How to Choose Items for a Survival Kit – The Deliberate Way

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Whether you are a prepper or not, you can not deny the importance of a Survival kit. How to select items for a survival kit and how to pack these items always remains a point of concern for everyone. Newbies try to implement whatever they hear or read on the internet. Although there are some good survival experts whose opinion and guides are gold, most of the preppers/survival experts you read on the internet are self-acclaimed with no experience, credibility and logic. Lots of preppers and survivalists end up wasting a lot of money and efforts by implementing such experts’ so called guides.

I can not emphasize enough that whatever you should put in your survival kit, should be decided by you. Obviously, you can keep different guides in mind while doing this, but you shouldn’t just put an item in your bag because someone on the internet said its cool to have it. There might be some people who will need a butt-load of items in case they want to remain prepared. But on the other hand, there might be some people who may not need a dedicated survival kit at all. It all depends upon factors which you are going to read in following paragraphs.


Make a Plan:

This is the first and foremost thing when it comes to selecting items for a survival kit. Read and understand following factors and make an evacuation plan for your home and family. Select a suitable location where you will eventually evacuate in case of an emergency. Plan, mark and select the route, preferably 2-3 different routes. Then analyze your own location, route and destination location for factors mentioned below. Once you have completed your analysis, write down your plan on a piece of paper and paste it somewhere near your exit door. Now as per your plan, make a list of items that you’ll need for this whole process.


Be Realistic and Logical:

Analyze everything around you and then decide what you need and what you don’t. Then make a list of items for your kit. Remember, priority of items should always be;

  1. Most essential items; for example, a multi-tool
  2. Items you may or may not need; like first aid kit
  3. Luxury items; weapons etc
  4. Items you may never need; for example high / low-frequency communication equipment

There is a lot of difference between optimistic, pessimistic and realistic approaches. This article explains it pretty well. So, it does not matter what kind of person you are; just for this particular job, be realistic and think logically. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending lots of money and efforts and results will not be up to the mark.


Your Knowledge of Survival

Almost no one considers this factor when choosing items for a survival kit, thus ends up buying useless junk(if you don’t know what to do with a particular item, its a junk for you). For example, knowing how to make a shelter can be compensated by getting a tent/shelter in your bug out bag/survival kit.  However, keeping car fuse in your car survival kit may be a stupid idea if you don’t know anything about car’s electronic system. Similarly, there might be some items that may help you even when you don’t have any specific knowledge.

There may be some items that can compensate for skills and there may be some skills that can also replace an item. So, you need to analyze your survival knowledge and skills. Then buy items depending upon your skill level. What skills do I know how to do vs. what tools will I need to compensate for skills I do not have, such as making fire or erecting a weather proof shelter?


Money in your Pocket:

This is the basic factor that will let you decide the size of your survival kit. If you have saved enough money for your survival kit, you should definitely go for an advanced survival kit containing all possible equipment. You should always build your own survival kit/bug out bag as per your own requirements. This way you’ll be able to analyze the types of problems you are prepared for.

However, it is not necessary to buy all the items at once. You can always start with basic items. Then every month buy something new for your kit or replace the old ones which are expired or out of order. This way, making a survival kit will not be a burden on you.

It is not necessary to buy all the items for a survival kit at once



Type of Vehicle you Drive

Your vehicle is your best bet to get out of a troubled area. You must keep a survival kit prepared for your car. It would be good if it is always placed in the car as a dedicated car survival kit with varying items contents. If not, then you can place your bug out bag in your garage for easy access. If you have an SUV or a minivan, it can accommodate more items than a regular sedan or hatchback vehicle. No need to make a giant kit and fill your car back seat if you don’t require it. Type of vehicle may not be a major factor once deciding items for a survival kit, but still, it plays a vital role.


Duration & Distance you Intend to Travel

This one is particularly important if you are planning to make your Car Survival Kit. But this also holds good for a normal bug out bag if your planned evacuation area is away from your home. More distance means more time on the road which can also land you in more troubles. You may need to carry more items in case you plan to travel a long distance or duration. But if you are going for shopping just a couple of blocks away, you may just carry your basic survival kit.


Nature of Travel

Are you going on vacation or camping somewhere that has a very different terrain and area dynamics than your home? Or you are just preparing a bug out bag/disaster evacuation kit? Once you ask this question from yourself, you will get a fairly good idea about contents of your survival kit.


Dynamics of Route and Destination Area:

In case an emergency is declared in your area and you are asked to evacuate the area, you are not safe till you reach your planned evacuation area. However, the test of your preparedness starts when you leave your home. In our next article, I’ll explain how you can always remain prepared for good.

If your route or destination is snow covered, you should pack more winter and snow related stuff. Similarly, if you are passing through or going to Texas on your route, you should plan accordingly. However, if your route and destination area are full of service and help stations, you may pack light. But still, pack as many items as possible if you plan to pass through the wilderness. You should also think about rescue service in the area(from start point till your destination).  In case no credible emergency service is available in your area, plan for self-rescue.

What situations will I need to plan for on the most common places I travel locally?

Over prepping is always better than being caught in a surprize


History of Natural Disaster in your Area

As per NBC news, at least one major disaster is declared nearly every calendar year in Texas, on the other hand, Hawaii is the safest state once natural disasters are taken into account: WalletHub says. Therefore, Texans should always be ready with their bug out bag and car survival kit as you never know when you may need to evacuate your area and Hawaiians may only prepare for issues related to their specific area.

For example; if your area has a history of being hit by Tsunami, then you must prepare Tsunami evacuation and preparedness kit. You may include an inflatable boat even. But that inflatable boat will be a total waste of money for desert and wilderness. Therefore, before you start preparing a list of items in a survival kit, gather such information about your area in detail.


Peace Situation in your Area

It is not always nature that forces you out of your home, sometimes it may be man-made issues that may kick you out of your home. These can be riots, violent protests, civil war and even a full-scale war. You should always keep an eye on peace situation in your country and specifically in your city and area. This will contribute toward your decision about selecting the best items for a survival kit.


Number of Dependents

How many members will use this particular survival kit? Can it support your whole family or just you? Is this kit ready to take care of your kids (if you have any)? You may have to cater for child’s needs in your survival kit if you don’t have a dedicated bug out bag for every family member. This particular factor will also help you decide the quantity of each item you need to carry in your kit.

Bonus Tips

  1. A single survival kit/bug out bag should be able to handle multiple emergencies.
  2. Having retractable and multi-function gear is always a great space saver.
  3. Knowledge is more important than gear. However, both are nothing without each other.
  4. Always have multiple options for a single task. For example; if you are fireproof matches go rouge in an emergency situation, there must be some other way to ignite fire too.
  5. Keep your survival kit as light (weight) as possible. But this also does not mean that you should leave out essential items. Your survival kit/bug out bag’s weight should match your physical stamina. You never know the situation in which you may have to carry this kit and even run for a few minutes. It should be physically taxing you too much

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