20 Ingredients in an Altoids Tin Survival Kit

As part of one of the skill sessions in my nature explorers wilderness and survival week camps we cover what might be included in your pack. I start with a modern camping backpack but extend the lesson by getting campers started on their own Altoids Survival Tin Kit. The skills taught during the week could work to minimize required essentials, nevertheless we encourage participants to always be prepared with redundancy.  The Altoids tin concept makes for an excellent light weight emergency kit that can hold enough critical essentials to help you should a dangerous situation arise.  From the Native Americans to the Pioneers those venturing out have always carried essentials to help better their individual situation should a challenge arise. The modern REI hiker should be no exception.

Consider customizing ingredients in your Altoids Survival Tin Kit to fit your needs, style and preferences.  Some items may include:

Cutting tool, water tablets for purification, zip lock bags, 24 gauge snare wire, signal mirror, whistle, button compass, razor blades, medical tape, bandages, anti-diarrhea tablets, ibuprofen tablets, antibiotic, alcohol prep pad, picture (of family, friends or faith), List of notes (survival acronyms), sewing needle (magnetized),  safety pins, buttons, duct tape wrapped around pencil, waxed matches, braided fish line, hooks & weights, wire saw, cash, copy of photo identification and copy of important keys. Many of these items have multiple uses and should be practiced with for best potential outcomes should the need arise.


  • Could you carry water with your kit? 
  • Could you boil water with it?
  • How would you remove a splinter? Treat a cut?
  • How would you catch fish?
  • Fix a broken button or backpack strap?
  • Patch a hole in a tarp or tent or raft? Patch a hole in a canoe?
  • How would you start a fire? In wind? Wet weather?
  • How would you navigate and mark your trail?

Follow-up Challenges Using Kit Contents:

  1. Create a fishing rod (stick, eye hooks, line, hooks, bobbers, balloon as bobber)
  2. Demonstrate Tinfoil Uses (cook, make a footprint, leave a message, boil, make pitch glue)
  3. Demonstrate How to Use the Water Purification tabs in a Bag
  4. Demonstrate/Explain signaling options (Balloon and Stick, Mirror, Fire)
  5. Make a mini Fishing Kit with line, bobbers and hooks.
  6. Make a Drinking Straw Spice Kit with Salt & Pepper or Adobo or Old Bay by melting the ends.

(To make the straw kit – heat straw gently with lighter and pinch shut with fingers or pliers)


Take another step towards self-reliance and setup a BUG OUT BAG or BOX.  Some items may include:

Tarp, genuine 550 paracord, whistle, sodium iodide tablets (avoid radiation), containers for water boiling, food (snickers!), silver blanket, compass, cutting tool, bottle 2% tincture of iodine (water purification), wool blanket (still warm when wet), photo identification, house key, car key, ear plugs, head lamp, crank radio, Leatherman type multi-tool, flashlight, road flares, 24 gauge snare wire, razor blades, anti diarrhea tablets, sailing needle, 6 hour candles, pepper spray, weapon.



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