I recently got caught up in the YouTube black hole (i.e. how did I go from gun reviews to fainting goats?) and found a pretty cool Altoids survival kit video. Drawing inspiration from that video I decided to try my hand at making my own survival kit, but with one catch: I would be starting from scratch. My challenge would be to create an Altoids survival kit from products purchased at Walmart, which might replicate what a new prepper completely starting from ground zero would have to do. With that in mind I set off on my journey to mingle with the people of Walmart.
I arrived at the superstore and was distraught to find that the antibacterial wipes were empty, you know the ones you wipe down the handle of your cart with. What’s that you say? You never use the wipes? I bet if you knew that 72% of grocery carts had FECAL MATTER on them you would change your tune…but I digress. I wandered around the store moving from the first aid section to the hygiene section, tossing stuff I thought I would need into my cart while dodging overweight people on rascal scooters. I made it to the outdoor section unscathed, picked up a few more things, scoffed at the high priced ammo in small quantities and headed over to hardware. From hardware it was over to the arts and crafts section (I had to leave my man card at the front of the aisle) to pick up some needles and hemp cord. I was shocked to see that they stocked 550 para cord there, into the cart with you! I finally made it to the front counter and was pretty sure I had everything with the exception of the Altoids tin. No problem, I’ll just snag one up from the impulse purchase rack before checking out (so I thought). Hilarity ensued when I found out there were no Altoids to be found anywhere near the checkout lanes! Alas I would have to stop at a gas station on the way home, which I eventually did.
When I got home I laid everything out on the floor so that I could marvel at my purchases and so that I could take a picture for you all. Keep in mind this is about $70 worth of stuff, an absolutely ridiculous amount of money to spend on one Altoids survival kit but remember I was simulating starting from ground zero. If I wanted to I could probably squeeze another 5 or 6 kits out of this stuff in order to maximize my return on investment. What you see here is all of the booty I was able to scavenge from my adventure to Walmart (minus the actual Altoids tin which was purchased at a gas station).
Now that I had all of my supplies I had to make a few modifications in order to get them into the Altoids tin, some of which ended up working and some (I later found out) did not. I took apart the folding knife and kept only the blade which I wrapped with 550 cord. The thought being that I could use it as a spear if need be, securing the blade to a stick with the 550 cord. I cut a straw into pieces and filled one part with a few waterproof matches, the other part with a squirt from the triple antibiotic cream. The ends of the straw were sealed with duct tape. I also sawed a pencil into thirds, discarding the middle section. One end I wrapped with dental floss, the other I wrapped with some 6lb fishing cord. Finally as my last act I wrapped a small Bic lighter with some hemp cord. Here is what all of that looked like.
Modifications complete it was time to lay out everything that I had assembled to fit inside the tin. Getting to this point involved quite a bit of unpackaging, dropping small things on the carpet and organizing. Once I had what I thought would fit I snapped this photo.
From there I set to work on the lid and bottom of the tin. The plan was to affix small flat pieces to these surfaces as they would fit nicely here and did not take up much space. To the lid I taped 2 razor blades, 3 fishing hooks and a match striker. To the bottom I taped 2 sewing needles, 2 eyelet screws and 4 safety pins. I took a photo of this and also made sure to include the fishing sinkers which I placed inside of a re-purposed alcohol swab package.
Once the lid and bottom were complete I set about trying to fit everything else inside the tin. It took about 10 seconds to realize that this simply would not happen. I unwrapped the 550 cord from the knife and figured that I could simply wrap it around the outside of the tin. I reduced my band-aids, alcohol swabs and other medical supplies by half. The super glue would not fit, nor would 2 of the 4 water purification tablets that I thought would fit. Once I finally got everything to fit these were the items which did not make the cut.
Here is what the kit looked like before shutting the lid.
I ended up strapping the 550 cord and flashlight to the outside of the kit, in addition to 4 rubber bands (which I had planned to put there all along). Overall I’m pretty pleased with the final result and the trial and error was a worthwhile learning experience. Hopefully you’ll be able to learn from my mistakes and come up with your own Altoids survival kit, a great little device to stick in your glove box during your work commute or in a backpack while on a day hike.