Introduction: Comprehensive Altoids Survival Kit

Picture of Comprehensive Altoids Survival Kit

After the positive feedback for my Pocket Survival Kit Deluxe Instructable I decided to revisit a project I made a few months ago. Those of you who watch the video and read the following steps will notice some differences. Since I made the video I replaced and exchanged a number of items such as the water purification tablets, swapping the regular matches with storm proof ones etc.

Due to their compact size Altoids Peppermint tins are perfect to use as containers for mini survival kits. It is however amazing how many items can be fit into such a small container. In this case I decided to try and be as comprehensive as possible given the small container.

This is not a kit that will sustain you indefinitely but it will help you with some basic needs and assist you in getting out of a survival situation where you might be lost in the woods. Therefore it is not aimed at survival in an urban setting or some dystopian scenario.

The tin is sealed with electrical tape which should make it decently water proof but not watertight. Its small dimension will allow it to be carried in most pockets without much discomfort.

When packing the kit you will notice that it is a tight fit. It will all depend on the way you pack it. I usually start with the flat items on the bottom (e.g. money, plastic bag, band-aids etc.) and continue in layers with the largest items on top. Tiny items such as swivels and water purification tablets are used to occupy gaps. If you want to eliminate rattling I recommend to use cotton balls (which can also be used as tinder) in the free spaces.

The following steps display the contents in the various categories (e.g. Fire, Water etc.).

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Take care & stay safe

Step 1: Fire

Picture of Fire

Making a fire will provide you with warmth, the ability to boil water and food as well as keeping away critters and signalling for help.

This kit provides you with a number of items that will help you to start a fire under almost all circumstances.

  1. Small Ferrocerium Rod - This small rod will create sparks when struck by a steel striker. With the sparks you will be able to ignite tinder for a fire.
  2. Hacksaw blade - Use this as a striker for the ferro rod. As a secondary use it can cut through metal.
  3. Candle - Use to transport a small flame or help you getting a fire started.
  4. Petroleum Jelly/Cotton ball fire starter - This fire starter can be ignited with a few sparks from the ferro rod and burn hot for a few minutes which should get most fires started easily.
  5. 2 Storm-proof matches - Use these only as a last resort when all other methods fail.
  6. Striker surface for matches - ignite those matches
  7. Lens - with this little glass lens you should be able to harness to power of the sun to ignite your tinder.
  8. Pencil sharpener - This little tool will help you create lots of tinder quickly when used to shave off small twigs.

Step 2: Water

Picture of Water

Without water you will die extremely fast. Depending on the environmental conditions and your activities this might happen as quickly as two to three days.

This kit provides you with the items to filter and purify small quantities of water until you are back in civilization or have found other water supplies.

  1. Indicator/litmus paper to test water for its acidity
  2. 5 Water purification tablets - Katadyn Micropur MC 1T (Each for one liter of water)
    • Silver Chloride (3.3mg/g)
    • Not sure if you can see it on the picture but the tabs are still in their blisters. I removed them from the larger blister pack with a 9mm hole punch that left the individual blisters intact.
  3. Tea bag to help you build a particle filter
  4. Small plastic bag (Approx. 1 Liter) to transport water.

Step 3: First Aid

Picture of First Aid

A small cut can lead to infection quickly in the wilderness when not treated quickly.

This kit provides you with some basic items for first aid.

  1. 5 wound closure strips to close medium sized cuts & gashes
  2. 2 band-aids for smaller cuts and injuries
  3. 1 Alcohol prep pad to sterilize small wounds and injuries
  4. 1 Sterile surgical blade
  5. 1 Imodium tablet against diarrhea
  6. 1 Charcoal tablet against diarrhea
  7. 2 Ibuprofen (200mg) against pain and as a fever relief

Step 4: Signalling

Picture of Signalling

The ability to signal an aircraft, ship or other people if you are in an emergency situation might make the difference between life and death.

This kit provides you with these basic tools to signal when in distress:

  1. Laser - Light combination - powered by a single AAA battery this little tool is visible up to 3Km (depending on the environmental conditions) and features a Class 2 red laser and a white LED. (Note that in most countries it is illegal to intentionally point a laser at an aircraft and will result in fines or even jail time. Never do this out of malice or without being in an emergency situation)
  2. Signal Mirror - Can be used during the day to reflect sunlight towards an aircraft, ship etc.
  3. Signal Whistle - Use to acoustically signal for help
  4. Snap light - Small chemical light stick that will provide you with some light for 5-8 hours.

Step 5: Fishing & Trapping

Picture of Fishing & Trapping

Being able to fish or trap small animals are ways to gather food without burning too much energy.

This Kit provides you with the following:

  1. 4 braided steel leaders with swivels and loops that can be used for fishing predatory fish such as pike or as snare wire for small game such as squirrels.
  2. 1 Nylon leader with medium sized hook that can be attached to your fishing line.
  3. 4 small spare hooks
  4. 3 swivels for fishing or trapping
  5. 4 split lead weights that can be used as weights for fishing.
  6. 30m (100Ft) braided fishing line (15Kg/30Lbs) on a spool.
  7. 2 small carabiners for fishing or trapping.

Step 6: Tools

Picture of Tools

A few small tools will make survival easier and help you conserve energy.

This kit provides you with the following tools:

  1. Victorinox Swiss Army knife with two blades. I removed the handle scales to save space.
  2. 4 small nails for various uses.
  3. Jigsaw wood blade for tool and weapon making.
  4. 2 Safety pins for various uses.
  5. 1 Paper clip for various uses.
  6. 3 small zip ties for various uses.
  7. 3mm wood drill bit for weapon and tool making.

Taped to the inside of the lid are:

  1. Assorted needles (For various uses e.g. repairing clothes, improvising a compass etc.)
    • 1 curved upholsterers needle
    • 1 Leather Needle
    • 1 Sail & Tent Needle
    • 1 Carpet Needle
  2. 2 Utility Knife blades
    • 1 Straight general purpose blade
    • 1 Hooked blade

Step 7: ​Miscellaneous

Picture of ​Miscellaneous

The Survival Kit also contains a number of items that don't fit into any of the previous categories. Most of the items may have multiple uses:

  1. $100 Emergency money
  2. 30cm x 30cm (1sq. Ft.) tin foil that can be used as a reflector for signallingFold able as a water container and for boiling water when place near a fire or can be used with a battery to start a fire
  3. 1m duct tape There is probably no other single item in this kit that has more uses
  4. 1m clear plastic tape
  5. 1 Small piece of hot-melt adhesive (Glue from a hot-glue gun)
  6. Survival Compass to help you Navigate


OutdoorsGuy (author)2016-11-28

Where did you get the lens? I can't seem to find one like it. Also, what is the name of the victorinox knife?

dragonios (author)2016-02-02

Wow!! Never thought that you could get that much gear into an Altoids tin.

Alex 2Q (author)dragonios2016-02-03

Hi dragonios, thanks for reading and commenting. Yes I was surprised as well when I made it for the first time. To be fair I think its more a jack of all trades but master of none kind of thing.

Cheers Alex

Chezamrpleasure (author)2015-10-06

Awesome Alex, the pencil sharpener is genius!

Alex 2Q (author)Chezamrpleasure2015-10-06

Hi Chezamrpleasure, thanks a lot.

Cheers Alex

gizmologist (author)2015-09-23

Very nice. I would, however, substitute several $20 bills for the $100; In a survival situation it's unlikely for someone to have change for a $100 bill. Also a couple of quarters might be handy as coins or as expedient tools.

Alex 2Q (author)gizmologist2015-09-23

Hi gizmologist, thanks for your suggestions. You are right that in most situations it would be easier to use smaller bills and coins. As I said in an earlier post the reason for using a $100 bill was simply to save space in the tin. In the end its an individual decision for everybody when building a survival kit.

Cheers Alex

TheBestUsernameEver (author)2015-09-22

how much does it cost to get all the objects (in MN)????

Hi TheBestUsernameEver, difficult to answer since I had most of the items already. Without the $100 I would guess the entire kit to be somewhere in the $40 - $50 range. I would suggest you look around your house. There are plenty of small items around in most places that you can use for a survival kit.

I hope this helps.

Cheers Alex

Thanks Alex(≧∇≦)(≧∇≦)(≧∇≦)(≧∇≦)(≧∇≦)

CorgiCritter (author)2015-09-21

Wow, you really packed some great stuff into this kit! Great work, you get a vote AND a sub!

Alex 2Q (author)CorgiCritter2015-09-21

Hi CorgiCritter, thanks a lot for your vote and your sub.

Cheers Alex

loony1 (author)2015-09-20

Some interesting items, ones that don't necessarily imbibe survival; like the drill bit, tea bag is brilliant, and cash. I, myself, keep 2 $10 bills, but keeping extra is a great idea. And on the great idea note, using a hole punch for the sealed items is awesome; thanks for that nice tip. The zip ties in all of my kits are kept at full length; I just fiddle around with packaging and make the conform to the perimeter of the box/bag. One last note, lead sinkers are OK, as long as they are packaged separately enough that they don't roll around and contaminate the entire kit; think how long they could actually be unwittingly in the kit until used.
You've definitely inspired some new thoughts for me; thanks!

Alex 2Q (author)loony12015-09-20

Hi loony1, thanks for your kind words and the advise with regards to the lead sinkers. You are right they should be packed separately to avoid rattling and contamination. I think I will seal them in a straw container or wrap them in tape.

Cheers Alex

LonC (author)2015-09-18

In my altoids box, instead of cotton balls & wax. I just used the dryer lint. It starts easier and burns pretty hot, and in a small plastic bag, to fit you'll have enough for 3 or 4 fires, I have personally used it out hunting, with some small tinder to start. And then a prayer stick to add, have a hot fire in no time.

Alex 2Q (author)LonC2015-09-18

Hi LonC, thanks for that suggestion. I will include it in one of my future projects. The downside of dryer lint is however that it can still get wet and become useless. Cotton balls with wax or petroleum jelly however will still burn even when wet (Since the water wont be able to displace the oils from the petroleum jelly).

LonC (author)Alex 2Q2015-09-18

LonC. I'm supprised you didn't ask what a prayer stick was, I hadn't realized that they were known outside our family circle. If in fact you do know, I hope you would inform, those that don't know. Later .

Alex 2Q (author)LonC2015-09-18

Hi Lon, to be honest I just assumed that they were tinder sticks such as Mayasticks or an improvised version. More than happy to learn if you are willing to share.

Cheers Alex

kouker (author)2015-09-18

Nice kit, Alex. I've got a couple of suggestions. You can replace the glass lens with a flat credit card sized fresnel lens. Works great, eats no space. Add thick and thin steel wire - it could replace a lot of things which looks like wire in your kit and it is more versatile for improvising. You can quench it in the fire for strength. Add more duct tape instead of bandaids, other tape, and bandages, it is sterile and flamable. Add neodimium magnet, remove that compass as it will be ruined by magnet. Add a strong threaded bolt (i. e. 1/4") and a couple of nuts on it. Add surgical gloves or/and a condom. Consider modifying the can, so it is not just a container. E.g. add a mount for your blades, so the can could work as a handle. Or/and add features to keep some paracord or other cordage wrapped around it securely.

Alex 2Q (author)kouker2015-09-18

Hi kouker, thanks a lot for your suggestions and ideas. The Fresnel lens is a good idea which is why I have already incorporated into my Pocket Survival Kit. Unfortunately the lens needs to be trimmed down to fit into the Altoids tin which I will do once I get a second Fresnel lens.

I intentionally went with the braided steel wire leaders for the fishing/trapping category due to their ease of use. You are however right that plain wire is more versatile.

I think that more duct tape is always a good idea if space permits it. However replacing band-aids with duct tape for first aid is in my opinion not a good idea. Using duct tape to treat wounds is something I wouldn't recommend unless there are no alternatives.

In your opinion which benefits would a neodymium magnet have over a compass? I know that you can improvise a compass with a magnet & needle but apart from that?

I have considered modifying the tin by simply sealing the openings on the side so it can be used as a small cooking/boiling device. I will look into this and post whatever I come up with.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

Take care & stay safe

Cheers Alex

4WantofaNail (author)2015-09-17

hey, congratulations on a second featured article and welcome. Just a few pointers: Those water purification tabs are Chlorine Dioxide and taken out of their original packaging will greatly affect their shelf life. I like the idea of the litmus paper in your kit but beyond judging acidity there's not much else it's good for, tinder maybe? Also, try scraping some of the metal off your pencil sharpener, sounds crazy but a lot of the cheaper ones are actually manufactured out of magnesium and the scrappings might take a spark with your ferro rod. Cheers mate.

Alex 2Q (author)4WantofaNail2015-09-17

Hi 4WantofaNail, thank you very much for your kind words and suggestions.

The water purification tabs are actually silver chloride (3.3mg/g) and they are still in their original packaging. I will amend the description and point out that I used a 9mm hole punch to remove them from the blister pack but kept their individual blisters intact.

You are right there are not many other uses for the litmus paper apart from tinder.

Also with regards to the pencil sharpener you are correct. Unfortunately mine is made of Aluminium which I tested when I filed it down to reduce its size.

Again thanks a lot for your comments.

Cheers Alex

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