Essential Survival 

Do You Need a Pocket Survival Kit?

To find the best pocket survival kit for yourself, you have two choices; buy online or build your own. However, there are a lot of products online, offering a multitude of tools and gear that you don’t really need. Also, some top line brands are missing the most vital of survival items from their kits, such as a heat blanket.

If you want to understand your survival essentials, then yes you do need to build a pocket survival kit. And I strongly recommend that you do try to build your own pocket sized kit, rather than buy one online. However, you can purchase one online and add to its contents, to make a more suitable pocket kit.

Check out the posts comparing my pocket survival kit with other online kits available. You’ll see what the best pocket survival kits are in those comparison posts and whether you should buy or build one.

If you’re here to build your own Pocket Survival Kit, 72 hour survival kit or even a Bug out Bag. Then you’re already on your way to increasing your Essential Survival Fitness. And the Pocket Survival Kit is the most important kit of them all.

Essential Survival Questions

Survival is essential and not to be confused with existing, we exist to work, play and grow our families. There are potential survival situations in doing all of those things and they require unique approaches for each of them. Also, without a doubt, they will all require some sort of survival gear to help you out!

Almost all survival situations will be unexpected in some way and potentially surprising you, without any survival kit or tools. To get through a situation like that, you’ll need a practiced knowledge of survival skills and experience.

Could you make it to the Ocean and back?

It’s for this reason, you will need to have undertaken some pre planning and that could be as simple as educating yourself. Practicing skills with and without using survival tools, will go a long way when the time comes to save yourself. Planning, also means studying the area and environment that you’re in or heading, so you can better understand your risks and opportunities.

The Pocket Survival Kit (PSK)

The “How to build a pocket survival kit” post will centre around the contents and packing of a PSK. Here, I will discuss further why it is the most important piece of kit you can carry on you anywhere. My pocket-sized kit is a constant work in progress and I’m always finding new gear and re-engineering it’s packing.

As a result, this has taught me to only consider the essential items that you need for absolutely basic survival.

Just below is a random list of items you may find offered in the pre made kits available online. Some do have great contents, that you can use to build your own kit but other items are probably best stored in your larger survival bag or bug out bag. I will be commenting on the next kit sizes up from the pocket size in other posts so check these out too.

Survival Kit Posts:

Online Survival Kit Contents:

  • Multi tool/ Folding knife
  • Wire saw
  • Tiedowns or Cord
  • Sewing kit
  • Scalpel blade
  • Signal mirror
  • Magnifying glass
  • Heat Blanket
  • Fire starting devices
  • Tinder
  • Flashlight
  • Button compass
  • Rescue Whistle
  • Safety Matches
  • Water purification tablets
  • Fishing gear
  • Snare wire
  • Money
  • Pencil and Paper

Packing Limitations

After reading the list, it’s hard to argue that you wouldn’t want all these items available to you, when stuck in the wilderness. Just not so much stuff that your pocket-sized kit is no longer “Pocket” sized. The PSK has a more specialized purpose, than just making your stay in the wild more comfortable.

Packed with the right gear, it’s the backstop for your essential survival! It’s definitely a break open only in case of emergency kit and I don’t mean never to open it again. The contents must be checked and replaced as required and it must never leave your pocket when in the wild.

pocket survival kit
Survival Fitness Inside

The Pocket Survival Kit and its Essential Purpose

Imagine you have set yourself up a grand camp site in the wilderness and complete with all the modern survival gear. You’re generating wind and solar power, you have water purification systems, ablutions, communications, food and warmth. Sounds as great as it should be.

Picture returning to your camp after a pleasant foraging session, (looking for a Kale substitute plant?) and finding an 11-foot-tall Brown Bear. Also enjoying the comforts of your camp life. You watch on helplessly as it crushes your solar array and pulls down your windmill, while spilling all your purified water in the process.

After a few minutes the Bear has flattened your Bivouac and devoured your Kale. Now it turns its attention to your beloved Bug out Bag, BoB, most likely going for the Jerky as he shreds BoB to get at it! That was the last straw, as your connection back to your LIFE is severed and you scream out, “BoB, noooo!”

Now, Mr Brown Bear is coming for you! In a panic you bolt straight over an unseen escarpment and tumble down a 100ft ravine. Luckily, the soft muddy ground spared you serious injury and you can still gingerly move all your bits.

The Bear has just eviscerated your best laid plans and put your life in immediate danger by destroying your main kit. Just how much danger will depend mostly on the surroundings you are in. Although, there aren’t many environs where humans can exist safely for long periods and without amenity.

The Last Resort

Ok, that example is unlikely, although, it is likely that you could become separated from your main kit by unforeseen events. Your level of Survival Fitness will be evident in what you have on you when all else is lost. Hopefully you landed at the bottom of the ravine with your pants on. Even if you lose all your other clothes, just not the pants. For two reasons, well, three reasons:

  1. Dignity
  2. Your belt and your trusty knife(ves) strapped to it
  3. Your pocket survival kit

All you will need to do is reach down and feel the Pocket Survival Kit still in your pocket and you will KNOW that you have all the gear. Now you can concentrate on deciding the next move outta there without the stress of having no resources.

It is for this reason, that the PSK becomes the backstop for your survival, to use when all else is lost. Further to that, you must develop a routine of keeping it in your pocket and tethered to your belt when in the wild. Anytime you take it from your pocket and leave it behind, you decrease your chances of survival significantly.

bndage wrapped pocket survival kit
Survival Fitness Outside
tape wrapped around survival kit
Need to pack duct tape?

Serious Bear Advice

  • Stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may consider that a threat. Do not run. Make yourself appear large by holding out your jacket. If you have small children, pick them up so they don’t run.
  • Give the bear plenty of room to escape, so it doesn’t feel threatened or trapped. If a black bear attacks you, fight back using anything at your disposal, such as rocks, sticks, binoculars or even your bare hands. Aim for the bear’s nose and eyes.
  • If the bear has not seen you, stay calm and slowly move away, making noise so the bear knows you are there. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.

Some good advice there and another example of knowledge once learned only adds to your Survival Fitness!

Practice Before Packing

Every time I go out camping/hiking/outdoors, I test and practice using the devices I’ve chosen for my Pocket Survival kit. Testing and refining or replacing disappointing equipment is a must. Especially if you’re going to place your life on it and remember to practice using them in all conditions.

Try lighting a fire with the wind blasting you! Seriously, it’s not fun and an educational experience. Respect fire, understand and master it!

What Do You Put Inside a Pocket Survival Kit?

pocket survival kit contents

Well almost everything on that internet list and what’s not in there was not deemed worthy. It was a challenge, to not only fit the most needed items but to also fit in spares for the most critical items as well. It’s only a small pocket-sized container remember.

Building your own kit step by step is covered in this post, including a spreadsheet I used to determine the true usefulness of each item. I used the spreadsheet to focus in on the items that scored 10 or more and then I packed them in. (with back-ups!) But not without some engineering though!

Later posts will focus on each item inside the Pocket Survival Kit and the reasoning for its inclusion. Also, I will focus on the versatility you should be looking for in each item. You may also note that there is no knife in my Pocket Survival Kit. And that’s because it would be an embarrassing knife, compared to the one always strapped onto my belt.

The Knife

72 hour survival kit contents
72 Hour Survival Kit Tools

While the Pocket Survival Kit represents the pinnacle of your Survival Fitness. (it has to be lean, mean and packed to the seams) Your knife selection and use will greatly improve your chances of making it back to civilization and living out your life. Hopefully with great experiences to tell us all!

While your knife won’t guarantee your survival on its own, it will make some survival tasks more achievable. And likely make your survival duties a whole lot easier to carry out in general.

Hunting knife or survival knife?


Like the versatility packed into your Pocket Survival Kit, your knife has a stunning array of versatility built in. That’s why the knife is almost as important as your PSK. Here are some uses I can think of and checkout how the knife rates highly on the spreadsheet too!

  • Chop firewood, slice and fillet food, cut and shave tinder, pierce, stab or gouge out things for water/food access
  • Scalpel, splinters etc
  • Signalling – polished blade only of course
  • Hunting
  • Defense

Versatility built in. I’m sure there are more examples, which is why I would generally have two knives fixed to my belt. One of which could be a top quality Multitool, such as my choice or you could have all three on there.

The sole purpose of the back up knife is really just risk mitigation. No.2 knife does all the nasty work you would rather spare your No.1 knife from, think:

  • Chopping wood
  • Hunting (spear tip)
  • Gouging or levering hard bark or husk from fruits/nuts
  • Any activity that will reduce the fine cutting edge or risk snapping the blade

It could be that you use the built-in knife of your Multitool as your No.2 knife but it’s more than likely going to break off. If so, it can become your permanent spear tip and you’ll still have your No.1 knife. You might even be able to fashion a handle for the broken blade out of a tree branch.

Either way you won’t be too disadvantaged and the myriad of other applications the Multitool provides, more than make up for a broken blade. It is for this reason I would go for a second knife as well as the Multitool but only when carrying a 72 hour survival kit.

Read this post to see what I chose for my back up knife, in the larger 72 hour kit and Bug out Bag.

72 Hour Emergency Kit

72 hour survival kit
Water Resistant

What’s Inside a 72 Hour Survival Kit?

This basically your Pocket Survival kit on steroids. It has all the things your PSK does, only more of it and more of a medical and rescue theme to it. Simply due to the larger size of the bag/pouch, you can fit more and perhaps better-quality items. Such as alternative (more reliable) ways to light a fire and/or collect/purify water, signal etc.

As your PSK is to remain in your pocket for an emergency only, then the 72 hr kit is for your everyday needs. For example, any daily camp tasks like fire lighting, water and food resources, are taken from this pack. As well as any other gear you use during the day, like a compass or mess tin for instance.

Size Matters

The larger sized bag, also allows for the ability to carry a better means of effecting your rescue. Think signal flares or brightly coloured reflective materials. Again, you will be able to pack in larger bandages and medicine into the secondary survival bag/pouch. Maybe even insect repellents and the like and certainly if you’ve gone into the tropical latitudes.

There may be room for long life rations and other food sources and don’t forget the Salt. Of course, a torch and batteries to spare, would find their way into this secondary bag and even a spare radio or the like.

The inclusion of the essential contents will be dictated by their score on your spreadsheet and there will be items that are specifically selected to suit the environment. For some people, there will be medicines that will be essential to pack in the PSK and 72 hr kit.

Carry Your 72 Hour Kit with Ease

The most important aspect of this size bag, will be its ease and comfort to carry on you. I have two versions of this kit; a standalone 72 hour kit and a Bug out Bag with a detachable 72 hour kit. In either case, the 72 hour kit needs to be of a practical size and carried with ease when on the move.

Keep this kit, small and light enough to carry with you everywhere, so you’re not just relying on your pocket kit for survival. For example, if you were to head out from your camp to forage for food, then the 72 hour kit is the bag you take along.

Check out my choice of a standalone 72 Hour Survival Kit in the post here:

What is a Bug out Bag? – BoB

Obviously, if you were to head out into the wilderness for the weekend, you would need a larger bag. It has many names but I prefer the sound of Bug out Bag over all of them. With this sized bag, we arrive at the limits that you can physically or comfortably carry on your back over a distance.

Whereas your two smaller kits are packed with essential survival gear, your Bug out Bag won’t be. It will have packing space for any spare consumables that you require, like medicines or even rations. However, primarily your BoB will carry the gear to help you thrive in the wild, like a tent and sleeping bag.

What to Put Inside a Bug out Bag?

Bug out Bag items could include:

  • spare clothing
  • bedding or sleeping bag
  • tent
  • short term rations
  • better communication/navigation equipment including maps etc
  • Larger Survival Tools

Its important to include in your Bob, as much spare essential survival items as you can. You can then restock your 72 hour kit as required and also when around camp, you can use these reserves instead. This will prevent you from having to raid the smaller kits, when not an emergency and ensure the small kits stay stocked up.

Kit Size Breakdown

  • The Pocket Survival Kit has the essentials for emergency survival packed inside. And it’s carried in your pocket! Always, when outdoors camping and the like and only to be used when all else is lost.
  • The 72 Hour Survival Kit carries the same essential survival contents as the PSK, in more quantity and better reliability. As well as some larger survival tools and other gear, such as a compass or even GPS.
  • The Bug out Bag should carry the 72 Hour Survival Kit and items that you can do without but rather not, like a sleeping bag.

What Makes a Good Bug out Bag?

survival bag
Bug out Bag in Urban survival mode

Your choice of a Bug out Bag will be governed by these redeeming features:

  • Comfort and large carry capacity, mostly comfort though
  • An array of pockets, compartments and webbing, all strong and durable
  • Most importantly, just to look at your BoB sitting ready to go in your garage, makes you want to pick it up and just get out into the wilderness.

And you will be able to do just that, without thinking about what’s in your BoB. You’ll have done that already and you will KNOW you can survive with that bag(s). All you have to worry about is the weather and traffic on the way out of town and to make sure you let someone know where you are bugging out to.

Remember your rescuers are risking their lives to save yours!

If you follow these steps:

Pocket Survival Kit in your pocket – ALWAYS.

Carry 72 Hour Survival Kit in your BoB

Then the remaining contents of the BoB are up to you to decide – Glamping anyone?

Where to From Here

Once you have built up the foundations of your survival platform, from the PSK to BoB, you’re ready to plan your next adventure. The details brought out from that planning, may require you to make further refinements to your kit. For example, if you’re heading into a desert environment, you would add more gear to accommodate that scenario.

You can read the post on how to build a Bug out Bag here:

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Thanks for reading and see you in the wild!

Pacific Sun

by bing74

July 27, 2020

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