A seemingly popular item with many a bushcrafter, camper, hiker etc. these days is the Altoid tin or pocket survival kit. These small kits contain many useful and essential items which can come in handy should you get in trouble in the wilderness. At least this is the theory behind them.
(Not my image – Linked from Field & Stream)
I personally don’t have any kits like this. It’s not that I don’t see their theoretical usefulness, but whenever there’s at least a chance that I’d get caught in a wilderness survival situation, I will have with me (at a minimum) my belt pouch, which in my opinion contains more rugged and practical items:
(FYI: For those of you who have not seen this setup before, there are matches and a small ferro rod in the birch bark case, a needle in the pouch with the small fishing kit and several tools in the knock-off Swisscard (tweezers, toothpick, small blade, screwdriver, file, mirror etc.), in addition to the items which can be clearly been seen in the picture.)
Truth be told, I’d probably have my shoulder bag as well, which would make an Altoids tin survival kit even less needed. “But Weekend Woodsman, what if you lose all your gear, what then? Wouldn’t it be good to have a last-ditch kit tucked away in your pocket?” Well, my belt pouch is my last-ditch kit, and if either my thick leather belt, pants or the pouch belt straps are ever damaged heavily enough that the pouch is separated from me, I’m probably in the kind of situation where I’m going to need something a lot more substantial than a tiny pocket survival kit.
Since Altoids tin survival kits are mainly intended for wilderness survival, as they contain items for fire starting, signaling, water purification etc., I don’t see how useful they’d be if carried in a pocket in the city. How about in the car? What if I break down in the middle of winter on a back road? That’s what the emergency kit in the car is for, which contains food, blankets, flashlights, firestarters etc. etc. etc. In other words, for me personally, I just don’t see the need to have a small pocket survival kit.
Please don’t see this post as a serious criticism of these kits and the people who use them. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert or anything, so if you are a fan of Altoid tin survival kits, please take this post as a challenge, rather than taking offense. 🙂 Tell me your thoughts on them and convince me why I’m making a mistake and should have one!