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Thread: Pocket Survival Kit

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Anchorage, Alaska

    Default Pocket Survival Kit

    Hi guys,

    I read through the survival kit thread and saw that it was mostly about fire starters. So I thought I'd start a separate one just focused on survival items that fit in your pocket. The idea is that if the plane goes down (as happened to a friend of mine) and all you get out with is what's in your pockets before the aircraft sinks (which happened to the same friend), what items would you want to have in your pockets?

    I'd like to limit this to only what you would actually carry in your pockets or on your person whenever you fly out on a hunt or fishing trip.

    Here's my list so far:

    1. Vaseline-soaked cotton balls in vacuum-packed packet.
    2. Matches
    3. Solid fuel fire starters
    4. Parachute cord (50')
    5. Space blanket (for use as tarp or signaling)
    6. Snack items
    7. Flash light
    8. Ammunition (in carrier on belt)
    9. Leatherman multi-tool
    10. Signal mirror with sight
    11. Gallon ziplock bag (for water)
    12. Head net (bugs)
    13. Glove liners, polypro (bugs)
    14. Aerial flares

    I know, my pockets would look like "Pockets'" pockets on Hatari, but...

    What's your take?

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  2. #2


    I am interested to hear everyones take on magnessium sticks. Currently I have one in my survival kit which has been vacuum sealed.

    Personally, I would add some kind of medical equipment for cuts and bruises added to your list, and band aides take up virtually no space. In a plane crash there are plenty of opportunities to cut ones self while during an abrupt landing. It is just a suggestion and I am, by no means, an expert of any sort.

    When I was in the 6th grade the entire class took a three night survival course at Victory Bible camp near Chickaloon. On top of taking this class we all made a "do it all" survival kit that completely fit inside an empty tennis ball container. Its been a LONG while, but if I remember right the container included:

    vaseline soaked cotton balls in a film container
    fishing hooks, saftey pins, tin foil, and mono line
    basic first aide equipment, band aides, gause, advil so on
    Visqueen plastic cut to the size of a small tarp
    waterproof matches
    a candle
    small snacks

    On top of making the kit the teachers showed us how to effectively use each and every peice in the kit to survive. How to construct a shelter, catch a fish, then start a quick fire and then how to use a compass and land marks to navigate was instructed. Finally the students were tested on the survival skills. The course was not perfect but, at the time, it was a great introductory lesson for us young folk.

    I always carry a small survival kit and most of the items fit within a zip up first aide kit. Also to make access more convienant I vacuum sealed the first five line items in their own bag and then sealed those five bags in a large bag. Grouping these items and sealing them in seperate bags reduces the need to bust the packaging of all the internal contents. The kit includes:

    band aides, gause, tape, viseen, advil, alcohol pads, and plenty more
    pocket knife and stone
    magnessium flint
    fishing lures with mono line
    small axe
    space blanket
    TP - life saver!

    Chances are I am forgetting a few items, either way that is the basic jist of my kit. I would like to add a small hand saw, plastic poncho, a wamer, colored, and more visible (from a distance) space blanket, and vaseline soaked cottonballs.

    I believe my kits suites the needs of most situations that may confront me on most of my outings. I have seen survival lists literally pages long, there has to be a point where too much can, seriously, be way too much and quite overwhelming. Keep it simple, keep it complete, and know how to use what you have. Thats my take.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Saint Johns, MI


    This is what I always carry, hope I didn't leave anything out, sitting here at work! This all fits into a small choke tube holder, about three times the thickness of a tobacco tin. It's light, can easily fit on my belt, or in a coat pocket. Hopefully, I'm smart enough to have my knife or leatherman on me as they usually are, but if not, I have everything in the kit to make me confident in just about any situation.

    Processed flint
    A handful of matches
    Mini Bic lighter
    Vaseline cotton balls
    Tea candle
    Fishing line, a few hooks and sinkers
    Duct Tape - three strips on a used Avery Label sheet
    Zip lock bag, marked with a perm marker for 1qt
    Micropure tabs
    5 pack of single edge razor blades
    Micro LED light
    Signal mirror
    Space blanket
    Tin foil
    A few packs of triple antibiotics packs, butterfly bandages, antiseptic wipes
    A good wire handsaw

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    My basics always stay the same.

    Leatherman Wave tool
    some safety wire
    medical tape
    parachute cord
    antiseptic baby wipes (sealed travel packs last forever)
    needle and thread (curved needles are easier to sew cuts with)
    small hatchet
    garbage bag(s) (water carrier/raincoat/windbreaker/insulator)
    Blast Match
    safe water tablets

    I store these and other items in a titanium cook pot.

  5. #5

    Default So far, I don't see much in the way of pocket gear

    really, what do you folks carry in your pockets while your out on the sound or driving around the state or woods bumming?

    lock blade folder
    Leatherman or Gerber
    bic lighter
    spare ammo for my pistol
    (I carry the above everyday)
    a magnesium firestarter
    space blanket
    thin plastic tarp and para cord(sometimes)
    a small first aid kit.
    If I wear flying in somewhere, I would certainly add more gear in the cargo pockets, Like Pockets:-)

    the rest is in my pfd (on the water)
    or in a day pack.

  6. #6


    I always have three things in my pocket, my key ring, my pocket knife and my wallet.

    On my key ring I have a small led light, a boy scout hot spark and scraper, a small loud plastic whistle, a small caribiner that has a compass and a mini bic wrapped with halibut line.

    In my wallet I have some cardboard soaked in wax, feathered like thin paper matches this and a utility knife blade are wrapped in saran wrap and slipped into my fishing license holder.

    Knife is either a two blade case barlow or a swiss army.

    It's not perfect but I always have it with me.

    Often I have other items in my pocket and I always carry additional items if I'll be in the woods but these items are always there.

    Need to add some tin foil and a water carrier. Maybe a mylar bag from one of the kids juice drinks...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    For baseline first aid, carry duct tape and super glue. The duct tape is good to carry anyway- it can fix anything, including cuts, blisters, etc. The same goes for super glue- not fun to remove later, but it can be a quick, short-term replacement for stitches when you need them.

  8. #8

    Default space blanket

    Space blanket has saved my rear end three times!
    I can't advocate hard enough to carry one.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    It's not the smallest getup, but when I've got a pack, I have a Pelican 1060 case with orange stripes on it. It's waterproof and hard, so it protects what's inside:

    About 25 feet 550 cord
    Water Purification tablets
    2 candle lantern candles
    2 space blankets- one is orange, one is normal
    A few squares of folded aluminum foil
    2 gallon trash bags
    3 razor blades
    Petzl Tikka plus headlamp
    Film bottle with normal, strike anywhere matches, striking surface, and super glue
    2 bottles Mk 2 water/windproof matches
    A short pen with duct tape wrapped around one end, bailing wire wrapped around the other
    A roll of backpacking toilet paper
    Extra headlamp batteries

    I've got a whistle and other stuff that's normally in the backpack also, but I figure that for a grab-n-go kit, everything that's inside that pelican case should be able to keep me alive for a little while...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    Here's some (low quality) pics of my pelican case survival kit.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11

    Default Snare Wire

    Michael et Al:

    Thoughts on snare wire? I have my own opinions. I'd like to hear others.

    Ride well, shoot straight and be a man of honor.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    Well, depends on how long you plan on being lost. I suppose it could be used in lieu of cord for making shelter, etc. But otherwise, finding food is probably pretty low on the list of immediate needs that the average kit is trying to meet.
    Χάρις υμίν καί είρήνη άπό θεου...

  13. #13
    New member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    I spent a little time in Anchorage, working on 4th between C and D. I was a warehouse manager at The Army/Navy for a bit and a bouncer at The Avenue also. My question is what if you only got out with your pockets? Could you find a suitable fire starting material? You have nothing in them except a little lint and a pocket knife. People keep mentioning the VSC's and I wondered if earwax could be used as a substitute in a dire situation. When your cold and wet getting a shelter and fire is paramount to everything else. Most of us could live of fat stores for 2 weeks although it can take your body several days to switch over from food conversion to fat conversion.

    The dentel floss is a good idea. I had a buddy up there who had sliced his hand open pretty bad while fishing and he strung up a fish hook with dental floss stuck his hand in the cold water till it was numb and proceeded to sew up his hand.

  14. #14
    Member akjw7's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default good topic!

    I enjoying working on survival kits - some of my best containers have been found at surplus stores or GI Joes surplus type stores.

    I make kits in various sizes, pocket size, day pack (or flight suit) size, and then bigger kits for a large pack/base camp type situations.

    My favorite pocket kit that I've made so far is a small (maybe 2" x 3" or something there abouts) hinged metal box. Polished it inside and out so it's very reflective (inside cover polished to the point it could serve as a signal mirror - but that feature is untested, except that it reflects light across the room at similar levels to my commercial signal mirror)

    It contains the following - (from memory)

    • fire starter - spark light (with handle cut down slightly for space savings)
    • Inside the kit is a small plastic box (the kind that the blade style auto fuses come in - if you are familiar) inside it are 6 or 8 of the fire starter wads that come with the spark light as well as a few split shot weights and 4 or 5 smallish fish hooks - one is barbless and the eye has been flattened out in case it has to be used as a needle... (I agree that food isn't a priority for a short term situation - as stated by a previous poster...but the psychological impact of being able to catch a fish or two if in the same place for a couple days or more is not something to be discounted...especially when there is room in the kit and it doesn't take a lot of energy to perform)
    • backup fire starter - credit card sized freznel lens
    • two razor blades (the squarish utility knife style)
    • a cable saw - with two large split rings for handles (tested can cut through a good 3" - 4" branch in very little time)
    • a photon keychain style LED flashlight (white) - (these are great...lithium batteries last a long time in storage and the light is bright and lasts a long time)
    • condom - unlubricated (for carrying water)
    • a few sq. ft. of aluminum foil folded up (I've tried making a pot to boil water with this, but need more practice!)
    • a yard or two of duct tape folded up
    • one of those wallet compass units - (get a bit of water and float this little button in it...never really tested it as it's stuck to a card, but it's small)
    • a couple sheets of cut down write in rain paper
    • a short pencil
    • the pencil is wrapped with a good length of strong thread
    • several yards of fishing line (need to replace this with a hi-tech braided line like spiderwire...if you know how to tie knots that work with that stuff it's strength to size ratio is awesome) ...obviously the fishing line and the thread are multi-purpose and can be cordage, sewing,!
    There may be a few other odds and ends in there, but I think that's the bulk of it. This kit is very compact...the case has rounded edges and corners so it's very comfortable in my pocket. I have it sealed with a couple layers of electrical tape so it's relatively water tight and more than that so it doesn't ever spill open.

    Always have a multi-tool on my belt and when venturing out I typically have a small fanny pack with a real compass, space blanket, wind-proof lighter, first aid kit, 50' of paracord, flashlight, purification tabs, waterproof match container (brass) filled with lifeboat matches - also has a brunton compass on the end, signal mirror, film canister of vasilene soaked cotton balls (or char cloth), a firesteel with striker (or the blastmatch), a tiny can of orange smoke (haven't found pen size flares so far when I've looked). If on the water or snow I'll add a bottle of dye.

    The one thing I really feel like I'm missing is a small hatchet...have one in a pack if I'm carrying it...but I know if I'm in a pockets only survival situation I'd wish I had one!

  15. #15
    Member akjw7's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006


    re: snare wire

    I keep some in a kit that goes in a backpack...not in any of my pocket kits - space and weight (as well as priorities) I guess.

  16. #16


    No word on the Fire Piston it work even after a bath all you have to do is turn it upside down and blow out the water. load it with tinder and fire.

    To make a pot out of foil fold foil into a square then fold into a triangle then take the two ends that are at the fold and fold them across the triangle so that the piont of the triangle can be folded down over them this will make a drinking cup if you open and flatten the bottom it will stand. You might be able to look up how to fold a paper cup out of a square sheet of paper it works.

  17. #17
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Palmer, AK


    #1 space blanket #2 Mini Bic lighter I carry 4 or 5 every time I go in the woods if you smoke you know they last an obcenly long time #3 pancho or spare space blanket for shelters #4 550 cord it has a million uses from tying things up as designed or you can pull out the white center threads and sew with it. I have used the white threads a piece of long round grass stem and some torn cloth to clean my rifle after tripping and driving the barrel into the mud. Just tie a loop not at one end, use the grass to clear the mud then the string can be blown down the barrel (make sure the gun is empty and the chamberis open) or fed with the grass. Insert the cloth into the loop and pull it through the barrel. Repeat till clean. Fuel from a camp stove will also work on the cloth to help the cleaning process. I have also used the white thread with a hook to catch fish. If you frey out the outer threads can be used as sutures I am sure you could find a hundred more uses from making snares to weaving a hammock. #5 Full tang fixed blade knife about 4.5 inch blade with sharpening stone. Those are the 5 most important to me but I also tend to carry small fish hooks and a pen flare gun. The hooks are tiny and take up almost no room. My top 5 are in no particular order and all fit into one of the surplus canvas amo pouches. I am not worried about keeping it weather tight as it will all work wet or dry. I also spread out my lighters they are in every pack, jacket, and pair of pants as well as on my ATV. I will never be caught without flame in the woods!

  18. #18
    Member Alaska Grandma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    little log cabin on the river

    Default and gals...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Hi guys,

    The idea is that if the plane goes down (as happened to a friend of mine) and all you get out with is what's in your pockets before the aircraft sinks (which happened to the same friend), what items would you want to have in your pockets?

    Seems like you guys covered the pocket survival list pretty well....but for the gals...

    Most guys carry their wallets in their pocket, but since I am a gal and carry a purse, well, I always take my ID, credit cards and cash and put them in a Ziploc in my pocket when I am flying in a bush plane to town to do some shopping. Also, for the women folk, take along a nice big wad of TP , we need it a little more than the men and it can be used to get a fire going as well. Put that in a small plastic bag if you are going in a float plane!

    Grandma Lori

  19. #19


    Here's an informative website I used when building my survival kit:
    It has lists of items to pack in various sized kits and reviews of specific items. I found it very useful.

    I choose to pack my kit within an MSR Stowaway pot, the small one that has a handle that clamps the lid into place. I figure if I need to survive in the outdoors for a while then it would be good to have a pot to cook & sterilize water with too. I don't pack it with me 100% of the time but always toss it in the bag when I'm doing anything remotely outdoorsie.

  20. #20
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    I see space blankets being mentioned as emergency shelters ect...I would go into a lot of back ground on this, but essentially, the are pretty useless. I am talking here about in high winds and driving rain or snow and when biulding a proper shelter is not practical due to injury ect..

    A far better althernative is a plastic bivvy bag, yes it weighs more, but it is far more effective at providing shelter in really wet stormy weather.

    The trick is make a small hole in a bottom corner and then pull the bag down over your head untill it reaches your ankles...You then sit down on any insulation thats available...If you have a rucksack, empty it out and put your feet into it for extra warmth..If you've arranged the sack correctly, your mouth and nose will be approx opposite that hole you tore...

    The beauty of this system is that by sitting you are minimising contact with the cold ground and even in heavy winds there is virtually no chance the bag can be blown away. You are ineffect in a weather proof "cocoon"...

    If you have a metal mug or tin, you can actually get a candle going inside the bag, but obviously extreme care would be needed...

    My one reservation for Alaskan use would be in bear country, but that is not an issue here in the UK...



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