9 Things You Should Know About Buying a Survival Kit

What you know could save your life in a survival situation

There are several factors to consider when you buy a survival kit. Failing to have a kit that addresses the needs for survival is the difference in buying a survival kit and buying a novelty item that caters to the survivalist crowd.

Here are 9 thinks you should know about buying a survival kit:

1) Does the pack have the essentials?

If you are buying a survival kit, the first question should be “does this kit have the bare essentials for survival?” If you find that the kit does not have the following items do not buy it:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Flashlight
  • A radio
  • A sharp knife
  • A hand size axe
  • A tarp for shelter
  • A means to make fire (a firecraft essential)


Remember, you have to have food, water, heat, and shelter to survive. Any kit which is advertising that it is fundamental to survival preppers but lacks the basics of providing the essentials should be discarded as just a novelty object.

2) Is the pack functional?

Your survival pack needs to be functional both in design as well as in application.

To explain: If you have a pack that is poorly designed, whether in a poor material or in the way in which the pack fits upon the back, you are handicapped.

Additionally, if the pack is flamboyant in design, you are at a disadvantage. Bug out bags/ survival bags are meant to be used in an event where you want NOT to draw attention but to avoid it.

Your pack should provide the design functionality, but also provide the function of being inconspicuous.

3) How are the tools constructed?

The contents of the bag should be catered to the long term survival of the purchaser.

This means that tools should not be plastic or cheaply constructed. If you have a bag where most of the tools are low end manufactured objects, you need to reconsider purchasing such a bag.

Knives should be sharp and the handles should be enforced with steel (preferable the blade will be steel and extend into the handle.). The knife should have a comfortable grip and provide easy use.

Tools which have moving parts that connect together (such as military shovels) should be inspected to see if the connectors are metal or plastic.

Furthermore, the gaskets of such designs need to be inspected to see if they are rubber or plastic.

Rubber fittings are preferred as they are less likely to break under heat or pressure.

4) Ensure you are not being Screwed

The screws in your survival pack are essential to the life of your pack. It is preferred that you pick a pack that has welds instead of screws.

However, if you have to choose a pack that has screws then you need to inspect the screws to see that they are not cheaply made.

If the pack is primarily held together with plastic screws, then avoid it like the plague.

If the pack has aluminum screws, you may want to rethink purchasing the pack as aluminum is very pliable and may result in bent or broken gear when traveling or when in high heat/cold climates. Metal screws should be used when welds are not available.

5) Can you start a fire multiple times with the fire starter?

I have seen several survival gear list which focus on strike anywhere matches and many emergency kits which only have such within them.

The problem with this is that, generally, these kits do not provide an ample supply of the matches, and even if they do you still will run out of them quickly.

What do you do then?

A pack that does not include a firecraft device (such as flint and steel) does not need to be purchased.

Your pack should at minimum have a flint and steel kit in it. An advanced pack will also have the contents to make a bowdrill.

6) Does the kit address the first aid kit effectively?

First, check to see if the survival kit has an emergency first aid kit. If there is no first aid kit, you are purchasing a useless kit.

Your kit should have a basic first aid kit at minimum (you will have to customize this if only purchasing the basics).

A more advanced kit will have the means to stich a wound, glue small cuts, heat a person to prevent hyperthermia, and have anti-allergy medication.

7) Keep in mind that they are in it for the money

Keep in mind that whenever you are purchasing something retail that the main drive of the seller is to turn a profit.

This means that the information and the objects within the bag are going to be provided at the top cost with the least amount of cost to the retailer.

You may be cheaper in buying the items individually for your bug out bag/ survival kit than in buying the kit with all the contents.

For example: if you buy a kit for $1000 and the contents inside usually retail for about $50 to $100 a piece, what have you really purchased?

Even if your pack has a low price tag, you have to consider the make and contents of the bag. 

You are always buying a mark-up whether it is a low markup for a low quality product or a 50% markup for a higher quality bag, you are paying for the retailer to pay their bills.

8) The brand DOES NOT mean that you are getting quality

Just because something says survival on it or has a popular brand name attached to the side of the bag does not mean that it is a quality product.

Check to see how the bag is made, what contents are in the bag and whether the tools are massed produced on an assembly line in a third world country or produced from a manufacturer that is driven on quality over quantity.

9) Does the survival kit meet your disaster plan?

A great survival kit is ineffective if it does not meet the demands for your disaster plan.

If you buy a kit which is primarily designed for urban survival but your plan is more for wilderness survival, it is useless.

The same is true for the vice versa of this.

Secondly, if your pack is catered to a natural disaster but fails to address the manmade disaster probabilities, it is weaker for it.

That being stated, if your pack is not geographically designed for disasters (being that if you are in a wildfire area that you plan for wildfires and not floods) your pack is ineffective.

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