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I do not get to go camping often, but when I do, I like to be prepared for anything. This means having something on my body that will help if I get lost in the woods. Some like to have a paracord bracelet, some a commercial survival kit, but when you want the best of both worlds, having a cheap and useful solution at the ready, this Tic-Tac Survival Kit is quite handy.
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Step 1: Gather Materials
You will need several items to make your Tic-Tac Survival Kit. I have listed them here. You don't have to have everything on the list, but each item will help you out in a pinch.
1. Empty Tic-Tac box.
This can be obtained by buying some Tic-Tacs and eating them. If you prefer, you can use another type of mint, but depending on the shape of the container it may be easier or harder to wrap with paracord.
2. Paracord, about 4-5 feet.
Paracord is useful to have for survival, as it can hold up to 550 pounds, and you can salvage the inner strings to make a snare if necessary, at the price of a few pounds of strength.
3. Duct Tape!
This is very necessary for obvious reasons (you can basically do anything with it). The mini rolls I have shown in the photo are taken from a large roll (see step 6), but you will need some extra for other steps here as well.
These handy dandy bandages help treat your cuts. You need about two or three of them (or as many as you can fit in the container along with all the other items. The more, the better).
5. Safety Pins (2) and Paper Clips (2), plus Floss or Fishing Wire.
These items will be wrapped up together to be used in a pinch for fishing, keeping clothes from ripping, or any other good survival use for them.
6. Plastic Bag (small).
Plastic bags can be used for anything from storing small amounts of water or food to collecting food or water. Whatever the case, it is definitely a useful thing to have.
This item will be primarily for emergency sewing, but there are all sorts of alternate uses for it. You can use it to poke holes in wood, for instance, if you were making a fishing pole of some sort, or use the magnet to turn it into a compass.
The straw can be used for (obviously) drinking water. But there are many more obscure uses, such as creating a small insect trap to catch as much food as you can.
A small, round magnet is perfect for turning the needle into a compass. Just rub it down the length of the needle 50 times or so, and rest the needle on a leaf in a still body of water. The needle will point north.
10. X-acto Blade.
This is obviously a very useful thing to have if you are lost in the woods, as it is almost essential to be able to cut things.
11. Strike Anywhere Matches.
You probably don't need me to tell yih what these are for. The ones in the photo above are safety matches, and these will work too as long as you include a striker. My final product includes strike anywhere, as they will work on whatever surface yoy have available.
Tip: Coat your matches in nail polish, and then let them dry. They will be waterproof, but still strikable.
We'll get to this later, as it will contain vital survival information on it.
13. Aluminum Foil or Shiny Candy Wrapper.
This is for signaling others of your situation, as you can use it to reflect sunlight at passing planes or boats.
14. Small Lens.
I got mine from an old camera I took apart, but you can get it anywhere. This is a backup to the matches; you can focus sunlight onto your tinder to heat it up enough to catch fire.
15. Rubber Bands.
Mostly these are just used for packaging these items in the Tic-Tac box, but you can probably find many other uses for them in a real survival situation.
Step 2: Safety Pins, Paper Clips, and Fishing Wire
For our emergency fishing kit, you need to wrap the paper clips together with small rubber bands. Wrap the dental floss or fishing wire (whichever you have) around a safety pin, and then wrap them all together with another rubber band.
Step 3: Matches
Duct tape the matches together as in the photo, making sure to cover the heads. They must not be able to move, as any sudden friction can cause the match heads (if they are strike anywhere) to ignite.
Step 4: Band-Aids
Fold the Band-Aids in on themselves until they are as compact as you can get them. You need to be able to fin them in the Container you are using, so don't hold back a fold. See the picture above for reference.
Step 5: Needle and Straw
This is a short step, but it will prep you for later, when we are packaging these items in the box. Insert the needle into the straw. Make sure both can fit in the container you are using. If you have to cut the straw shorter, fold it over itself, or get a smaller needle, do so.
Step 6: Duct Tape
Rip a thin strip of duct tape as long as you want it to be. Keep in mind it must fit into your Tic-Tac box. Fold the strip over itself, making a little roll. My second roll has the end of a popsicle stick on it; this makes it easier to use. I had enough room to make two mini-rolls, giving me about 6 feet of Duct tape, but your length may vary.
Step 7: Plastic Bag
Fold the plastic bag over itself until you have a tight roll, and then wrap it with your small rubber bands to keep it that way. This will help it save space in your container.
Step 8: Lens and Foil
To keep the lens, which is quite small, from sliding around the container and falling out, I slid it between the folds of my tin foil. See the pictures above for reference.
Step 9: Signaling Cheat Sheet
This is where the paper comes in handy. If you have any need of signaling a plane or boat for rescue, you need to know proper codes for that. The sheet above details Semaphore, Morse code, body signals, and even has helpful tips like how not to blind a pilot with your tinfoil signal.
This is very helpful information to know, especially if you are running out of other options and need to be rescued soon. When you are finished writing the signaling info on you sheet, fold it up into the smallest possible bundle you can, and make sure it will fit in your Tic-Tac container.
Step 10: Paracord
I use about 4-5 feet of paracord, but your length will vary. Cut and singe the ends off. This will be wrapped around the container to save space.
Step 11: Preparing Tic-Tac Container
Using your knife, cut around the top edge of the label as in the picture. You should then be able to open the top and pull the entire top off, allowing you more freedom to place things in the container, instead of having to cram them in the top, or worse: take them out of that tiny hole.
Step 12: Placing Items in Tic-Tac Container
Time to put it all together! Drop the fishing bundle in first, making sure it falls flat on the bottom. Next, put the matches in, heads facing down, on one side of the box. Place the plastic bag upright on the opposite side as the matches. We will put the needle and straw in next, outside of the bag. Make sure the needle stays inside the straw.
Push the folded bandages down into the middle space as far down as they go. Make sure the las bandage goes folded edge down. This will make sense in a minute. Next, slide the X-acto blade and the folded foil in between the bandages and the edge of the box. Make sure they stay still, and don't jiggle around or anything.
Slide the magnet inside the fold of the largest Band-Aid. This will keep it from magnetizing anything next to it, or outside the Tic-Tac box, if you don't want it to, and also, it will just take up less space.
Next, push the larger of the two mini-rolls of duct tape in right above the bandages. If you only had one roll of tape, that's okay. Here, we will test to make sure we have been conserving enough space.
Push the top of the Tic-Tac container on. It should fit snugly. If you are having trouble keeping it on, rearrange the items inside the box to help it fit better. If there is extra room inside, you can even add stuff at your discretion to improve the survival kit.
After you are sure that the lid fits fine, take it off again and flip it over. Place the smaller duct tape roll in one end (only if you have it) and the folded up signaling sheet in the other end. Once those are in properly, you can put the lid on the container. You are almost done.
Step 13: Wrapping With Paracord
If you don't have paracord, or don't need to include it in your survival kit, you can skip this step.
Take the container, and hold it upside-down, laying one end of the paracord over it, as in the first picture. Wrap this around the corner and start wrapping the entire box, plus the end, tightly with the paracord. Keep holding it down; until we're done it may fall apart if you do not hold it together. Keep wrapping the paracord until you have about 10 inches left. Take this free end and pull it over the other end, pulling it down and aroung the other end, just like the picture. This loose end will be pulled up and wrapped vertically over the top of the box.
While you are doing this, make sure to keep holding the loops down, or they may come undone. Make sure you pull this as tight as possible. Bring the loose end over and back down the other side of the box, threading it under the last horizontal wrap on that side. You should have just enough paracord to pull the two ends together now, and that is what you are going to do. Hold them tight with needle-nose pliers, and burn them together with a lighter. Once you are confident of their sturdiness, you are done!
Step 14: Use/Afterthoughts
You have now made an inexpensive pocket survival kit! Keep it in your pocket when you go backpacking or hiking in case something goes wrong.
1. Space inside the container can be saved by threading the needle and the matches inside the paracord. this space can be used to keep coins (for using a pay phone when you get back to civilization) or watch batteries (which can be used to start a fire by creating a short circuit.)
2. If you don't have any pockets, space can be made in the tongue of your shoes to fit the survival kit in.
3. If you have any other thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to put them in the comments below!