Introduction: One SF Soliders' Survival Kit

This survival kit is the product of many years spent in third world countries as both a soldier and contractor. I have carried, and used more then once, this kit in Central and South America, Africa, and Afghanistan. It fits nicely in a small pouch on my vest.


Step 1: Fire

You should always carry at least three (3) ways to start a fire. I carry storm matches in an old travel size Tylenol bottle that I super glued the striker to and covered in duct tape. a mini Bic lighter, and a magnesium block with flint. I have "fire sticks" that I got at Wal-Mart years ago and tinder balls I made by soaking cotton balls in vasiline petrolium jelly. 

Step 2: Light / Signaling

For lighting and signaling I carry a AAA duel beam LED flash light. It can produce a 125 lumen white light that has about a 75 ft range or a 30 lumen red light for tactical environments. Two (2) 9 hour emergency candles can be used for light, heat, or to help get a fire going and spare batteries for the flash light.

Step 3: Fishing Kit

It seems that every survival kit has some kind of fishing kit in it and mine is no different. For years I carried regular monofilament line, in recent years stronger, more durable lines have come on the market. A few years ago I switched out monofilament for a braided line. I use a 50lb test line that has a diameter of standard 6lb monofilament line. I have an assortment of grubs, jig heads, and spinner baits as well as various hooks and weights. Snap swivels, barrel swivels, and plastic beads finish out the fishing kit.

Step 4: Snares

I use 75lb test, black nylon coated, stainless fising wire for snare wires. You can get the wire at most Wal-Mart or K-Mart stores for under $3. I have used snares made from this wire to take game as large as racoons and most recently while teaching survival skills to my kids to take a prairie dog in our pasture.

Step 5: Tools

I carry a small wire saw that has proven itself more then once for everything from making a shelter to cutting fire wood. The multi-tool has "locking" jaws like a pair of Vice-Grips, a lock blade knife that is on the outside of the frame so you don't have to open the tool to use it, wire cutters, a file, a saw blade that will cut metal, a bottle/can opener, and both philips and flat blade screw drivers. The little knife started life as a replacement blade for a utility knife. I will post an instructable on how I made it in the near future.

Step 6: Handy Stuff to Have

I have two (2) peices of heavy-duty aluminium foil. One is 12"x 2' and the other is 18"x4'. You can use the foil to make a pot to boil water in, cook in, or for signaling. There is 20' of 550 cord, 15' of duct tape, a sewing kit, and space blanket. A pencil and index cards or paper are a must have item as far as I am concerned. You can use them to leave a note for any one searching for you if you have to move or so you can write down your thoughts. You would be suprised how keeping a journal of sorts can help keep your mind in the right place in a survival situation. 

Step 7: Storage

Zip-Lock bags are another must have in my book. You can use them to carry water, store edible plants, or to carry items that need to be dry. I carry 2 Zip-Locks, 1 qt size and 1 gal size.

Step 8: Comfort Items

Having tried the "bugs and rat diet" I decided two things, first I didn't want to have to rely on the bug and rat diet to survive again if I could help it, and second that I would pack a few "comfort items" in my kit. I added coffee, hot chocolate, creamer, sugar,  kool-aid, chicken noodle Cup-O-Soup, rice, candy, salt, and pepper.

Step 9: The Pouch

I used to carry my kit in a hard plastic case that just barely fit in the pouch. Now I use a vacuum sealer bag to hold everything and have found that I have a little more room in the pouch so if I find something else I want to add I can. I am sure someone noticed that I don't have a compass in my kit. I carry a lensetic compass attached to my vest, an orienteering compass in my chest pocket, and a button compass sewed into my shirt. so I thought adding a compass to my survival kit would be a little overkill. My wife carries the same kit in her vest and hers does have a Brunton orienteering compass in it.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable and I look forward to seeing your comments and sugestions!

Train to survive! 


Alden+Tortem made it!(author)2017-02-17

This guide is good for us too :) Thanks Tom ! :)

melissa6419 made it!(author)2015-10-12

Great Kit!! Thanks for sharing!!

Taskern made it!(author)2015-09-15

Fantastic kit mate, I love it. Thank you for sharing and giving me some great ideas to work with.

nadrr made it!(author)2015-09-07

Excellent! Thank you.

JEEPBOY52 made it!(author)2015-08-21

Great Instructable!

LightningEagle14 made it!(author)2015-03-26

where's the first aid stuff? Another pouch or pocket? Very nice instructable! I would include a small morse code alphabet, maritime international signaling flags meanings, and the semaphore flag alphabet thingy. Although I suppose you military types know that by heart already.

linda.d.kenney made it!(author)2015-03-02

This the most awesome, complete list so far... Thank you ...I love the comfort foods.. a must have for long term.. Add shelter and water and fish you can survive... Thanks again going on my survivalist list !!!

Spin180Pro made it!(author)2015-02-15

Brilliant and well thought out. Thanks for the inspiration.

wolfsingleton made it!(author)2014-11-03

Wonderful setup. I'm working on my own kit, and this is pretty dead on for most of it. I would definitely suggest switching out the disposable plastic spoon (break that within minutes) for one of those folding spoon/fork things. Otherwise, some water purifier tablets and a hand-squeeze charging flashlight (what would you do after the batteries die on the other one?). I'm also not much for so many comfort items in a survival pack, but I use cubed hardtack and pemmican in water for soups (after catching some protein). Course, mine is made mostly for rocky saltwater coastline and I've got about twice the fishing supplies, but that's not for everyone. That said, there are a lot of tips here on things that most people don't even consider, like the large focus on fire and light methods. Amazing how many people think a bic lighter and a signal mirror will save their lives. Thanks for the well thought out and executed kit - definitely the best on Instructables.

Medeusa made it!(author)2014-10-02

This is an EXCELLENT survival kit and I look forward to making it for camping use. TY so much for this instructable.

dalecarlile made it!(author)2014-01-14

I am glad you listed everything under the photos as I could tell something was printed there, but was unable to read the labels. Not enough contrast.

edvannatta made it!(author)2013-03-25

Like this information on this! How send information ! It help me out!
Thank you!

bob+the+HUNTER made it!(author)2013-02-26

I like it

eyesee made it!(author)2013-01-10

very good

Lord_Dark made it!(author)2012-11-07

Great kitt, i don't miss a thing, it just has to much for such a small package.
I would substitute the self made knife by my opinel.
great work on the instructable, thanks for sharing !

the_eradicator made it!(author)2012-10-05

Great Kit and for the record I do NOT miss the bug and rat diet....well the grubs are ok if

jamob made it!(author)2012-09-18

Very very nice survival kit. I would also add a caribener some more paracord, some type of water storage container maybe possibly a guide to plants, tweezers, water purifiers, and something to repel mosquitos. as the most common two ways to get diseased is mosquitos and water. But your kit is great

bpfh made it!(author)2012-07-15

If you need long lasting candles and cannot commercially source any, go to your local church, pay up whatever is the recommended donation amount into the collection box per candle and offer up a prayer of thanks if you are that way inclined.

These sort of candles seem to last for hours, and I have some at home in case of power cuts. They may not light as well as supermarket stuff, but if you need hours of light, these are what you need.

HollyMann made it!(author)2012-06-19

awesome! And thank you for serving our great country for so many years. I appreciate it. I was an Army soldier and contractor for a while as well..just not as long as you. I love your survival kit and instructables.

panzerfaust379 made it!(author)2012-05-28

Nice kit..Spent my time in AF survival rescue ops.

dennison-m made it!(author)2012-05-17

thats an unbelievable amount of support hidden away in such a tiny space :o

Mr.1911 made it!(author)2012-05-15

I enjoy seeing your kit, as I think it is very well made. I also like that you made it from experience.5*

Grimmy+Grim made it!(author)2012-05-11

Good stuff! For a bit of variety, I also include some of the three in one coffee drinks, green tea bags (in Mylar) and Miso soup from the Asian stores.

thewanger made it!(author)2012-05-10

Super survival pack. I would add money. Some cash in small bills and some silver dollars and a flask of high proof alcohol for wounds, drinking or trading. Also a pack of smokes for trading. Survival doesn't always mean you'll be alone.

thematthatter made it!(author)2012-05-10

cash doesnt work in the woods.

Udon made it!(author)2012-05-11

Who says people don't live in the woods?
Or who says you're in the woods?
Even a few bucks could turn out to be very useful. Or you might not need it at that time. But that goes for everything in the kit, doesn't it?

Then again, you could wipe your bum with it. Very good for morale.

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-10

I used to carry a couple gold coins (Uncle Sam provided those) when I was in the military on operational deployments and I had a couple of my own while I was working as a contractor but never carried them in the kit itself. They were sewn into the hem of my pants and the hem of my shirt. If the kit was lost, taken, etc. I would still have the coins to use. Unless capture and strip searches were involved and then it was just a matter of staying alive long enough to either escape or be rescued.

I have a flask that my buddy Jack is kept in that goes in my pack, same with smokes but only because I smoke...

Thanks for your comment!

kz1 made it!(author)2012-05-11

Nicely put together and based on experience. The only thing I might add would be a simple slingshot.

murak made it!(author)2012-05-10

Love the kit. Been looking for a nice compact survival kit to put together as a gift for inlaws that are about to 4wd caravan around the country. Was thinking about putting it in a case like this one:

I would love to see some follow up instructable son this, namely how to use the snare wire, how you made the knife, etc. Keep up the good work.

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-10

That is about the size case I originally carried the kit in.

The Instructable on the knife was posted yesterday, I have Instructables on making and setting snares in the works, as well as fire starting, shelter making and water filtration/purification, among others.

Thank you for your comments!

thirtytwoutside made it!(author)2012-05-10

This is excellent; I would imagine it'd translate well into a kit for backcountry skiing (in addition to all of the regular items like a bivvy and shovel which I'd carry anyway)... for those "just in case I'm spending the night out in the middle of nowhere" days.

Zaphod+Beetlebrox made it!(author)2012-05-08

What country did you get you're duck tape in, its a different color from mine. Or is it just some specialty duck tape

Th33w0krap15t made it!(author)2012-05-09

You can get different colored duck tape at most home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe's Menards etc). Places near me(Wisconsin) carry everything from typical silver to animal print.

Zaphod+Beetlebrox made it!(author)2012-05-10

K just wondering if it was extra strong or something, mine's bright orange.

lfilip1 made it!(author)2012-05-09

first aid kit is separate? Could you make instructable about first aid kit containing just (exactly) what you might need?

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-09

Already made one.. It is under IFAK... I

michaelgohjs made it!(author)2012-05-08

very nice, looks like you got everything figured out... so we dont have to >.<

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-09

Thank you!

thematthatter made it!(author)2012-05-05

no VS-17 panel?
No smoke?
No laminated Code of conduct card?
No SERE certificate of completion?

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-09

Nope, No VS-17, Code of conduct, or SERE completion Smoke on the other hand is carried in a seperate pouchs on the vest, right next to the 12 AR magizines....

caitlinsdad made it!(author)2012-05-05

badges, we don't need no badges...

onemoroni1 made it!(author)2012-05-08

I take it this is the kind of kit you would need if you got kicked off the bus in the middle of the jungle in a third world country. I take it you would find water real fast as there is none in the kit. I am not being critical, but trying to appreciate the application of such a kit. I am in the mindset of urban survival of major disaster. I have a 72 hour set up in backpack and day pack (husband and wife) to survive complete loss of all infrastructure and services providing food, water, and shelter. I like the multipurpose tool having the vice grip. Nice instructable and I appreciate the result of your life experience.

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-09

The kit is actually pretty generic. I had it when we lived in the city, I have carried it when I got "thrown off the bus in the middle of the jungle in a thrid world country", I carried as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nowcarry it in the deepest, darkest woods of Colorado. As for water I carry a total of 172 oz when ever I head out into the wild. I have two 1qt GI canteens witha good ol' canteen cup and a 108oz hydration bladder so H2O on the run is not a big issue to start with for me.

As for the urban environment you would be suprised how many of the ponds in parks are stocked with fish. And if you are planing on bugging out should TSHTF in your city eventually you will come across a lake, river, or stream you can fish from for food.

Thannks for the comment!

Chris+Logan made it!(author)2012-05-08

Water bags are a heavy waste of space... Especially in an urban disaster environment.

Any disaster that knocks out a city's water supply still leaves potable water in every toilet tank and sprinkler head. A hundred gallons in every house to be drained out of hot water heater tanks. Another 25 gallons in the very pipes. Enough to last a wife and husband a month of rationing, or enough to fill bottles a hundred times on your hike into the hills.

So ditch your heavy packs... Packs that I would guess that you keep at home. Packs that you have a 60% chance of not even having access to in a disaster.

Put a serious kit into your daily drivers. And take a course.

onemoroni1 made it!(author)2012-05-09

Hi Chris, thank you for your comment. My original comment was somewhat incomplete. My 72 hour kit has three days of water in long term storage 8oz boxes. Within 72 hours one can find alternative resources as you described very well. however, my planning is set up for worst case situation of grab and run in an urban situation. My backpack weighs 35 lbs and my wife's day pack is lighter. We could beat this to death about what is frivolous and essential, but the original consideration is the application. Case in point, I will not need fishing equipment in an urban disaster. My point of having water is the human body can get along without food and shelter for a couple days or more in most situations, but in all situations water is essential and death comes fast when you are dehydrated. I don't want to continue the discussion as I am sure there are many bones to pick in my remarks above, but let's respect each others application, that's all my original comment ment, what situation does it fulfill. Peace

Bravery made it!(author)2012-05-08

I think another Instructable you could do is to show us how you made your knife. That would be great!!

I really LOVE your kit. There are just two things that I wanted your thoughts on... First, I know there is always something you could add to your kit... "now if I could just fit this x-ray machine in there I could be set just in case". However one thing I was thinking would be potentially useful would be a CD so you could signal to someone far away for help.

I have heard and even seen on one of the "Survival programs" on TV where the wire saw was complete junk (It broke right away). Have you used yours? I was thinking of putting it in the kit (it's small and lightweight).

Again, thanks for taking the time to show us your kit!

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-08

As barista said making a bow for the wire saw is the best way to make it work and not destroy itself. I have used the wire saw without making a bow and it can be used this way and last IF you don't try to cut anything bigger then 2"-3" in dia, keep the wire as straight as you can, and don't try to just blast through the branch you are trying to cut. Take your time and let the wire "rest" some... Again thanks barista for your comment!

Thanks for the CD suggestion! I think I am going to go break a couple of CD now to see what I can come up with that will be small yet still get the job done!

I see another Instructable once I work the bugs out...LOL

Bravery made it!(author)2012-05-09

With the size of your pouch you might think about getting a "business card CD" they are smaller than the regular CDs and they still have the nice hole in the middle which would aid in aiming it at your target. I have one that someone gave me, but if I didn't I would call a couple of companies and ask for a sample of one.

The weak point on the wire saw (from what I saw on the program) was the where the wire fastened to the ring. I'm glad that you and Barista told me the right way to use it. I'm hopeful that the bow method will prevent it breaking.

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-09

Thanks for the CD idea! I am having a hell of a time cutting a full sized one down to something useful :)

tomsweet65 made it!(author)2012-05-09

Just posted an Instructable on the knife....

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Bio: Thought it was time to update the profile some so here goes... Still married to a wonderfully sweet beautiful woman, still have 5 kids 3-23 ... More »
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