Not naming any names, but often times I see kits that look like they weigh 500 pounds and don't even fit in your pocket. This kit is entirely contained within the tin, except for the ranger band. However, the ranger band actually further compresses the kit, making it even more compact. This is why I call it an actual Altoids Survival Kit. Note: DO NOT sand the paint off the outside of your tin. It rusts the heck out of the thing.
WHY THIS KIT IS SO CHEAP. UNDER $4:
Here's a list of all the $$$ I spent on the kit. Depending on what modifications you make and what you have lying around the house, it could even be free. If it's not listed, I already had it or got it for free.
Mini Bic - 99 cents. I have to admit, I was pretty lucky in convincing the guy to sell this to me. No, I don't smoke. Never will
Thread Bobbin - 25 cents
Zippo Tinder Stick - 61 cents
FireSteel - 89 cents.
FireSteel Striker - found in my garage if you were wondering. That place is a gold mine.
Produce Bag - "borrowed" from local Jewel - Osco
Salt - "borrowed" from local restaurant
Earplugs - 43 cents for the pair.
Razor Blade - 29 cents
Wire Saw - 89 cents
Comes out to well under $5 if my math is right. Plus, most people probably have a Razor Blade and can use cotton for the tinder stick. Now, it's under $4.
Step 1: Kit MVP - the Ranger Band
Item #1 - The Ranger Band
This thing is one of the greatest discoveries I have made during my time constructing this kit. It's made from a section of old inner tube tire. Come on - we all have an old bike tube stashed away in our garage. Just cut a section off using a razor blade or some scissors. They are easily over 5 times stronger than a rubber band, and it greatly helps to keep this kit shut. The ranger band can also be used as tinder in a pinch. It burns for at least a few minutes - best used cut up into small strips using the razor blade.
Step 2: Inside the Kit
Here's an overview of the kit, along with a quick explanation of how it's organized. I have no foolproof way to organize the kit - I generally keep larger things such as the bandaid towards the bottom, with the larger and "complicated" items towards the top. Experiment yourself and find what works best for you. Also, I'd recommend putting the stuff you may need in a not-so-emergency situation towards the top, such as the salt packets. You never know when that cheap meal from the gas station needs a bit more flavor.
Step 3: Part One - Fire
1 Mini Bic Lighter - This thing is incredibly durable. Gets wet, dry it out with your shirt or blow some air on it. Out of fuel? Works exceptionally well as a sparking device. In the case that your Mini Bic does break, this kit has other ways of fire. I don't smoke, so it's only been used a couple times to ensure it works. Also, I've used a kitchen knife to pry off the child safety guard.
1 Firesteel - Pretty self explanatory. A backup in the case my trusty Mini-Bic does fail me.
1 Fishing Line Spool - This is in the fire section because of the tiny bit of cotton tinder inside the hole in the bobbin. See it?
1 Zippo Tinder Stick - A compact way of storing tinder. Used as the bottom level of tinder. Just fluff up and light with either the Mini-Bic or a spark from the Firesteel.
1 Wire Saw - Experts disagree on their usefulness, so make your own choice here. It takes up a decent amount of space, but can be invaluable in the construction of a shelter. Also, it can be used to cut down larger pieces from firewood.
You can include waterproof matches, but I think those are unnecessary. The Firesteel and Mini-Bic have nearly unlimited uses, and although bigger than the matches, are much more reliable. The Firesteel will work just about forever, and the Mini-Bic can be used as a sparking device if the fuel does run out.
Step 4: Part Two - Shelter
Note: Many of the items in the Shelter Part of this kit are best used to MacGyver something a whole lot more useful. The battery terminal might look stupid, but who knows when it'll come in handy. When constructing your own kit, you'll find several little nooks and crannies to shove something of use. Most of these things go in those nooks and crannies.
1 Paperclip - Can be used to hold glue sticks to glue something, among many other uses which will be revealed if you are ever in a survival situation.
1 Battery Terminal - Another MacGyver tool. Who knows when this thing will come in handy - it's here because it fit in a tiny corner.
2 Glue Sticks - Can be used to glue stuff. Duh. Cut into 2 pieces because it fit better. Also, in case I screw up, I get a second chance.
20 lb. Fishing Line - You can use it for fishing with the hooks. Also, screw the screw eyes into 2 trees and tie on the holes to assist in the construction of a shelter. Be careful - 20 pounds supports less sticks than you think. Try leaning the sticks against each other instead of on the line as you progress in building your shelter.
2 Screw Eyes - Use in conjunction with the fishing line to make a shelter. Again, many other uses.
3 Nails - Can be used to build a snare, among other things. Another MacGyver tool.
2 Swivels - Hold up to 35 pounds. Can be used in making a shelter, for fishing, keeping things attached, etc.
1 Key Ring - Takes up almost 0 space. I guess you could make a necklace with the fishing line or use as a lanyard.
1 Produce Bag - Can be used to make a [small] roof. It's the kind you put veggies in at Walmart/Target. It fits inside a milkshake straw quite nicely.
1 Straw - Can be used as tinder once the bag is taken out. After you use the bag, it's not going back in. Period.
Step 5: Part Three - Food
Note: Forgot the produce bag in the picture. The produce bag holds over 5 liters of water. However, that's really pushing it. 1.5 liters is a much safer bet.
20 lb. Fishing Line - For Fishing. Duh!
5 Fishing Hooks - Found these around the house. I put 5 because they are small and can be used to set up multiple bait stations. Plus, one is shiny to attract fish.
1 Aluminum Foil - About 2 square feet. Can be used to purify water by boiling, or cook any fish and game I may catch. That black thing is a bit of tape to hold it together.
2 Earplugs - Mostly used for their intended purpose, but in a pinch, pieces can be sliced off and used as a colorful bait. They compress down thinner than the GearTie very easily.
1 Gear Tie - Can be used to hold things to other things, to make snares, among other uses. Basically, it's a metal rubber band.
2 Salt Packets - More of a convenience than a necessity. Makes that smelly, bloody, fish you filleted with a fingernail halfway edible. Plus, it's got Iodine, so I guess it's a last resort for water purification if you screw up the tin foil.
1 Toothpick - Surprisingly enough, this thing is pretty good at picking teeth.
Step 6: Part Four - First Aid
Note: Most of the stuff in this kit is pretty self explanatory.
2 Large BandAids - Duh. Bandaids.
2 Small BandAids - See above.
2 Alcohol Prep Pads - to clean wounds. Duh. They prep stuff. Like, with Alcohol.
1 Q-Tip - For cleansing wounds. Can make the Alcohol Pads last a bit longer if you just dab on some alcohol instead of using up the whole pad. I guess if you're really starving, you could eat your earwax. Hey, at least it's got some flavor in it.
1 Razor Blade - Can be used as a last resort medical aid. Yuck.
1 Coffee Filter - To get the larger crud bits out of water. Can also be used as gauze or as a last resort face mask if there is a lot of dust. 9/11, anyone??
4 Ibuprofen - Load up on these if you need to make it somewhere without the pain, or for a bad headache. Hopefully you don't need these for an amputation.
2 Glue Sticks - So you don't need to sew yourself back up from a medium sized wound. Just drip the glue on your wound. Basically, a liquid bandaid.
1 Fishing Hook - Emergency stiches. The glue will work better and be much less painful, assuming you haven't used it yet.
Step 7: Part 5 - Rescue
Note: Rescue is the #1 thing you must do in a survival situation. Sure, you can survive in the wilderness. The real point is to get back home and live, not just survive.
1 Mini Pencil - Used to leave notes on the paper, or a last will. Yikes.
1/2 Sheet Computer Paper - Goes along with the pencil.
1 Mini-Bic Lighter - Start a signal fire.
1 Zippo Tinder Stick - To get your signal fire started.
1 Firesteel - Again, to get your signal fire started.
1 Wire Saw - To gather larger pieces of firewood so that you can sustain your signal fire.
Step 8: Packing Your Items
Note: Not really any pictures here, as it was an extremely complicated process for me. Also, you've probably heavily modified this kit, so my instruction won't be of much use. Just make sure to use a Ranger Band to help keep the kit shut. The last thing you want is for that sucker to pop open in your pocket.
Step 9: Finished!
Note: The biggest tip I have to make your Altoid Survival Tin as useful as possible is to CARRY THE KIT. If you don't have it, how can you use it?
Please make sure to leave your modifications in the comment section. They'll be extremely useful to me and everyone else in making our kits as effective as possible.
EDIT: I put my kit underneath something heavy, such as a bag of dog food, overnight. This way, it can "smoosh" down the components to keep them as compact as possible.
Until Next Time,