DIY Survival Gear: 11 Projects Worth Building

DIY Survival Gear: 11 Projects Worth Building
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DIY Survival Gear

Performing a quick Google search for “DIY Survival Gear” yields 2,030,000 results.

That means there’s a mind-boggling number of DIY Survival Gear ideas at your fingertips anytime, nearly anywhere.

However, only a few of theses results are both interesting and useful. The vast majority are less than impressive. Not to mention the ones that belong in the trash heap.

The point I’m making here is that there are thousands of DIY survival gear sites, guides, survival hacks, and articles you could sort through. And that’s before even mentioning YouTube….

So with that said, my purpose for this article is to wade through all the B.S. DIY survival gear ideas and hone in on a few of the best. 11 of the best to be exact.

But before we get started, what makes a DIY survival gear project one of the best and worth our time?

I considered a DIY survival gear project one of the best if:

  1. It creates gear and tools that are desirable in most survival situations.
  2. It can be accomplished with a basic set of tools.
  3. It can be completed in less than a day (assuming you have the material needed at hand).
  4. I was able to find a comprehensive step by step video instruction that shows you exactly how to do it.

With that criteria in mind, here’s SkilledSurvival’s favorite DIY survival gear projects that can be made by the average Joe, quickly, at home, and without an insane amount of technical knowledge.

  • DIY Fire Starter
  • DIY Water Filter
  • DIY Rocket Stove
  • DIY Cordage (from 2-liter soda bottle)
  • DIY Survival Slingshot
  • DIY Cigar Tube Fishing Kit
  • DIY Survival Knife
  • DIY Bow and Arrow
  • DIY Survival Spear
  • DIY Solar Battery Charger (for phone or USB)
  • DIY Ranger Band

Fire Starting With Coated Cotton Ball1 – DIY Fire Starter

There are lots of ways to start a fire, right? But we all know some better than others.

Fire starting can be accomplished with something as simple as a BIC lighter and a wad of paper or as challenging as using sticks and friction.

I sorted through a bunch of different fire starting gear ideas and options, and in my opinion, the easiest to make, to store, and to use is this one:

With this DIY survival project, you can make fire starting a breeze. It’s a DIY survival gear idea that is both simple, and nearly foolproof.

Bottom line: All you need is a jar of petroleum jelly, some cotton balls, and a zip lock baggie; that’s it.

Just put the petroleum jelly inside the baggie, add some cotton balls, gently rub the balls around so they get a coating of the petroleum on them.

Make sure not to over saturate them, or they’ll get difficult to light. Just coat them with a dab and you’re done!

Roll the baggie up, zip the top, and put it in your bug out bag, backpack, glove box, or anywhere where you can find them quickly when the need arises.

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Sure…this one seems too easy when compared with the more elaborate DIY fire starting setups. However, complicated is rarely a virtue when it comes to survival.

Instead, simple yet effective is what you want, and this one works in all sorts of conditions: cold, hot, wet, dry. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. So give it a try.

DIY Survival Water Filter2 – DIY Water Filter

There are tons of ready-made water filters available for purchase, and you should own one.

But if you don’t have one yet, can’t afford one, or lost yours, you still need safe drinking water. So it’s a good investment to learn how to make one using only a few basic readily-available materials.

I researched many elaborate DIY survival water filters setups. Most were pretty decent, and it was tough to decide on just one. So I settled on this simple design because I was certain I could make it myself in the wilderness.

Again, you may be thinking this DIY survival gear setup is overly simplistic but in my opinion, that’s the point. Complex gear can break, fail, and leave you helpless.

Simple gear just works and saves lives.

DIY Rocket Stove3 – DIY Rocket Stove

There are so many unique rocket stove setups that it’s impossible for me to describe even a portion of them. To prove this point, a YouTube search will reveal 144,000 videos on the topic.

So here’s the good news, I’m going to save you the trouble and hours sifting through all these videos. Helping you avoid the unnecessary rubbish and showing you just the hidden gems.

Trust me when I say that the rocket stove set ups I watched run from the ridiculous to the sublime.

At its fundamental design, a rocket stove has a combustion chamber, an air intake, and a chimney (or flue) to vent the exhaust.

They can be made from many different types of containers. Empty cans, 55-gallon drums, cinder blocks all have been used to create a rocket stove.

I once found an old, rusty oil drum and modified into a stove. I found it in an old log grain storage building on my ranch.

Even though it looked like it was a hundred years old, it still was perfect for this DIY survival gear project. Since a having a stove is an essential survival tool for cooking and heating, you would be smart to make your own too.

There were so many how to videos to choose from, but I finally settled on this one. The basic concepts are all the same so feel free to get creative after you watch:

I really like the way this guy explains everything and kept it simple. It’s not as light and portable as I prefer, but it’s still a solid design.

DIY Cordage from Plastic Bottle4 – Cordage From A 2 Liter Soda Bottle

I don’t know about you, but in my life having paracord, rope, baling twine, and an assortment of old lead ropes is a necessity. I live on a small ranch, and I use the aforementioned types of cordage for all sorts of useful tasks.

Tying water hoses to fence rails, impromptu horse bridles, tying loose tractor hydraulic hoses, the list is long and varied. In any DIY survival gear scenario having some type of cordage is essential, and a “no-brainer”.

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You’ll need it, but if you don’t have any, you can make your own.

I’ve seen and read hundreds of videos and articles that show how to make cordage from natural plant fibers, straw, hay, grasses, etc. They are all okay, and some are pretty darn good assuming you can find the right natural materials.

But one unnatural material that you can typically find just about anywhere is plastic bottles. So when I discovered making cordage from a plastic 2 Liter Soda Bottle, I was thrilled.

Littering is terrible (don’t do it!), and I don’t like it, but I’ll take advantage of it and use it for my survival.

If you’re like me, you probably have more of these empty bottles lying around than you care to admit.

That’s why I think this guy’s idea is great. So I did a quick little test using my pocket knife, and the plastic cordage is both flexible and strong.

Try it out, it’s useful and just as important, it’s easy.

DIY Slingshot Modification Big Game5 – DIY Survival Slingshot

Ok, this one is more of a modification than a build from scratch but it’s badass. If you ever had a slingshot as a kid, this project will resonate with you. You can carve your own handle, or just modify an existing one.

This example claims to be capable of bringing down “big game” animals. It shoots arrows and is designed on a “wrist rocket” platform.

The mods are easy and inexpensive, and the video is well made.

No matter how many firearms you may or may not have, the slingshot is an easy to make and incredibly useful survival weapon to have.

Besides the video I linked to, there are a lot of other good slingshot ideas on YouTube. Whether you use it for hunting, or perhaps self-defense, a slingshot is an inexpensive, simple, foolproof weapon.

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DIY Cigar Tube Fishing Kit6 – DIY Cigar Tube Fishing Kit

Easy to make, use, and small this is one DIY survival gear that everyone should have in their survival stash.

If you smoke cigars that come in tubes, you already have the main part of the tool. If you don’t smoke cigars, you could still just buy one, give the cigar away and keep the tube.

If you still don’t like that, you can substitute a piece of wooden dowel about 6 inches long.

Now just take some fishing line of your choice, wrap a couple hundred feet at most, around the tube and tape it. Use the inside of the tube for hooks, sinkers, flies, whatever. If you use the dowel, wrap up your accessories in a separate little bag.

There are lots of possibilities here and many variations on the same underlying theme.

For instance, I have an old Cohiba tube, from a Havana that I used for this project. It adds a cool factor to my little DIY survival kit. Even though I don’t smoke cigars anymore it still smells faintly of Cuban tobacco.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find any videos that used a cigar tube, but I did find one that shows how to make a “Hobo Fishing Kit”, and it’s the same idea.

Just using a protein drink cylindrical bottle instead of a cigar tube.

DIY Survival Knife7 – DIY Survival Knife

Knife making is an art and an ancient one at that.

But even if you lack that particular skill set, you can still make yourself a basic version that will cut and stab. You can make it with just a hacksaw or a Sawzall blade.

You’ll also need some paracord to wrap the handle. And of course, you’ll need either a metal file or a grinder.

By grinding, filing and beveling the edge, you will end up with a simple blade. Not the tough one ever, but one that can still be useful in a survival scenario.

I watched a lot of videos that were pretty advanced in the knife making skills department but I decided to share one that is more “homespun”. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s easy to make, especially if you have a grinder.

Also, this method is easy on the wallet.

DIY Bow and Arrow8 – DIY Bow and Arrow

Even though my archery experience is limited to shooting at hay bales, missing them completely, and punching holes in the wall of our barn, a bow and arrow is a deadly weapon. Not only that but a wooden longbow possible to make yourself.

As with all my selections in this article, I searched my faithful YouTube lists until I found a few I thought worthy of presenting to you, my readers. Well, it was sort of a difficult choice between hand-hewn, sustainably harvested, tree limbs and store bought PVC pipes and fiberglass rods.

Though the Grizzly Adams approach appeals to my inner frontiersman, I’m a city slicker at heart, so it’s the plastic and fiberglass project for now.

The guy in the video I’m linking to is good on camera, knows what he’s talking about, and if you follow his directions, you’ll have yourself a pretty awesome DIY survival bow and arrow kit.

DIY Survival Spear9 – DIY Survival Spear/ Walking Stick

Easy to build, with readily available materials, the spear has a long history. With this simple but effective weapon, Paleolithic hunters harvested mastodons and fought off saber-tooth cats.

Roman legions used them against their enemies too. They were modified into the pike too, which is a spear with an extra long shaft.

Anyway, before I get carried away with historical rants, I’ve found some very good videos that will show you how to make a spear with a removable point.

The shaft is a broom handle essentially. The blade is a Cold Steel knife, which has a hollow, tapered handle that allows it to be mounted on a shaft.

Of course, you can also go primitive and cut your own shaft, mount a DIY survival knife, like the one I described earlier in this article.

The video I’ve selected uses the Cold Steel blade, and I think it’s the best one. I think you’ll agree.

DIY USB Solar Charger10 – DIY Solar Battery/ USB Charger

A small portable solar charger is a useful gadget to have. I doubt I need to explain why you should have one of these, so I won’t insult your intelligence.

The most difficult skill you need to pull this off is to use a soldering gun. You’ll also need to locate all the parts. However, you may be able to scavenge them from stuff you may already have in your garage.

I watched a bunch of videos on this subject to see how hard it would be for a guy like myself to build.

I built a Heathkit radio when I was a kid and swapped out the pickups on my first electric guitar when Jimi Hendrix was still alive.

So for what it’s worth, it means that this is a pretty straight forward project for most preppers and DIY’ers.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

DIY Ranger Bands11 – DIY Ranger Bands

I have a lot of old bicycle tubes.

I used to look at them all piled into an old cardboard box, gathering dust and bird poop, and being the kind of guy who never, ever throws anything away, I’d tell myself there must be a use for these things.

I never actually found one until I learned about Ranger Bands. A Ranger Band is a cross section piece of an inner tube. Usually from a bicycle.

Assuming the rubber isn’t rotted, and still has some stretch, you’ll have the raw material to make Ranger Bands.

Ranger bands are a badass DIY survival gear project anyone can do in minutes.

DIY Survival Gear – Wrap Up Remarks

I know there’s more DIY survival projects out there. I’ve only scratched the surface here, but I hope you found these DIY survival gear 11 projects simple, useful, interesting, and enjoyable.

They were the best ones I found after sifting through hundreds of potential videos to share.

However, that doesn’t mean I was able to watch them all and I’m sure I missed some great ones. So if you know of any I missed that you think should have made the list, please share it with the SkilledSurvival audience in the comments below.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

– Jonathan Hands

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  1. Mary Ann Fitzsimmons says

    I found the information here creative, simple and definitely valuable
    if I ever needed to improvise in a survival setting.

  2. says

    Yup, completely agree with you. There are a lot of ways to start fire. Some people use survival knife to start fire or by rubbing stones. Either way, Thanks for this wonderful survival tips. 😀

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