Pocket Survival Tin





Introduction: Pocket Survival Tin

About: 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, we live in the Rocky's about 60 or so miles West of Colorado Sprin...
I have been asked by a number of people to do an Instructable on a small "Altoids" type survival tin.
Any type of survival kit you decide to carry should at a bare minimum be able to either provide you with, allow you to make, or make it possible to aquire the basics of survival:
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Food
  • First Aid
After some serious thought and lots of testing in the field over the past few weeks I came up with a very minimalistic survival tin that fits in a pocket.

Step 1: Fire

Fire is one of your greatest allies in a survival situation. It provides a sense comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. Fire allows you to make any water you find safe for drinking. Fire will alow you to see (at least a little) in the darkness. Fire will allow you to get and stay warm. Fire allows you to make any animal you take for food safer and more tastey to eat.

You should always have at least three means of producing a fire. If one fails or you run out of matches you can still make fiire. It is esential that you practice making fire with all of the methods you choose to carry with you under all types of conditions.

I spent the last few weeks making fires while camping with each of the fire starting aids in this kit in everything from near freezing temperatures to the rain to keep my skills up, you should do the same. Seldom will the conditions be exactly what you would want when you are forced into a survival situation.

Step 2: Food

While you can make it up to 3 weeks without eating it is not fun! Having a few different ways of collecting food is another esential that any kit you carry should have.

I carried two snare wires that I made and packed into the kit as well as 150 yards of 50# braided fishing line and various hooks and sinkers. With the strength and small diameter of the fishing line it can be used to make repairs to your clothing, sutures, and for lashing.

I always find a way to carry a bouillon cube or two in my kits. They are good for adding a little flavor to a hot drink on a cold night or more imporantly to add flavor to that rat you are cooking for dinner.

Step 3: Handy Stuff

550 cord is a god send in a survival situaion without doubt. 10' of 550 cord allowed me to make more snares by pulling the inner lines from the sheathing, lash a rock to a stick for an improvised axe, and make a replacement boot lace, among other sundry things.

I made a small water carrier with the duct tape (I saw that trick on Mythbusters) as well as using it for lashing on a lean-to.

The sewing needle can be used to make repairs in clothing and if you sterilize it, to make repairs in you using the fishing line.

It took a bit of experimentation to figue out the "right size" peice of tin foil to add but 12"x3' seemed to be the best fit for the size container I was going to put everything in. You can make a small pot for boiling water and another for cooking, and an approx. 12 oz "cup" with it and you have something refelctive for signaling if needed.

I added one of the small survival knives I made in a previous Instructable as a back up to the pocket knife I always have on me. I used it pretty much exclusively during the field trials I put this little kit through and it held up very well. It did require sharpening when I got done. The thing I did notice, and corrected within a short time, was that it's small size make it a little uncomfortable to use after a while, so I found a peice of wood and made a larger handle for it for use while I was in the woods. For storage I went back to the original layout.

Step 4: First Aid

I was able to add a few basic first aid supplies to the kit. They are for those small scrapes and cuts you may get while being in a survival situation. Not the most comprehensive kit to be sure but it will handle minor wounds.

Step 5: Conclusion

Everything is packed in the Sucrets tin, which is about the same size as an Altiods tin, except for the knife,  magnesium fire starter, and 550 cord. I placed the knife and fire bar on top of the tin and then wraped the 550 cord tightly around them and the tin.

The whole kit fits very neatly in a chest or front pocket and at a bit over 9 oz it is easy to carry without noticing it.

I am not a fan of minimalist survival kits by any stretch of the imagination but having something is better than having nothing. That said I hope you find the kit useful. As always I look forward to reading any comments about the kit you may have!

Train to survive!



  • Oil Contest

    Oil Contest
  • Game Life Contest

    Game Life Contest
  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest

20 Discussions

Bouillon cubes are kind of like the flavor packets in Ramin noodles only in a compressed block form. I toss a couple into just about every bug out bag/survival kit I make. They help give that rat you just boiled into a nice soup a bit more palatable or it gives some flavor to a warm drink on a clod night.

Thanks for the comments!

Train to Survive!

Check us out at:


I would add alcohol prep pads.

Awesome! I would add one of those 1L stand up bags to boil and store water. Really cool!

This is the best Altoid kit I've seen

You have a fairly nice kit there, but you need to add a few things; First, add a compass, that is a MUST; Second, add some water purification tablets.
Other than that, it is a VERY nice kit.

Good Job!!

2 replies

Thanks for the comment! I didn't add water purification tabs because I personally prefer to boil water after filtering through at least a t-shirt which is one of the reasons for adding a rather large piece of tin foil. As for a compass, I would tend to agree with you that a compass is usually a must have item, but their are other ways to navigate without one. Thanks again for your comment!
Train to Survive!

It takes a while to boil enough water in a Altoids tin, and I have heard that aluminium foil will burn up, I don't think that is true. I am making my own Altoids survival kit, and I am going to be field testing it, and I am going to see if that is true.
By the way, Your welcome!

I believe u are one of the best survival kit makers there are

Although your kit is not as compact as most, it is very comprehensive. You truly were thinking outside of the tin. :)

Feel free to take a look at my tin if you get the chance.

A 1" to 1-1/2" wide piece of bicycle tube wraps perfectly around a tin like this holding the chute cord and things securely in place. This can also provide elastic material that can be used in small game traps. Great little kit you've made!

an alternitive to the bouillon cubes can be the flavor packets from ramen noodles.

A small mirror would be a good addition, maybe for signaling or getting something out of you eye. Possibly a small magnifying glass also.

Bouilion cubes are concentrated little squares of either beef or chicken base, usually used in making soup or broth. I have found they make for a tastey hot drink on a cold night or to add a little flavor to wild meat.

Yes, I did make the knife in the kit. I posted an Instructable on its construction.

Thanks for the questions!