Urban Altoids Survival Kit




About: Pet (instructable) peeve: people who don't put "deal breaker" requirements in their instructables up front. There's nothing worse than getting all excited about a project, then finding out half way through ...

To date, I've seen lots of Altoids-tin survival kits, some of them composed by a few of nature's most imaginative weirdos.  Sadly, I've discovered that an overlooked feature of such kits is day-to-day usability.  Yes, we're all waiting for the zombie apocalypse to occur so we can break out our little fishing hooks and tinfoil and what have you, but until then we may as well use such kits to our advantage, right?

This article seeks to expose for you a kit I've designed (and continue to work on) that compromises some worst-case scenario type needs with needs I actually have RIGHT NOW.  I still don't use it very often, but when I do, I'm very glad to have it.

Step 1: Exterior

WOW.  Look--a small box of mints!  Note the "ranger rubber bands" used to keep this monstrous little suitcase full of useful crap closed, but which can also serve other binding needs when necessary.

Step 2: What's on Top

Opening the kit we see the box's carefully smushed contents.

Step 3: Some Stuff...

Contents revealed:

* "Write in the Rain" waterproof paper, available at many outdoor stores (such as Mountain Equipment Co-op here in Canada). Not very expensive for such cool, exotic gear

* $5 Cash, various obvious uses: purchase a meal, take a (very short) cab ride, etc etc....

Step 4: Some More Stuff...

More stuff.

* Compass keychain from Suunto, a nice little multi-purpose device that keeps me warm at night because I'll always know which way is north...for all the good that'll do.

* Pills to make the voices in my head go away for a while

* Quarters to make phone calls (or spare change), and two bus/subway tokens to get home, or somewhere and then back

* Tiny box of matches, because gasoline doesn't set itself on fire and how else are you going to get enough insurance money to start a new life, huh? Huh??

* Krazy clue: for binding wounds, attaching things together to form a wikid awesome jerry-rigged survival gadget in the field or....just exploding inside the box and sticking all my survival stuff to the inside of an altoids box. Yay!

Step 5: Even More Stuff...?

Ermmm..ok, I'm getting tired of writing so much by this point.  What else've I got in this thing?

* Blinking LED light
* Teeny-Tiny 1cm utility knife thing, for hijacking airplanes or just making airport security act even NICER to me...
* Post-it notes, because there's never a "sticky" handy when you need one.
* A pencil, to avoid embarrassment at having brought post-it notes to the nuclear wasteland but nothing to write with.  Can't you just imagine that happening?
* Cable ties.  I foresee the mad-max post-apocalyptic world as having far more cable-tying-up needs than most people anticipate.  So now when it comes...I'll be ready.
* Really, does the antiseptic towelette need explanation?  Does half the stuff in this kit?

Step 6: Ok, Enough Stuff Already!

Things I also carry but which aren't pictured:

* A actual, semi-functional human brain.  Don't try fitting this in an Altoids tin--even if you take a lot of other stuff out and squish it down really hard, it won't fit.  Just keep it someplace else and use it often.
* An unnecessarily cool "tactical" flashlight, in a cheap-ass Chinese holster that'll probably fall apart and make me lose the flashlight a before I REALLY need such a device
* A folding knife with one of those flint-striking-makes-sparks-go-zing tools attached.  And a cheesy little whistle for some reason. 
* Awesome looking Gerber multi-tool thingie.

Improvements I'll have to make:

* Carefully folded tin foil: the only known way to stop the CIA sending encrypted transmissions to your brain through the fillings in your teeth.  "The CIA cafeteria menu for the week of June 6th is as follows...Monday--shepard's pie..."  Make it stop!!
* Other stuff which has now escaped my mind.

Step 7: Comment on This Instructable

If you like what you've read (or not), consider this your encouragement to drop me a line in the comments section.



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    28 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Mine is quite similar, but like m913, I went with a couple of feet of duct tape. I also have a safety pin, a needle, and a few feet of floss (more likely to be used as thread than for tooth hygiene). I also have a shout wipe (stain remover) because I still haven't figured out how to eat food. I got a credit card knife ("cardsharp", pretty cheap on Amazon), it doesn't fit inside, but attaches easily to the outside with the "ranger bands".


    4 years ago on Introduction

    -Swap the $5 for a $20--more useful and still widely accepted (as a $100 is not).

    -Swap the glue for a small roll of duct tape

    -Add safety pins (small, easy to use, better than needle and thread most of the time)

    -Swap the cable ties for bread bag twist ties--smaller and re-usable

    -Finally, although it is bulky, a mini Bic lighter is far easier and more dependable than matches


    4 years ago on Step 7

    As far as urban use goes you have some great idea, I will be stealing the superglue, cable ties and mini compass idea's, the only thing I would add a needle and thread and waterproof matches instead of normal ones, but other than that some good stuff :D


    4 years ago on Step 7

    Since I spend a lot of time in the woods camping, my survival kits are geared for that, but my urban sons have no use for that sort of stuff. This might be of interest to them, though! Thanks!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    At last! someone actually thinking for a change rather than following the fantasist herd taking wilderness fishing kits along in their survival kit when they venture no further than the city limits!

    Here are my suggestions; some thin nylon paracord or twine for replacing shoelaces which always break when you don't want them to. A safety pin or two as a temporary fix for a broken fly zip or a lost button, or even easing out a splinter. If you are reliant on corrected vision a selection of spectacle screws and the small screwdriver for them. And a length of thin pliable fuse wire or similar will always be useful for on-the-fly fixes. and perhaps a thin, credit card sized, Fresnel lens magnifying glass.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    i always also cary a weatherman charge or swiss at all times to


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice kit! I like that it has change for making an emergency pay phone call. If you are in a survival situation in a rural environment you will want a blade and cordage for sure. Might I suggest a mini multi tool for your urban kit? Also, you might want a way to collect water. But overall, great job and a fun read. :)

    If you'd like to see how I accomplish these suggestions please view my Altoids tin instructable. :)


    6 years ago on Step 7

    I teach Wilderness Survival merit badge at a boy scout camp.. This wouldn't work for that case, because I need a survival kit for the wilderness to show off. If I ever think I need an urban survival kit, I would definitely make that! Cheers!

    often wondered what to do with all those tins that you just can't throw out. Now I know and will get going on a few for my husband and kids.Always just kept sewing items in them-handy, yes, but I just love the survival aspect of it all. Where have i been? Every one seems to be doing this.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for posting! I loved the humor, and this gave me some great ideas for my kit. I'm making mini altoids toolboxes for the guys for Father's day, and mini "feminine" ones for the moms.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    cool. id take out the little blade dispenser and put in a small Swiss army knife. also put in about 3 ft of thread and a needle. that helped me when i had to go to school and my pants ripped as i got out of my car. :(


    7 years ago on Step 4

    Not sure that bit about the super glue is correct. I have heard that for years as well but it looks as if it was kinda made up. The tissue glue part came later.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 4

    Super glue isn't ideal because of the cyanide. However, it works so much better than proper surgical glue. Surgical glue takes forever to set. krazy glue sets like a champ and holds. Just accept that you may be poisoning yourself a tiny bit. The utility is worth it.