11 Things I Wish I Knew About Building A Survival Kit When I First Started

building a survival kit

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Most preppers assume that building a survival kit is a fairly straight forward process. However, there are a number of common mistakes people make when selecting items to add to their first survival kit. Here are a few tips to make your survival kit more useful and efficient.

11) A Survival Kit Should Handle Many Potential Emergencies

A well-designed safety kit must contain tools and supplies to help you survive in a number of different emergency situations.

One common mistake made by people building their first survival kit is focusing on a narrow subset of emergencies.

They build a kit which might be fantastic for dealing with an invasion by China, but isn’t too useful when you fall off a cliff and break your leg!

The survival kit should contain items that:

  • Help you create shelter and protect yourself against the elements and extreme temperatures
  • Supply food and water
  • Satisfy basic health and emergency first aid requirements
  • Help you navigate the area
  • Allow you to communicate with other people and notify them of your presence

Looking at the items you have collected and thinking about the possible emergency scenarios which might occur will help you evaluate your survival kit.

10) Having Quality Gear Matters

A common mistake that people make when building their first survival kit is going for quantity instead of quality.

There is no point stuffing your survival kit full of items which are not well-made and are prone to breakage.

This is particularly true when talking about items like sleeping bags, signaling gear and communication gear. 

A poor quality sleeping bag could mean the difference between spending a night wide awake and shivering or resting comfortably. 

If your cheap LED torch fails it could mean the difference between rescued and dying alone!  

If you can’t afford quality items immediately, spend more time building your survival kit.

9) Signaling and Communication Items are Crucial
Many survivalists take pride in their self-sufficiency and survival skills. 

For this reason, they sometimes skimp on items which are important for signaling or communicating with other people. 

Don’t forget that a survival kit must cater for situations where your ability to be self-sufficient has been compromised by injury or illness.

Even if you are an expert in off-grid living, signaling and communication items are essential for any survival kit. 

Useful signaling and communication tools include flares, distress radio beacons, laser pointers with lithium batteries, high-power LED lights with signaling capabilities, whistles, and signaling mirrors.

8) Retractable Gear is a Fantastic Space Saver
Space is always a chief concern when building a survival kit. 

There are some fantastic products which are designed to save space and add more value to your survival kit.

Sometimes they may cost a little more, but if they allow you to take an additional item, it is worth the expense.

7) Use Multiple Emergency First Aid Kits
Perhaps the most important aspect of a survival kit, the emergency first aid kit must include a wide array of items to deal with various medical emergencies. 

Unfortunately, they can become fairly bulky very quickly. 

One way around this issue is to use multiple emergency medical kits — one to carry with you while hiking or taking a short trip, and another more comprehensive kit which stays in your car or at your camp.

Smart preppers craft the contents of their kit to match the activity they will be performing and always take a medical kit with them.

6) Weatherproof Gear is Worth the Money

Experienced preppers understand that the weather is one of the toughest impediments to surviving in the wilderness. 

For this reason, everything that goes into the survival kit should be weather-resistant. 

The items should be able to survive submersion in water, dusty/sandy/icy environments and extreme temperatures.

Using gear which is not weatherproof can lead to disastrous results if you are forced to cross a waterway unexpectedly or the weather suddenly turns bad.

5) Knowledge and Skills Matter as Much as Gear
Many people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on their survival kit, ensuring they have the best gear available. 

However, if you lack the necessary knowledge to use the gear appropriately or deal with emergency situations, it could all be worth nothing.

Your knowledge base should include:

  • First aid knowledge — How to dress a wound, treat a burn, identify an infection
  • Navigational knowledge — Maps and navigational equipment
  • Survivalist and Environmental knowledge — The kinds of animals and plants which may be used to help you survive.  Survival tips including how to start a fire, build a shelter and so on.

Keep in mind that this information may not even be used by you! 

You might run into a situation where you have been injured and cannot gather food or light a fire by yourself. 

Another person might be required to perform these tasks and having this knowledge on hand could help them save your life.

Even if you are experienced with off-grid living, you might only have knowledge relating to a certain type of environment. 

What happens if you have an accident and are left stranded in a foreign location with completely different geographical conditions, wild life, plants and weather conditions? 

Knowledge is essential to survival.

4) Redundancy Matters

When first building a survival kit, many preppers use a checklist to ensure that they have an item for each survival task. 

For example, a lighter for starting a fire or some chemical tablets for making water safe to drink. 

However, if they lack redundancy for particularly important survival tasks, they are asking for trouble. 

Bring two or even three ways to start a fire, have multiple options for purifying water including chemical tablets and a small filtration system. 

Preppers should also consider the varying weather conditions may affect the viability of some items. 

A traditional lighter might struggle to help you build a fire in an extremely wet environment, for example.  If you are interested in off grid living, redundancy is particularly important.

3) Not all “Survival Foods” are Created Equal
Some foods that are sold as “survival foods” are actually packed with sugar and can do a great deal of damage in certain situations. 

If you are battling a fever or hypothermia, the last thing you want to eat is a sugary snack high in fructose corn syrup, because it will send your pancreas into overdrive. 

Pack natural foods that keep well under various weather conditions and provide you with a great deal of nutrition.

We recommend the Wise Food Kits if you’re going to be stocking up on survival foods. Click here to order.

2) Weight Matters
When choosing the items to go into your survival kit, the kit’s weight should always be monitored carefully. 

Look for items that offer great value without adding too much weight to your kit. 

For example, a Ferro-cerium rod might be a better option than a catalytic heater and gas bottle for lighting fires and cooking.

1) The Wrong Clothing

A common mistake for people building their first survival kit is not incorporating enough clothing or including inappropriate clothing. 

Take clothing that is one layer warmer than you think you will need.  That will ensure you can maintain your body temperature in the event of an accident or finding yourself stranded at night.

Also remember the ‘top and toes’ rule. 

Most of you body’s heat is lost through your head and feet. 

Even if the weather is quite warm, incorporate some comfortable socks and a beanie into your survival kit. 

You should also think about the kinds of materials used in the clothing in your survival kit. 

For example, cotton is fantastic at retaining warmth until it gets wet, then it can actually contribute to hypothermia! 

Materials like Polypropylene are hydrophobic (repels water), which makes them ideal for a base layer that keeps moisture off your skin. 

Wool is great for keeping you warm, nylon is tough and polyester is great at stopping wind penetration. 

Choose your clothes carefully!

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