Picture of 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.


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Step 1: Fire

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.
Spin180Pro13 days ago

Brilliant and well thought out. Thanks for the inspiration.

wolfsingleton3 months ago

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.

Medeusa4 months ago

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

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.

edvannatta1 year ago
Like this information on this! How send information ! It help me out!
Thank you!
I like it
eyesee2 years ago
very good
Lord_Dark2 years ago
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 !
Great Kit and for the record I do NOT miss the bug and rat diet....well the grubs are ok if
jamob2 years ago
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
bpfh2 years ago
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.
HollyMann2 years ago
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.
Nice kit..Spent my time in AF survival rescue ops.
dennison-m2 years ago
thats an unbelievable amount of support hidden away in such a tiny space :o
Mr.19112 years ago
I enjoy seeing your kit, as I think it is very well made. I also like that you made it from experience.5*
Grimmy Grim2 years ago
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.
thewanger2 years ago
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.
cash doesnt work in the woods.
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 (author)  thewanger2 years ago
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!
kz12 years ago
Nicely put together and based on experience. The only thing I might add would be a simple slingshot.
murak2 years ago
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 (author)  murak2 years ago
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!
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.
What country did you get you're duck tape in, its a different color from mine. Or is it just some specialty duck tape
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.
K just wondering if it was extra strong or something, mine's bright orange.
lfilip12 years ago
first aid kit is separate? Could you make instructable about first aid kit containing just (exactly) what you might need?
tomsweet65 (author)  lfilip12 years ago
Already made one.. It is under IFAK... I
very nice, looks like you got everything figured out... so we dont have to >.<
tomsweet65 (author)  michaelgohjs2 years ago
Thank you!
no VS-17 panel?
No smoke?
No laminated Code of conduct card?
No SERE certificate of completion?
tomsweet65 (author)  thematthatter2 years ago
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....
badges, we don't need no badges...
onemoroni12 years ago
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 (author)  onemoroni12 years ago
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!
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.
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
Bravery2 years ago
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 (author)  Bravery2 years ago
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
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 (author)  Bravery2 years ago
Thanks for the CD idea! I am having a hell of a time cutting a full sized one down to something useful :)
tomsweet65 (author)  Bravery2 years ago
Just posted an Instructable on the knife....
barista Bravery2 years ago
Wire saws work best if you make a bow saw:
• Break off a sapling/small branch and trim it to about 1½ to 2 times the length of the wire.
• Notch the ends for the rings.
• Curve your sapling/branch and stretch the wire between the notches, making the bow.
• Don't put too much tension in it - just enough to keep the wire taut.

This way you can use the entire length of the wire to cut fairly large branches, for your shelter/firewood, with long, slow strokes.
A common mistake is to put your fingers through the end loops and wrap the wire around the branch to be cut.
This risks the wire getting trapped or overheating which WILL destroy it.

Making the bow is a much more efficient use of the wire's cutting ability and your (possibly reduced) energy. It also allows you to use one hand on the bow and the other to stabilise the wood, if necessary.

REMEMBER always test your gear before you have to entrust your survival to it.
Check it regularly and replace anything that's not up to the job.
Bravery barista2 years ago
Nice to know the proper way to use it. Thanks!!
tomsweet65 (author)  barista2 years ago
Thank You for the comment!
No problem.
BTW I should have said it above - great instructable, including clear, detailed photos.
Jordan Dyck2 years ago
hey bud what kind of packaging do you have your chicken soup in?
tomsweet65 (author)  Jordan Dyck2 years ago
I vacuumed sealed it in a Food Saver bag. I used the 1qt size, turned it sideways and ran a seal down the middle, put the soup mix in and then pulled the vacuum and sealed it.
marimbas2 years ago
excelente kit amigo, no había visto uno tan completo
lax01312 years ago
How did u make that knife?
lax01312 years ago
This is a very detailed kit. I can't believe that it fits in a pouch on your tac vest
tomsweet65 (author)  lax01312 years ago
Thank You! It will al fit in a 4"x6" plastic case if you like, but the "case" takes up every bit of space in the pouch. I vacuum seal it in a 1qt Food Saver bag about 7" long and still have space in the pouch and the bag for any "extra" goodies I might come across that will make life eaiser.
That is an amazing kit!!!!!!
What is the name of the multi-tool with "vice-grip" jaws and where can you get it?
tomsweet65 (author)  lancesteele582 years ago
It is made by Kershaw, I am not sure of the name of the model. I got it at Home Depot (or Lowes) a few years ago. At the time the cost was under $25.
Eggster2 years ago
And I think caitlinsdad's comment about an 'ible of your first aid pouch would really be awesome aswell
Eggster2 years ago
Love your instructable. A very good combination of accessories. That home made knife looks awesome! What are its dimentions? I would like to try making my own.
Tommi Potx2 years ago
Hey bro, I had the pleasure of working with 1st SF up in the Crowsnest Pass on a winter ex in Canada; I know what you guys have done in order to become SF; good on you an thanks for sharing your operational experience.
djzadjza2 years ago
Finally, a well designed kit. great job
l8nite2 years ago
a kit that makes sense ! thank you for sharing
tomsweet65 (author) 2 years ago
MissouriVillian- I have added an energy bar or two in the past but they tend to either melt or go way past the expiration date long before I get to use them. I try not to have to use anything in the kit if I don't have too :)

caitinsdad- You would be right on the IFAK that was the plan. As for a sharpie or china marker I have tried both at one point and found the good ol' pencil to be the best tool for the job so to speak, at least for me. I will be adding TP before I seal it all up again.

Thanks to both of you for the comments!

Train to Survive!
I'm not sure how much room you have left, but you probably can't go wrong with a high calorie energy bar or two. As to the kit as shown, I like everything about it, it's a good assortment of multi-purpose supplies.
caitlinsdad2 years ago
I guess your next ible will be on your first aid pouch. I think a sharpie permanent marker or wax china pencil would be better if you need to write on other surfaces like rocks. A small roll or length of neon colored plastic marking tape would be good if you need to tear off pieces to mark your trail. I would include at least one square of TP or else it wouldn't be civilized.