Thoughts on Survival Kit Basics

I attended the Primitive Skills Meetup tonight [http://www.primitivechicago.com/events/63421742/] talking about Wilderness Survival Kits.

One of the attendees asked about a ‘rule of thumb’ for the size of a survival kit.

The unfulfilling answer was ‘it depends’. We discussed from an Altoids tin to a rucksack.

The ‘Rule of 3s’ was laid out in class and the kit was discussed in the context of fulfilling those needs.

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter/clothing
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food
  • 3 months without companionship

The first one was basically skipped as a survival kit isn’t really going to do much for helping you breath. Bring a life jacket in your kit? I guess you can interpret that as oxygen to the brain, and a first aid kit would be what’s in order in that context.
We also glossed over the last one as it’s kinda hard to tuck a friend into an Altoids tin without a lot of complaining from your friend for trying.

We spent a couple of hours discussing what could be added to the kit to fulfill the middle 3 needs.

On my drive home, I came up with the answer to the size question. Your kit needs to be big enough to fulfill each of the needs in 1/3rd the time allotted for that need.
e.g. You may need to be able to procure shelter in less than an hour because by that 2nd hour your going to be in a bad way if the weather is bad, and that 3rd hour you are going to be busy dieing.
Same goes with water – you need water on the first day because by the 2nd day you are going to start getting dizzy, have a headache, and loose dexterity, and on the third day…
People frequently fast for 10 days, but buy the end of that time period they are dizzy, weak, and have no energy.

Also, knowledge and skill have an inverse relationship with the size of your kit. The more you know and can do, the smaller your kit needs to be. Somebody without a clue could have a rough go of things with anything short of a convenience store lost with them in the woods. A well practiced expert can make a go of it with nothing but a broken knife and broken arm.

The instructor laid out a lot of gear and discussed the pros and cons of each. At the end, I did a quick show & tell of the best tin-kit I’ve come across. I’d originally seen it at teotwawkiblog.blogspot.com where it was entered into a pocket sized survival kit contest. The creator offered a few up for review at that time and I was sent one. I wish he sold them as I would buy a couple of them.

I put together a video as I unpacked it this last weekend which was basically what I did in the class tonight again. I’d intended on doing a video on using the kit but where I went was a six mile hike in I got a late start and just didn’t have time (story of my life). So hopefully sometime in the near future I can get a video of using some of the bits in it.

Combining this kit with some sort of sheet-good (plastic drop cloth, space blanket, contractor bag) and a durable water container (I like stainless steel water bottles) will satisfy fulfilling the Rule of 3s with the knowledge and skill that I possess in the 1/3rd time period that I am thinking they need to be done in.

I do carry a lot more junk as I am lazy, don’t like inconvenience or being uncomfortable, and I am not yet ready to let go of ‘the security of stuff’.
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A coworker has been bringing in different board games to work

I thought It would be fun to try to make one. So I made a print-and-play game that fits into an Altoids Tin. I am calling it "Tins of Zombies – Curiously Strong Zombies". #TinsOfZombies

There are 3 piece types in the game. The Cards, which on one side have the game board pieces, and on the other side have the items used in game play. Then I have a bunch of small dice which are used for the player tokens – multi purpose is good! And Last, I have Zombies, A crazy amount of Zombies.

The part I like about this is that it's a turn based game, but there is potential for players to play during every other players turn as well. The game is also co-opitive, that is to say, your playing with each other and against each other. The game is easier to play together, but you can play it alone, and you can play against the other players.

I am going to play it a couple of more times to see how game play flows and to work out any kinks, and then I may publish it.

I am thinking about making a smart-phone companion app to go with the game to help with scoring and to add extra game play dimensionality.

In album

My zombie game is designed to fit into an Altoids Tin. These are smaller than normal dice.

Fancy that, it fits!

All the pieces laid out as a ‘town’. I only screwed up one piece. The Grey is roads, the brown are sidewalks and alleys.

Nearing the end of the game, you can see how this town was built out. The stacks of slips of paper are my zombies. The different colored die are the player markers.

One turn left! We only made up a couple of rules as we played **grin**. You can see an item card in the corner of the photo.

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Keychain box

The contents of my pocket I carry a lot of stuff in my pockets. This is the contents of my left front pocket. I am tired of sounding like a coffee can full of nuts and bolts rattling around every time I take a step. My keys rattle against each other, the little Altoids tin, the pill canister, my knife, etc. I took to carrying the Altoids Smalls tin as a catch-all box due to it’s small size. I’ve had in my pocket for probably 4 months now, so it’s getting pretty tired looking.


Keys and an Altoids Tin I drilled a couple of holes in each corner of the lid of the tin. I picked the lid as the keys will cover the embossed Altoids name. Space the holes as near as you can to the outside but leaving a space for the base to fit inside of the lid and not hit the nuts. I used a couple of 1/2″ #6-32 machine screws and nuts to bolt the keys to the lid. I would probably use some of those Chicago Screws as they are called if I had them. I faced the teeth of the keys in, so they didn’t snag in my packet. I use the keys in a specific order, so they are ordered outside in in the order of use. I thought about using thin plastic spacers, but it doesn’t seem to be needed for now. I just rotate the keys out that I need. There is enough clearance around the keys that they are easily usable.


Keys bolted to an Altoids tin as a keychain You can see that the small tin, with 8 keys bolted to the top isn’t any thicker then my Victornox Cybertool pocket knife. Granted, that’s a rather large knife to carry every day.


My keychain can now hold stuff I didn’t want the keys falling off my tin. I super glued the nuts to the bolts and to the tin as I don’t have any lock-tight. A Dremel will take the head of the bolt off if I can’t break the glue with a screwdriver & a wrench.
I put my headphones adapter for my cell phone in the tin. I also carry a 1 gig USB memory stick in it that I made a custom, waterproof housing using some casting resin.
I am going to put a small bit of cloth in the bottom and lid to quite the rattle down. I will also put in a cotton ball to fill the space and help silence the contents of the tin as well.

I am going to see how long this tin key-chain lasts.