Backpack Survival Kit

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Let me start by telling you the story of two Johns. 

John number one went on a day hike with a couple of friends in the Cascade Mountains about an hour from Seattle. He somehow got separated from his buddies and became lost. John was dressed in casual cloths for a warm weather day hike and had nothing but a lunch with him. He spent three days in those mountains and luckily made it out to tell the story. 

John number two, a friend of John number one, was much better prepared when he went afield.  He always had a compass, a GPS, fire starting equipment and some rope.  He knew the dangers of getting lost.  John went to Alaska on a moose hunt and when a member of his party shot and wounded a moose, he took off through the woods armed with nothing but a camcorder.  Oh yes, he had the survival equipment in his pack.... back on the four-wheeler.  A lot of good it did him there.  He didn't even have a gun to signal with.  Number two spent a few hours wandering around in Alaska before his buddies realized he was lost and "they" fired some shots so he knew which way to go. 

John number one didn't have a survival kit.  John number two had one but didn't bother taking it with him. 

My tip, everyone should be prepared for the worst when you go into the woods, especially when you're in unfamiliar territory.  I have put together a backpack survival kit.  I knew it had to be small enought that I didn't leave it in the truck, yet complete enough to get me through.  I would suggest that if you don't have one, you make yourself one or go out and buy a commercially prepared one.  You may never need to use it, but if you do, it could save your life.

One of the hardest parts of my kit was to find a container.  I searched long and hard before finding a company that carried just what I wanted.  Since I helped a boy scout troop make these, I ordered several dozen of them.  They are small, round, metal containers 3 and 3/4 inches in diameter and 2 and 1/2 inches high.  They are large enough to pack what I want in them, yet small enough to put in my backpack and leave it there always.  You can find these containers at:   You have to buy them by the case so you might want to find some other guys to go in with you.  They will run about $1 each.

Here's what I put in mine.... Waterproof matches, Fire starter sticks, a small candle, some water purifying tablets, a band-aid or two, plastic bag for carrying water or collecting things, one or two chicken and beef cubes, a couple of tea bags, some salt and pepper, a couple of pieces of hard candy, a small pocket knife, some string or cord, 15 feet of fluorescent plastic tape, some aluminum foil, fishing line with some hooks and sinkers, a whistle, compass, several small pieces of paper, a pencil, a piece of chalk, a couple of push tacks, a length of wire, a signal mirror, a small flashlight and a complete set of survival instructions.  You may wonder how all this fits in my small metal container, but it does.  I even include a couple of Bible verses to keep me calm.

I drill small holes near the top of the metal container and include a small piece of wire so you can put a bail handle on the can and use it to cook in.

Bottom line is to make it big enough to carry what you want but small enough that YOU WILL CARRY IT.  I believe the most important items you can put in are good fire starting pieces.

I hope this helps you be better prepared when you go into the woods.  As I said earlier, it's a piece of equipment that you hope you'll never use, but if you need it, it can save your life.

Oh, by the way, I am John number two.


ndemiter's picture

have several rules about

have several rules about hunting effectively, but rule number 1 is the most important: never let anyone or any situation seperate you from your equipment, it's a recipe for trouble every time.


good tip

Deer Slayer's picture

Thanks for the tip. Even

Thanks for the tip. Even though my dad and I are always just a couple minute walk away from the vehicle we don't use any type of survival kits. We should start carrying even a smaller version of this because something can happen even a couple of minutes away. Thanks for sharing the great tip.

numbnutz's picture

Good advice Flipper, I alway

Good advice Flipper, I alway carry a kit with me filled with a little different stuff, One thing i think is important is a needle and some waxed dental floss, it works great for making repairs on ripped clothing also if needed it works great for stitching you or someone with you up. My dad cut himself one year pretty bad and i had to stich him up. it works like a charm and is easy to pull out when you get to the doctor. again thanks for the reminder for everyone to be prepared.

Rem2arms's picture

Very Very ( VERY) good tip

Very Very ( VERY) good tip and should be included in the hunter safety clases if it's not already, been years since I've gone to or sat in on a hunter safety course. Thx.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Thanks for the tip. I rarely

Thanks for the tip. I rarely ever hunt on any ground that I don't know. There has been rare occasions where I am in unfamiliar territory and I have never had a survival kit with me. I know I need to and hopefully this tip will get me on the ball in either making one or buying one.

groovy mike's picture

You must have it with you to do any good!

You are one hundred percent right.  You must have it with you to do any good!                

 I sometimes carry a backpack with gear in it but I have learned from experience that when I shoot game or need to get in position to shoot one if that pack is on the ground – it gets left behind.    I also wear a butt-pack.  MOST of the time, but when I sit down I sometimes take it off.  SO – I carry a zip-lock baggy in my coat pocket which includes matches, a tiny knife, TP (also suitable for tinder), and some minimal first aide supplies.                       

The idea is to always have at least minimal supplies with me. 

hunter25's picture

I like you kit and I like the

I like you kit and I like the can you found to put it in. I was wondering when you said you drilled holes at the top how it stayed mostly waterproof so it's a good thing you put the clear picture. That is one of the features that makes using this can a much better idea than something plastic. I had never considered something to heat stuff up in but this is the perfect solution. I agree it's to easy to leave stuff behind cause it's a pain to carry it around, but if you ever need it you will be very happy it's there.

I will probably make a few minor variations for myself and put something like this together as I admit I have been guilty of not always being prepared. Cabela's even sells a self stapling kit for cut injuries I have at least considered for keeping with camping stuff or in the truck. I have one friend that stitched himself a number of years ago and this kit would have been much easier.

Thanks for the tip Arrowflipper

jaybe's picture

That is a great tip, flipper.

That is a great tip, flipper. And by the way, I followed that link you gave, and those tins are available by the "package" of 24 as well as by the case. They are still only just over a buck a piece. They are also available in a gold anodized finish which might make them just a little less apt to rust.

Here's another tip for anyone who likes to carry fire starting supplies. A cotton ball saturated with petroleum jelly will catch fire quickly and burn with a very intense heat. Once lit, the wind cannot blow it out and it will burn long enough to start almost any decent tinder of small twigs, etc. Obviously, you'll want to put it either in a plastic container like a flim tube, or just flatten it and put it in a small plastic zip loc-type bag.

Thanks for the tip!