What is a Survival Kit?

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What is a survival kit? This article is going to go in depth into what a survival kit is, the types of survival kits and what items you should have in your survival kit. Whether its a hurricane, nuclear war, earthquake or you're just lost in the woods having a good survival kit on you might just save your life.

We've all seen the articles that talk about what to put in your bug out bag, the ones that describe the different types and the ones that talk about what to include in one. In this article I'm going to do my best to include everything about survival kits making Preppers Unlimited your one time stop for anything related to what a survival kit is.

So What is a Survival Kit?

I did some research and a lot of people have the question "what is a survival kit".

Survival kits are classified as being any package such as a bag that is prepared in advanced and contains the necessary items and essentials to keep you alive during a survival situation.

These items might include tools, water, food, and other supplies. Not every survival kit is the same they can be geared or prepared to serve a specific purpose or situation.

For example a nuclear survival kit will not include all of the same items that a hurricane survival kit would, although they may contain the same basic survival items. 

Survival kits also come in a variety of sizes ranging from the pockets in your pants to a 4000 cu in. Badlands bug out bag.

The size of your survival kit is totally up to you and what you think you need for some people they may only need their hands and wits to get them out of a sticky situation I however prefer to have a couple extra provisions.

What are the Types of Survival Kits?

When talking about survival kits we often refer to them as tiers or levels.

The First Tier refers to the basic bare essentials you would need to survive in the wild. Another name for this tier of survival kit would be EDC or everyday carry gear.

Second Tier survival kits often are waist packs or small backpacks. These survival kits will provide a little bit more depth and give you more options when you need them.

Now the Third Tier is the biggest of the three tiers these survival kits are otherwise known as bug out bags, 3 day packs, 72 hour bags, GOOD bags, etc. 

The last survival kit is the Tier 4 kit or bug out vehicle. These are the largest kit and can can hold the most gear, and are able to carry the other three tiers of survival kits. These kits give you the best shot at survival as they contain more essential items and have extra gear that you normally wouldn't carry in a Tier 1, 2 or 3 survival kit.

Let's go a little more in depth and answer the question as to what these survival kits are.

Tier 1 Survival Kit Items List:

stylus pro tier 1 survival kit

The stylus pro is a great choice for your EDC.

Since these are going to be the items that you carry on a normal day to day basis you're going to want some smaller items but ones that serve a purpose or even multiple. The first thing I recommend for your EDC gear is a pocket knife I like the Ka-Bar Dozier myself. The Dozier was designed by Bob Dozier and comes in a variety of colors. The Dozier features a 3 inch blade and weighs 2 oz (perfect for EDC)  and its made of AUS 8A stain less steel.

The next thing I think people should have in their Tier 1 survival kit is a means of fire. Having a lighter or matches would be fine you could also carry a flint striker as well.

Having a small flashlight is also handy if you need to do any type of work in the dark you'll be able to see. I have a Streamlight Stylus Pro and I think its awesome its small and slender and fits really well in your pocket in fact I'm always worried that I'll run it through the washer because I forget its there.

Although I have a friend who has the shorter version called the Streamlight MicroStream and he did run his through the washer but it still works like a charm, because Streamlight puts an O ring in their lights to prevent water damage. Personally I like both of these lights and would recommend them to anyone. Another item you might consider carrying is a small coin sized compass just in case you need to get your bearings.

Tier 2 Survival Kit Items List:

​Tier 2 survival kits offer a little more space than what you would normally carry. The benefit to having a Tier 2 survival kit over a Tier 3 is the fact that its smaller this means you could take it to work or have it in your car with out drawing much attention or taking up a lot of space.

Little bear survival kit

The Little bear waist pack offers a good amount of storage.

There are a couple of waist packs that I would like to cover that you could use for your Tier 2 kit. The first one is the ALPS Outdoorz Little Bear this is a great waist pack for your Tier 2 survival kit. The pack comes in Realtree brush camo and has a removable chest harness which I think is really cool. It offers a main compartment, front pocket, two side pockets and two waist belt pockets for a total of 500 cu in of storage. Weighing 1lb 9 oz total this is a great pack to have for your Tier 2 kit.

The next pack I want to talk about is the Everest Hiking  Sports Dual Bottle this pack is about half the size of the Little Bear but its still a good pack it offers 280 cu in with the main compartment and 2 front pockets. I like that it comes with two water bottles and a pocket for both of them. You can find these for about $20 which is a pretty good price and if this 280 cu in works for you then I suggest going with this pack.

​The gear in this survival kit will allow you to cover more of your survival needs. You may consider carrying a fixed blade knife on your Tier 2 kit, one knife I recommend is the Gerber Prodigy you can find this knife in drop point and tanto styles. It is made of 420 HC stainless steel and is coated in a black ceramic finish to give it more protection from corrosion. The knife also features a glass breaker on the end of the handle. It also includes a MOLLE compatible sheath and weighs 12.45 oz with the sheath included.

Some other items you'll want to include in you Tier 2 kit would include a container for holding water, more means of starting fire, means of purifying water, a first aid kit, more cordage, a full size compass, an emergency blanket or two for keeping warm and can also be used for shelter, signalling mirror, multi-tool and energy bars.

Tier 3 Survival Kit Items List:

Paratus bug out bag

Paratus makes a great pack for your bug out bag or Level 3 survival kit.

The third tier survival kit is where it really starts to get fun for me. I enjoy building a good a bug out bag if you need help getting started on yours check out our bug out bag starter guide. Let's take a look at a couple bags I would recommend for your Tier 3 survival kit. The first one would have to be the  Direct Action Ghost tactical bag. They offer ample room for all of your survival gear with about 31 liters of space. They come in some really cool colors as well. Made of 100% Cordura 500 D they are sure to hold up in any situation. The Ghost also has a really cool feature in some of the color options that prevent night vision detection! Overall this is a great pack and it proves you get what you pay for. The next pack I want to cover is the Paratus 3 day Operator's pack. This is an excellent pack for under $100 it comes in four colors grey, black, coyote tan, and olive drab one thing I like about the Paratus is the detachable deployment pack that's integrated into it. It's rugged and boasts some 600 D nylon material. It also has great storage capacity with a volume of 2890 cu in. Overall I would say the Paratus 3 day Operator's pack is a must have for your Tier 3 survival kit.

Now lets take a look at some gear that you should include into your Tier 3 survival kit. This kit is going to be your life line when bugging out and that's why it has to be geared appropriately. The other packs especially the first tier are more of a fall back option if something were to ever happen to your Tier 3. I've compiled a list of survival kit items that you may want to include into your bug out bag and out of this list I recommend that you carry at least one item from each category.


fire piston survival kit

Campfire hickory fire piston made in the USA. Fire pistons are a great alternative to other conventional methods of firestarting

Fire Items:

   Ferro Rod

   Cotton Balls covered in Vaseline

   Emergency Tinder

   Fire Piston



 Water Items:

   Purification tablets

   Filtration Bottle

   Filtration Straw





My personal favorite water filter straw, they also make filtration bottles.


head lamp bug out bag

Outerdo 5000 lumen rechargeable head lamp lightweight with high output

Lighting Items:

   Flash Light

   Head Lamp

   Glow Sticks

   Back Up Flashlight


Food Items:

   MRE's- They're lightweight and have been used for decades by the military

   Candy- For a little extra motivation

   Energy Bars

   Jerky- Great protein source

   Tuna Pouches

   Freeze Dried Meals- They come in a variety of meal choices, are lightweight and nutrional


emergency food supply

Mountain house freeze dried food great shelf life


archer mummy bag survival kit

Archer mummy style sleeping bag has a survival temp rating of -22 F

Shelter Items:

   Tarp- They work great as a canopy, ground cover, or wind break

  Tent- A no brainer if you have the space and can afford the weight

   Sleeping Bag- Could be lashed onto your pack, adds some weight but will come in handy on a cold night

   Mylar Blanket- Reflects body heat to keep you warm

First Aid Items:

   First aid kit- An excellent start

   Bandages- For wrapping cuts, scrapes and burns. Be sure to carry a variety.

   Insect Bite Relief

   Ace Wrap- For adding support to sprains

   Insect Repellant

   Pain Relievers- Tylenol, asprin and ibuprofen can be used to treat minor aches and pains


First Aid

first aid trauma kit

Great trauma kit includes bandages and quick clot to stop bleeding


gerber mp400 best survival kit

The gerber mp400 is a great multi tool its compact, lightweight and durable its a great choice

Tool Items:

   Folding Knife- Simple, small and compact works great as a backup

   Multi Tool

   Fixed Blade- Used for cutting, chopping, cleaning game, and self defense

   Hatchet- Lighter than an axe it allows you to process firewood

   Entrenching tool- Get one with a pick and saw to add a little more functionality

   Crowbar- If you can afford the weight

Communications Items:

   Emergency Radio- Try and find one with mulitiple means of power

   Walkie Talkies- Allows for communication between parties across a short distance


emergency radio for bug out bag

The iRonsnow is a nice compact emergency radio for under $25 and offers 3 modes of charging

Signaling and Navigation

fox 40 sonik whistle survival kit

The fox 40 comes in a variety of colors and is capable of producing sounds up to 120 db

Signaling and Navigation Items:


   Map- Get a map of your area so that you can plan and travel more efficiently

   Compass- Allows you to keep your bearings and stay on track


Repair Items:

   Cable Ties- They make for great tie downs

   Duct Tape- Fixes Everything

   Needle and Thread- for repairing clothing and gear such as bags and pouches

   Paracord- Make shelters, snares, and repairs


titan paracord great for survival kit

Titan paracord is a great choice for cordage in your survival kit and it comes in a variety of colors


mess kit for survival kit

Stansport makes a nice stainless steel mess kit that comes with boiling pot, frying pan, and plate

Cooking Items:

   Penny Stove- A cheap Lightweight Stove

   Fuel- For your stove of choice

   Spork- The best of the spoon and the fork

   Gel Fuel Stoves- A gel fuel that you can cook over, and has a long burn time

   Mess Kit- For cooking your food

Power Items:

   Batteries- For devices like your flashlights, phones, etc.

   Battery Bank- Allows to charge you devices on the go and carry power with you

   Solar- use the power of the sun to charge your electronics


solar power bank best survival kit

A great choice for power on the go this power bank is capable of charging itself in the sun

So like I said before you should carry at least one of these items from each category. Although it wouldn't be very practical to have a sleeping bag and a tent because that would take up a lot of space and weigh you down. Instead maybe pick one or the other. Now in the fire category for example you may choose to carry every item and in my opinion that would be a good idea. Lets take a look now at some situation specific survival kits you might want to assemble.

What is an Earthquake Survival Kit?

earthquake survival kit

When making an earthquake survival kit you're going to be gearing for more of a bug in type situation as well as a bug out. In this survival kit you're going to want plenty of food and water to last you at least three to five days.

When a large earthquake happens it isn't uncommon to see water lines break leaving lots of people without fresh water. You'll also want family photos this can help search and rescue personnel find any missing persons if that were to happen.

Making copies of all your identification papers is also a good idea and carry around a hundred dollars in cash of which fifty should be in small denominations. You should also pack some heavy gloves, goggles and respirators to help against dust and debris.

In addition to these items you'll want to include items from your basic survival kits such as flash lights, first aid kits, means of fire, etc. So to answer the question what is an earthquake survival kit it is basically a basic survival kit modified or geared more towards surviving an earthquake.

What is a Hurricane Survival Kit?

For a hurricane survival kit you'll make it very similar to an earthquake survival kit. A hurricane survival kit is going to be geared specifically towards hurricanes though. Make sure you have an emergency radio so that you can listen to updates on the weather.

Being wet can lead to hypothermia if your core temp drops so be sure to have spare clothes in dry bags just in case. You'll also want to have a couple flashlight around that are water resistant and spare batteries for them and your emergency radio. Also be sure to have prescription medications that you need on hand.

What is a Nuclear Survival Kit?

nuclear survival kit

The NBC kit offers a lot of gear for a nuclear survival kit including a radiation filtration straw

Hopefully no one would have to use this kit but with all the tension in the world with North Korea and Iran it might very well be a reality before too long.

For your nuclear survival kit you'll want some potassium iodide for sure it works by blocking the radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland.

Something else you might consider is a radiation filtering straw these work by filtering the radio active iodine in the water. You'll also want plenty of food and water again.

There are also nuclear survival kits made by NBC prep it includes a lot of cool items made to help minimize the effects of nuclear radiation I can't say that I've reviewed this product but it might be worth checking out. Their kit also includes a washing solution to get rid of any contaminants that might be on you. The radiation detector that comes with it seems like a pretty cool thing and I'd like to give it a try. The kit also comes with potassium iodide, towelettes, a twist bag, face masks, vinyl gloves and more.

Something else I would include in my kit might be seeds for growing vegetables and fruits if I ever found some ground to plant them that would be really handy since a lot of places might not be able to grow food because of fall out.

What is an Altoids Survival Kit?

Altoids Survival kit

Altoids survival kits are great I like them because they're small and compact which means I can carry them on my Tier 1 kit. You can also include them in both Tiers 2 and 3 and I would recommend that you do.

Altoids survival kits are a lot of fun to make to, seeing how much survival gear you can pack into a little tin. I like to put a small knife in mine, I also include some matches fishing hooks, fishing line, paracord, bandages, and spices.

If you take a straw and cut it into several sections about 2 inches long and heat one end with a lighter melting it closed, this allows you to fill it with spices and other things. Then all you need to do is heat the other end up and melt it closed too. You can make different types of altoids survival kits geared for specific situations as well.


To sum up the question "what is a survival kit" it is any kit that is geared to help you survive in any situation these survival kits can be geared to more specific scenarios if you choose. Hopefully after reading this article I'll have answered your question as to what is a survival kit, how to assemble one, the types of survival kits, and what to include in your survival kit. Just remember the best survival kit is the one that's geared for your own situation and needs. Thanks for reading check out our blog for more articles coming soon. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them down below.

-Brady S.

  • Kelly McGrath

    Excellent article, with an essential list of items any survival kit would need. Regrettably, there are many of us that do not have these resources, but there are still things you can do. There are lots of good places online with detailed instructions that can get you started on a survival kit. Something you should certainly do (and it can be done with little expense) is to purchase a good survival kit that includes short term shelter, survival food, an assortment of survival tools, and pair all that with a complete medical kit. Whether it’s nuclear fallout or simple off-grid survival, you can build a perfect survival kit from https://FirstAidSurvival.com/

  • James Reese

    I just find the whole “bug out” thing to be rather fanciful. Bug out to where? On roads that will be crowded as hell, with traffic jams that won’t quit? How much can you really carry with you? My house holds a lot more guns, ammo and food than any car or truck or SUV. I don’t have a remote cabin anywhere. What’s more, I am going to have to depend upon my neighbors for mutual defense and other things. If anyone thinks he is going to some remote area where he can live off the land and sleep through the night, he’d better think again. We will survive as communities, or we won’t survive at all.

    • Brady

      Hey, James, that’s a good point I think staying together as a community will benefit you far more than venturing out on your own. Although I still believe it is important to learn the skills needed to be independent in these situations just in case you do need a to bug out.

      • James Reese

        Absolutely agree. And while I think a “ready bag” could be a good thing to have in hurricane prone areas, when the real SHTF event occurs, you’re better off staying amongst your neighbors, making alliances, bartering and joining together for mutual defense. Civil war–or nuclear war–you’re better off with your neighbors. And if a person doesn’t know his or her neighbors, now would be a good time to start!

        • Brady

          Exactly it’s better to have your neighbors as friends rather than enemies when SHTF. Hurricanes are an excellent example of a good reason to have a BOB though. I can see them being useful more in natural types of disasters where you’re at the mercy of mother nature to defend your home.

  • James Reese

    Here’s some food for thought: you home may be a fortress, well protected from burglary, assault, earthquake or hurricanes–but are you being slowly poisoned in your own home by radon gas? Radon is everywhere–but some areas of the country have higher concentrations than others. You can get radon monitoring kits. And just so you know–about 10% of lung cancer deaths are attributed to this odorless, colorless gas that seeps up from the ground into your home. It’s one thing I look for as a security/safety consultant.

    • Brady

      Interesting point there James. I know OF radon gas but I can’t say that I’m an expert on the subject. I believe here in Nebraska actually we have a higher level of it in some places, at least that’s what I’ve heard. I do know (from working in construction) that a lot of newer homes have barriers to prevent the gas from getting into the home. How effective are they? Not a clue to be honest with you. The radon monitoring kits sound pretty interesting and I never knew about the lung cancer percentage you pointed out.

      If you’re interested we’d love to have you write us an article over securing a home for a “Bug in Scenario”. Let me know what you think of the idea and we can work something out.

      • James Reese

        I could do that. Give me just a little time–I am in Africa right now training peacekeepers for UN duty! But I will do it!

        • Brady

          Awesome! Can’t wait to see it James. Just send it to us in an email whenever you’re ready. And Thanks!

  • James Reese

    Will send in the “enhanced” article just a little bit later!

    • Brady

      Awesome! I’m excited to see it man!