Building a Survival Tin

During my travels to the backcountry of Montana I once heard a story that changed my outlook on survival and how quickly you can be placed in a life threatening situation. The story was about two hunters that were scouting for a place to set up their tree stand. They pulled their vehicle over, got out, and began walking through the snow covered wilderness. Days later they were pronounced missing; a search party found them a half a mile from their truck dead. It had been assumed that they got lost and hypothermia took their life due to the freezing night temperatures. What really stuck with me from this story is that both hunters had fully stocked survival kits in the truck but decided not to take it with them.

Why did they not take their survival gear? I can only guess they thought that they were within walking distance to their vehicle and didn’t plan on getting lost. Often times we build these elaborate kits that wind up being left behind because they are too bulky to carry, or like the hunters we plan to take a quick innocent walk.

In the recent years the tin-based survival kits have become extremely popular with those in the survival/preparedness community. The idea was that with a small tin you would always have it on your person in the case you were placed in a position like the hunters. The downfall of this kit is obviously the size and space. Most of the tools will have to be small and carefully selected to fill the most important of your physical needs.

 There are many options when choosing a container. You will want something that is small and durable. The most common are small mint tins that you can pick up at any gas station. Another popular container used by the British SAS are the small 2oz tobacco tins that offer just a bit more room than the mint tins. We prefer our PSK kit case that is waterproof down to diving depths as well as it being virtually indestructible. Ultimately you need a container that can easily be carried on your person to ensure you will have it when you need it.


  • Wind/Waterproof Matches
  • Small Lighter
  • Ferrocerium Rod
  • Petroleum Jelly covered cotton balls
  • Dryer Lint
  • Candle

Water/Food gathering

  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Non-Lubricated Condom
  • Brass Snare Wire
  • Fishing Kit (line, hooks, sinkers, fishing flies or small lures)


  • Whistle
  • Signal Mirror
  • Small Flashlight
  • Orange Flaggers Tape
  • Button Compass
  • Waterproof Paper/Pencil


  • Razor Blade
  • Small Multi-Tool or Knife
  • P-38 Can opener
  • Cordage (Dental floss is small and can be used as cordage)
  • Needle/Thread/Safety Pins


  • Band-aids
  • Butterfly Bandage
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Small Gauze
  • Duct Tape
  • Anti-diarrheal Pills
  • Antihistamine 

I do recommend our expertly designed kit if you do want to purchase a tested kit. Click HERE