Survival Kits – How To Build Or Buy One To Get Prepared

Survival Kits – How To Build Or Buy One To Get Prepared
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Survival Kits

A survival kit is just a group of critical survival gear and supplies put into some sort of container (bag, pack, tin, etc.) and there’s a lot to be said for owning a quality survival kit.

Even if you’re a survival expert and can make fishhooks out of pop-tops, fashion hunting bows from plywood, and turn a shoe into a water filtration system – you never want to have to rely on those last resort measures. At least not in a real critical emergency situation.

Having well-stocked survival kits, and essential bushcraft gear at your disposal is practical. And in the long run, it can be just as important to your surviving as all those fancy tricks you’ve learned.

I am not saying that a survivalist is only as good as his equipment. Being creative and adaptive in survival is still essential. But having a good survival kit always increases your survival odds.

Think of it this way – an expert guitar player can make a crappy guitar sound pretty good but if you give that same musician a Les Paul with Marshall Stacks and a pedal board, they’re going sound much better.

It’s the same with survival. You don’t need the professional setup to survive, but having one is always preferred.

Convinced yet? Well, before you take off with your credit card in hand, make sure to take a look inside a survival kit first.

Knowing which materials make a survival kit worth while will help guide you to the perfect kit for you.

So What Should Be In Your Survival Kit?

Why’s it important to understand what goes into a good survival kit? Two reasons.

First, you’ll know if a survival kit is comprehensive or missing some essential items. You’ll know how to identify a high-quality kit from a poor quality kit.

And second, if you don’t want to buy a commercial survival kit, this list will help you build one.

Even if you do buy a commercial kit, you might see some items listed here that you want to include in the one you’ve bought.

There are no rules against customization – in fact, it’s highly encouraged.

But, here’s the problem – a lot of you survivalists already have their “Bug Out Bag” packed and ready. And when we cover in detail what’s inside a survival kit, you might notice some crossover between the two.

So my advice is this: redundancy is never a bad thing when it comes to survival.

Having extra fish hooks and dehydrated meals is never bad. And many of those items, weigh very little and are easily packed away, without taking up a lot of space.

If the crossover bothers you, you may want to include just those items you don’t have yet. As opposed to building a second “Survival Kit” that’s almost identical to your “Bug Out Bag.”

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.

Survival Knife:

bushcraft survival knife

Naturally, a bushcraft survival knife is best. But even a simple folding knife can achieve a lot in a survival situation.

Knives have been one of man’s best survival friends since the dawn of time. And that remains much the same today – don’t get caught unawares without one.

Water Filters/Tablets:

Clean drinking water is critical for survival situations and from your water taps in everyday life. Water filters or purification tablets should be one of the first things you put into any survival kit or bug out bag.

Iodine tablets are very useful and take up almost no space inside of your kit. Water filters tend to be larger but work faster than iodine so get a couple portable ones; like a Life Straw.



Sustenance is one of the most important pillars of survival. Without it, you starve, shrivel up and die a miserable death.

Calories are energy, and no matter how you’re storing them, keep some in your survival kit!

Maybe you use energy bars or dehydrated meals. Some people prefer energy gels, packets of peanuts, trail mix. Just keep something edible and calorie rich in your survival kit.

Another great survival food for your kit is called Pemmican. This survival snack was originally invented by the Native Americans for their own survival needs.

Avoid relying on candies and other food with high sugar content. They will give you a short burst of energy and then you’ll feel more tired once it’s quickly used up.

Waterproof Matches, Striker, and Lighter:

Waterproof Matches

I carry all these in my survival kit, but one or the other can suffice. Fire is one of man’s oldest survival tools so if you don’t have a way of making one you’re still under-prepared.

Of course, there are a lot of ways to start fires without matches and lighters. But those methods are much more complicated, more time-consuming, and less reliable.

First Aid Kit:

Small First Aid Medical kitRarely should you include a complete emergency first aid kit in your survival kit. If you do, it will consume most of your available packing space. But even small first aid kits are useful in the survival situations.

Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, alcohol swabs, and some clean gauze are the bare minimum.

For an in-depth description of building a comprehensive survival medical kit, click here.

Small Compass:

military compassIt doesn’t have to be your best compass or even a high-tech one. It just needs to be a compass you can rely on to point you in the right direction.

Cheap compasses are for sale everywhere, but always make sure that it’s reliable. Once you’ve found a cheap, but reliable compass like this; put one in every bag you own.

Your survival kit, your bug out bag, your hiking backpack, your purse… wherever! Compasses are useful tools to always have on hand.

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.

Fish Hooks and Line:

In wilderness survival, fishing is one of the easiest and most reliable forms of calorie acquisition.

Fish make for excellent survival food, and you can find them almost anywhere you can find water. And you don’t need a fancy pole and reel setup to catch one, either.

Some bait, a strong line, and a hook is all one needs to catch a fish in a pinch. And patience… lots and lots of patience.

Survival Blankets:

tact bivvy emergency sleeping bag

TACT BIVVY – Emergency Sleeping Bag With Reflective Technology

Emergency sleeping bags or “space blanket,” as they are sometimes called, are essential for all Survival Kits.

They pack small and look more like tin foil than an actual blanket, but these bad boys retain heat.

They were originally designed by NASA (hence their nickname) for astronauts. But they work just as well for cold survivors down here on Earth.

Of the ones, we’ve tested here at Skilled Survival and like the best is the Tact Bivvy by Survival Frog.

Duct Tape:

The traditional American “fix-all” tape. Duct tape is highly useful in the wilderness or a survival situation. It allows you to build and repair just about anything you might have on hand in a survival situation.

It’s also a good way to temporarily waterproof something.

Emergency Poncho:

rain ponchoWhen it starts raining in a survival situation, you have to stay dry.

And if you are outside, with no houses, buildings, caves, or other structures to seek refuge in, having an emergency poncho at your disposal is crucial.

Having two is even better – then you won’t have to share yours if you have a companion.

Emergency Lightsticks:


These are not only useful; they are fun to use.

Everyone loves glow sticks.

And in an emergency, they are very practical assets to have in your survival kit.

Dust Masks:

Let’s be honest – none of us know what kind of urgency we will be using our survival tools for. And if it’s one that includes fire, smoke, ash, dust, particulate matter, or other discharge of similar nature, then you are going to want a dust mask.

These protect your respiratory system from pollutants and toxins. They are cheap, lightweight, and easily pack away.

Or you can upgrade from a dusk mask to a full blown gas mask setup for more dangerous chemicals in the air.

Nitrile Gloves:

The applications for these are nearly endless. Nitrile gloves are important when working with injuries. They’re useful for cleaning nasty things (like toilets), or toxic materials.

So stuff a couple of pairs of these into your survival kit. You never know what you’ll need them for, but you can be almost certain you’ll need them for something.

Emergency Whistle:


While you might have a loud shouting voice, survival whistles are always better at alerting people.

No matter how loud you think you can get, your voice will not carry as far as a whistle.

Bio-Hazard Bags:

I don’t know what kinds of things you will be handling when you are out surviving – and neither do you!

Biohazard bags are the kinds of things you do not need until you need them. Plus, they can be used for a variety of other purposes if need be.



A deck of survival playing cards, a cribbage board, a book or magazine can make a huge difference in a survival situation.

Entertainment preserves one’s sanity.

A survival kit without some forms of distraction is incomplete.

Best Commercial Survival Kits on the Market

Not every survival kit is going to have all those survival supplies included. They come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are big and bulky and will last four people for days. Others are small enough to fit inside of a bug out bag or backpacking pack.

I recommend assessing your needs and then finding the one that’s right for you and your budget.

Ready America Grab n’ Go Deluxe Emergency Backpack

Ready America Survival KitWe’re starting with the biggest and the badest survival kit on this list. This full sized backpack emergency survival kit is equipped to sustain four people. It has almost everything we talked about above, and even a few more items not listed.

The pack is ideal for families. However, it’s the most expensive kit we’ll discuss (check out today’s price). And for a good reason: it’s the most comprehensive and the largest.

Kugix Outdoor Emergency Survival Gear Kit

Kugix Outdoor Emergency Survival Gear KitThis smaller, more portable survival kit contains several different survival tools. Multi-tools, a striker, a compass, a portable wire saw and emergency whistle, among other things.

High-quality materials more than justify at this fair price (check out today’s price). This kit is great if you plan on storing your survival kit inside of another bag because it is so small.

Wise Company 5 Day Survival Backpack

This one is just a lot of bang for your buck. You get:

  • A camouflage backpack
  • 5 water pouches (4.227 fl oz.)
  • Portable stove
  • 4 fuel tablets
  • 1 stainless steel cup
  • 1 squeeze flashlight
  • 5-in-1 survival whistle
  • 37 piece bandage kit
  • N95 dust mask
  • Pocket, tissues
  • 3 wet naps
  • Waterproof matches
  • Mylar blanket
  • Emergency poncho
  • And playing cards

It’s got a lot of survival supplies at a reasonable price (check out today’s price).

Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Survival Kit

This kit is another small option, containing all the essential items without the bells and whistles.

This is the bare bones of a survival kit, and it’s in the mid-price range (check out today’s price).

Honestly, if you want a survival kit of this size, it’s easier just to take note of what’s included in this one and then just buy the materials on your own. While this kit is a reliable option, the brand name makes it far more expensive than it would be otherwise.

Urban Survival Bug Out Bag


If your looking for a comprehensive urban survival kit that doubles as a bug out bag, look no further than the Urban Survival Bug Out Bag.

This kit includes all the basic equipment you need for a successful bug out, including gear and supplies.

Plus, these bag’s are colored to blend into the urban landscape environment since they are a simple black and gray combination.

For all you get, the price is surprising (check out today’s price).

Adding a Personal Touch

As I mentioned before, even if you bought a commercial survival kit, it is a good practice to customize it.

Never be afraid to add things to it – extra items such as:

  • Favorite multi-tools
  • Personal medications and prescriptions
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Your favorite survival book
  • A journal
  • Your favorite candy bar
  • Pictures of your loved ones
  • An iPod loaded with your favorite songs
  • Lucky tokens, etc.

Survival is all about thinking outside of the box… or outside of the survival kit, that is. It’s a creative art that requires improvisation skills. Apply that towards perfecting your survival kit.

The more time and thought you put into this project the higher the payoff when the time comes to use it.

The Final Word

A survival kit is the kind of asset that makes the difference between a chaotic and difficult struggle, and a manageable challenge. With a single bag, you can prepare yourself for the worst emergency.

Now, as I mentioned, there is a lot of crossover between “Bug out Bags” and survival kits. THIS IS OKAY.

I recommend against supplementing one for the other. Why not have both? Even if they are roughly the same and loaded with a lot of the same supplies, it’s good to have two.

It means you’re doubly prepared in the event of an emergency. Redundancy in survival is often a good thing, do not be afraid to have more than one of the same survival tool.

There are so many survival kits on the market, all advertising a different list of contents. That is a lot of options for prospective buyers like you. And it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to pick the right one.

Hopefully, this gear guide helped provide insight on which survival kit is right for you.

Regardless of whether you choose to build your own survival kit or buy one, make sure you have your survival kit at the ready. Ensure that your fate is in your own hands. Prepare yourself with reliable gear, and a comprehensive survival kit.

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.

-Will Brendza

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  1. Ben Leucking says

    A “good” survival kit is one that you build for yourself, based upon the requirements dictated by your projected survival situation. I live in the Southwest desert of the U.S. My survival kit requirements are largely different from those that an educated prepper would require in northern Maine or North Dakota, or southern Georgia, for that matter. I’ve looked at many of these over priced store-bought survival kits and laughed. Please don’t waste your money. A survival kit will not keep you alive if you don’t know how to use it. A kit that contains unreliable and unneeded items will not keep you alive, even if you know how to use them.

  2. Michael L Gillett says

    I personally bought the one from Wise for my sister who lives in New York. I did add some extras to it. But he is right, you have to have some type kit.

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