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Altoids Survival Kits… Are a Joke

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from JD. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


This article may open up a can of worms, but I think the premise needs to be thought on. Altoids survival kits, in my not so humble opinion, suck. It seems to be one of the favorite pastimes of the prepper/survivalist community to make and talk about these kits, and how one could “survive” with them. I think the majority of people who make one of these kits put it in their vehicle or pocket and think that they can survive anything more than a night outdoors, are kidding themselves. And unless the one night you need to survive outdoors is in a northern climate during the winter months, pretty much anyone in decent health can last a night outside without such foolish kits. In other words, the point I’m trying to make is, if all one needs is to last a night before rescue, one can stay a night without one of these kits. Or any gear for that matter. But if things are bad enough that you need a survival kit, I’d want something substantially better. I understand that survival is something that we cannot guesstimate. We don’t know how long it will be before rescue, or finding the way out. Therefore, why rely on some joke of a kit to see you through? There are better options…

The main flaw of an Altoids kit, is that you can hardly put anything in them! The three basics of survival are shelter, fire, water. After those, food, and defense. Let’s look at these basics applied to the Altoids Survival kit.

Shelter: you cannot fold up a tarp to put in an Altoids Survival tin. How much paracord can you get into a tin along with all the other stuff? Not much. A primary tool to make shelter is a good fixed blade knife. I’ve seen where some pics displayed a Swiss Army knife in the kit. I’ve built many shelters in the outdoors and not a one of them would I wanted to have to use a Swiss Army knife to build them with. In reality, the main blade of a Swiss Army knife is good for not much more than sharpening a stick to cook a hot dog on. It isn’t made for heavy-duty use. Now in certain areas and climates of the country, you may not even need a knife to make a debris shelter. But I assure you, in the northern climates where I live, you will need a substantial shelter when snow is on the ground. One that will require a sturdy framework. Which means having a capable cutting/chopping tool. Ever baton firewood with a Swiss Army knife? No me neither.

You can fit a lot of things in an Altoids Survival Tin, but will it help you Survive?

Fire: OK we can put matches in an Altoids tin. Just don’t drop it in water, because the tins are not waterproof. Bic lighters when wet are iffy. Sometimes they will work sometimes they won’t. You can almost count on it NOT working when you need it most. Some of the smaller ferro rods and strikers will fit into a kit. I’m just not much of a fan of the gimmicky small equipment. When I’m cold and wet and its 30 degrees outside, I don’t want to mess around with some ferro rod that is an inch long putting out measly sparks. I want something that’s gonna rain down a shower of sparks that are 5000 degrees into my bird’s nest of tinder to get a fire going as soon as possible. Yes we can put waterproof matches in the kit. OK, I’ll give you that one. But how many are you gonna need? How many can you put into the kit still leaving space for all other items?

Water: you can’t carry any in a tin. You can’t get a water filter in a tin. The tin is hardly a container. If you’re in a desert environment, managed to get a fire going but need to boil water, your time is going to be consumed filling up your Altoids tin and boiling water because it’s not large enough to carry the necessary amount of water to stay hydrated. Depending on where the water source is, this could be a vicious circle.

Same deal with food and defense. You’re not gonna get a mountain house pouch or MRE stuffed into the kit nor will you get any kind of firearm or blade suitable for defense in one. I see lots of pics on the internet where people put band aids in them for first aid. Folks, a band-aid is NOT going to save your life! Real first aid gear deals with trauma, gunshot wounds, major lacerations, broken bones, etc. Good luck using those band aids on a compound fracture.

Does this cover the basics of Shelter, Water and Fire?

I also see people put X-acto blades in their kits. Really?! Trying to use those to cut something when your hands are freezing sounds more like a serious injury in the making. But fear not! There are much better options for a mini survival kit that will actually be of value if the time comes when you need it.

There are many manufacturers out there nowadays making pouches of all sizes, some of which are waterproof and ones that aren’t can be made waterproof by using a waterproofing type spray. These pouches are much bigger than an Altoids can but smaller than say a fanny pack or a butt pack. Lots of them have compartments and or loops made of elastic material to organize the contents. You can pack them with real first aid gear like gauze rolls, tourniquets, clotting agents, etc.

Real fire starting devices like a blast match or my favorite formerly known as the Gerber strike force. Now it’s made under Ultimate Survival Technologies, still known as the strike force. I’ve had mine over 20 years and started 100’s of fires and it’s probably got another 20 years left before I need to replace it. These pouches are large enough to pack a LifeStraw or Sawyer Mini filter to get clean water into yourself to maintain hydration. SOL makes a tarp/survival shelter that easily fits into some of these pouches. At the very least you can pack a space blanket or two. Another item which won’t fit in a tin.

My personal mini kit that I keep in my vehicle is the mini EOD pouch from High Speed Gear Inc. I’ve got enough stuffed into that pouch that I could stay a few nights outdoors, find my way, light my way, stay warm dry and hydrated. I can also stop bleeding while munching on some Cliff bars LOL. I think the Altoids kit is not a serious option when things get salty. For a little money, way better choices can be had. An Altoids kit can be better than absolutely nothing, if you have the proper items put in it, but in my opinion, it’s still a joke.

61 Comments

  1. R. Ann

    April 8, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Just logging a thumb’s up while the star system is figuring itself out!
    🙂

    I’ve had some of the same thoughts while watching/reading some of the mini kits.
    I do have some mini packs, stuff for a pocket, but they’re mostly supplements or they’re a kit in themselves and the cans/tubs/tins just help with organization.

    I do keep bandaids in mineand my first-air kits, but they’re the big thick cloth good-adhesive knuckle, fingertip, and bigger squares so I don’t repeatedly snag stuff on a small cut, or so a forming blister on a hand, foot, etc can get dealt with. (Of course, there’s also moleskin, tampons, pads, and duct tape.)
    They’re the things I reach for when I get a sting I need to stick baking soda paste on, the things we reach for and run through most for household nicks and scrapes, and the things we’re looking for at work and the clubs/ranges regularly when the little strips are a joke, but we get the hairy eyeball for pulling out duct tape. 🙂

    I figure in a disaster, lost or cut off or mega grid-down, the stuff we want most and most frequently is going to be very similar to the stuff we see now, at home, packing/camping, in the military, at work. Sprains, cuts, burns, blisters, splinters, broken fingers and toes, funny callouses, tweaks and twitches that need support+rest or RICE, and belly stuff, which may lead to sub-cu fluids and-or belly support meds. (I expect a bunch of belly stuff due to sanitation.)
    For a lot of the emergencies where an Altoid can would get turned to, few of those are covered and few get any notice at all in the “DIY” or for-purchase tins, especially if we’re covering a bunch of other stuff inside that tiny cavity, too.

    Cheers!
    Rebecca Ann

    • JD

      April 8, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Thank you R.Ann! I appreciate your comments as they are always thoughtful, constructive, and insightful. And I just so happen to agree with you on them! Lol. It’s nice to see others on the same wavelength 😉

      • R. Ann

        April 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

        Yeah, sometimes it can feel very alone with a certain mindset. Glad you voiced this one.
        Plus, I’m both a sports shooter & hunter, and a greenie eco-freak – we are a somewhat rare breed and the overlapping circles regularly don’t get along.
        🙂

        • JD

          April 8, 2017 at 10:24 pm

          A rare breed, indeed! 😉

  2. Jeff DeShano

    April 8, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Yes I whole heartedly agree. I have a osprey 65liter pack stuffed to the gills in my car. I am on the road 2-6 days walk from home every day. I have everything I need to survive 6-10 days in my trunk at all times. Anyone that does not carry a fixed blade knife and at least a tarp, food, and several means to start a fire and filter water is probabaly gonna die if the crap ever hits the fan.

    • ChuckInBama

      April 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      So true !!!
      I live 12 miles from work, but my get home bag is equipped for three days. One thing you can count on when things go sideways; there will be more than one thing going sideways !!!

    • JD

      April 8, 2017 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks for sharing! The osprey is a very nice pack! That’s what I tell people who are novices getting into prepping that aren’t sure what to put into packs or kits. The bare minimum that should be addressed is shelter, fire, and water. And not necessarily in that order. Environments and circumstances will determine the order of importance.

      • John Hertig

        April 11, 2017 at 12:42 am

        Yes, that order. Remember the rule of threes. In inclement conditions, 3 hours (or less) without shelter can kill you. Shelter is difficult to include in a small kit, but fire can make up for lack of shelter to some degree. You can go without water for up to 3 days.

        Actually, the bare minimum should also consider including 95 or 99% filter masks and severe bleeding control supplies, as 3 minutes without air or with severe bleeding can kill you.

  3. JD

    April 8, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    I would also like to point out these kits aren’t bug out bags or get home bags. They’re a smaller somewhat less specialized kit that’s meant to be carried easily, either on the belt, in a pocket, etc. when venturing into the woods for a short period. But something may happen that unexpectedly extends your stay, getting lost on a hike, accident, unexpected injury, hunting accident, etc..

    • Illini Warrior

      April 9, 2017 at 8:36 am

      EDC – “EVERY DAY CARRY” …. how much space can you devote to PERSONALLY carry a package of items – items that might have to pass security and work policies – not talking a daypack here or a GHB and most certainly not a BOB ….

      • JD

        April 9, 2017 at 11:57 am

        Passing security and dealing with work policies are unique to the individual. Only the individual can know whats the best gear to pack and or carry. My EDC consists of my firearm, 2 spare mags, wallet, keys, knife, flashlight, torch lighter and cell phone. All that I carry in or on my pants everyday. Obviously, I don’t wear suits for work! Lol. And what I carry is not gonna work out for someone else’s circumstances. Everyone needs to find out what works best for them.

        • Jeremy

          April 10, 2017 at 6:54 am

          Well said, JD. I think many times we all forget that EDC is not a one size fits all thing. I know places that I have gone in which some of the items I carry in my pocket trauma kit wouldn’t be allowed because they would be considered “weapons.” Good point.

          • John Hertig

            April 11, 2017 at 12:45 am

            I once was denied entry to the courthouse (for jury duty) because I had a *gasp* small tape measure.

  4. RevIdahoSpud3

    April 8, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Altoid type kits are located at the checkout of the local big name sporting goods. The whole survival meme has blown itself into a billion dollar industry of hyping everything from a tiny can for $4 to a component package that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. The bottom line for survival is a mindset that has been around for thousands of years and that is ….Be Prepared! There are so many scenarios that make one man’s survival another’s useless junk. I’ll digress at this moment to mention that when saying ‘man’ I am not speaking specifically to the male species, rather the word entails the whole of homo sapiens which includes both sexes and is short for…mankind. I’ll further take an aside to an aside in that I find it a pain in the ass that we are to a point in the culture where we have to be so politically correct that even the most simple conversation has to be qualified. With that out of the way…
    Survival today as an industry has reached the ultimate highs. Today, if your shopping for an axe the price just grew by $20 if you call it a ‘survival axe’. Likewise tagging everything from knives to vehicles as a survival or ‘bug out/in’ item justifies an extra value or cost. At the heart of this movement/mindset is fear mongering. I suppose you could say it’s a by product as a result of what we have for leaders in today’s governments which would be known as ‘war mongering’?
    For the most part we stock, it seems first, items that will see us through the magical 3 days to 3 months or 3 years of a holocaust event. This is usually the result of anticipation to what a government will be doing to us. Note again: It may be someone else’s government, not just our own. Next, there are always the secondary events such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, storms, asteroid collisions and planet Nibiru effect which will cause the dreaded pole shift of the earth axes. Have you ever been through a pole shift? Well let me tell you it’s no damn picnic, I’ll say that right now! Couple that with global warming or global cooling that is going to fry or freeze our asses and that will create an event that requires an Altoid can to an underground bunker for …survival?
    With the advancement of technology today man (there’s that word again) has grown accustomed from setting the thermostat at a comfort level to turning on the spigot and magically water appears. Refrigerators help us preserve for a week foods without spoilage and supposedly drones will be delivering anything that we could possibly need in the near future.
    The quest for survival rears its head when we contemplate as to what happens if the power grid goes down for extended time (it happens to me occasionally for 10 minutes to 2 hours and it’s a pain in the posterior), the local dam breaks or the asteroid…
    With the potential for an unknown event people have spent hundreds to tens of thousands on their survival potential. TV productions have focused on the latest most advanced prepping scenarios. Some folks move to the desert while others move to the mountains in advance of some unknown calamity in order to have maximum advantage to survive. You Tube videos are produced showing us how to make fire rubbing sticks together to making a natural or tarp shelters to catching fish with a shoelace. Meanwhile, Otzi the iceman did all those things 5000 years ago and didn’t think anything about it other than living for and through the moment.
    The harsh truth to the prepping hysteria is that for a vast majority of people the whole scenario is a source of excitement and adventure (entertainment) for lives lived in comfort and without imagination, in short, it’s a release or diversion to the everyday mundane. I have no doubt that there are some who look forward to or wish for the calamity in order to use their Altoid can.
    When you consider the dynamics of today’s society including world wide, with millions of people crammed into cities if a catastrophic event happens from nuclear to asteroid people are going to die. That’s scary but it’s also reality. Altoid can or 3 day pack or bunker may not make any difference to a vast majority of people. Living may be more a matter of luck for many. Otzi the iceman would most likely be a survivor today in most of these events just as he was 5000 years ago.

  5. N.D. The "Deplorable" ✓ᵀᴿᵁᴹᴾ

    April 9, 2017 at 12:42 am

    I’ve been planning to strap an Altoids Kit to the sheath of my fixed blade knife using Ranger Bands by Gearward that I bought… (I’ve seen others slip an unopened emergency blanket between the kit and fixed blade)

    I’m noticing a bunch of small items I could probably throw in there that I’ve been carrying in the front pocket of my backpack — which I annoyingly have to sift through anytime I go digging in that pocket.

    I’ll probably continue to build my Altoids Kit and give it whirl for a bit…
    to see how I feel.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 11:49 am

      N.D., I think that’s the best use for an altoids tin, is to keep small items organized. Stuff like a mini survival fishing kit would work well with an altoids can. Allowing you to keep line, hooks, split shot, swivels, lures etc, in one space so as to keep such small items organized and easy to find and access.

  6. James oftheHeislerfamily

    April 9, 2017 at 3:42 am

    May I remind you that without education, you are an idiot… and no survival kit will help an idiot. Watch this guy survive with rocks and mud… https://youtu.be/nCKkHqlx9dE

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

      You are 100% correct James! Skill is of higher importance than gear, any day of the week!

  7. Annette H

    April 9, 2017 at 3:44 am

    I know some people carry them as a stand alone thing but i can only ever see the point of them being a back up. And not the best back up but a better than nothing back up. So if the shtf and some prick steals your kit then at least you have something. Not much but better than nothing.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 11:40 am

      I completely agree with you Annette! It’s perhaps maybe a decent mind exercise to see how extensive you can build a tin, but the reality is you just can’t get anything substantial in one of those cans.

  8. Government Mule

    April 9, 2017 at 7:07 am

    I think you have it 100% wrong. Nobody makes an Altoids kit as their “only” survival kit. They use them as emergency EDCs or as a means to organize small pieces of gear within their large EDCs or BOBs.
    Lighten up and stop trying to be the know-it-all “survival expert”.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

      I’m far from 100% wrong as I’ve personally seen and read accounts where people put together one of these kits, keep it in their glove box and consider themselves prepared. I never mentioned the use of an altoid can for organizing small things which is the best use for a tin like that. As far as a survival item, it’s an absolute joke. You do you need to carry one of these in your pocket? Really?! From your vehicle to your workplace? Because you should have something in your vehicle much more substantial, like a real mini kit or bug out bag of some type. If you need to walk around with a pocket altoids survival kit, well if it makes you feel better, do so. You make some outlandish claims! Hahaha I never said I was a “survival expert” I however have enough experience, learned and done things which have formed some strong opinions regarding things survival. I do not conform to the mainstream majority of armchair commandos. I actually go out and do things. My knowledge is not theoretical. So, jackass, I mean mule, you need to leave the house more and do more things, it may keep you from posting such nonsense.

      • Government Mule

        April 9, 2017 at 11:40 am

        I’ll tell you what nonsense is: nonsense is thinking you can write one article and tell everyone else what’s best for them. Everyone knows his own situation, not you. That’s why I say you think you’re a “survival expert”.
        Once again: nonsense.

        • JD

          April 9, 2017 at 12:08 pm

          Hahaha, well thanks for sharing, your, expert knowledge! Hahaha Your armchair is calling you…

  9. Jeremy

    April 9, 2017 at 7:54 am

    I would have to lend my voice as well (even as an admitted novice prepper) to others such as Government Mule and say that I would question whether or not truly sees an Altoids kit as something remotely akin to a true BOB or even a get home bag. I know that any articles I have read about them have specifically said that they are great for carrying numerous, small items that would be useful to you in a pinch, but never as the be-all, end-all survival item, or the “only” thing you need in a total collapse/complete disaster situation. Even as a complete novice, that kind of claim would make me more than a bit skeptical. (The very article you linked says “By making this survival tin part of your Every Day Carry equipment you will be more likely to benefit from having these items when you need them.” Hardly sounds like an advocate for this being the be-all, end-all, to me) Let’s give people some credit, shall we? I know the media likes to portray most people as complete and utter morons, but that’s no more true than all preppers being wild eyed people digging doomsday bunkers in their back yards.

    I don’t think we need to stoop to being belittling of others’ ideas in order to get a point across. (IMO, a good article: http://graywolfsurvival.com/3455/will-happen-shtf-really-prepared/ ) I carry a Coleman pocket first aid kit on me, for example. It does what it’s designed to do – take care of MINOR things. If someone laughed and said “That thing’s a joke,” because I wasn’t equipped for major trauma/to survive in the wilds for 3 days, our conversation would be over. Why? Because you can get the point across without being pretentious. Do I have a belt pouch trauma kit? Yes. Do I ALWAYS carry it, without fail, 100% of the time, on my person? No.

    The article had good information in it, to be sure, but to me it got lost in the tone of the article itself. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I would think that “this/that is a joke” would tend to drive novice preppers away, rather than help them understand what it is they could do better or improve upon, or watch out for.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Well Jeremy, thanks for your input as it was a good post and a worthy addition to the commentary. In regards to the article, I don’t think I came off as brash. The article was not to suggest altoids kits were a substitute for a get home bag or bug out bag. But rather to point out, point out in my personal opinion, that these kits are nothing more than mental masturbation. I personally know and have read about people who truly believe these kits are all they will need in a survival situation. Mind you, bugging out is something completely different. The underlying point to my article is to put some thought into what one may need to get them through in a situation like getting lost in the woods during a hike, getting lost while hunting, out for a drive and the vehicle craps out, etc etc. hence the kit being mini. During our day to day lives, most of us have zero need to carry a mini survival kit. And most of us don’t. There’s no need to. During the average persons day, they get up go to work, park their vehicles at work, then drive home. A cell phone is the most prominent piece of survival gear most people carry everyday. If your vehicle breaks down you call for a tow truck or call a loved one to come pick you up. Having to build a shelter get a fire going etc are most likely not needed. However, if you decide to take a drive on the trail system that takes you far off road with no cell signal, it would be prudent to have gear that will help you through something unexpected. Therefore why would anyone want to pack a tiny tin with gimmicky tools to save their ass?!
      You being a novice prepper, the best advice I can give to you, is to go out and use your stuff. Too many armchair commandos out there that think they have all the answers because they spend all their time behind a keyboard. But they really don’t know crap because they have never actually done anything. A 6th grader can read and answer questions about using weapons in a defensive situation. But does that make him a gunfighter? Of course not. I think if people planned to stay out in the woods for 3 nights with nothing but their altoids tins, they would crucially reconsider their gear selections.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 10:44 pm

      Well Jeremy, thanks for your input as it was a good post and a worthy addition to the commentary. In regards to the article, I don’t think I came off as brash. The article was not to suggest altoids kits were a substitute for a get home bag or bug out bag. But rather to point out, point out in my personal opinion, that these kits are nothing more than mental masturbation. I personally know and have read about people who truly believe these kits are all they will need in a survival situation. Mind you, bugging out is something completely different. The underlying point to my article is to put some thought into what one may need to get them through in a situation like getting lost in the woods during a hike, getting lost while hunting, out for a drive and the vehicle craps out, etc etc. hence the kit being mini. During our day to day lives, most of us have zero need to carry a mini survival kit. And most of us don’t. There’s no need to. During the average persons day, they get up go to work, park their vehicles at work, then drive home. A cell phone is the most prominent piece of survival gear most people carry everyday. If your vehicle breaks down you call for a tow truck or call a loved one to come pick you up. Having to build a shelter get a fire going etc are most likely not needed. However, if you decide to take a drive on the trail system that takes you far off road with no cell signal, it would be prudent to have gear that will help you through something unexpected. Therefore why would anyone want to pack a tiny tin with gimmicky tools to save their ass?!
      You being a novice prepper, the best advice I can give to you, is to go out and use your stuff. Too many armchair commandos out there that think they have all the answers because they spend all their time behind a keyboard. But they really don’t know crap because they have never actually done anything. A 6th grader can read and answer questions about using weapons in a defensive situation. But does that make him a gunfighter? Of course not. I think if people planned to stay out in the woods for 3 nights with nothing but their altoids tins, they would crucially reconsider their gear selections.

      • Jeremy

        April 10, 2017 at 6:51 am

        Thank you for the courtesy in your response, JD. I appreciate that, and the fact that we can see things differently, express our opinions and discuss it rather than argue about it.

        I am 100% with you as far as skills vs. being an “armchair commando” is concerned, as well. I remember reading a quote that said, in essence, that having X, Y and Z survival gear is fine, but if you have never used it, or tried to use it while cold, or wet, or hungry, or in the dark, you really have no idea as to whether or not you’d be able to – which effectively renders it useless. Excellent point, and one far too often overlooked, IMO!

  10. Outdoor Survivalists

    April 9, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I don’t think a small kit is necessarily impossible, but you do hit your limit at some point of what you’re able to include. I keep my PSK (based around the CRKT tin kit w/ knife) on me day in & day out for the last 5 – 6 years… and I’m very confident that it meets most all of my immediate needs, with the exception of shelter. I’ve made a few small adjustments to it, but I feel like it is complete for me. I do also keep my SOG Seal Pup Elite knife on me with it, with yet another Light My Fire Army firesteel as a backup to the one in my kit.

    Here it is, if you care to take a look, http://outdoorsurvivalists.com/psk-pocket-survival-kit-essentials/

    I could very well change over to a little larger (but still small) Blackhawk pouch for my kit and have the ability to add more to it… but I could easily keep doing that until I reach a small pack. Then it is no longer small & portable like a Pocket Survival Kit is supposed to be, and I likely wouldn’t carry it every single day. You give and you take; but in the end, you move with what’s comfortable for you. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/29f16d34565adb2d196ef59dce7aeee1b2d105b9e14690f5d8aa60636076bc45.jpg

  11. Mr. P

    April 9, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    This is why I love this website. Always different articles with different opinions.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      I agree Mr.P! It wasn’t long when I found this place that it quickly became my favorite site regarding prepping/survival!

  12. Bolofia

    April 9, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Good article JD, and I agree with you wholeheartedly about the concept of Altoid survival tins. There is another reason that I don’t carry them, or permit myself to be around anyone else that does: Noise. Apart from the fact that they cannot carry a useful quantity of anything, a poorly packed tin, or one that can come into contact with another metallic object or rock, will cause noise – especially if running. There are a lot of ways to pack a bag so that it and its contents don’t rattle or clank. If you need to organize small items in small containers, there are better solutions than tins.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Excellent point Bolofia!! As usual! Noise discipline, extremely important, thanks for posting that!

  13. Huples

    April 9, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    I do not have one. I have a back pack with 1/3 of it filled with get home stuff and it goes everywhere I go. My EDC is one knife in my pocket.
    The main objection I have to tins, other than the ones outlined which I agree with, is they can cause severe leg or arm or chest injuries if you fall on them or suffer blunt force trauma.

    • JD

      April 9, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      Another good point Huples! Thanks for the input!

  14. The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

    April 10, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Late to this party, but here goes.
    I actually do have a similar collection that lives in my laptop bag. It holds a mini-swiss army knife, some moleskin, a pencil with some duct tape wrapped around it, a 70L light, 100yd of unwaxed dental floss, and an N95 mask. That’s it. It’s sole purpose, in my circumstances is to get me out of the building I work in and out to my car. The most important bits I consider to be the light and the mask. It is also in a hard shell eyeglass case – not a rattly metal can.
    I always have a couple of folding blades on my person in any case, as well as my keys.
    I tend to concur with JD as to the usefulness, or not, of these kits: they are most assuredly not a survival kit, rather an intermediary set of useful object that may allow you to get to a more reasonable set of tools. In my case a well stocked GHB, (posted here a few years ago), along with better clothing, my firearm(s), water, and other items.
    I too see them stacked on shelves in sporting goods stores, or even the dreaded Wally-World, and advertised as “survival kits”.
    That they are not.

  15. Michael Davis

    April 10, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I once heard someone say that the two dollar knife you have with you is better than the five hundred dollar knife you left at home. An Altoids tin survival kit may not be much…but it’s fairly simple to keep it with you. A knife, a saw, a fire stick, and a compass might not be much…but it’s better than nothing. Don’t knock the Altoids tin. Make one yourself if you can’t find one that suits you.

    • JD

      April 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

      And when you need to do something with that 2 dollar knife, it will fail you. If it’s a folder, the lock could fail and fold the blade onto your fingers, exponentially increasing the suck of your situation. That’s the point of the article, if your going to make something, make something that’s worthy. Yeah I suppose something is better than nothing, I am just of the mind that my, something, is going to be much better than an altoids tin.

      • Michael Davis

        April 10, 2017 at 11:40 pm

        It’s not really about the $2 knife…it’s about the portability of the Altoids tin. What you put in it is up to you.

  16. Matt VanCamp

    April 10, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    I’ve seen one that made sense, the urban survival tin; it contained six or eight quarters for emergency parking meter food, a rolled up $20 bill, spare car & house keys, matches, a penlight, breath mints, a paperclip or two, rubber bands, sani-wipes/alcohol pads, contact phone numbers… shit like that!

  17. Priori_Tyes

    April 11, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I have used similar for simple kits for kids, contact info, the “plan” a compass and a mini map, and nothing that could get them kicked out of school. (which is almost anything nowadays) I also have one in a “formal” purse for the rare occasions that I attend an event where it would be socially inappropriate for me to have my large hand bag or fanny pack etc. A aqua purification tablet could go in for water, along with some tin foil, but to me, these are all add ons to a bigger bag with fillers that someone thinks you need. They are not replacements for car kits, GHB, BOB, EDC, etc. They are fun stocking stuffers for non preppers, I have given people little things like these…one had reflective tape, sparkler cones, and a mini flashlight for someone who was always breaking down on the side of the road….and the tools to reattach his bike chain 😀 (I don’t think he appreciated it though)

  18. Flattop

    April 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    If you have fire, you are ok. I took a half gallon mason jar with sealing lid, put in some moisture absorbent pack, filled it with stick matches, and put the lid on. When the need comes—I got fire.

  19. Zendelle Bouchard

    April 17, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    The best Altoids tins I have seen are “Preparedness” kits, not “Survival” kits. Preparedness is about having things you need, when you need them. Little things like a safety pin, paper clip, a couple of bandaids, a few quarters, some Super glue, etc, that you don’t want to have rattling around in your pocket or purse. There is so much more to the art of preparedness than just SHTF.

  20. Defiant

    April 18, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Altoids kits are a joke unless you need something that’s in the one you have when you need it.

    • JD

      April 19, 2017 at 11:35 am

      An absolute, joke. Again, see above comments. There is nothing an altoids kit can contain, that a slightly larger pouch could contain that’s better. Real tools, not gimmicky micro tools. Ever use one of those wire saws with the two rings? Lol complete udder crap. They break after sawing through a couple branches. The real saws of those type, use basically a chainsaw type chain with ‘T’ handles for gripping. Those work. Why would you give yourself a false sense of security packing an altoids kit?

  21. Curtis Richard

    April 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    always have dehydrated water in my altoids survival kit along with ‘stones” for stome soup (hanky ou captain kangaroo…my good friend bel
    dar comehead provided me with a firecracker sized nuclear warhead ….

  22. Milkshakesuds

    April 18, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    I suppose one could tear the thin metal of the tin to get a rough cutting edge, arrow head, spearhead, booby trap,,,, the shiny metal interior could be used for signaling,,,,portions of the tin can be formed into hooks, lures or other useful implements. Poking holes through the tin and stuffing it with fabric can make a rough filter or glare glasses in a high glare environment or a cooking grill. I suppose if i had to i could form a hinged carburetor valve with one as well as many other parts. (i used to have a vw bug). It could be used as a clap trap for insects for bait, or the clinking noise of the metal could be a set up as a warning device. All this before you’ve ever even put anything into it.
    An Altoids survival kit is silly, I wouldn’t set up a survival kit with one but they are still very useful for sewing kits, small first aid kits, or just to store meds salt tablets or matches, pre rigged fishing lures or jigs, beef jerky or or or ????? spare ammo?

    Outside of a bug out bag I recommend a non militaristic bug out jacket with hood, waterproof, warm, (gortex) with pockets stuffed with useful items, some stored in Altoids tins. In this way one can just wear their kit that doesn’t appear to be a survival kit. To the casual observer your just some other poor schmuk stuck in the muck. Hence why im not so keen on a survival tactical vest. It advertises you have stuff.

    By the way, wrap Altoids tins with duct tape to cut out noise and provide another potentially useful item as well as slipping a razor blade between the tape and the tin provides even more storage and potential.

    • JD

      April 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

      I would like to see how you would ‘tear’ the metal of the tin. I can bench press 400 pounds and I cannot tear the metal of an altoids tin. It isn’t tin foil. By trying to do that in a survival situation you run the risk of slicing your hands wide open. A wound in which the band aids in your can will do nothing for. I have mentioned, in the above comments how an altoids tin could be useful for something like a mini fishing kit. As far as the other uses you mentioned, a filter? A grill? Lol again it’s really just mental masturbation. Spare ammo? Lol common dude.

      • Milkshakesuds

        April 19, 2017 at 10:43 pm

        Hmmmmm? 400 hundred pounds? im skeptical. Unfortunately I haven’t the ability to visually demonstrate tearing the metal to you, but perhaps the idea of fold and bend fold and bend fold and bend, then tear. might jaunt some idea of one way its done. The whole point is just how useful could the tin be or as a kit, In fact ive been mulling over the filter idea all night and am going to try this weekend succeed or fail, its the only way to know for sure. As far as the grill or ill expand to say cook pan or even stove. Youtube has the same conversions with coca cola cans and I find them extremely useful, clever and fun to try at home. i look forward to trying it with an altoids tin (square as opposed to round???). it requires ingenuity, resourcefulness, imagination. risk, living by your wits. Amigo, I make stuff like this as a hobby and its nothing new, YouTube is full of these kinds of ideas and hence why im on this website. Spare ammo? you say. The thin shape and size of an Altoids tin is perfect for ammo storage fit close to the body. Properly sealed, who knows. I’m in an estuarine environment where everything rusts or rots very quickly, I am always looking for ways to preserve and protect my equipment and supplies. It can be life or death here.

        Of course its mental masturbation, im laid up with a couple a broken ribs from the boat ramp, so rather than living it like I usually do, I have to pretend it for 5 more weeks but civilized people just call it internet surfing, and after all its just a friendly chat, right?

        By the way, it just occurred to me that it may be possible to turn an Altoids tin into a whiskey flask? Have I got your interest now?
        Hmmmm lots of research and development needed for this one.

        What are your thoughts on that one?

        • JD

          April 20, 2017 at 12:33 am

          Lol I don’t really care how skeptical you are, I’ve got nothing to prove to you and I know what I’m capable of. The only reason I brought it up, is because I know I am stronger than the average man in my age group, and other groups for that matter, and I’m not gonna tear an altoids tin into pieces. Unless you plan on filtering bottled water, I wouldn’t drink questionable water after going thru a filter made with an altoids can. It’s not large enough to provide any real filtering capabilities! What are you gonna grill on an altoids can, a goldfish?! I carry spare ammo in magazines where it belongs. How much ammo are you gonna fit in a tin? Ok .22s you could get a bunch in there, but again, ammo should be ready to go in mags. If you need it, you’re not gonna have time to sit there and load a mag! A whiskey flask, man, that wouldn’t hold a shot for me. If I want a whiskey flask, I’ll get a whiskey flask. Again, that’s the point of the article, don’t hamper yourself with gimmicky gear. Get the right gear for the job, and learn how to use that gear. I guess I just don’t understand that line of thinking of instead of getting the right gear, people seem to want to make their life more difficult by trying to make something out of nothing. I get the mental exercise which isn’t a bad thing. But I just don’t see myself being caught in any situation with nothing but an altoids tin. I take preventative measures to make sure I have tools and gear accessible wherever I go. Isn’t that part of being a prepper, being prepared?

          • milkshakesuds

            April 20, 2017 at 11:40 pm

            Respect,
            “Isn’t that part of being a prepper, being prepared?”
            Yes, of course, mentally and physically. Everything becomes a useful tool then. (but I don’t claim to be Mcguyver)

            I get your point and I wouldn’t venture out into the bush with just an Altoids tin, but in my many deep bush tramps, I travel light and tend to utilize other peoples trash I find along the way. Some of my associates go out for weeks at a time with nothing but the clothes on their back. Im not that savy, I like warm and dry but it does nurture resourcefulness. (buddy Steve did cut it short last time, reckons he drank some possum poop or something, god hes tough) An Altoids tin or any other container for that matter becomes a swiss army knife in a manner of speaking. I pick up pieces of wire, tin can lids, discarded clothing for cordage, paper for tinder. etc. (were you ever a boyscout?)
            Its one thing I despise and that’s buying corporate name brand. Its just me. I make most anything that I can make, own fishing poles and spears, fishing lures, oars, nets. I just like making stuff like this. My buddies are often impressed with my resourcefulness but I suspect they are just kissing up so ill take em fishing. lol but seriously. The flask is a fun idea, c’mon. My real pewter one weighs too much for a forced march. (A secret wee bit o hooch for a cold morning?) And the filter is reasonable, depending on what your filtering. Ive got alot of brackish salt water in my territory, so fresh water usually means a catchment of rainwater on the reef or rocks, the more recent the better, most of what i filter would be dirt, hair insects. (flipping leeches piss me off) Ive been thinking what to pack inside to filter through and ive cracked open an old Britta filter to see if I could copy the method, jury is still out. But how about some imagination friend.

            Whether you are strong or not is irrelevant but what impresses me is when people still take on the difficult or impossible. That spirit in one just to try and try hard and after failure try again a different way. Its the stuff inside. But I remember as a kid, big tough guys could tear phone books in half. (but not an Altoids tin?)

            Out of curiosity how old are you? I cant bench 400 nor could I when I used to lift weights but im 50, I do compete against guys half my age and beat them regularly. I workout with specops sometimes as well as pro footballers and I keep up with them better than most of the younger guys. One of them is 54, hes still active duty and hes the toughest of us all.
            Im not special, I just try and try hard.

            By the way Im not a prepper per se, Im a veteran, our responsibilities to society are different. We took an oath. We prep to help others. No bugging out for us.. That DD-214 doesn’t go away.

            • JD

              April 21, 2017 at 10:26 am

              Well bud I applaud you for your resourcefulness and creativity. There’s nothing wrong with what you do. I was never a Boy Scout but when I was a teenager I used to go out in the woods for days and up to a week at a time with nothing but a small pack with spare underwear and socks and a strong fixed blade. So I know the value of being resourceful and creative. I also know now at age 43, I don’t want to work as hard! Having the right gear makes life so much more enjoyable. My reasoning is in a survival situation, things will be sucky enough, I’m not gonna want to make it harder on myself by hoping I find what I may need in the wilderness. A small pouch with some real tools goes a long way to either suffering through, or making it through relatively easy.
              I thank you for your service and good for you that you still are kicking ass at a young 50 years old. I’m a firm believer in exercise and staying in shape. I have the warrior mentality in that I have to be strong fit and skilled with my tools and weapons. I’m not the typical man of these times that wears skinny jeans and never has had a callous on their hands. I’m what those types call a Neanderthal. Lol but it doesn’t bother me because I know I can protect myself and family if something bad happens. The pencil neck metro sexuals will be in a world of hurt if things go bad.
              By the way, there is a secret to tearing phone books in half, break the spine first by folding it and it tears easy from there! But I still am not gonna try to tear an altoids tin in half! Lol!

  23. Steve Struthers

    April 21, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Most of the tools found in a Altoids survival kit could be better replaced by a good-quality Leatherman-type multi-tool. Such a tool wouldn’t weigh a lot more, or take up a great deal more room than an Altoids tin would.

    At best, a kit housed within an Altoids tin could be a useful adjunct to a larger and more comprehensive survival kit.

  24. Les

    April 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I don’t think any rational person believes that an Altoids tin stuffed with various little items can, or is meant to, provide the means to survive an unforeseen emergency for long out in the bush. I have packs in my vehicles that are supplied with items that can give me a good chance of survival in such a circumstance albeit maybe not comfortably. A .22 single-shot rifle wouldn’t be my choice for a firefight, but it does have its place and can’t be discounted for use where its applicable.

  25. Budget Bugout

    April 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    You’re using my photograph without my permission to promote your article (and you make a profit off of your site). Remove it immediately or legal action will be pursued next week. This is Marty from Budget Bugout. Contact me at budgetbugout@gmail.com ASAP.

  26. Joe Rock

    April 27, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    I have a pocket-sized survival kit in a container a little larger than an Altoids tin. I think such kits can be somewhat useful. The most important thing I carry is a very small bottle of bleach (I have it in a hot sauce container from an MRE) and an MRE beverage bag. No, it isn’t much, but I can fill the bag with water, add 2 to 4 drops of bleach, and drink it. I figure that will give me at least a quart of clean water. I also carry a packet of bouillon powder and/or powdered coffee to cover the taste. Finally, I do have some type of fire starter, monofilament line, enough aluminum foil to make a small cup, (to boil a little water in or collect rain water) a few hooks and a few other items. Still, the main function is to have a way to purify some water if there is a water source.

    • JD

      April 28, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      If filtering water is paramount, why not just carry a life straw and be able to filter 250 gallons?

  27. DougO

    April 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I can’t think of a single scenario where I have to run out of a building with nothing but my Altoids tin and survive. Plus the stuff in the Altoids tin as you mentioned isn’t that helpful. Its like a very bad version of everything you wish you had. Its like “Gee I wish I had a knife…oh good I have a tiny razor blade instead.”. There is nothing I can fit in an Altoids can that I don’t already have a better version of in my pockets as part of EDC. And no, I don’t carry some crappy fishing line and hooks under the fantasy that it can replace a fishing pole. My GHB is always nearby whether that be at my feet or in my car (or the car I came in) and is 10,000 times better and again in what disaster can I not pick it up or go the 150 yards out to get it? I think preppers like them because they are always broke and Altoids cans are cheap to build so they feel like they are doing something.

    • DougO

      April 28, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Can we also agree that no one in the history of paracord bracelets has ever actually taken one apart and used it for anything….ever. Paracord is great, keep a roll around, the rest is prepper fashion.

      • JD

        April 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm

        Thanks for your input, and very good point about the bracelets! I agree that it’s along the same lines as the altoids tin. Next to useless. People don’t realize, a lot of what they put into these kits, is good for one or two time uses. A piece of tin foil to make a cup or container (face palm) sure it will work once or twice to boil water then it will crumble. Hopefully they get rescued within 2 days. But how can you know? The reality is you don’t.

  28. Adam Ensign

    May 15, 2017 at 12:07 am

    I keep a couple of the tins around. You can put a few spinner baits, flies and poppers in them, and just stuff it in your back pocket. I like to take them on hikes because I usually get the fishing itch.

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