Wilderness Survival Kits, Tips & Training About A.Ranger Rick 173rd ABN/SETAF Bardolino / Rentals Useful Links Wilderness Survival Skills Wilderness Survival Tips Wilderness Survival Training



Not long ago I read this on someone's survival site: (Quote)

"How much would you pay for a personal survival kit? $20? $30? $100? More? A lot of people do, but why? If there's one thing that most store purchased survival kits all have in common and that is they are marketed and sold to make money. Sure, no doubt a lot of them will save your @ss in survival situation. But how much of that stuff is really useful and how much of it is just a marketing gimmick to give you a false sense of security that more is better? Is it worth risking your life to find out the hard way what's going to work and what's not?"

Bravo! Hooah! Good job! I could not have said it any better when it comes to chosing a survival kit. And so allow me to throw in my 25 cents worth on this topic, take it or leave it. But first let me tell you the definition of "prepared" and "unprepared" survival...

PREPARED SURVIVAL is being ready for almost any type of outdoor survival situation by packing & carrying a survival kit or at least a handful of useful items that will help keep you alive until you are rescued or find your way back home or to civilization.

UNPREPARED SURVIVAL is not carrying any survival gear before venturing off into the boonies, desert, jungle or the mountains. And should something happen you'll either have to learn some really quick primative survival skills the hard way or you will most likely die of thirst, hunger, hypothermia or some type of injury or all four.

What's primative survival? It's learning how to adapt to a strange and remote environment by living off the land like a caveman, indian or tribesman with nothing but the clothes on your back and nothing else. Not easy, in fact almost impossible to do without studying, practicing and or taking a few lessons from some primative survival instructors. And so that's why it's best to "be prepared" than to be "unprepared" before venturing off somewhere remote and isolated.

Now when it comes to survival kits this is how I like to break them down...

Pioneer Kit
PIONEER KITS - are tools and items needed to build a homestead or to help to get your vehicle out of some trouble while in a remote and isolated environment. And these kits here is what the US military calls a "Wheel/Track Vehicle Pioneer Kits." And the reason why they call'em pioneer kits is because they contain the basic tools and instruments our pioneer forefathers used when they came to America to seek a better life. As you can see these kits contain axes, shovels, picks, hachets, saws, hammers, etc. Yep, just about everything you would need to build a log cabin homestead.
Pioneer Kit
Cambing Kit

CAMPING KITS - are products designed for one purpose, to provide you "max comfort" while in the outdoors. Which usually consist of a cozy tent for a shelter, a nice sleeping bag for warmth, a sharp axe for cutting firewood, pots & pans for cooking, a lantern for night time use, etc. Or if you're one of those weekend "Davy Crockett" hikers or campers, your kit might consist of some booze, snacks, a cd player, slingshot, an MRE meal and a big ol'Rambo knife you probably never used but looks really cool. For some, this is what is called "roughing it." That is until the booze & snacks are gone, your cd batteries go dead, the MRE tastes terrible and so you decide to pack up and go home. Right?

Camping Kit

SURVIVAL KITS - are tools and items needed in the event you find yourself in an unexpected outdoor survival situation. And some of the most common and useful items found in most survival kits are compasses, fire starters, signal mirrors, flashlights, wire saws, knives, parachute cord, fishing hooks & line, wire, water purification tablets and some condoms.

And there are different types of survival kits; short & long term, store purchased & homemade assemble-it-yourself, and military & civilian survival kits. And so whichever one you decide to buy or assemble you need to make sure it contains the right tools and items needed for the type of terrain & environment that you will be operating in.

For example, Alaskan & Canadian bush pilots are known to pack & carry in their airplanes a sleeping bag, gun, set of snowshoes and other useful survival gear just in case they are forced to land or crash somewhere remote and isolated.

Jungle guides who lead people on safaris know the importance of not only packing & carrying a gun but a machete, snake bite kit, mosquito netting and lots of insect repellent too.


In the US military, Army Rangers, Special Forces and Navy SEALS have to be ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moments notice. Therefore they must pack and carry a multi-terrain and envionment survival kit like this one in the photo on the left.

And another type of military survival kit is this one on the right except it's a British Special Air Service (SAS) survival kit. And t hese are just a few of the many different types of military survival kits.


Though there are many types of commercial survival kits on the market, some are pretty good, some are fair, some are so-so and some I wouldn't call them survival kits at all but instead worthless junk. For example, let's take this Coghlan Survival-Kit-In-A-Can...

Kit in a can

In my opinion this is the most worthless [so call] survival kit on the market. Though it states on the package "..contains 38 essential items. " Most of it is nothing but a bunch of garbage & cheap trinklets. Check out the photo>>>

But what's really amazing about this kit is how long it's been selling on the market. Or I should say it's amazing how many idiots have been purchasing this kit and that's the real reason why it's still on the market. But I have to admit, it sure looks pretty in the wrapper, don't it? <<<

And so when it comes to buying a survival kit shop around first. Don't buy the first kit that looks pretty and comes with a lot of stuff or you just might wind up with something worthless like this one

Canned Kit

Remember, most survival kit manufacturers & sellers are only marketing their kits with one thing in mind - to make $$$$. And some of them could care less if their survival kit saves your @ss or not in asurvival situation, like this worthless Coghlan Survival Kit-In-A-Can.

5 in 1 tool

Now I gotta admit, this other Coghlan 5-in-1 Survival Kit is a lot better than their Survival-Kit-In-A-Can. Provide you add a few more survival items to it like some matches, a knife, flashlight, condom, water purification tablets, fishing line & hooks, etc.

If there's one thing all of us survival kit developers & sellers have in common and that is we all like to brag and claim our survival kit is the best on the market. But you know what? To be totally honest with you, the best survival kit is the one you feel most comfortable with based on your survival skills, experience, and ET level.

What's ET? No I'm not talking about ET the damn movie but your EDURANCE and TOLERANCE level when it comes to dealing with the weather and temperture.

Survival Kit

And so if you're one of those who can't cope very well with the heat, cold, rain, wind, snow and ice, then you'll need to pack & carry a lot more survival gear than what you can fit inside a pocket size survival kit. Like a butt pack or rucksack size survival kit so you'll be able to carry a lot more gear to help you to ENDURE the temperture and TOLERATE the weather.

No matter what type of survival kit you decide to buy or assemble yourself, you need to make sure it contains the basic essential items needed in all survival situations. And that's a compass, knife, fire starter, signal mirror, whistle, flashlight, water container and something you can use to build a shelter, trap game and catch fish like good ol'550 parachute cord. And if all these items are used correctly and wisely, you will definitely increase your ET survivability level. Check out some of my SOS Survival Kits below;

Keychain Kit
Paracord Kit
Budget Kit
Survival Kit Components

And yep, all my kits come with the basic minimal items needed in all survival situations. And before I purchased these items in large quantities I first ran them through a series of tests to make sure they were durable and of good quality material. Here's what I did..

Drop Water Freeze Heat Stepped On Driven Over

They were first dropped from a three story building, submerged in water for several hours, placed in a freezer for two days, defrosted and then placed on BBQ grill and heated to a temperture of about 110 degrees (+/-). Then placed on the ground to cool, stepped on and ran over once by a car. The results? Well of course these tests were a bit extreme and some of the items took a bit of beating but believe it or not only one of the three compasses was broken and didn't work, the rest of the items continued to work just fine.

How many other sellers & manufacturers do you think would put their survival kits through these same tests and release the results either on their website or someone elses website? Answer: Not many! And so if you order any of my SOS Survival Kits remember this, Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back! And should any items arrive defective it will be replaced FREE of charge. Fair enough?

Now every so often someone writes and asks "..which do you prefer, the plastic or tin survival kit containers?" Well to be honest, they both have their pros and cons and so this is just my own personal opinion, so take it or leave it.



PLASTIC CONTAINERS may be lighter in weight than tin containers, but in extreme cold weather tempertures they can become stiff, fragile and crack. And in extreme hot dry places like in deserts they can become soft and deformed, sometimes even melting.

TIN CONTAINERS may look rugged and sturdy but should you accidentially drop'em, step on or sit on them they will dent and become a bit difficult to open and close. Not to mention, if you think you can use a tin survival kit container to cook or boil water in, you had better take a good close look at this photo here on the right.

Tin Containers
Store Kit

Survival Items

Do you know what I don't like about a lot of store purchased survival kits? They are usually stuffed and packed with too many items. While most of the items may be useful, some of it ain't so useful and just plain dead weight. And the only reason why some sellers and manufacturers over-pack their survival kits with so much useless stuff is to make you to think "Wow! Look at all this neat stuff, did I get a great deal or what?"

But should you ever need to open up and use just a few of the items, well good luck in trying to get everything back inside and closing the cover. It's a packaging puzzle that only the manufacturer or seller knows how to get everything neatly back inside of it.

Survival Kit

That's why I am a firm believer all survival kits should come with a ziplock plastic bag. So should you need to open up your survival kit and remove some items and you can't get it all back inside, you can place the items inside the zip lock plastic bag and then in your pocket. After all, once you find yourself needing to use your survival kit you are going carrying the items in your pocket anyway. Right? So it just makes sense a survival kit should also come with a ziplock plastic bag too. Now there's only one survival kit that I know of that comes in a plastic bag and it's called a Pocket Survival PakT. The developer by the name of Mr. Ritter claims his survival kit is " ...a practical and affordable pocket survival kit that could someday save your lifeT. Two years in development, this kit will fit comfortably in your pocket and contains only the very best high quality survival gear. Perfect for campers, hikers, scouts and pilots."

Pocket Survival Kit


Well all I have to say about Mr. Ritter's kit is that as experienced and knowledgeable as he is in knowing the difference between a good and bad survival kit. I am very disappointed in what he choose and left out of his own kit. For example there's no flashlight, no knife, no water container or water purification tablets. But instead he chose a surgerical blade over a knife and some aluminum foil for boiling water instead of a condom & water purification tablets. And the price that he's asking for his survival kit... OUCH! And so to put it bluntly, it looks like Mr. Ritter is one of those sellers who is more interested in making money than in making sure someone has all the basic essential items needed in a survival situation.

Survival Kit Components

Come'on Mr. Ritter, anyone who's been to your website and read all your survival kit articles, reviews and evaluations know you're just using your name to promote this badly equipped survival kit to make $$$$ and not for it's survival usefulness. To put it politely, your Pocket Survival Pak is less than "mediocre." Which means according to your own website definition (quote) "substandard or questionable quality and or performance." And so I suggest you review some of your own survival kit articles and add to your kit those missing items and think about lowering your price which I know it's going to mean "less money in your pocket." Moving on...



Have you ever read this somewhere "..and you can use the survival kit container for cooking and boiling water." And have you ever heard this old saying "..a picture tells a thousand words ." Well check out these pictures, and this was done over a kitchen stove under a controlled & regulated fire. Try this over an open camp fire and see what happens, these containers won't look as pretty as this.

READERS BEWARE: Don't believe everything you read, it's just some seller's marketing gimmick to get you to buy their kit. And if you think aluminum foil works any better like what comes with Mr. Ritter's Pocket Survival Pak, it don't. And Mr. Ritter should be ashame of himself for choosing aluminum foil over some condoms & water purification tablets, he could have at least packed both.

Survival Gear


Now here's a couple of survival kit containers you can use to cook and boil water in and you can use'em over and over and over again too. They'll work a hellova lot better than some pocket survival kit tin container or some cheap@ss aluminum foil like Mr. Ritters's Pocket Survival Pak.

And so if you're one of those sellers who's telling people you can use your pocket survival kit container for cooking and boiling... you're full of baloney. Your pocket survival kit container will only hold a small amount of water and by the time it's safe to drink most of the water will have already evaporated. And the more you use and re-use the container over and over again for cooking & boiling water, the more filty and unsanitary it will become.

Duct Tape
Can Kit


Now there's only one or two plastic containers that are worth buying and carrying your survival gear inside of them and one of them is called a "CanKeeper." It's a little bit smaller than most other types of survival kit containers, but all the items that come with my SOS Survival Kits will fit nicely inside of it. Check it out. And according to the company who makes this plastic "CanKeeper," IDT International. They say it was originally designed at the request of our US Special Operation Forces to help keep their "chewing tobacca" fresh and dry. Though you can use it for almost anything, I like it because it's made of a durable hard plastic, comes with a belt loop clip and can be used as a drinking cup too. And because it's air tight, should you drop it in the water it will not only keep your items dry but it'll float too. To order or learn more about this CanKeeper log onto: www.cankeeper.com.

Survival Vest


Need something else a bit larger to carry all your survival gear? And you don't wanna carry it in a ruck-sack, shoulder-pack or butt-pack? How about a survival vest? There are several types, military aircrew, tactical assault, jungle safari and fishing vests. Forget about buying one of those jungle safari and tactical assault vests, they're too damn expensive. But not a "used" military pilot survival vest. On eBay you can find them selling for about $30 - $50. But watch out, make sure you read carefully the seller's description and you look closely at the photo(s) too. If the military pilot survival vest doesn't have at least five (5) pouches on the outside of it, DON'T BUY IT! If it's brand new and still in the plastic wrapper, that means the pouches have NOT yet been sewn on the vest. Good deal? Hell no! You're gonna have to take it to a tailor shop and it's gonna cost about $30.00 or more to sew in all the pockets. Not worth it, just buy one with the pockets already sewn in it . Here's what a US Military SRU-21 Pilot / Aircrew Survival Vest looks like, the same one I wear when I teach my survival classes here in Italy.

Fishing Vest


And here's a fishing vest that I modified and converted into a survival vest, ain't it neat? As you can see it's pretty similar to a pilot/aircrew survival vest and cost less too. And if you want to know what you should pack and carry inside all the pockets. Well as Joe A. Laydon Jr. of Intensive Research Information Services and Products (IRISAP), a retired US Army Special Forces soldier says in his books: "...every survival kit should be constructed to satisfy the eight elements of survival, which are Fire, Water, Shelter, First Aid, Signal, Food, Weapons, and Navigation. And if a survival kit does not contain all these eight elements of survival, then it's NOT a true survival kit. "

Fishing Vest


Makes sense, don't ya think, sure does. Well after reviewing dozens of survival handbooks, almost all these books have a chapter on what you should pack & carry in a survival kit. But what most of them don't tell ya is the difference between the "must have" and the "nice-to-have" survival items. Which can make a difference between "just barely getting by" and "living quite comfortably" in a survival situation. And so after going through all these survival manuels, here are the BASIC ESSENTIAL ITEMS they all agree you should have in your kit.

Survival Books




Candle 1 Starts fires and as a light source
Compass 1 Determine directions
Flashlight 1 Light source and for signaling
Wire Saw 1 Cutting wood for fires and shelters
Safety Pins 3 Securing Clothing & used as fishing hooks
Pocket Knife 1 Perparing game and field craft needs
Signal Mirror 1 Signaling rescue parties
Wire (10 yards) 1 Making animal traps and snares
Fishing Line & Assorted Hooks 6 Catching fish and birds too
Fire Starter (Matches/lighters) 1 Starting fires

And these are the "nice-to-have" survival items...




Whistle 1 Signal Rescue Party
Sewing Kit 1 Repair clothing
First Aid Kit 1 Treating cuts and wounds
Zip-Lock Plastic Bags 2 Gathering Water
Nylon String 50 (yards) Building shelters & other field craft needs
Large Plastic Trash Bags 2 Making solar stills
Water Purification Tablets 1 Bottle Purifying water for drinking

And these are some of my "luxury" items that I like to pack & carry in my kit.




Sponge 1 Gathering water from wet/moist leaves
550 Paracord 1 Making shelters and other field craft needs
Space Blanket 2 Maintaining body warmth
Assorted Nails 8 Making spears and arrows
Snake Bite Kit 1 Treating snake bites
Small Bar of Soap 1 Maintaining personal hygiene
Pocket Rain Jacket 1 Protection from weather
Sheet of 4X6 Plastic 1 Building shelters, gathering rain water
Water Bottles (1 x Liter) 2 For carrying drinking water
Emergeny Strobe Light 1 Signaling rescue parties during darkness
Sling Shot/Elastic Band 1 Acquiring game
Binoculars, Compact Type 1 Look for help, routes, game
Meal-Ready-To-Eat (MRE) 1 Emergency Meals
Drinking Cup (Folding Type) 1 For solar still and gathering water
Solar/Dynamo AM/FM Radio 1 Reducing boredom and loneliness
Hand Sanitizer (Ethyl Alcohol) 1 For personal hygiene and starting fires

Yea, all this stuff may seem like a lot to pack and carry in a survival vest. But you know what? No matter where you're stranded or lost, the desert, jungle, forest or some cold weather winter wonderland, I guarantee these items will save your @ss. And you know what's nice about carrying your stuff in a survival vest? If you forget which pocket you put something in all you gotta do is "pat & feel" for it instead of opening the pockets and dumping everything out. Cool, huh?

Wanna see a few more of my survival kits? Check out some of these kits below.

Home Survival Kit
Para-Reserve Kit
Stuff U Find In U Home Survival Kit
Military Para-Reserve Survival Kit
Max-Out Survival Kit
Max-Out Hooah Survival Kit
Neck - Belt - Shoulder SOS Survival Kit


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