The Best Survival Kit for Kids is the One You Equip Them With
It’s never too early to teach kids about survival skills. Heck, with the world they’re going to inherit, it’s probably the least we can do… There are all types of themed survival kits these days, “zombie survival kit for kids, back to school survival kit for kids, testing survival kit for kids,” and even, “Christmas Eve survival kit for kids.” At DECKED, we think the best survival kit for kids is one that they will actually use. One that you teach them how to use because survival skills aren’t inherited—they are learned. If your kids see you and your truck ready for whatever Mother Nature and this crazy world throws at you; well, it’s only natural that your kids will want to take part too.
What’s In the Best Survival Kit for Kids?
Since you’ve found your way to the DECKED Blog, we’re gonna go out on a limb here and assume that you’re confident in DIY. We’re gonna assume that you don’t mind curating the best items for your “build” and are willing to gather up some things that would make the most sense for your kid and your family’s lifestyle.
Don’t add a fishing pole to your kid’s survival kit for the woods if you don’t plan on ever taking your kids to a lake. Just like you wouldn’t add a bowie knife to a kit you’re making for your three-year-old hell-on-wheels preschooler who can’t yet be trusted.
The point is, it’s important to pick the right tools for the job, the right fit for the occasion. So far, we haven’t found a survival kit for kids that is one-size-fits-all, one size fits every family because families are weird, y’all. But, we do have a few recommendations to get you started fostering a life-long love of self-reliance, the great outdoors, and what to do if a zombie comes thudding up to your door. (Run, right?)
Kid Survival Kit Supplies
We may be in the business of making the best damn truck bed organizational accessories, but some of us here also have kids—so we know what those little buggers like.
In terms of survival kits for adults, we have the DECKED x Uncharted D-Bag Emergency Kit and the DECKED x Pathfinder Survival Kit for sale on our website. We had the pleasure of working with companies who are experts in their fields to create these cool collabs, but in terms of items that you would put in a kid’s survival kit? Hardly any of this stuff is appropriate.
So when DIYing the ultimate Kid’s Survival Kit, you’ll need to think about not only the types of items that will be safe for kids, but also ones that will build a foundation of skills and make them feel like they are making valuable contributions.
In addition to basic survival items that we’ll discuss below, you may want to supplement your “survival kit for kids list” with things like a bug-catching kit, a field lens, a nature journal, a microscope, and other educational and not necessarily “survival” items per say, but ones that will set the stage for a great performance of life-long rugged independence, the kind you see when someone truly understands and thrives off of the natural world.
What to Put in an Outdoor Survival Kit for Kids
Victorinox Junior Swiss Army Knife
This starter Swiss Army Knife is a great introduction to pocket knives as the blade comes with a rounded tip. It won’t poke an eye out! If you are right-now-years-old in learning about this—don’t worry, we were too until a buddy let us in on this awesome parenting hack.
The Victorinox Junior comes with:
- Large blade with a rounded tip
- Nail file
- Nail cleaner
- Phillips screwdriver ½
- Wood saw
Photo Credit: Jerica Pender
This multi-function tool is awesome for kids who are ready to experiment in whittling and wood carving, and not just that, keeping track of the knife, learning about the situations it can be used in, and also when it’s not safe to use a knife, like when other people are too close or in “your body bubble,” are all great lessons too.
NoCry Cut-Resistant Gloves
The restaurant industry and savvy home cooks swear by these, but cut resistant-gloves make a great addition to a survival kit for kids who may be ready to level up to the ‘real deal’ in Swiss Army knives, but for parents who aren’t quite sure they can stomach what their youngsters would start cookin’ up.
The cut-resistant gloves come in kid sizes, generally one size for four to seven-year-olds, and another size for eight to twelve-year-olds.
Easy Wood Carving for Children
In his book, “Easy Wood Carving for Children: Fun Whittling Projects for Adventurous Kids,” Frank Egholm teaches knife safety skills in addition to beginner wood carving crafts that will get your kids excited about working with knives and the power they can have in various different situations.
To set kids up for success right away, don’t forget to grab a pack of soft basswood to go with it.
Fishing Pole and Tackle Box
Photo Credit: Jerica Pender
If your kids don’t have their first pole yet, adding one to their survival kit is a great place to start. You have heard the old adage, (probably too many times), that if you give a person a fish, they can eat for a day, but if you teach them how to fish, they can eat for life, right?
It’s no different for kids. Being able to catch, gut, and filet their own fish is a basic survival skill and one that kids can master at a pretty young age.
Start them off with an inexpensive pole at first because chances are, it’s going to get broken, lost, or dropped in the drink. If you want an unsolicited, yet ultra-pro tip for surviving fishing trips with kids: tie their fishing poles to their life jackets. Why? Don’t ask us how we know this…Sigh.
But for the tackle box? You can splurge on the tackle box. Get one that is made to last so you aren’t adding more plastic to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch unnecessarily, it’s your kid’s world, afterall.
We think our DECKED Crossbox makes the perfect first tackle box for kids. With its compact size, common bolt and bit guide, and ruler built into the lid, it is not only educational but also a manageable size for kids.
The Crossbox comes standard with our DECKED Drawer System as part of our epic, modular truck bed organizational accessories, but with a capacity weight of 40 pounds, this handy little Crossbox is perfect for kids and you can fill it up with tackle, or use it as the container for the rest of their survival items.
Crossbox dimensions: 17.5” x 10.75” x 7.75”
Beginner Archery Set
Taking aim and hitting your intended target is a skill that takes years to master. And it wasn’t all that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that our ancestors wouldn’t have dared to go anywhere without their bow and arrows.
Whether used to provide sustenance, protection, or entertainment, an archery set made of real wood, and arrows with real feathers make a great addition to an outdoor survival kit for kids.
In getting a set made from natural materials, you're equipping your kids with a more traditional experience, and you can also complement the lesson by teaching them to craft their own arrows by carving the sticks and attaching an arrowhead and feather.
There’s a great, inexpensive set on Amazon that has a full set up for two kids, complete with quivers and fletched (feathered) wooden arrows made of bamboo. Don’t worry, we won’t tell your kids what you’re really up to with this: improving their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and cognitive abilities.
Photo Credit: Jerica Pender
Bow Drill Kit
Unrelated to the bow above, a bow drill is a primitive fire starter tool where friction is what starts the fire. Fire-building skills are among the things that matter most in survival situations and being able to build a fire using patience, persistence, attentiveness, and concentration are valuable life lessons too.
A good bow drill kit will come with:
- A spindle
- A bow
- Jute tinder
Rope or Paracord, and Reference Material
We all know how useful paracord is, and even elementary-aged children are ready to be given a length of this stuff, or any rope for that matter, to start learning knots and the various other things that this invaluable survival tool can do.
But for kids, (and maybe even yourself), adding a reference guide to the mix can teach kids to create dozens of different types of knots. Reference Ready brand makes some kid-proof reference cards where kids can learn the 19 most useful rock climbing knots, the 20 most useful boating and sailing knots, and the 22 most useful camping and backpacking knots.
Plant Identification Book
The berries of Gaultheria shallon, or salal. Photo Credit: Jerica Pender
Being able to identify and name the plant life around you is a liberating skill. It is a deeply-rooted, yet mostly forgotten skill of foraging for food like roots, shoots, and berries. There are a great number of books that teach kids how to open their eyes up to the plants around them, and the most important thing when selecting this type of book for building an emergency survival kit for kids is selecting a reference book that is targeted toward the region that you live in.
Folks who live on their prairie with its wealth of unique plants and flowers won’t be well-served by a guide to trees found in Alaska, just like the tropical plants of a Florida swamp won’t help identify the edible plants in the Pacific Northwest.
The best guides are in workbook-format for the youngest learners and the reference material grows more advanced for the older kids.
The Best Survival Kits for Grown-Ups
This list got your wheels turnin’? If you haven’t already, take a look at the DECKED Drawer System and the DECKED Tool Box as water-resistant and water-proof places to store all of the gear you don’t want to get caught going down the road without.
What’s even better, is that we’ve made adult survival kits easy because we’ve already curated the best supplies. The DECKED x Uncharted D-Bag Emergency Kit is packed in our famous D-Bag, (the only one you’re ever gonna like), or the DECKED x Pathfinder Survival Kit all fits smartly in our D-Box.
Let’s take a quick look at what these ready-to-go survival kits have to offer:
Our collab with Uncharted Supply Co. makes a great roadside emergency kit, as you never know what you’ll encounter out on the road, especially in the places you’re taking your truck. With the Uncharted D-Bag Emergency Kit, there are supplies to keep two people alive for 72 hours, all tucked into a bag that can be worn on your back, carried like a briefcase, and of course, stashes into the Drawer System like a boss.
Our collab with the Pathfinder Survival School and Dave Canterbury, survival expert, features all of the basics for survival out in the wilderness, yet in the highest-qualities that Canterbury could source. This handpicked selection features items that are part of what Canterbury has defined as the basic survival items that have been used since the days of our early ancestors, except made of modern materials. Just for Pathfinder’s IFAK Emergency Medical Kit alone is worth snagging this setup.
OK, so we can’t help you take care of your kids day-in and day-out, or make them wonderful, virtuous human beings, but what we can do is help you get equipped with some of the tools that will help you pick up the scent of the right trail.
Oftentimes all kids need is a few rocks and a piece of chalk to keep them occupied and interacting with the natural world, but for the times when the situation calls for a little more—there’s always DECKED. So get yourself DECKED out first, and then after that, consider getting your kids decked out too.
Photo Credit: Jerica Pender