Is there a perfect Survival Kit?

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Is there a perfect survival kit? Possibly, if you know your realistic capabilities and can take into account all possible scenarios you find yourself in then sure, the perfect survival kit can be built. Skill set will have a lot to do with the construction of your kit, especially when trying to keep it light and compact. An example of this is the synthetic flint fire starter. I have one in my kit which is just over two inches long and I find it adequate for my needs. However many people I train find it very difficult to use and prefer something along the lines of the Blast Match which is system owned by the Revere company. The Blast Match is much bulkier and heavier than what I use but for individuals who don’t practice starting fires with a spark it’s an ideal survival tool.

This same principle applies to the knife one carries. Ideally the best survival knife is around seven inches long, made of high quality steel with a solid non abrasive grip. In addition it should be simple in design with a flat back strap for pounding when splitting wood and have a guard capable of mitigating the possibility of injury. Some of the more classic designs, such as the Buck 124 Frontiersman are much more functional in the field than some of the “sexier” combat designs.

Unfortunately, large knives like the 124 are designed for belt carry and are not really adaptable to a personal survival kit and thus functionality must give way to size and weight considerations. For a small personal survival kit the folding “pocket” knife comes out on top. Although limited in its capabilities a folding knife of the correct size and configuration will carry and individual through a myriad of situations.


When choosing a folder for the survival kit a couple of things must be looked at. First is quality. Your personal survival kit may be the only thing between you and a miserable cold death so it must be high quality. Too many pre-made kits on the market reduce cost with this one VERY important item. A good quality folding knife can be purchased for between $30.00 and $50.00 which is not a lot when your life is at stake.

Second, is positive lock up? The knife must have a solid positive locking system. Most knives in this price range fit the bill but just test it before you buy. Even the higher end companies produce inferior products. Last is the blade. The blade should be as straight as possible or have a slight concave shape. Knifes which curves up to fast (the bowl) are designed for skinning and, although they can be used in an emergency, are inferior designs for field use.

Around these two key items the rest of the survival kit can be constructed following the 7 +1 priorities of survival. These are:

Positive mental Attitude (PMA)




Personal Protection



Plus  Navigation

Although priorities are arranged in a specific order they are fluid enough to be re-arranged for the event and need. For example, signal may become the first priority if you are attempting to flag down a vehicle immediately after a car crash or trying to establish contact with another member of your party in times of civil unrest.

If these needs are filled in your personal survival kit then you have accomplish your mission of preparing for the worse. Most normal situations last between 24 and 72 hours with the majority of survival events being of shorter duration (24 hours).However, USI added Navigation to the original 7 because of historical long term events which require movement.  With this in mind, it is quite possible to construct a high quality survival kit which can be carried on the belt or at the most in a shoulder bad or backpack.

Overall preparation for what nature can throw at us is not that overwhelming but it does take a little effort. USI has a wealth of information, equipment and training for everyone about all forms of mitigation so visit our web site at and if you have a need feel free to call!

USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.

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Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN