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Survival Kits: The Ultimate Survival Guide

Survival Kits: The Ultimate Survival Guide

A man wearing a gas mask in the aftermath of a nuclear event


The old saying from the Boy' Scout says "always be prepared" and it's good advice for everything. You can’t get more prepared than with an emergency kit. During an actual emergency, you rarely have time to go and find certain items that are very important. Avoid being unprepared by simply getting yourself an emergency kit and storing it somewhere safe. In an actual emergency, you will find that you are adequately prepared and can survive any situation without too much discomfort.

Some of you may have never even heard of a survival kit. If that is the case, keep reading and we’ll take you from a newbie to an expert on all things survival kits.

What is a survival kit?

As the name implies, a survival kit is a kit that is made to help you get through an emergency. The kit will usually have basic supplies and some tools that will surely come in handy in the event of an emergency. Even though the nature of emergencies usually differs and requires different things, some common tools can serve in any emergency. Survival kits are very common in the military and other non-civilian outfits but are not exclusive to these outfits alone. Civilians can own survival kits, and as a matter of fact, there are survival kits designed for civilians to have at home in case it is ever needed.

Here, we have items you can find in a survival kit laid out on a table

Why do you need a survival kit?

Disaster doesn’t always come with a warning, and when it strikes, it can create a bit of chaos. In such an event, you will be glad to have a survival kit at home rather than foraging for supplies. Depending on where you live, the possibility of disaster may be so low that you may not feel the need to get a survival kit. Other than being prepared for an emergency, there are many other reasons why you may want to invest in a survival kit, and they include:

  • You can handle a wide range of emergencies: Even in the absence of a disaster, you can still be faced with some emergencies, like a power blackout. You will be able to navigate such events easily where most others may not be able to. Additionally, you can prevent the possibility of injury, illness, or even starvation by simply having a survival kit at home.

  • You have important necessities: Having certain important items in an emergency is the difference between surviving an emergency intact and a trip to the emergency room. Depending on the nature of the emergency, you have a greater chance of surviving with the right tools. These tools are usually packed into a good survival kit and will always come in handy. The best part is that some of these tools can also come in handy in your daily activities sometimes. So, you may not always have to wait for an emergency to find a use for your survival kit.
  • Long shelf lives: You won’t have to worry about changing your survival kit periodically as they tend to last a long time. Most survival kits don’t come with edible products and when they do, they usually contain food items that don’t go bad easily. Thus, once you buy a survival kit, you won’t have to worry about it for a long time, and it will be available if you need it.
  • Very mobile: You don’t have to worry about moving or transporting a survival kit as they are usually small and don’t weigh much. You can take them with you on a trip or when you are planning to spend some time outdoorswe see a person carrying a backpack with a survival kit
  • Designed for different emergencies: Survival kits are usually designed for certain emergencies and having them makes these emergencies easier. Some sort of emergencies are common to certain geographic locations or events and survival kits can make them easy. Each survival kit will come with items that are specific to the nature of the emergency it is designed for.
  • You get peace of mind: The most obvious reason to have a survival kit is that it helps to put your mind at ease. Knowing that in the case of any emergency you have a head start, you get to sleep calmer at night and be one step ahead should an emergency arise.

What makes a good survival kit?

Everyone wants the best things they can afford and the same goes for buying a survival kit. When you are buying a survival kit, you would like to know that you have bought a good one. The best survival kit is one that meets all your emergency needs, is easy to transport, and can last for a long time. It also helps if the survival kit is versatile and can handle other emergencies, not just the one it was designed for alone.

Some items necessary for surviving the outdoors

What can I find in a good survival kit?

Every good survival kit should contain some basic items that can be used in different kinds of emergencies. This way, they can come in handy even in an emergency that the kit was never intended for. Some of the items you can expect to find in a good survival kit include:

  • Water: It is important to stay hydrated and this becomes more important in the event of an emergency. Depending on the nature of the emergency and the number of people the kit is designed to cater to, you may require different amounts of water. You will however need enough to last a few days at the very least, or a few weeks for certain kinds of emergencies.
  • A flashlight: A flashlight should be the first thing you check for in a survival kit. You will also need to make sure it is a battery-powered flashlight. You should also ensure that there are extra batteries as you may need the flashlight for long periods.
  • Non-perishable food: food should be a part of your survival kit. You will however need to make sure that it is non-perishable food. You don’t know how long it will be before you will need the survival kit, and you can’t have the food going bad. Bad food will attract insects and rodents that can even damage other items in the emergency kit.
  • Medical kit: You never know what you will face in an emergency and it is good to have a plan for all scenarios. Most emergencies usually end up with someone getting bruised or injured, especially one that has to do with natural disasters. A medical kit will allow you to treat and sanitize any injuries, preventing any infection and allowing you to manage until you can get the proper care. In some cases, you may not even need any further attention once the situation is handled properly.Medical items you can find in a medical bag
  • Emergency contact information: You can rely on your cell phones or Google Maps to guide you where you want to go during an emergency. Instead, you will need to have an address or an area you are headed to rather than wandering.
  • Personal documents: You may want to keep a copy of documents that you don’t have easy access to in a survival kit. Items like your birth certificate, proof of ownership, or a map will all come in handy in case of an emergency. To be on the safe side, you can even store some cash in the survival kit as you never know if you’ll be needing it.

How long should a good survival kit last?

There is no fixed duration on how long a survival kit should last; however, it should be able to last a long time. A good place to start will be for the survival kit and items in it to be able to last at least 5-10 years without requiring any attention or changes.

Types of survival kits

Mini survival kits

A mini survival kit is designed to be small enough that you can carry it easily while still catering to your emergency needs. In the event of an emergency, you will not have the opportunity to lug around large items, especially if speed is necessary. Some of the items you can expect to find in it include a compass, waterproof matches, plastic bags, and knives, amongst others.A portable survival kit you can carry on you always

Emergency kit

This type of survival kit is mostly referred to as the 72-hour kit since that is how long it is typically designed to last. The kit is designed to mostly help you evacuate in case of an emergency, rather than survive in your current location. These items come in handy when you live somewhere where a natural disaster is a possibility. Some items an emergency kit usually contains includes food, cell phone chargers, battery-powered radio, maps, sleeping bag, and since the covid-19 outbreak, items like face masks and hand sanitizers.

Lifeboat survival kits

If you are going out on the sea, then this type of survival kit is of the utmost importance. The items in this survival kit will help you stay alive in the event of a crash, or if you are stranded or lost. This kit is usually designed to cater to more than one person, and in many cases, can cater to as many as six people. It contains items that can also help with detection like hand flares, smoke signals, whistles, flashlights, all while still containing basic survival kit equipment.

Military kits

Based on the environment where the military operation is occurring, the contents of a military survival kit will usually vary. Seeing as most civilians won’t be needing military kits anytime soon, there is no need for you to get one in your home unless you’re doomsday prepping (and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing these days).Soldiers using a flare to signal their position

Spacecraft kits

This type of survival kit is generally designed for those who are traveling outside the earth's atmosphere, like astronauts. Landing isn’t always precise and the person may land in the wrong place and be stuck for a while. The survival kit is designed to help keep them alive until they can be found and rescued. (Yes, these really exist.)

Car survival kits

Seeing as extreme driving is a recreational activity, you also need survival kits for the vehicles. You will need to prepare for some unforeseeable circumstances like running out of gas in a deserted area or a part of the vehicle malfunctioning. A vehicle survival kit consists of all you may need including food in the event you are stuck for a while.


“Get me home” kit

This type of kit is usually carried around with you or stored in places you spend a lot of time, like the office. If cars are unavailable and you will need to get home on your own, this kit provides tools you may need to get home in one piece. Some items you can find in this kind of survival kit include food (only enough for 12 hours), clothes, a map, and comfortable shoes.


In the event you’re stuck somewhere with no signal and need to get out a message, then a go-kit may be just what you need. With a go-kit, you can set up a portable radio station and broadcast your signal till you are found and rescued.

Nuclear attack survival kit

Sadly, the world we live in comes with the possibility of a nuclear attack. Whether such an attack comes from terrorists or action from a hostile nation remains to be seen. We do, however, need to prepare in case such an event occurs. Some people already have nuclear bunkers designed specifically for such purposes, but a survival kit will also be necessary. Similarly, we have zombie survival kits that are designed to help you survive in the event of a zombie apocalypse (come on, one can never be too prepared).Survivors of a nuclear attack navigating their surroundings in protective gear

There are also survival kits that are designed for people of certain professions or certain kinds of individuals. As such, we have a teacher's survival kit, survival kits for kids, the animator’s survival kit, a retirement survival kit, and a back to school survival kits, amongst others.

How to build a survival kit

Instead of buying a survival kit, especially since they usually come pre-packaged and may not contain what you want, you can build your kit. This way, you get to choose what you have in the survival kit and you will likely spend less than you will on a name-brand survival kit. Building a survival kit at home is easy and you simply have to follow the steps:

  • Determine your emergency: Your items in the survival kit will need to be able to protect you from specific threats. Hence, you will need to know what you could face and the items best suited to help you survive such a threat.
  • First Aid: You could get injured and would need to cater to the injury and in the event of an emergency, a hospital may be unavailable.
  • A radio: You will still need information during an emergency and seeing as cell phones and TVs may be unavailable, radio is your best bet.An analog radio that uses batteries
  • Hydration: You will need a lot of water but try to limit it to something you can carry so you don’t have a survival kit that is too heavy.
  • Meal plan: You will also need to eat seeing as you won’t be able to cook, order in, or pop by your favorite restaurant when you’re hungry.
  • Light: When emergencies happen and you’re left alone, you will need to be able to make your way in the dark. You will need a powerful flashlight, preferably, one that is battery powered, or solar rechargeable.
  • Container: You will need to put all these items in a case that won’t easily be destroyed in case of a natural disaster. Find such a container and store all your survival kit items. DECKED has got you covered in this area. DECKED toolboxes are ideal for storing all these materials and can withstand water and fire damage. A decked toolbox that can withstand water and fire damage

Why should you build your survival kit?

Building your survival kit is important as you get to control what is in the kit. It does also come with the added benefit of costing less. The best part, however, it’s that you can build the survival kit with items that you already have in the house. You don't need to buy any added products, just simply pick them from your home and place them in your survival kit.

The dos and don’ts of building a survival kit

  • Do: Store important documents
  • Don’t: Include luxury items
  • Do: Have multiple storage locations
  • Don’t: store perishable items
  • Do: Store sanitation and medical items
  • Don’t: Include inflammable objects

So, what’s in your kit?

Having a survival kit can greatly help improve your chances of survival during an emergency. You also get the added advantage of being prepared for anything which comes with a certain peace of mind. Thanks to the durability of survival kits, you also don’t have to worry about replacing or changing any items in it for a long time.