Altoids Survival Kit 101: How to Build the Best Kit


What is an Altoids survival kit? If you have done any planning at all for a grid down situation then you know that you need a survival kit to offer you tools and assistance during this time. It can be tricky to choose the right options for your needs, which is why many people opt to make their own. If you are ready to make your own kit, then I can help walk you through the process so that you have everything that you need when faced with an emergency situation.

Survival Tin Options

  • Empty Altoids tin or Otterbox waterproof case
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Flashlight
  • Water purification tablets
  • Compass
  • Mirror
  • Waterproof matches
  • Coffee filter
  • Lighter
  • Duct tape or Gorilla tape
  • Razor blade
  • Cotton balls or lint ball
  • Money
  • Needles
  • Pins or safety pins
  • Dental floss
  • Fish hooks
  • Crazy glue
  • Gauze or Bandaids
  • MRE beverage bag
  • Alcohol pads
  • Tin foil
  • Tweezers

Survival Pro Tip: Your knife is going to be the most important thing that you put in your tin. While many people think that you only use a knife for cutting, I have found that they are useful in a variety of different situations. Your knife can be used to dig, as a weapon, to cut bandages, to split wood, as a stake, to hammer, to make tinder for fire, and to trim limbs to make a shelter. You want to buy the highest quality knife that you can and that will easily fit in your kit so that you can get the most use from it.

Figure Out What’s Best for Your Kit

All of the options listed above are merely suggestions. Take the time and figure out what is important to you. Now we’ll discuss some of the different options for you to choose from.

Otterbox to the Rescue

If you do not have an Altoids tin on hand or don’t like to eat mints, then you can opt for a smaller Otterbox waterproof case. While this case will be just as durable as the Altoids container, you want to make sure that it isn’t so large that you don’t want to carry it. In this case, I recommend the Altoids casing because they are very inexpensive, the perfect size, and aren’t easy to damage. This means that as long as you are able to keep it out of the water, you won’t have to worry about the items inside becoming wet and damaged.

Pro Tip: Even though an Altoids tin is very durable, they will tend to get dented and bent out of shape a little if you are not careful with how you pack or handle your it. Luckily, it’s easy to get your hands on another one if you decide to move all the contents to another container without having to spend a lot of money.

If you can’t duct it… Gorilla It!

For many people, duct tape is the best option when they are in an emergency or faced with making repairs around the home. I think, however, that Gorilla tape is a better option for you to put in your survival kit for a few reasons. Not only does Gorilla tape have a matte finish, which means that it won’t reflect and give away your location, but the outer shell is both UV and water resistant. This means that you don’t need to worry about how well your tape will work in extreme conditions. Additionally, this tape is welcome in a survival kit because the durable adhesive will stick to any rough surface without problems.

The Superior Cotton Ball

While I know that you may have to go to the store to buy cotton balls to put in your kit, I think that they are a much better option than lint balls. It’s important that you think about all of the different ways that you can use your cotton balls beyond simply relying on them to start a fire. While they are great for kindling, you also want to include them in your tin because they can be used, with a piece of tape, as a makeshift bandage. You don’t want to put dirty lint up next to a wound on your body when you have the option of using a fresh cotton ball.

Emergency Kit Pro Tip: By cutting small pieces of tape and taping them to the inside lid of your survival tin, you will have small pieces of tape that are ready to be used with a cotton ball to make a bandage, which means that you can easily perform first aid without delay.

Multi-Use Safety Pin

When you are trying to decide between including pins or safety pins in your kit, I think that you need to consider how you will use them. Pins are great if you need to connect two pieces of fabric together for a short period of time, but since they will slip out of place, they are not nearly as secure as safety pins are. I much prefer safety pins over regular pins for this reason. Additionally, if you put safety pins in your tin, you will be able to use them in other ways, as well.

Pro Tip: You can use the safety pins that you included in your survival tin as fish hooks. This is ideal if you didn’t pack hooks or have lost one due to trying to bring in a particularly strong fish. They do not have the barbs on them that will help them stay in the fish’s mouth, but they are a great substitute when you are in a bind.

Gauze or Bandaids… Your Call

It’s important to have either gauze or band-aids in your emergency kit so that you can protect yourself when you have an injury. This can be a bit of a toss-up, as the gauze can be used for starting a fire, if necessary, but the bandaids are going to be sterile and therefore a much better choice for putting on an open wound. I think that including a few bandaids in your kit is the better option, even if you are going to be including cotton balls and Gorilla tape to double in case of an emergency. If you choose band-aids that have paper wrappers, then you can use those to help start a fire at a later time, which is a great way to get the most use out of everything in your kit.

Pro Tip: It can become overwhelming to try to find the right size bandaids to put in your kit, but you don’t want to choose ones that are too large, or they will take up a lot of your available space, making it difficult to fit your other items. Instead, opt for normal size bandaids. They are not only smaller, which makes them easier to back in your tin, but they can be cut to a smaller size if you need to cover a small wound.

Altoids Survival Kit Step-by-Step Instructions

#1 Choose Your Items for your Tin

If you already have your Altoids tin, then you are ready to start collecting all of the items that you will be putting in your kit. The list that I included above makes it easy for you to find everything that you need, as you can use it as a checklist so that you don’t accidentally forget anything. I know that it can be overwhelming when you are packing your emergency kit, as it’s easy to want to include items that you need on a daily basis, but this is for an emergency situation and will be used for survival, so you don’t need everything that you would use each day.

Pro Tip: I like to break down the items that I am packing into categories so that I can be sure that I don’t forget anything when putting together a survival kit. I make sure that I have everything I need to construct shelter, cut, start a fire, drink and gather water, communicate with others, and provide first aid.

Pro Tip: If you have strike anywhere matches and want them to be waterproof, then simply dip them in hot wax. This coats the match itself and ensures that it will not get damp, which will prevent you from being able to use your matches in an emergency. Check out the link above and you can see the steps for choosing your items.

#2 Prepare Your Contents

Once you have gathered all the items that you want to include in your kit, you need to get them ready to be stored in this small space. While you might love to have a huge roll of Gorilla tape at your disposal when you are faced with an emergency, that simply isn’t possible if you are using a container so small. By making sure that you downsize your contents so that they will all easily fit, you can create a survival kit that can go with you.

Pro Tip: You can make a mini roll of tape easily. First, fold the tape onto itself and then start wrapping it around the folded tape like a roll of toilet paper. Because the tape is so sticky, when you need a piece, you will be able to pull it from the roll and stick it on the right place. See how to do this at Life of a Homeschool Mom.

Pro Tip: You can wind dental floss around a safety pin instead of putting the whole container of floss into your emergency kit. This is a great way to save space in a hurry, and your dental floss can still be easily used by unwinding it from the safety pin.

#3 Tape Items to the Kit

The small and sharp items that you include in your kit are often best taped to the inside of the tin so that they don’t rattle around. You can see how to do this at Instructables or at Mainstream Preppers. This is a great way to make sure that you have your small items easily accessible and that they won’t fall out when you open your tin.

#4 Strategically Insert Your Items in your Tin

This is one of the hardest parts of making a tin, and it’s because you have so many things that you want to be able to put into the tin in case of an emergency. While it’s tempting to start shoving everything in at once, I like to treat the kit like a puzzle and work slowly so that I don’t break anything or feel like I need to leave out any of my supplies because they won’t easily fit. Begin by putting your larger items, such as your lighter and your knife, into the Altoids tin, and then carefully fit the smaller items around the larger ones. Click the link above so you can see how the tin will look when it is fully packed.

Pro Tip: I found that the first time I was putting together an Altoids tin emergency survival kit that I tried to pack too many items into it and had difficulty getting the tin to close securely. If you find yourself in this situation, then stop and unpack everything so you can really reevaluate what you are putting in your survival kit. If you are trying to pack five bandaids, then it’s time to decrease that number to three. Likewise, consider how many razor blades you are bringing, as they tend to take up a lot of room, as well. While more may seem better, in this case, you want to have enough of everything to help you survive, which means that you may have to remove a few items from your survival kit to make room for all of the important things.

I hope that you have learned from my tutorial and that I have made the process of making your own Altoids survival tin a little less scary or intimidating. Did you learn anything? Let me know in the comments below, and share with me anything else that you would have included in your kit for the best results. If you like this article, share it with someone else who can benefit from it so that we can all be prepared in an emergency situation. Remember, for best results, take your time when preparing for a worst-case scenario, and reevaluate it from time to time to ensure that it meets your needs.

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