. Just shared my kit with a young camp group and they loved the show and tell. Gave em each an altoids tin and some items to get started, they have been adding their own pieces to it everyday now.

    Like

    • Fantastico! It’s a nice way to teach bushcraft/survival to childs and teens ! Very good This didactic approach with interactions! I use this when I worked as guide in a palaeothnological museum and now during my primary school lab! Definitely WordPress it’s a great place to know great and interesting people! Ciao Mattia!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Prometheus, the fire and the bushcrafter | Wild Tuscany Bushcraft

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