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Welcome to Diy Survival Kit. I built this site because the times we live in are becoming increasingly shaky. After experiencing a prolonged power outage and other forms of minor system breakdowns in my hometown I realized that we cannot take day to day luxuries for granted. If you’ve ever experienced a power outage you know how vulnerable you feel without these systems. Losing power throws you immediately into the dark ages (no pun intended). Without a survival kit and basic survival skills you put yourself in a dangerous situation. Utilizing the practical knowledge here on Diy Survival Kit, you give yourself a significant advantage in many situations where you must be self reliant.

Why you must own a survival kit

Having a survival kit doesn’t mean you’re a paranoid basket case who spends his days stockpiling dried food and giving doomsday speeches at the public square. It means you understand that systems can fail and there may come a day when you have to improvise resources. Without power you can’t use the lights, you can’t cook with the stove and you can’t expect running water to come out when you turn the faucet. Beyond the common power outage there are thousands of scenarios that can turn hairy real quick: Natural disasters, cyber attacks, public water failures, riots, economic meltdowns etc. Have a look at the FEMA disaster report to see the reality of what could happen. The truth is, you never know what the world will throw at you. Owning a survival kit that covers your basic needs is common sense in a world shaped by disaster.

What you need in your survival kit

Your survival kit at the minimum must cover your water, fire, food and shelter needs. Practically your kit will be portable in case you need to “bug out.” If you must leave your home in case of emergency you need to bring your kit with you. It makes sense to stow necessary items in a backpack or “bug out bag.” You may also consider putting together a more robust survival kit for situations where you can stay in-house and another one you can grab and go. Let’s cover some of the basic gear you need in your survival kit.

Backpack – In a state of emergency situation the name of the game is speed, safety, and efficiency. When the time comes to bug out you don’t want to be fumbling around for your gear. All of your gear should be stowed in a backpack and ready to go. Your backpack should be comfortable, well constructed and offer plenty of space to store everything you need to survive. I like bags that offer ample storage pockets so I can easily organize my gear. Knowing exactly where your gear is located gives you a sense of order in chaotic situations.

The 72 hour "RUSH" bag from 5.11 is a nice middle-ground between a civilian and military bag.
The 72 hour “RUSH” bag from 5.11 is a nice middle-ground between a civilian and military bag.

Military vs civilian packs

There is no shortage of debate between choosing the right backpack for your survival kit. There are pros and cons to both. Military packs have literally been battle proven and have stood up to the standards of military use. They are inexpensive, well constructed, and well camouflaged. You don’t have to worry about a strap snapping off one of these packs. They are however a lot heavier than civilian packs and you’re going to draw attention to yourself if you’re surrounded by panicking civilians. You may become subject to violence from desperate individuals who think you have valuable survival gear. Civilian packs on the other hand tend to be lightweight and blend in well with civilian populations. Civilian packs are more expensive but they can be just as reliable as their military counter parts. See my post on choosing between a military or civilian backpack.

This military issued ALICE pack is a popular and inexpensive alternative to the more expensive civilian backpacks
This military issued ALICE pack is a popular and inexpensive alternative to the more expensive civilian backpacks

Water – Keep this rule of thumb in mind when putting your survival kit together: In extreme environments, man can go 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. How much water you need is largely dependent on your body and environment. You lose water through breathing, sweating and urinating. These processes become accelerated with exercise. At the bare minimum you should be drinking a liter a day and more if you can. A good survival kit will have at least 3 liters of water and a method of purification for other sources.

Purifying water – Boiling water is a sure-fire way to destroy harmful bacteria. All you need is a pot and a fire. Other methods include chemical purification and filtration systems. Many of these systems are lightweight, effective, and easily stowed away. The LifeStraw is a very effective device now being distributed worldwide as part of a humanitarian effort to provide clean water to impoverished areas.

Food – Food will provide you with energy to make it to safety. Glucose and other essential nutrients are crucial for your body’s energy needs. The food you pack into your survival kit should be easy to make, lightweight and loaded with nutrients. Calorie dense ration bars can be had for cheap. You can also go the diy method and throw together a good trail mix. Remember; this isn’t a culinary experience. Go for foods that provide the most caloric bang. Load up with at least 72 hours worth of food.

Shelter / Sleeping – Every survival kit should have gear to shield you from the elements. Cold can kill a man quick as a jack rabbit. At the bare minimum you need a lightweight tarp and some paracord to fashion a shelter. Mylar emergency blankets are waterproof, windproof, light, cheap, and reflect 90 percent of your body heat back to you. Sleeping bags and tents are nice but they are the heaviest items in your bag and take up the most space. Depending on your location they may or may not be a critical item to include in your survival kit.

A good fire provides infinite value in a survival situation
A good fire provides infinite value in a survival situation

Fire – Fire serves many purposes including keeping you warm, cooking food, boiling water, signaling for help, and serving as an all natural morale booster in survival times. Every survival kit worthy of protecting your life has multiple tools to make fire. BIC lighters are extremely reliable when dry. Waterproof matches may just save your ass if your kit gets wet and using a ferrocerium rod with your knife are all reliable methods to get a good blaze going.

Communications – Having a way to receive transmissions that alert you to the current state of the situation is important. Hand-cranked radios will you keep you in the know and allow you to make an informed decision about your next move. Radio scanners can loop through emergency broadcast frequencies and HAM radios allow you to access and transmit over radio frequencies. Communications gear is essential for communicating with family who might be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Note that you would need a HAM radio license to do this normally.

Essential tools and other items

Now that have everything you need to get water, food, fire, and shelter, there are a few tools and items that are going to make your life a lot easier in a survival situation.

Fixed-Blade Knife – Essential for many survival tasks: Wood cutting, cordage making, preparing game, making shelter, making fire (with a ferro rod) and a host of other tasks. If it’s one thing survivalists agree on it’s that the knife is the most important tool in your survival kit. See my guide for choosing a survival knife.

The Bk2 fixed blade knife was originally issued to the Marine Corps and still highly regarded as the best of its kind
The Bk2 fixed blade knife was originally issued to the Marine Corps and still highly regarded as the best of its kind

Multi-Tool – A very versatile tool. Use the pliers to fashion snares for trapping and remove fish hooks from the days catch. Open cans, shape and cut wire and use the screwdriver to remove screws that secure potentially valuable items.

First-Aid Kit – Every survival kit needs a first aid kit. A good kit will have everything you need to treat and disinfect wounds inflicted during a survival situation. In this kit you should also have a supply of any prescription medications you are taking.

Paracord – To quote Boondock Saints; “you don’t know what you’re gonna need it for, you just always need it.” Practical applications include: rigging tarp for shelter, making traps, spare boot laces, hauling gear, bow drills, elevating food supplies, fishing line, improvising a hammock and tons of other things. Arguably the most important piece of gear second only to the knife.

Duct-Tape – A million and one uses. Repair your shelter, patch up equipment, cover blisters etc.

Flashlight – See in the dark.

Headlamp – See in the dark but still use both your hands. Makes doing things around camp much easier.

Spare batteries – Your flashlights and communications gear are going to run out of batteries. Make sure you have spares so you don’t lose the ability to use valuable equipment.

Cook set – Use a cook set to make food over your fire and boil water.

Cash – Cash can be bartered with other survivalists and used at stores where electronic ATM’s and card readers are offline.

Toiletries – (TP, toothbrush, toothpaste etc)

Including what’s best for you

I consider these items to be the bare essentials of what you should include in a survival kit. You might include other items that are custom tailored to you and your specific situation. Some people will include weapons. Others might include items like fishing rigs and trapping gear to catch game. If you’re in an urban environment, you will need a different kit all together. As they say, there is more than one way to skin a jack rabbit. Add whatever you think you need to make it through a survival situation and survive.

Building survival skills and testing your kit

Your survival kit is useless unless you have the skills to use the gear. Learn basic skills like making fire and rigging shelters. Learn how to use your knife and communicate with your comm. Equipment. Take your gear camping and experiment with all the tools. Knowing how to use everything will give you a foundation of confidence. Knowledge of survival is free and weighs nothing. Your creativity and knowledge is the most important tool in your kit.