Dec 05

Altoids Survival Kit: Mine is bigger than yours.

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).

 Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_01v2

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.

Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_Modsv2

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.

Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_04v2

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.

Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_05v2

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.

Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_Excludedv2

Here is what the kit looked like before shutting the lid.

Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_Insidev2

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.

Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_Frontv2

Altoids Survival Kit Supplies_Topv2




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    • Adrienne on April 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM
    • Reply

    How was the paracord that you bought from Wal-Mart? Was it 7 strand inside? I bought some from Home Deport and it was awful.

      • PJ on April 7, 2014 at 9:34 PM
      • Reply

      I never got to test it, I gave that kit away as a gift. 🙂

    • KJ on October 31, 2014 at 12:53 PM
    • Reply

    You could even weave a “holster” for the tin out of the paracord and attach it to a D-ring that you can use to clamp it to your belt, pack, etc.

  1. This was funny, I have most of that at home but need an Altoids container. I generally eat mint leaves. My truck emergency kit looks more like Mylar, blanket, snow boots, shovel, and a bale of hay for weight and traction on ice. I can add an Altoids kit. Just retired and “should” take emergency medical… eeeuuuwww. Let’s see if I can force myself. I love herbs and would enjoy herbalist training.

  2. This was funny, I have most of that at home but need an Altoids container. I generally eat mint leaves. My truck emergency kit looks more like Mylar, blanket, snow boots, shovel, and a bale of hay for weight and traction on ice. I can add an Altoids kit. Just retired and “should” take emergency medical… eeeuuuwww. Let’s see if I can force myself. I love herbs and would enjoy herbalist training.

  3. Are those Wazoo Survival Gear Ranger Bands?

    • Cat on December 6, 2016 at 8:08 AM
    • Reply

    My husband recently brought home 2 empty altoids tins. I am going to make a couple kits for Christmas gifts. Cool gifts that easily fit into a stocking. Thanks for the tips!

    • Steve Twigg on June 25, 2017 at 7:40 PM
    • Reply

    Do test your kit so that you know how to use it. What kind of emergency is it you expect? If lost in the woods overnight do you really need a fishing kit? Why a fishing kit at all? Your in an emergency situation! You can’t afford to sit about fishing! What about water collection, warmth and shelter? Love to watch someone try to cut branches with a razor blade!
    If you breakdown on the way to work your not going to camp out, a mobile phone would probably be more use.
    Examine your normal life and ask “what if?” How would you cope, what would you have to do? Forget the big things like zombie apocalypse, metor strike, emp, nuclear war and concentrate on what might really happen. What if your car is stolen or your home burns down and your at work?
    If you live in a tower block or an apartment how would you get out? Then what? A credit card (or better yet a debit card) would be useful!
    What if you get flooded out of your home? What would you need and where would you get it? Will everyone be raiding Walmart and the local 7/11?
    Don’t just read these articles (though useful) think about the situations YOU could be in.

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    • Roger on July 28, 2017 at 10:21 PM
    • Reply

    Personally I have never understood the ‘Altoids tin craze”, it seems more like a recipe for failure than anything else! Certainly, something almost has to be better than never, doesn’t it or does it lead to false confidence, demoralizing at best! IMHO, your container, whatever it’s size should be air/water tight and self-locking like a food-storage container (I prefer Lock&Lock), wet bandaids are useless! Realistic shelter material in a kit this small is not going to happen. You have two water purification tablets but no container to use them in; were you planning on using the tin as a water container, which might hold 4-6 ozs. with a tablet probably designed to be used in a 32 oz (1 quart) container? Perhaps you can crush the tablet and measure out the correct amount. The Lock&Lock (L&L) containers are plastic so you couldn’t use them to boil water in but with a pre-cut length of heavy-duty aluminum (or two), you could use the shape of the L&L to form a lightweight ‘pot’ to boil water in, making sure to have at least 8″ of extra length to form twist handles on both ends of your ‘pot’ so you can handle it! I see NO use for eye hooks or safety pins (they make lousy fish hooks) in a tiny kit like this. Please enlighten me. Single-edge razors are better because the ridge along the back spine gives much better control with a thinner and sharper edge! If you think you need a spear tip, then why not include a couple of screw-in arrow heads (not the ones with replaceable blades, too flimsy), you could bore a small hole in the end of a staff/limb, screw the arrow head in slowly to form internal threads, remove the arrow head, put pine pitch in the hole, screw the arrow head back in, let dry and maybe tightly wrap some 550 cord around that end for extra strength. Instead of a straw with 2-3 matches add a ferro rod (the largest you can fit) as it will last a lot longer. That straw should contain sea salt instead, a lot more uses! You should pre-thread at least one of your needles because if you have to sew up a wound you need to be able to use it quickly; can you thread a needle with cold, shaky hands? You have two short pencils but nothing to write on? I wouldn’t put super glue in your kit because if it leaks!!? Even a foot of duct tape has almost countless uses.
    Lastly, wrap your 550 cord around the outside of your container length-wise so you don’t have to unwrap and rewrap your cordage every time you want into your container! GLAHP!

  1. […] Altoids survival kits.  I recently made one of these kits, and really there is no rule that says you have to use an Altoids tin either.  Obviously not for […]

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